Optimizing Cash Flow: Strategies Based on the Operating Cycle

Rate this post

An operating cycle refers to the time it takes for a company to convert its investments in inventory into cash through the sale of products or services. It encompasses the entire process from the acquisition of raw materials or goods, production, sale of products or services, and receipt of cash from customers. Understanding the operating cycle is crucial for assessing a company’s efficiency in managing its working capital and cash flow.

operating cycle

Components of the Operating Cycle:

Inventory Conversion Period

    The operating cycle begins with the acquisition of raw materials or inventory. The inventory conversion period measures the time it takes for raw materials to be converted into finished goods ready for sale.

    Example: A manufacturing company purchases raw materials, processes them into finished products, and holds them in inventory until they are sold.

    Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)

    Once products or services are sold, the company extends credit terms to customers. The days sales outstanding (DSO) represent the average number of days it takes for the company to collect payment from customers.

    Example: A software company sells licenses to customers with a payment term of 30 days. The DSO measures how long it takes, on average, for customers to pay for these licenses.

    Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)

      While the company waits for payment from customers, it may also have outstanding payables to suppliers. The days payable outstanding (DPO) measure the average number of days it takes for the company to pay its suppliers.

      Example: A retailer purchases inventory from suppliers on credit terms of 60 days. The DPO measures how long it takes, on average, for the retailer to pay its suppliers.

      Operating Cycle Calculation

      The operating cycle can be calculated using the following formula:

      Operating Cycle = Inventory Conversion Period + Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) – Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)

      Importance of the Operating Cycle

      Working Capital Management

      A shorter operating cycle indicates efficient management of working capital, as it minimizes the time and resources tied up in inventory and receivables.

      Cash Flow Management

        Understanding the operating cycle helps companies anticipate cash flow needs, ensuring they have sufficient liquidity to cover expenses and investments.

        Operational Efficiency

        Monitoring the operating cycle allows companies to identify bottlenecks in the production or sales process and implement strategies to improve efficiency.

        Financial Health

        Investors and creditors use the operating cycle as a measure of a company’s financial health and efficiency in managing its resources.


        Let’s consider a retail company that sells clothing. It takes 30 days to purchase inventory from suppliers (inventory conversion period), 60 days to sell the inventory to customers and collect payment (DSO), and 45 days to pay suppliers for the inventory purchased (DPO).

        Operating Cycle = 30 days + 60 days – 45 days = 45 days

        In this example, the retail company has an operating cycle of 45 days, meaning it takes 45 days to convert inventory into cash.

        2 thoughts on “Optimizing Cash Flow: Strategies Based on the Operating Cycle”

        Leave a Comment

        How can we help you?

        We are a group of professionals from accounting background happy to help individuals achieving their financial goals.

        About us Contact Us

        © 2024 | MoneyQuate | All Rights Reserved