Days Sales Outstanding

July 27, 2023
The average number of days sales outstanding (DSO) is when a firm obtains payment for a sale. A high DSO score indicates that a firm suffers payment delays, which can lead to a cash flow crisis. A low DSO suggests that the firm is receiving payments on time. The funds can be put to good use in the business. In general, a DSO of less than 45 days is considered modest.

What are days sales outstanding?

Days sales outstanding (DSO) indicates how long a corporation takes to receive payment for a transaction. DSO is frequently calculated on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. DSO is computed by dividing the average accounts receivable during a specific period by the total value of credit sales for the same period, then multiplying the result by the number of monitored days. Days sales outstanding, commonly known as days receivables or average collection period, is a component of the cash conversion cycle.

Perception of days sales outstanding

Given the critical necessity of cash flow in an enterprise, an organization's best advantage is collecting outstanding accounts receivable as soon as feasible. Companies should expect to get reimbursed for their outstanding receivables with fair certainty. The time consumed waiting to be paid the funds lost depends on the time value of the money

However, the meaning of "quickly" varies depending on the business. Long payment periods are prevalent in the banking business. Fast payment might be critical in the agriculture and gasoline industries. Small firms, in general, rely more heavily on consistent cash flow than large, diverse corporations. A corporation may put capital to use quicker if it converts revenues into cash quickly.

The formula of DSO

The average number of days a corporation takes to convert credit sales to cash is measured by DSO, or debtor days. The DSO formula is based on three parameters: the average accounts receivable for a certain period, the number of credit sales made during that period, and the number of days. The formula depicted below is used to compute how long it takes for a firm's accounts receivable to be recognized as cash on average:

DSO = (Accounts receivable (AR)/ Total credit sales) * Number of days

What does high or low DSO indicate?

A high DSO score indicates that a firm is having difficulty turning credit sales into cash. However, depending on the kind of enterprise and its financial structure, a large capitalization company may not consider a DSO of 60 a grave problem.

A high DSO, on the other hand, is problematic for a small-scale organization since it may produce cash flow issues. Smaller firms often rely on prompt collection of receivables to cover operating expenses such as payroll, electricity, and other unavoidable costs. If the DSO remains high, they may occasionally run out of funds to cover these expenditures.

A corporation must identify the variables influencing sales and collection to address high DSO challenges. The following are some possible explanations for the situation:

·       Credit concerns with consumers that have a poor credit history

·       To increase sales, sales staff are giving extended payment periods to customers.

·       The company encourages clients to buy on credit so that they may acquire more items and services.

·       The company's collecting method is inefficient or ineffective.

A low DSO, on the contrary, is more beneficial to a company's collection procedure. Consumers are either paying on time to take advantage of discounts, or the firm has a strict credit policy, which may have an adverse effect on sales performance. However, for small to medium-sized businesses, having a low DSO has significant benefits. Fast credit collectability reduces issues with paying operating expenditures, and any surplus money received can be reinvested immediately to boost future revenues.

Days sales outstanding applications

Days sales outstanding may be evaluated in several ways. It indicates the effectiveness of the firm's collections department and how well the firm maintains client happiness. It also aids in the identification of consumers who are not creditworthy.

A corporation may take various actions to minimize its DSO, which will increase its cash flow. It may, for instance, detect consumers whose payments are consistently late and ask them to pay in cash at the moment of the sale in the future. Before issuing credit, the corporation may also conduct credit checks on consumers to determine their capacity to pay on time. Alternatively, by providing a unique installment plan, the company may seize an opportunity to strengthen its relationship with a typically dependable customer who has not paid due to extenuating circumstances.

Internal concerns, like a slow or expensive billing process, might be the source of the problem; such issues develop when AR is handled manually rather than automatically. This may be due to unclear payment terms or invoices not being sent out on time. They may also have inaccuracies in amounts or other details, like missing client purchase order information, that causes payments to be delayed. Improved follow-up and more periodic reminders of unpaid invoices may be required. It is also feasible that a business may need to make it simpler for clients to pay their bills, either by providing digital choices through a payment gateway or automated withdrawals. The latter is convenient for businesses that offer subscriptions or monthly subscriptions.

A firm's DSO value for a single period might give a solid benchmark for immediately measuring cash flow. However, DSO trends over time are far more helpful. They can serve as an early indication of an imminent crisis.

DSO numbers

When a company's DSO rises, it is an indication that something is amiss. Customer satisfaction may deteriorate, or salespeople may propose longer payment terms to promote sales. Perhaps the organization allows customers with bad credit to make credit purchases.

A significant increase in DSO might generate substantial cash flow issues for a corporation. If an enterprise's ability to generate its payments on time is jeopardized, it may be obliged to undertake significant adjustments.

When analyzing an organization's cash flow, it is helpful to track its DSO over time to see if it is on the rise or declining or if there are trends in its financial resource history. DSO may change on a monthly basis, especially if the firm's product is seasonal. If a company's DSO is fluctuating, this may be cause for concern; yet, if its DSO consistently decreases during a specific season each year, this may not be a cause for alarm.

How to reduce the number of days sales outstanding 

Some ways for lowering DSOs for organizations with DSOs greater than their industry comparables include:

     i.          Decline credit card payments (or offer enticement like discounts for cash payments)

     ii.         Identify customers that have a background on late payments (implement targeted restrictions, such as requiring upfront cash payments)

     iii.        Conduct credit checks on consumers (necessary for installment payment pacts)

Nevertheless, in some cases, extended DSOs may be the result of a customer providing a significant source of revenue for the company, allowing them to push back payment deadlines (buyer power and negotiating leverage).

Investigating industry peers (and the type of product/service supplied) and customer-buyer interaction is essential. For instance, a big client with a history of late payments is not deemed troublesome, especially if the connection with the consumer is long-term and there have never been any previous worries about this specific customer not paying.

The relevance of days sales outstanding in business operations

The days sales outstanding calculation is an essential instrument for determining the financial viability of the current assets of a business. Since cash is vital in business, collecting receivable balances is in the corporation's best interest. Executives, shareholders, and lenders evaluate the company's ability to recover cash from consumers. A lower DSO score indicates a strong level of liquidity and cash flow. The DSO is another essential assumption that is employed in the development of financial systems.

The advantages of DSO

Monitoring DSO is one approach for managers to assess the company's connection with its customers as well as the efficiency of its collections department. DSO tracking can be used to:

·       Promote collections departments to maintain proper levels of delinquent accounts receivable.

An elevated DSO may signal that an organization's collection method should be reviewed.

·       Consumers who do not pay within the specified time frame should be flagged.

Enterprises may discover that late payments are the result of a client suffering financial issues, or they may indicate dissatisfaction with your product or service. A single major client with past-due payments might make DSO seem negative.

·       In order to increase sales, signal that the sales department has been offering loans to uncreditworthy consumers.

Customers may also be offered extended payment arrangements by salespeople for the same purpose.

·       Maintain a sufficient cash flow.

If DSO begins to rise, it may cause a cash crunch, limiting a company's ability to purchase materials or pay employees. The sooner a firm realizes it has difficulty collecting receivables, the sooner it can take corrective action.

The drawbacks of days sales outstanding

Days sales outstanding, as a statistic used to assess a company's efficiency, has a constraint that each investor should be aware of. When comparing the cash flows of many firms using DSO, you should compare organizations in the same industry with similar business structures and sales amounts. The findings might be deceptive when comparing firms in various industries and sizes because they generally have different DSO criteria and objectives.

 DSO is ineffective when comparing organizations with considerable variances in the proportion of sales made on credit. A firm's DSO with a low share of credit sales does not reveal anything about its cash flow. Comparing such firms to others with a large percentage of credit sales reveals little.

Furthermore, DSO is not an ideal indicator of an organization's accounts receivable efficiency. DSO can be affected by fluctuating sales quantities, with every increase in sales decreasing the DSO number.

Delinquent Days Sales Outstanding is an excellent alternative to DSO for credit collection evaluation. Like any other statistic to assess a company's performance, DSO should be used with other indicators.

What is meant by a good day's sales outstanding?

If DSO rises over time, it indicates that the organization is taking longer to collect cash from credit sales. On the other hand, DSO lowering demonstrates that the firm is getting more efficient at cash collection and has more significant free cash flows (FCFs). As a general rule, businesses try to reduce DSO since it suggests that the existing payment-collecting technique is efficient. Remember that an increase in an operational working capital asset equals a decrease in FCFs.

Comparison between DPO and DSO

DPO is an abbreviation for days payable outstanding. It calculates a corporation's average days to pay its suppliers, vendors, and lenders. On the other hand, DSO analyzes the average days it takes for a firm to receive payment for its purchases from its customers. Understanding the trends in these financial measures may assist management and prospective financiers comprehend the firm's cash flow.


DSO is an essential statistic for assessing an organization's financial health. The lower the DSO, the fewer days it takes to convert credit sales into cash, and the more accessible the organization's cash flow. The greater the DSO, the longer the organization can convert credit sales into cash, slowing cash flow. DSO may provide insight into the efficiency of the accounts receivable and collection procedures and draw attention to difficulties on the client side of the equation. By tracking DSO, the corporation may implement initiatives to reduce it, such as granting an early payment rebate.