cost centers

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Cost Centers: How to Understand and Optimize Them

In business, a cost center is any department or team within an organization that doesn't directly generate revenue.

Daryna Rodriguez
Daryna Rodriguez

While cost centers are often associated with negative connotations—after all, they're called "cost centers" for a reason—they play an important role in ensuring that a company runs smoothly and efficiently. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at cost centers and how they can be used to your advantage.

What is a Cost Center?

A cost center is any department or team within an organization that doesn't directly generate revenue. These departments might include accounting, human resources, IT, customer service, etc.

While cost centers don't generate revenue themselves, they are essential to the overall operation of the company and need to be properly managed in order to keep costs down.

There are two types of cost centers:

1. Discretionary: These are costs that can be easily controlled or eliminated without affecting the company's ability to function properly. For example, if your company has a gym membership program for employees, this would be considered a discretionary cost.

2. Non-discretionary: These are costs that are essential to the operation of the company and cannot be controlled or eliminated without adversely affecting the company's ability to function properly. For example, salaries for accounting staff would be considered a non-discretionary cost.

Common Examples of Cost Centers

As mentioned above, some common examples of cost centers include human resources, IT, and accounting. However, there are many other types of cost centers as well. Some other examples include:

  • customer service
  • research and development
  • marketing
  • product development
  • administration
  • facilities management
  • legal
  • compliance
  • security
  • safety

How to Optimize Cost Centers

Now that we've answered the question "what is a cost center?", it's time to take a look at how you can optimize them for your business. The first step is understanding what your cost centers are and how they impact your bottom line.

Once you have this information, you can start working on ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Here are a few tips:

  1. Review your expenses regularly: This will help you identify areas where you may be able to cut costs without adversely affecting the operation of your business.
  2. Automate where possible: Automation can help you streamline processes and reduce labor costs.
  3. Eliminate unnecessary expenses: Take a close look at your budget and identify any expenses that aren't absolutely essential to the operation of your business. If possible, eliminate these expenses or find ways to reduce them.
  4. Invest in training: Proper training can help employees work more efficiently and effectively, which can save your business money in the long run.
  5. Outsource when necessary: There may be some tasks that it makes more sense to outsource than to try to handle in-house. This can free up employees' time so they can focus on more important tasks while also saving your business money on labor costs.

By following these tips, you can optimize your cost centers and improve your bottom line in the process!

Conclusion: Cost centers play an important but often misunderstood role in businesses today. By taking the time to understand what cost centers are and how they impact your bottom line, you can start making changes that will save your business money and improve efficiency across the board!

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Daryna Rodriguez

Editor, content and marketing professional with a decade of experience bringing value for the B2B segment. Get in touch!