DSO calculation

The Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is a Key Performance Indicator of accounts receivable management. It is composed of two variables:
  • The average payment term granted to your customers resulting from the trade negotiation,
  • The average number of days of delayed payment (or early payment) based on your performance in cash collection.
The DSO represents the number of days sales that are blocked in the accounts receivable, which is one of the biggest items in businesses balance sheet's assets !

The DSO has a direct impact on the Working Capital Requirement (WCR), the cash, and the overall risk of having unpaid invoices and bad debts.

The lower is your DSO, the lower your WCR, the lower your overall risk of unpaid customers. Impacts include better cash flow and profitability.
If your DSO is high, your WCR increases and consumes the financial resources of your company. The overall risk of defaulting customers rises as well resulting in accruals for doubtful accounts, which directly impacts profitability and the net result of your company.
 The accounts receivables are a big consumer of cash for your company. The other big item consumer of cash that increase the working capital requirement is the inventory.

Calculate your DSO

The DSO is not a perfect indicator, as it may be fluctuating for many different reasons. However, it remains the main KPI to assess credit management performance. There are many methods of calculating DSO.

The rollback method

We propose to use the most coherent and fair calculation of DSO by depletion of accounts receivable by turnover.
Download the tool below to calculate your DSO with a few clicks, or use the online tool.
You can calculate your DSO for your accounts receivable but also for a group of clients or for a single client (to assess his payment behavior, for example).

Once the DSO is calculated, it is important to understand the reasons of its level. Has it increased because of the longer payment terms granted to customers? Or because of more overdue invoices? Or due to fewer down payments received from customers, etc. This work analysis is key in order to take good initiatives to improve it.
Understanding the DSO is essential to drive a proper action plan!
  • Your Cash Collection Software available for all sizes of companies

    The DSO in My DSO Manager

    The DSO is a key performance indicator in My DSO Manager calculated in real time by week or by month.

    It can be computed at many levels: for all accounts receivable portfolios, by customer groups, by customer, or by analytical field (activity, profit center, etc.).

    The DSO is divided into a contractual part (corresponding to not due invoices) and an overdue part (due to late payments). See more with an online demo.

The balance sheet method

This is another classical way to compute the DSO. Its advantage is to be very simple and to be close to other financial ratios done on the balance sheet.

AR: Accounts receivable amount including VAT, at the end of the period
Nb days: Number of days of the period
Sales: Amount of Sales, including VAT, of the period.

Formula: AR / Sales x Nb of days
The period chosen is often 3 months, i.e. 91 days. It is possible to perform the calculation over a longer period, but the indicator is less accurate in this case.
If AR is 300 K€, Sales for the period are 430 K€, and number of days of the period 91, the DSO is equal to 300 / 430 x 91 = 63.5 days
Advantages of this method: The calculation is very simple to perform. In financial analysis, it can be done from the balance sheet and the income statement (with the period of the exercise).

Disadvantages of this method: The result is very volatile from one month to the next, and it is strongly impacted by the variations in turnover, which are not representative of the performance in the management of the receivables. It is unwise to draw conclusions about a sudden drop or rise in this index. It must therefore be interpreted over the medium term, taking into account, for example, a sliding average over 6 months.

How to improve your DSO?

Improving DSO represents an holy grail for businesses. Indeed, it is the main lever to reduce the Working Capital Requirement, and therefore improve the cash flow and investment capacity of the company.

Trade receivables usually represent on average about 30% of the total balance sheet of companies. Reducing receivables with a lower DSO improves the creditworthiness of the business and releases financial resources that will be much better used elsewhere (investment, etc.).

Main ways of DSO improvement:

Studies have shown that customer satisfaction is higher when a dispute is resolved quickly than when there is no dispute! On the other hand, if the resolution of the dispute is laborious, satisfaction plunges to the bottom. Quickly resolving disputes is therefore essential, which justifies setting up a priority processing process as soon as a dispute is identified.

Conclusion

The DSO is a key performance indicator in credit management, and it can be calculated in several ways according to the method and the data taken into account (deduction of provision from the AR, adding of unbilled revenue to the sales, ...).

Understanding of the DSO results can be complex in some cases. See our article about the enigmas of the DSO.

Beyond the cash and WCR stakes covered by the DSO, this indicator also shows the quality of the organization of a company. If it is too high, it may be due to a lack of efficiency at one or several steps of the sales process.

Indeed, the "box" of overdue invoices is like a receptacle in which each invoice represents a malfunction in the sales process. Each overdue has an internal cause that can be the starting point to improve internal processes:

  • Overdue due to a delivery problem.
  • Invoice unpaid because of customer creditworthiness. This cause indicates a flaw in the analysis of customer risk and in securing receivables.
  • Late payment due to a lack of customer reminders. This highlights poor management of Accounts Receivable and collection.
  • Invoice rejected due to an error on the invoice (missing PO number, wrong company name).
  • etc.
Online tools:
DSO calculation based on roll back method
Reporting DSO online
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