What Is Days Sales Outstanding?


Days Sales Outstanding

Business acquirers use the calculation to find companies with high DSO values, with the intention of procuring the business and improving their collection and credit processes. Finally, DSO is a crucial calculation to analysts who are looking to compare companies to see how well they manage https://www.bookstime.com/ credit and use receivables to grow their business. Since cash is extremely important for business operations, the quick collection of accounts receivable is in the best interest of the company. Furthermore, DSO can also be used to examine the company’s overall efficiency and profitability.

At the same time, low receivables turnover may be caused by a loose credit policy, an inadequate collections effort, and/or a large proportion of customers having financial difficulties. The easiest way to work out your days sales outstanding is to use the total credit sales, accounts receivable and a set number of days to create the followingDSO calculation formula. Days sales outstanding plays a large role in the cash conversion cycle , another metric business owners might choose to track closely. The cash conversion cycle shows how long it takes for every dollar invested into the business to emerge as cash from the customer. In other words, CCC takes into account how long it takes to produce and sell inventory, collect on sales, and pay down accounts payable. Companies seeing an increase in their DSO need to keep a close watch on cash flow to make sure that they can pay their own financial obligations on time.

Days Sales Outstanding

In addition to job costing and looking at profit margins, there is another critical KPI that service organizations need to watch. The day sales outstanding is a calculation used to estimate the average length of a company’s collection period. Days sales outstanding ratio is an important accounting tool for a business, but it should not be considered the only tool for maintaining liquidity. Sometimes figures revealed by days’ sales outstanding do not indicate the actual efficiency of the business.

That said, an increase in A/R represents an outflow of cash, whereas a decrease in A/R is a cash inflow since it means the company has been paid and thus has more liquidity . More specifically, the customers have more time after receiving the product to actually pay for it. Working capital management is a strategy that requires monitoring a company’s current assets and liabilities to ensure its efficient operation.

Once again, we are in the uncomfortable position of having to give a rational analysis of the macroeconomy in the face of a euphoric stock market. Not surprisingly, the 2016 Hackett Group Working Capital Survey found that 1,000 public companies included in the sample had a collective $316 billion tied up in DSO. Every day that you’re doing work that your client hasn’t paid for upfront, you’re essentially giving that client a loan.

Days Sales Outstanding

For more tips on how to survive and thrive during downturns, find out what our founder has to say about DSO and other metrics. Passionate about helping people learn investing, and making it relatable in everyday language. Comparing trends with companies who have historically undertook similar transformations, particularly in the software space, could be quite beneficial in understanding this special case.

Days Sales Outstanding During Downturns

The shorter the DSO, the faster the company collects payment from its customers – and the sooner it is able to make use of its cash. Determining the days sales outstanding is an important tool for measuring the liquidity of a company’s current assets. Due to the high importance of cash in operating a business, it is in the company’s best interests to collect receivable balances as quickly as possible. Managers, investors, and creditors see how effective the company is in collecting cash from customers. A lower DSO value reflects high liquidity and cash flow measurements. A high receivables turnover ratio often indicates a conservative credit policy and/or an aggressive collections department.

  • This way you can keep track of your cash flow and follow up on late payments.
  • Let’s say a company has an A/R balance of $30k and $200k in revenue.
  • It is technically also more accurate to only include sales made on credit in the denominator rather than all sales.
  • A high DSO value indicates the company takes a longer period to collect its account receivables whereas a low value shows it collects the account receivables quickly.
  • Invoicing as soon as you deliver a product or service will quickly eliminate any time period you’re responsible for adding to your average days sales outstanding.
  • Focus on rewarding early payments rather than penalizing customers in order to maintain a low DSO.
  • An effective way for businesses to use the DSO calculation is to keep it tracked month by month on a trend line — or a series of plotted data points indicating a certain pattern or direction.

This can be done by automating your billing process, making sure you have a good relationship with your customers, and offering some incentives to encourage them to pay early. You’d have to choose a different time period and then compare all these numbers together – that’s rescinding the simplicity. This is simple enough to calculate for your company (or even your competitors’, if they have public accounts). It means the average number of days your clients take to pay you is 36. Thus, the good or bad value of DSO varies from one sector to another. For example, the average DSO for discount stores, like Dollar General, Burlington Stores, etc., is approximately 4 days. On the other hand, the same value is unexpectedly low for the oil and gas sector as its normal DSO ranges between 50 and 130 days.

Iii How To Reduce And Improve Dso

DSO needs to be calculated on a month-to-month (or period-to-period) basis to see if the trend is moving higher or lower. Just like any SaaS metric, DSO should not be used alone, but with other metrics to get a better picture of the company’s overall health. With that in mind, before prescribing remedies for your high DSO, it’s important to understand why payments are getting delayed by getting to the root of the problem. Sure, they are interested in your ARR and growth in sales, but what they really care about is how quickly sales are converted into cash – and then into their wallet. In this example you can see, how to calculate the best possible level of receivables. You can use Best Possible DSO only at the current receivables to calculate the best length of time you can turn over those receivables.

The resulting value is then multiplied by the days in the measurement period. Companies should also regularly review and update policies on when to send invoices and make sure that those policies are being followed. Consider sending invoices when the contract is signed, at delivery, or using some other milestone. Companies should also be auditing invoice processes to identify delays or errors.

  • On the other hand, if the DSO is high, it implies the infrequent flow of cash for businesses, affecting their performance financially in the long run.
  • Remember, DSO can be impacted by confounding factors and your finance team’s effectiveness may not always be the answer.
  • AR automation software can make it much easier for your team to identify these at-risk customers.
  • How to Calculate Market Value of Debt (With Real-Life Examples) Companies need financial capital to operate their business.

