OPERATING CYCLE: Definition, Formula, Calculations & Examples

The cash is not collected immediately in a credit sale; rather, it is received according to the arrangement negotiated with the distributors or retail outlets. They usually pay quickly when there is a high demand for the product from the consumer, and vice versa. Typically, management decisions can have an impact on a business’s operating cycle.

The inventory period equaled 50 days – from the day the company purchased the inventory to the day it was sold. The accounts receivable period is the amount of time from the sale until the company got paid and it took 10 days to get paid for the shoes sold. The operating cycle of a company consists of time period between the procurement of inventory and the collection of cash from receivables. The operating cycle is the length of time between the company’s outlay on raw materials, wages and other expenses and inflow of cash from sale of goods. Operating cycle is an important concept in management of cash and management of working capital.

  • The working capital requirement can be estimated with the help of duration of operating cycle.
  • All of the assets in your business are turned into products/services/cash which is then turned back again.
  • Thus, the slower the company converts its inventory to cash, the more time it takes to pay off its debts and liabilities.
  • In order to improve the efficiency of the operating cycle and reduce the CCC, there are a few strategies you can implement.

One example would be to decrease the amount of inventory your company holds. This means that companies can reduce or eliminate slow-moving or obsolete inventory, which in turn reduces the cost and time needed to dispose of these items. Capitalizing on your operational efficiency can have positive effects that are felt throughout the rest of your business. For example, businesses like airlines operate on longer cycles due to their reliance on expensive aircraft and employees who often work around the clock. All of the assets in your business are turned into products/services/cash which is then turned back again. The operating cycle is equal to the sum of DIO and DSO, which comes out to 150 days in our modeling exercise.

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Applications of the Operating Cycle Formula

The length of operating cycle is equally influenced by external environment. Abrupt changes in basic conditions would affect the length of operating cycle. The time elapsed between the purchase of goods and the receipt of cash from the sale of inventory is referred to as the operating cycle. The resulting figure represents the number of days in the company’s operating cycle.

Furthermore, increasing payables payment period by negotiating longer credit terms, taking advantage of trade discounts, or using supplier financing options are all viable options. The term “operating cycle” refers to the duration between the time when a company purchases inventory and the time when the company realizes sales. In other words, it is the time a business takes to purchase inventory stock, convert it into finished goods, and then sell it in the market. The operating cycle is a very important factor in the assessment of the operational efficiency of any business. To improve an operational process, business owners should look at the accounts receivable turnover, average payment period (inventory days), and inventory turnover.

An operating cycle is the period of time from the moment raw materials are purchased to when cash is received from customers. This financial ratio measures the performance of working capital management. An increase in the duration of the operating cycle results in more working capital needed. Conversely, a decline of this ratio indicates less working capital needed. This means that it would take a retailer an entire year to sell its inventory.


At the start of the calculation, the sum of DIO and DSO represents the operating cycle – and the added step is subtracting DPO. The calculation of the operating cycle is relatively straightforward, but more insights can be derived from examining the drivers behind DIO and DSO. This article is not intended to provide tax, legal, or investment advice, and BooksTime does not provide any services in these areas. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon for tax, legal, or investment purposes. BooksTime is not responsible for your compliance or noncompliance with any laws or regulations. Get instant access to lessons taught by experienced private equity pros and bulge bracket investment bankers including financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel Modeling.

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What are some examples of businesses with high or low operating cycles?

In-view-of can disclose various ways the acquiree can modify the operating cycle to diminish the cash requirements, offset some of the total cash outlay required to purchase the acquire. Operating Cycle (OC) is the number of days a business requires to receive an inventory, sell its inventory, and complete the collection of its cash from the sale of the inventory. This particular cycle has a major role in stating the efficiency of a business as a whole.

A shorter cycle is preferred and indicates a more efficient and successful business. A shorter cycle indicates that a company is able to recover its inventory investment quickly and possesses enough cash to meet obligations. We have to calculate the days of sales in inventory and days of sales outstanding to find the duration of the operating cycle. The inventory period refers to the current inventory level and the assessment of how quickly it will be converted to a finished product and sold in the market. Mathematically, it is calculated as the average inventory divided by the cost of goods sold multiplied by 365, as shown below. You can apply the same logic to the accounts receivable period calculation, using the total credit sales for the whole year when computing the turnover number.

The operating cycle in working capital is an indicator of management efficiency. The longer a company’s cash cycle, the greater its working capital requirement. As a result, enterprises estimate their working capital requirements and commercial banks fund them depending on the duration of the Cash cycle.

The Personnel manager by framing sound recruitment, selection, training, placement, promotion, transfer, wages, incentives and appraisal policies can contrast the length of the dividends account. In this article we will discuss about operating cycle and its functions. If your operating cycle is too protracted, you may need more working capital to meet your existing obligations.

Duration of operating cycle

The operating cycle is the average period of time required for a business to make an initial outlay of cash to produce goods, sell the goods, and receive cash from customers in exchange for the goods. This is useful for estimating the amount of working capital that a company will need in order to maintain or grow its business. In business, the focus of an operating cycle is specific to sales and purchase of assets as it determines the cash flow.

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They also make large quantities of these items and have little to no inventory to maintain. For example, take a look at retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco, which can turn their entire inventory over nearly five times during the year. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more.

Increased profits are often the end result of running a business more efficiently. For example, an efficient sales force can increase the company’s market share and reduce the time it takes to acquire new customers. This is computed by dividing 365 with the quotient of credit sales and average accounts receivable or receivable return.

Quicker the operating cycle less amount of investment in working capital is needed and it improves the profitability. The duration of the operating cycle depends on the nature of industry and the efficiency in working capital management. It’s also critical to distinguish between an operating cycle and a cash cycle.