What Is an Operating Cycle? Plus How to Calculate It

The operating cycle is an important conceptual framework for understanding the core processes and activities that an organization must go through in order to generate revenue and profits. It is a vital component of any successful business, as it focuses on the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and helps to identify areas of improvement. This blog post will discuss the fundamentals of the operating cycle, its components and their importance to the success of any business. We will also discuss how a company can optimize its operating cycle to maximize profitability and gain a competitive advantage. So, if you are a business owner or manager, read on to learn more about what is operating cycle and how you can use it to your advantage.

The Operating Cycle

Why is the operating cycle important?

Because it can demonstrate to a business owner how quickly the organization can sell inventory, the operating cycle is crucial. Simply put, it determines the companys efficiency. For instance, if its operating cycle is short, this indicates that the business was able to quickly turn things around. It might also imply that the credit policy is stricter and the payment terms are shorter.

In order to maintain operations, recoup investments, and fulfill various obligations, a company should have a shorter operating cycle. In contrast, a longer operating cycle indicates that the business needs more money to keep running.

A company’s operating cycle is influenced by a variety of factors, and there are a variety of ways that an operating cycle can be used to assess a company’s financial health. A business owner will be better able to make decisions that will benefit the company if they have a better understanding of the company’s operating cycle.

What is an operating cycle?

An organization’s operating cycle is the period of time it takes to purchase goods, sell them, and receive payment for those sales. Alternatively put, it measures how long it takes a business to convert its inventories into cash. Depending on the sector, an operating cycle can be any length. By providing an idea of whether or not they’ll be able to pay off any liabilities, an understanding of a company’s operating cycle can help determine its financial health.

For instance, if a company has a short operating cycle, this means they’ll be getting paid consistently. The company will be able to pay off any outstanding debts or grow its business more quickly the faster it generates cash.

The flow of a cash operating cycle is as follows:

It’s crucial to distinguish between an operating cycle and a cash cycle. A cash cycle shows businesses how they can manage cash flow, whereas an operating cycle assesses the effectiveness of the operation. Despite the fact that they are both beneficial and offer invaluable insight, they serve different purposes.

How to determine an operating cycle

Business owners must compute their operating cycle in order to assess a company’s efficiency. Follow these steps to make this calculation:

1. Determine the inventory period

When calculating its operating cycle, a company owner must first take into account its inventory period. A company’s inventory holding period is the amount of time before it is sold. The inventory period can be calculated as follows:

inventory period = 365 / inventory turnover

By dividing the cost of goods sold by the average inventory, you can calculate a company’s inventory turnover. The average inventory is the average of the opening and closing inventories of a business. While the cost of goods sold can be found on the company’s income statement, this can be found on the balance sheet of the company.

2. Determine the companys accounts receivable

Additionally, business owners must understand their accounts receivable when calculating their operating cycle. The sum of money a customer owes a business is known as accounts receivable. Accounts receivable can be calculated as follows:

accounts receivable period = 365 / receivables turnover

Divide credit sales by the average accounts receivable to calculate a company’s turnover in receivables.

3. Calculate the operating cycle

The operating cycle can be determined using the formula below:

operating cycle = inventory period + accounts receivable period

This equation can also be used:

operating cycle is calculated as follows: (365/(cost of goods sold/average inventory)) + (365/(credit sales/average accounts receivable))

The resultant number is the duration of the business’s operational cycle.

Tips for shortening a company’s operating cycle

When attempting to shorten a company’s operating cycle, keep the following suggestions in mind:

Examples of operating cycles

To understand operating cycles, its important to consider various scenarios. Here are some examples of operating cycles:

Example 1

Lets say Cindy owns a clothing store. As soon as she started paying for the materials to make various garments, her company’s operational cycle would start. The business cycle wouldn’t be complete until all the clothing was produced, sold, and the money was collected from the various customers.

Example 2

Let’s say Bob, the owner of a bakery, is attempting to assess how smoothly things are going in his establishment. To do this, he must determine his business’ operating cycle. This indicates that the cycle would begin as soon as he started paying for the items, supplies, and components used to create various pastries and baked goods. The operational cycle of his bakery wouldn’t be complete until all of his baked goods were sold to customers and he had received payment for his sales.


What does operating cycle mean?

The days needed for a business to receive inventory, sell the inventory, and collect money from the sale of the inventory are referred to as an operating cycle (OC). This cycle is crucial in determining how efficiently a business operates.

What is operating cycle and its formula?

By adding the inventory period and the accounts receivable period, the operating cycle is calculated. Where: The number of days it takes to sell an item of inventory is known as the inventory period. This is calculated by dividing 365 by the ratio of average inventory or inventory turnover to cost of goods sold.

What is operating cycle Class 11?

The operating cycle is the period of time between the time an asset is purchased for processing and the time it is converted to cash and cash equivalents.

What are the steps in an operating cycle?

The operating cycle has three fundamental steps: purchasing inventory with cash, selling inventory on credit, and receiving payment for the sale. The inventory period and the accounts receivables period can be added to determine the operating cycle.

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