KPIs for Product Managers

KPIs for Product Managers: cost of goods sold

In this article, we explore the importance of tracking cost of goods sold (COGS) as a key performance indicator (KPI) for product managers.

As a product manager, understanding your company's cost of goods sold (COGS) is an essential key performance indicator (KPI) to track. COGS directly impacts the profitability of your products and can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your production processes. In this article, we'll dive into the importance of COGS, how to calculate it, and ways to monitor and improve it for better business outcomes.

Understanding the Importance of Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of COGS, let's define what it is and why it's important. COGS refers to the total cost of producing and selling a product, including materials, labor, and other direct costs. For product managers, COGS is a critical metric that can provide insights into product profitability and help identify areas of cost savings.

Defining COGS

COGS is more than just the cost of raw materials or supplies. It also includes all the direct costs associated with producing and delivering a product, such as labor costs, freight expenses, and packaging costs. To get a comprehensive view of COGS, product managers need to account for all these costs.

In addition to direct costs, there are also indirect costs that should be considered when calculating COGS. Indirect costs include expenses such as rent, utilities, and salaries for support staff. While these costs are not directly tied to the production of a specific product, they still play a role in the overall cost of doing business and should be factored into the COGS equation.

The Role of COGS in Product Management

COGS is a KPI that is closely tied to profitability. By tracking this metric, product managers can identify which products are generating the most profit and which ones are costing the company money. This information can be used to determine which products to focus on and which ones to discontinue. Additionally, COGS can highlight which parts of production are inefficient and need improvement.

Another way that COGS can impact product management is through pricing strategy. If the COGS is too high, it may be necessary to increase the price of the product in order to maintain profitability. However, raising prices can also lead to decreased demand, so product managers must carefully balance the cost of production with the price that customers are willing to pay.

How COGS Affects Profit Margins

When the cost of producing a product is too high, it can negatively impact the profit margin. As product managers aim to increase the margin, they must lower COGS by reducing the costs associated with production and delivery. Understanding COGS is key to identifying cost-saving opportunities and maximizing profits.

One way to lower COGS is to streamline the production process. This can be achieved by reducing waste, improving efficiency, and optimizing the supply chain. By identifying areas of inefficiency and implementing improvements, product managers can reduce the cost of production and increase profitability.

In addition to improving the production process, product managers can also explore alternative sourcing options for raw materials and supplies. By finding lower-cost suppliers or negotiating better deals with existing suppliers, product managers can reduce the cost of goods sold and improve the profit margin.


In conclusion, understanding the importance of COGS is essential for product managers who want to maximize profitability and identify areas of cost savings. By tracking this metric and implementing strategies to reduce the cost of production, product managers can improve the bottom line and ensure the long-term success of their products and their company.

Calculating Cost of Goods Sold

As a product manager, understanding the cost of goods sold (COGS) is crucial to making informed decisions about pricing, inventory management, and overall profitability. COGS is the direct cost of producing a product, including raw materials and labor, and is an essential component of a company's financial statements.

Now that we understand why COGS is important, let's move on to how to calculate it. Here are the steps product managers should take:

Direct Costs vs. Indirect Costs

First, it's important to distinguish between direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are expenses that can be directly attributed to producing a product. These costs include raw materials, labor, and other costs directly related to the production process. On the other hand, indirect costs are expenses that support the production process but can't be attributed to a specific product. These costs include rent, utilities, and administrative costs.

COGS Formula and Calculation

The most common formula for calculating COGS is:

  • COGS = Beginning Inventory + Purchases during the Period - Ending Inventory

Product managers can use data from their accounting software to fill in these variables. Beginning inventory refers to how much inventory the company has at the start of the period, purchases during the period refers to additional inventory the company has acquired, and ending inventory refers to the inventory that remains at the end of the period.

It's important to note that the COGS formula only takes into account direct costs. Indirect costs are not included in this calculation.

Adjustments for Inventory and Returns

It's important to make adjustments for any changes in inventory levels that are not directly related to sales, such as damaged or expired goods. Additionally, returns may need to be factored into the calculation, as they can impact COGS.

As a product manager, understanding the cost of goods sold is essential to making informed decisions about pricing and inventory management. By accurately calculating COGS, product managers can ensure that their products are priced competitively and that their company is operating at maximum profitability.

It's important to keep in mind that COGS is just one piece of the financial puzzle. Product managers should also consider other factors such as overhead costs, marketing expenses, and other indirect costs when making decisions about pricing and profitability.

