An operating expense, operating expenditure, operational expense, operational expenditure or OPEX is an on-going cost for running a product, business, or system. Its counterpart, a capital expenditure (CAPEX), is the cost of developing or providing non-consumable parts for the product or system. For example, the purchase of a photocopier is the CAPEX, and the annual paper and toner cost is the OPEX. For larger systems like businesses, OPEX may also include the cost of workers and facility expenses such as rent and utilities.
In business, an operating expense is a day-to-day expense such as sales and administration, or research & development, as opposed to Production, costs, and pricing. In short, this is the money the business spends in order to turn inventory into throughput. Operating expenses also include depreciation of plants and machinery which are used in the production process.
On an income statement, "operating expenses" is the sum of a business's operating expenses for a period of time, such as a month or year.
In throughput accounting, the cost accounting aspect of Theory of Constraints (TOC), operating expense is the money spent turning inventory into throughput. In TOC, operating expense is limited to costs that vary strictly with the quantity produced, like raw materials and purchased components. Everything else is a fixed cost, including labour unless there is a regular and significant chance that workers will not work a full-time week when they report on its first day.
In a real estate context, operating expenses are costs associated with the operation and maintenance of an income producing property. Operating expenses include