Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing Software for libraries

Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing (TDABC) is a relatively new costing method that is gradually gaining acceptance in libraries. This situation is because TDABC is a fast and simple method that only requires two values: the unit cost of supplying resource capacity, and an estimation of time required to perform an activity [1]. Thanks to its simplicity, TDABC allows to approach the accounting process to library managers without experience in accounting. Up to now, four important studies concerning TDABC in libraries have been applied to very specific processes such as inter-library loan [2], acquisition [3], circulation [4], and cataloguing processes [5]. In these case studies, three specific advantages of TDABC in libraries are highlighted: the possibility to disaggregate values per activity, to compare different scenarios, and to justify decisions and actions [6].


The aim of this project is to provide a dedicated software tool for costing analysis in library processes. Its development has been promoted and coordinated under a PhD program of KU Leuven(1) with the support of the University of Cuenca(2) , VLIR-UOS(3) and SENESCYT(4) . TD-ABC-D is a web-based tool that has been implemented as an additional module of the integrated library management software called ABCD(5) (in Spanish: 'Automatización de Bibliotecas y Centros de Documentación'). TD-ABC-D that stands for TDABC module in ABCD system has been developed under the philosophy of “Free and Open Source Software”, using freely available technologies like PHP as server-side scripting language, Apache as web server, MySQL as database, plus tools for web development such as HTML, CSS, AJAX, JAVASCRIPT and GOOGLE API

TD-ABC-D is divided into three main sections:

  • TDABC module: In which all library processes must be entered. Through this section libraries can perform maintenance of processes, responsible and resources.
  • Process simulation: This section allows libraries to perform “what-if” analysis in order to evaluate different possible scenarios.
  • Benchmarking: Through this section, the current library can compare its process cost and time with other libraries registered in the system.


  • [1] R. S. Kaplan and S. R. Anderson, Time-driven activity-based costing: a simpler and more powerful path to higher profits. Boston, MA, USA: Harvard Business School Press, 2007.
  • [2] E. Pernot, F. Roodhooft, and A. Van den Abbeele, “Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing for Inter-Library Services: A Case Study in a University,” J. Acad. Librariansh., vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 551–560, Sep. 2007.
  • [3] K. Stouthuysen, M. Swiggers, A.-M. Reheul, and F. Roodhooft, “Time-driven activity-based costing for a library acquisition process: A case study in a Belgian University,” Libr. Collect. Acquis. Tech. Serv., vol. 34, no. 2–3, pp. 83–91, 2010.
  • [4] L. Siguenza-Guzman, A. Van den Abbeele, J. Vandewalle, H. Verhaaren, and D. Cattrysse, “Using Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing to Support Library Management Decisions: A Case Study for Lending and Returning Processes,” Libr. Q. Inf. Community Policy, vol. 84, no. 1, pp. 1–23, 2014.
  • [5] L. Siguenza-Guzman, A. Van den Abbeele, J. Vandewalle, H. Verhaaren, and D. Cattrysse, “Recent evolutions in costing systems: A literature review of Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing,” ReBEL - Rev. Bus. Econ. Lit., vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 34–65, Mar. 2013.
  • [6] L. Siguenza-Guzman, A. Van den Abbeele, J. Vandewalle, H. Verhaaren, and D. Cattrysse, “Towards a Holistic Analysis Tool to Support Decision-Making in Libraries,” in Proceedings of the IATUL Conferences, Cape Town, South Africa, 2013.