DSO changes along with revenue and other short-term fluctuations. It could simply be that sales increased while past due payments remained the same, thus creating a lower DSO number.


Retailers, who sell directly to the consumer, have a DSO of zero. A utility company might have standard terms of 30 days, so its DSO would generally be between 45 – 55 days. Businesses that sell to other businesses may have even longer terms, which would increase their expected DSO. That’s why it’s so important that you track your days sales outstanding over a time period against your business terms and industry benchmarks. You’ll then be able to identify problems and find solutions to fix them.

Days Sales Outstanding

It is important for a company to collect the outstanding account receivables in a timely manner. According to the time value of money principle the more a company waits for receiving the moment the more they lose out on profit. As soon as the company collects the payment, they can roll the money and make a profit out of it. A high DSO value indicates the company takes a longer period to collect its account receivables Days Sales Outstanding whereas a low value shows it collects the account receivables quickly. Generally, DSO value under 45 is considered to be low, but that depends on the size and nature of the business. A small business may find it difficult to run the cash flow with a DSO value of 30, while for big businesses it is never an issue. It is important to maintain a standard DSO value according to the condition and nature of the business.

How To Calculate Days Outstanding For Overdue Invoices In Excel?

Your ideal DSO should be determined by comparing it against industry benchmarks, factoring in economic fluctuations, and your company’s capital structure as well as size. It can also allow the department to find out which customers have poor payment records and flag them. In either case, the company may end up having problems with its cash flow. A good DSO ratio can differ depending on the industry a business is part of, but if the number is below 45, then it would be considered good in most industries. After this, multiply the answer by the days in the period being considered. It is a good idea for businesses to always use more than one metric when assessing their performance, if possible. There are situations in which the DSO may not be as useful, such as when two companies that have considerable differences in the percentage of sales that they make on credit are being compared.

Days Sales Outstanding

In other words, the accounts receivable represents the money outstanding from the total credit sales at a particular moment in time. If a business has a high days sales outstanding, it indicates that the business is making sales on credit but taking a significant amount of time to collect payments. Once invoices have been sent, a company must have a plan for following up on outstanding balances and reminding customers of unpaid invoices. This communication should focus on identifying any problems that are preventing the customer from paying the invoice. In some cases, an otherwise strong customer may be having cash flow problems and may be appropriate to offer a special arrangement or payment plan. If a company’s cash flow could use some improvement and the DSO is significantly high, it’s time to investigate why customers are taking their time making payments. Whether your DSO is high or low is relative to your payment term.

Companies provide goods and services on a credit basis and later collect the payments for those. DSO is the average number of days it takes to make that collection.

Acknowledged as one of the best metrics to consider along with DSO, you can interpret the order-to-cash teams’ performance. Another effective strategy is to automate the invoicing process through the use of electronic invoicing solutions. A low DSO means that the company is collecting payment from its customers rapidly and is therefore able to make better use of its working capital. Total credit sales includes sales which are made on credit – in other words, are due to be paid on a future date – as opposed to cash sales, which are paid immediately. Here, you calculate the ratio between your A/R and your gross sales and multiplicate your results by x number of days in the month. And the Collection Effectiveness Index is one of the best contextual indicators for DSO that there is. Want to learn more about how accounts receivable automation from Billtrust can help lower your company’s DSO?

Days Sales Outstanding is the average collection period of a company. Days Sales Outstanding is also known as “days receivable”, “average collection period”, or “average debtor days”. It is calculated to find out the average number of days a company takes to collect the dues owed by other individuals and companies. This ratio reflects the management of the company’s accounts receivable. The days sales outstanding calculation, also called the average collection period or days’ sales in receivables, measures the number of days it takes a company to collect cash from its credit sales. This calculation shows the liquidity and efficiency of a company’s collections department.

Customers are much more likely to settle outstanding payments if your company is helpful and accessible, yet serious. A high DSO can result in lack of cash flow, which stunts growth, wastes valuable resources and potentially damages customer relations. The good news is that there are several strategies you can implement to optimise your debt collection processes and reduce your DSO. Stay updated on the latest products and services anytime, anywhere. Additionally, even if it continues to be able to pay its debts when payments are delayed, a company cannot reinvest as quickly, thus potentially losing money. Additionally, DSO is not always good at determining the efficiency of a business’s accounts receivable. It would also not be very useful to compare this company to a company that has a high percentage of its sales as credit sales.

Whether or not credit is being granted to customers who don’t deserve it. As discussed earlier, calculating and maintaining your DSO is important for the continuity of your business. According to the Credit Research Foundation’s National Summary of Domestic Trade Receivables, the median DSO for companies across a variety of industries in Q3 of 2021 was 37.69 days.

This table displays the receivables data used for each of the calculations. By tracking these figures monthly, you can identify if they’re increasing over time against your benchmarks and that of the industry.

Applications Of Days Sales Outstanding

To combat this, ensure that there is an adequate way for those responsible for invoicing to voice feedback to sales and leadership. The Engineering & Construction and Food industries show a stark contrast in what an acceptable DSO looks like, as shown by the median number of days it takes each to collect payment. As of 2016, the Engineering & Construction industry took approximately 82 days to collect on invoices.

The DSO can be calculated by dividing accounts receivable for a specific period by the annual revenue per day. When payments are delayed because customers are having their own cash flow issues, it is not a major concern until a high volume of customers start doing it repeatedly. If you find your company has too many customers with cash flow problems, it might be time to talk with your sales reps and start focusing on more cash flow positive leads.