Business - Cost Accounting - 52360

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Cost Accounting, Spring, 2014

CVP Case Architect



This case is an assignment from a client to help make a decision regarding an occupational choice.  This case will be worth 100 points.


Your client, Emily C--, has asked you to provide her with an analysis about a career change that she is contemplating.  Emily is in her 30’s, married, and has two younger children.  She and her husband both have relatively successful careers, but are feeling disconnected from values in their lives.  Emily is an architect with a large firm in the city, and her husband is an MD in a mid-sized group practice.  They are happy with their occupational choices, but feel that they have made difficult family sacrifices due to career demands and pressures.


Emily is considering resigning her position and opening her own office as a practicing architect.  She is licensed and knows builders in the area who would be interested in using a local architect for their projects.  She has done some research as to costs and likely workingand billable hours.



Prepare a written report to Emily (your client) that will help her to decide whether or not to start this business using the information as discussed in the Background Information,


Be sure to cover the following points:

 (40 points) Prepare a break-even analysis to calculate the number of billable hours that have to beachieved and the total revenue at that volume to:  a) break even and b) earn an operating profit of $30,000 per year.Also, Emily wants to know how many total hours she will have to devote to the business to achieve these levels of billable hours.  (See comments below.)


Background Information.

Your client is planning to open her own architectural firm for the reasons discussed above.  One of her concerns is the amount of time that she will have available to work in the business.  She is planning to arrange her schedule so that she can avoid before and after school care for her children, which will not only reduce family expenses, but will also reduce family stress and improve the quality of their family time.  It will be a challenge, but she hopes to be able to bill enough hours to earn at least $30,000 per year after expenses.  She definitely does not want to lose money, although she knows that the first year might very well be a break-even year.


Basic Business Model.

Following are some data about the basic business:


Revenue is earned by billing clients based on the number of hours worked on projects.  There is time that has to be spent each year on continuing education, business development, networking events, answering short questions from clients, and taking care of the business matters such as paying bills, phone calls, learning software, office equipment, and billing clients.  Also, for each job, there is a certain amount of time that is spent in preliminary talks and general discussion before any billable time is earned.


Emily estimated that she will need to spend 16 hours each month on business development and networking, 40 hours per year on continuing education, and 16 hours each month on general business needs.  In addition, she finds that she has to work approximately 1.25 hours actual time for each hour that she can bill and collect.  She will bill her time at a rate of $95 per hour.


Costs are expected to be as follows:


  • Rent on the office will be $625 per month
  • Software is purchased on an annual licensing basis (to keep current with upgrades and standards) and will cost $2,475 per year
  • Insurance will cost $915 per year for general and workers comp coverage plus $1,695 per year for professional liability coverage
  • Purchases of office equipment are expected to be $1,400 per year
  • Telephone and internet fees are not expected to vary significantly with volume and will run $145 per month
  • On some jobs it is necessary to use outside experts for engineering, technical, or surveying work.  These costs average 15% of revenue overall.
  • Supplies for jobs are expected to be 2.25% of revenue (prints, report covers, etc)
  • General supplies (office supplies, coffee, etc)  will be $105 per month
  • Research publications, continuing education, dues, and professional licenses will run $1,800 per year
  • Bank fees for check and credit card processing will be 1.05% of sales
  • Note that some of these costs are shown per month and some are shown per year.


Solution Description

Emily estimated that she will need to spend 16 hours each month (16*12=192hrs pa) on business development and networking, 40 hours per year on continuing education, and 16 hours each month (16*12=192hrs pa) on general business needs.