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Whiteboard Wednesday Episode 18: CAPEX vs OPEX

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CAPEX and OPEX, two terms used when describing budgets. They are describing how money is spent in a company. It is useful to know these terms when we’re communicating with our colleagues about where budgets going to come from where money is spent.  

What is CAPEX?

So, let’s say that you heard your company wants to buy a big truck for the company to deliver a product or whatever it might be to your company. You would call that a capital expenditure. Capital expenditure (Capex) is an investment from your company. It’s something that you could recognize as an asset because once you’ve bought that truck, it’s now an asset of the company, it can go on your books as an asset of the company. It would typically be depreciated as an asset and recognized as an asset.  

What is OPEX?  

The petrol used to fill that truck every year and look after it is typically called OPEX. So, its operational expenditure, it is the day to day running expenses for running the company. from an IT perspective. You might be buying a big piece of hardware and that could be capital expenditure, it could be an asset that goes into the company and can be recognized as an asset on the books and then depreciated over time. Then this is for day to day running expenses operational expenditure from a software point of view when you were buying perpetual software that you owned outright, you could consider that an asset and recognize its capital expenditure as subscriptions. It depends how you buy it, whether you’re buying like three years up front or on an ongoing basis, but the line is blurred between CAPEX and OPEX.

What matters to your company

What matters here is what’s important to your company. How do they want things to be recognized and what’s important to them?  Capital expenditure puts assets on the company’s books, it makes the company look better, you have more assets, you have more value, whereas operational expenditure you can deduct from your income tax bill, so you pay less tax. It depends on what your company’s doing, what the priorities are, and where the budgets lie, but you need to be aware of these terms when you’re managing budgets. 

See also: CAPEX vs OPEX – a tale of two budgets 

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.

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