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Flevy Management Insights Q&A
How is the rise of blockchain technology influencing product costing and cost transparency?


This article provides a detailed response to: How is the rise of blockchain technology influencing product costing and cost transparency? For a comprehensive understanding of Product Costing, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Product Costing best practice resources.

TLDR Blockchain technology enhances Operational Excellence and Strategic Planning in product costing by providing real-time, accurate cost data and transparency across value chains.

Reading time: 4 minutes


Blockchain technology is revolutionizing various sectors, including finance, supply chain management, and even healthcare. Its impact on product costing and cost transparency is profound, offering a level of detail and accuracy previously unattainable. This technology provides real-time data, enhances the accuracy of cost calculations, and ensures a high degree of transparency across the entire value chain. By leveraging blockchain, businesses can achieve Operational Excellence, enhance Strategic Planning, and foster Innovation in product costing practices.

Enhancing Cost Transparency through Blockchain

Blockchain technology significantly enhances cost transparency in several ways. First, it offers an immutable ledger system that records every transaction in a manner that is transparent and verifiable by all parties involved. This characteristic is particularly beneficial for complex supply chains where tracing the origins and the cumulative costs of products can be challenging. For example, in the manufacturing sector, blockchain can track the journey of raw materials from their source to the final product, recording every transaction and associated cost along the way. This level of transparency ensures that businesses can accurately calculate the true cost of their products, including hidden costs such as transportation, labor, and even carbon footprint.

Moreover, blockchain facilitates the sharing of cost information among stakeholders in real-time. This immediacy ensures that any changes in costs are immediately reflected, allowing for more accurate and timely decision-making. For instance, if the cost of a raw material spikes due to a supply chain disruption, this information is instantly available to all parties, enabling swift adjustments to pricing strategies or sourcing decisions. This capability is crucial for maintaining competitiveness and profitability in fast-moving markets.

Additionally, the transparency offered by blockchain can help build trust with consumers. By providing a transparent view of the costs involved in producing a product, including ethical sourcing or environmental considerations, companies can differentiate themselves in a crowded market. Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency and ethical practices from the brands they support, and blockchain technology can be a powerful tool in meeting these expectations.

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Improving Accuracy in Product Costing

Blockchain technology also plays a critical role in improving the accuracy of product costing. Traditional costing methods often rely on estimates and averages that can obscure the true cost of production. Blockchain, by contrast, provides a detailed record of every transaction, allowing companies to calculate costs based on actual data rather than estimates. This precision is particularly valuable in industries with thin margins, where accurate costing can be the difference between profit and loss.

For example, in the food industry, blockchain can track the cost of each ingredient from farm to table, including transportation, storage, and waste. This granular level of detail enables businesses to identify inefficiencies and areas where costs can be reduced. Furthermore, the immutable nature of blockchain data reduces the risk of errors and fraud, ensuring that cost calculations are based on reliable information.

The use of smart contracts in blockchain further enhances the accuracy of product costing. Smart contracts automatically execute transactions when certain conditions are met, reducing the need for manual processing and the associated risk of errors. This automation not only streamlines operations but also ensures that costs are accurately captured and allocated in real-time.

Learn more about Profit and Loss Product Costing

Real-World Applications and Impact

Several companies across industries are already leveraging blockchain to improve cost transparency and accuracy. For instance, De Beers, the diamond giant, has implemented a blockchain-based platform called Tracr, which tracks diamonds from mine to retail. This platform provides a transparent record of each diamond's journey, including its cost at each stage of the supply chain. This transparency helps in accurately pricing diamonds and ensures that ethical sourcing practices are followed.

In the food sector, Walmart has partnered with IBM to use blockchain for tracing the origin of food products. This initiative aims to enhance food safety by providing a transparent and accurate record of the supply chain. It also allows Walmart to calculate the true cost of food products by accurately tracking each component's journey from farm to store.

These examples illustrate the transformative potential of blockchain in product costing and cost transparency. By providing an immutable, transparent record of transactions, blockchain technology enables businesses to calculate costs with unprecedented accuracy and detail. This capability not only improves financial performance but also supports ethical and sustainable business practices, aligning with the increasing consumer demand for transparency and accountability.

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Best Practices in Product Costing

Here are best practices relevant to Product Costing from the Flevy Marketplace. View all our Product Costing materials here.

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Explore all of our best practices in: Product Costing

Product Costing Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Product Costing, take a look at these case studies.

Cost Reduction and Optimization Project for a Leading Manufacturing Firm

Scenario: A global manufacturing firm with a multimillion-dollar operation has been grappling with its skyrocketing production costs due to several factors, including raw material costs, labor costs, and operational inefficiencies.

Read Full Case Study

Cost Accounting Refinement for Biotech Firm in Life Sciences

Scenario: The organization, a mid-sized biotech company specializing in regenerative medicine, has been grappling with the intricacies of Cost Accounting amidst a rapidly evolving industry.

Read Full Case Study

Product Costing Strategy for D2C Electronics Firm in North America

Scenario: A North American direct-to-consumer electronics firm is grappling with escalating production costs that are eroding their market competitiveness.

Read Full Case Study

Cost Reduction Strategy for Defense Contractor in Competitive Market

Scenario: A mid-sized defense contractor is grappling with escalating product costs, threatening its position in a highly competitive market.

Read Full Case Study

Telecom Expense Management for European Mobile Carrier

Scenario: The organization is a prominent mobile telecommunications service provider in the European market, grappling with soaring operational costs amidst fierce competition and market saturation.

Read Full Case Study

Cost Analysis Revamp for D2C Cosmetic Brand in Competitive Landscape

Scenario: A direct-to-consumer (D2C) cosmetic brand faces the challenge of inflated operational costs in a highly competitive market.

Read Full Case Study

Explore all Flevy Management Case Studies

Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

What role does product costing play in sustainability and environmental impact assessments?
Product costing is pivotal in sustainability and environmental impact assessments, enabling businesses to financially quantify production processes and materials, thereby identifying opportunities for waste reduction, resource optimization, and minimizing environmental footprint while maintaining profitability. [Read full explanation]
How can companies effectively allocate indirect costs to maintain transparency and accountability in cost analysis?
Effectively allocating indirect costs involves understanding their nature, employing strategic methods like Activity-Based Costing, leveraging technology for accuracy, and maintaining transparency and regular updates to ensure equitable distribution and enhance decision-making and financial reporting. [Read full explanation]
How can companies leverage data analytics and machine learning to enhance product costing models?
Data Analytics and Machine Learning enhance Product Costing Models by providing deeper insights into cost drivers, enabling dynamic pricing, and improving profitability through predictive analytics and operational optimizations. [Read full explanation]
How can companies ensure transparency and compliance in their cost accounting practices amid increasing regulatory scrutiny?
Companies can ensure transparency and compliance in cost accounting by understanding regulatory landscapes, implementing robust internal controls, and fostering a culture of transparency and accountability. [Read full explanation]
What strategies can be employed to ensure cost management practices are adaptable to global market volatility?
To adapt cost management practices to global market volatility, businesses should implement Agile Cost Structures, enhance Forecasting and Planning capabilities, and foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement, supported by Operational Excellence, Risk Management, and Performance Management. [Read full explanation]
How is the rise of artificial intelligence expected to transform cost analysis practices in the near future?
The integration of Artificial Intelligence in cost analysis is revolutionizing accuracy, efficiency, and strategic insight, enhancing Data Collection, Predictive Analytics, and Strategic Decision-Making for long-term competitiveness. [Read full explanation]

Source: Executive Q&A: Product Costing Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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