Monitoring and Improving COGS

Now that we know how to calculate COGS let's explore how it can be monitored and improved. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is an essential metric for businesses to understand their profitability. It represents the direct costs of producing goods sold by a company, including the cost of materials, labor, and overhead expenses.

COGS is an important metric for product managers to track as it directly impacts a company's bottom line. By monitoring and improving COGS, businesses can increase profitability and remain competitive in their respective markets.

Setting COGS Targets

Product managers can set COGS targets to monitor the cost of producing products. Targets can be based on past performance, industry benchmarks, or data from competitors. By benchmarking against targets, product managers can identify areas that need improvement and track progress over time.

For example, a product manager may set a COGS target of 60% based on industry benchmarks and past performance. If the actual COGS for a product is 70%, the product manager can investigate why the cost is higher than expected and take steps to reduce it.

Identifying Cost Reduction Opportunities

By analyzing COGS data, product managers can identify cost-saving opportunities. This may include finding alternative suppliers for raw materials or examining options for bulk purchasing. Other areas to explore include streamlining production processes and reducing waste. Regular analysis and adjustment of production processes can have a significant impact on COGS.

For example, a product manager may analyze the COGS data for a product and identify that the cost of raw materials is higher than expected. By finding an alternative supplier or negotiating a better rate with the current supplier, the product manager can reduce the cost of materials and lower the COGS.

Supplier Negotiations and Bulk Purchasing

One way to lower COGS is to negotiate better rates with suppliers and purchase materials in bulk. These cost-saving measures can translate into significant savings for the company. Establishing long-term relationships with suppliers can also contribute to cost savings by reducing logistics costs and improving order accuracy.

For example, a product manager may negotiate a bulk purchasing agreement with a supplier for raw materials. By purchasing in larger quantities, the product manager can negotiate a lower cost per unit and reduce the COGS for the product.

Streamlining Production Processes

Evaluating the production process can help identify inefficiencies and areas where costs can be reduced. This may include updating or replacing outdated machinery, optimizing workflows, and cross-training employees to perform multiple tasks. Implementing lean production practices can also help improve efficiency and reduce costs.

For example, a product manager may identify that the production process for a product is inefficient and causing delays. By optimizing the workflow and cross-training employees to perform multiple tasks, the product manager can reduce the time it takes to produce the product and lower the COGS.

In conclusion, monitoring and improving COGS is essential for businesses to remain competitive and profitable. By setting COGS targets, identifying cost reduction opportunities, negotiating with suppliers, and streamlining production processes, product managers can lower the COGS and increase profitability for their company.

COGS and Pricing Strategies

Finally, let's take a look at how COGS impacts pricing strategies.

When it comes to pricing products, there are many factors to consider, and one of the most important is COGS. COGS, or cost of goods sold, refers to the direct costs associated with producing a product, including materials, labor, and overhead expenses. Understanding COGS is crucial for determining the price of a product and ensuring profitability.

Impact of COGS on Pricing Decisions

COGS plays a significant role in determining the price of a product. High COGS means that the product should be sold at a higher price point to maintain profitability. On the other hand, if COGS is low, the product can be sold at a lower price point while still maintaining profitability.

It's essential to factor COGS into pricing decisions, so the product remains profitable even as market conditions or production costs change. For example, if the cost of materials increases, the price of the product may need to be adjusted to maintain profitability.

Competitive Pricing Analysis

Product managers can use COGS data to conduct competitive pricing analyses. By comparing the price of similar products sold by competitors, product managers can adjust pricing to remain competitive and ensure profitability.

For example, if a competitor is selling a similar product at a lower price point, a company may need to adjust their pricing strategy to remain competitive. However, it's important to consider the impact of COGS on pricing decisions to ensure that the product remains profitable.

Value-Based Pricing and COGS

Value-based pricing is a pricing strategy that considers the value a product provides to its customers. When evaluating value-based pricing, it's essential to account for COGS to ensure that the product remains profitable.

For example, if a product provides significant value to customers, a company may be able to price it higher than a similar product with lower value. However, it's important to ensure that the price aligns with the product's COGS to maintain profitability.

By analyzing COGS and aligning prices with the product's value, companies can maximize profitability while providing value to their customers. This approach requires a deep understanding of the product's COGS and the value it provides to customers, but it can be an effective way to differentiate a product in a crowded market.


COGS is a critical KPI for product managers to track, with its impact on profitability and production processes. Understanding this metric, how to calculate it, and how to monitor and improve it can provide significant benefits for any company. By optimizing COGS, product managers can increase profitability, reduce waste, and build long-term sustainability for their product lines.