Operating supplies

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Operating supplies
See also

Operating supplies are "consumed" by the company during operations such as production, distribution and transmission (for example supplies used by machinery)[1]. They might be seen similar to convenience goods but they do not become final product or its part. Usually operating supplies include stationery, oil, lubricant, petrol, grease, tools, gaskets, waste, hose, laps, packaging, distilled water, furnitures[2]. They are characterized by[3]:

  • Short life,
  • Low price,
  • After using they loose value immediately,
  • Can be purchased with minimum effort,
  • Availability on the market,
  • Frequent purchases,
  • Low quantities in purchases.

Marketing point of view of operating supplies

From marketing perspective operating supplies has below characteristics[4]:

  • Many producers producing the same goods (the same operating supplies),
  • Producers mainly compete on price as buyer decision is based mainly on the lowest price,
  • Almost all producers needs operating supplies,
  • Selling of operational supplies is usually done by network of wholesales,
  • Operational supplies are delivered to many users.

Accounting operating supplies

From accounting perspective there are two ways of handling operating supplies. Each of them is defining slightly different the point of recognition of expense[5]:

  1. Purchase method: expense is calculated when product is purchased,
  2. Consumption method: expense is calculated when product is used.

List of operating supplies and services

Below as example are listed operating supplies and services accounted by Michigan State University[6]:

  • Books and subscriptions,
  • Business entertainment and meetings (food, beverage, alcohol, non food),
  • Furniture,
  • Laundry,
  • Maintenance (equipment, building, hardware),
  • Printing and copying,
  • Renting (equipment),
  • Services (consultations, technology, personal, cloud technology, contractual),
  • Supplies (computer, technology, software, medical, other, offices),
  • Telephones,
  • Tuitions and fees (paid to other institutions, application, license, parking, conference, speaker, credit/debit cards, administrative, membership, health),
  • Utilities (electricity, natural gas),
  • Waste removal.


  1. United States. Office of the Federal Register (2003), p. 230
  2. Office of The Federal Register (2017), p.500
  3. Joshi M. (2012), p.62
  4. Joshi M. (2012), p.62
  5. Balla D. (2012)
  6. Operating Supplies and Services -- DROP DOWN LIST (access: 2019)


Author: Dominika Kaczmarczyk