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By Fred A. Jacobs, Larry H. Beard

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It is thus appropriate to start by developing insight into the cash-to-cash cycle and how the various aspects of it can be measured, evaluated, and ultimately controlled or managed. Page 2 Obviously, everyone needs to be reminded that a good, current business plan is essential. In the management of cash and other liquid assets, commonly called working capital, access to optimal amounts of credit, both long-term and short-term, is important. In "Let Your Business Plan Be a Road Map to Credit," the well-devised business plan becomes a vital part of the managing working capital because it can increase access to necessary short-term financing.

Often overhead is allocated based on some prescribed relationship to direct labor. If operations are already monitored through a direct labor variance process, then the allocation of overhead costs based on the same attribute surrogate for production is economically sound. However, for the same reasons, the relationship between production and direct labor may be flawed. As direct labor decreases as a percent of total costs, other attribute surrogates such as machine or maintenance requisition may more accurately describe the production process and, even if direct labor remains the best basis for the allocation, the decrease in total direct labor will magnify any inaccuracies in the allocation process.

Ratios computed from these financial statements can be Page 8 used to estimate the average cash cycle for the previous year. These estimates, although not absolutely accurate, provide useful management information and involve (1) computing the turnover rate for the various operating cycle assets and (2) dividing the turnover averages into 365 days to determine the average number of days that cash remained invested at the various cycle stages. The ratio computations for the five operating cycle components (I through V) are summarized in Exhibit 3.

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