Difference Wiki

Cost Centre vs. Cost Unit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 18, 2023
A "Cost Centre" is a department or division within an organization accountable for certain expenses, while a "Cost Unit" is a standard measurement used to assign costs to products or services.

Key Differences

A "Cost Centre" is a distinct segment within an organization, such as a department, division, or project, that is responsible for specific expenses. In contrast, a "Cost Unit" refers to a quantifiable basis (like per hour or per piece) used to apportion costs to services or products.
Businesses often establish multiple "Cost Centres" to monitor and control costs effectively within various parts of the organization. On the other hand, "Cost Units" help businesses understand the cost incurred to produce a specific quantity, aiding in pricing decisions.
Managers of a "Cost Centre" are typically accountable for the costs incurred and might have budgets they need to adhere to. Whereas, by using a "Cost Unit," organizations can derive the cost of producing a single item or providing a unit of service.
To illustrate, consider a manufacturing company. Each department, like production or marketing, could be a "Cost Centre" with its own set of allocated expenses. Simultaneously, the company might determine the cost to produce a single widget, which would be measured in "Cost Units."

Comparison Chart


A segment accountable for specific expenses.
A measurement used to assign costs.


Organizational segment.
Quantifiable basis.


Monitor and control costs within a segment.
Determine cost for a specific quantity.


Managers oversee the costs.
Used to price products/services.


Production department in a factory.
Cost per unit of product manufactured.

Cost Centre and Cost Unit Definitions

Cost Centre

A division or department within an organization holding its own expenses.
The marketing division operates as a separate Cost Centre within the company.

Cost Unit

A quantifiable basis used for pricing services or goods.
The bakery set its prices based on a Cost Unit per loaf.

Cost Centre

An organizational segment accountable for specific costs.
Each project in the software firm is treated as an individual Cost Centre.

Cost Unit

A metric guiding the allocation of costs to specific outputs.
The factory used a Cost Unit based on machine hours to allocate overheads.

Cost Centre

A unit within a business responsible for budget adherence.
The HR department, as a Cost Centre, oversaw the training budgets.

Cost Unit

A standard measurement assigning costs to products.
The company determined the Cost Unit for producing each toy.

Cost Centre

An entity within an organization that doesn't generate direct profits but incurs costs.
Support teams, acting as Cost Centres, are crucial for overall customer satisfaction.

Cost Unit

A standard used to derive the cost associated with a quantity of output.
Each printed book had a Cost Unit, helping in deciding its sale price.

Cost Centre

A section of a company tracked for its financial performance.
The manufacturing division, a key Cost Centre, optimized its operations for efficiency.

Cost Unit

A unit of measure indicating the cost of a single product or service.
The hotel's Cost Unit for room service was calculated per meal delivered.


Can a business have multiple "Cost Centres"?

Yes, businesses often have multiple "Cost Centres" corresponding to different departments or projects.

How is a "Cost Unit" useful for businesses?

A "Cost Unit" aids businesses in determining the cost for a specific quantity, facilitating pricing decisions.

Is a "Cost Centre" always a cost burden?

No, while a "Cost Centre" incurs expenses, it can be essential for supporting revenue-generating activities.

Can a "Cost Unit" vary over time?

Yes, a "Cost Unit" can vary based on factors like input costs, production efficiency, and market conditions.

Who typically oversees a "Cost Centre"?

Managers or department heads usually oversee the expenses and operations of a "Cost Centre."

What's the main function of a "Cost Centre"?

A "Cost Centre" helps in monitoring and controlling specific expenses within an organization.

In what scenarios might a "Cost Unit" be employed?

"Cost Units" are used in scenarios like product pricing, service costing, and overhead allocation.

Can a "Cost Centre" also generate revenue?

While primarily for tracking expenses, some "Cost Centres" might also generate minor revenues.

How is "Cost Unit" related to sales price?

Sales price often considers the "Cost Unit" and adds a margin to derive the final selling price.

How do "Cost Centres" aid in budgeting?

"Cost Centres" allow organizations to allocate specific budgets to different segments, promoting financial discipline.

Can a "Cost Unit" be different for two similar products?

Yes, variations in production methods, materials, or overheads can lead to different "Cost Units" for similar items.

How is "Cost Unit" determined in service industries?

In service industries, a "Cost Unit" might be based on time (like cost per hour) or service units.

Do all businesses use the concept of "Cost Centre"?

While widely used, not all businesses may formally categorize segments as "Cost Centres."

Can the significance of a "Cost Unit" change based on scale?

Yes, economies of scale can lower the "Cost Unit" as production volumes increase.

What factors can affect the "Cost Unit" of a product?

Factors like raw material costs, labor rates, and production efficiency can influence a product's "Cost Unit."

How does a "Cost Centre" differ from a profit center?

A "Cost Centre" mainly incurs costs, whereas a profit center is responsible for both costs and revenues.

Are there industries where "Cost Units" are especially relevant?

Industries like manufacturing, hospitality, and consultancy often rely heavily on "Cost Units."

How does technology impact "Cost Centre" management?

Technology allows for more accurate tracking and analysis of expenses within a "Cost Centre."

Why might a business restructure its "Cost Centres"?

Businesses might restructure "Cost Centres" for reasons like organizational changes, cost control, or strategic shifts.

How do external factors affect a product's "Cost Unit"?

External factors like inflation, currency rates, and supply chain disruptions can influence a product's "Cost Unit."
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons