What Is a Good DSO?

Published on May 29, 2020
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For many accounts receivable departments, Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is one of the primary metrics by which they’re measured. It’s a straightforward and simple metric that answers the question, “how good are we at getting paid?”

It’s accepted across all industries that DSO is a reliable measurement tool. What’s not accepted, however, is what an ideal score is. It’s not difficult to define your DSO number, but it can be difficult to contextualize it.

So, what exactly is a good DSO score?

Defining a good DSO score

In general, most companies should aim for a score of 45 and under, but that comes with a lot of caveats.

There are numerous factors that can impact what would be considered good versus poor:

  • Industry: What’s good for aerospace may be poor for textiles, for example. Companies that deal in large capital expenditures shouldn’t be held to the same standards as those that produce everyday goods or services.
  • Your own standards: What are your payment terms? Are you net 30, net 60 or something else? Your own terms should be a guide for measuring DSO.
  • Your peers: How effective are your primary competitors? Are you better or worse?

A 2016 study  surveyed companies across 27 industries and found the median DSO score for each.

IndustryMedian DSO
Aerospace and Defense

66

Airlines11
Automotive Parts and Aftermarket47
Beverages36
Building Products40
Chemicals54
Computer Hardware and Peripherals60
Consumer Durables48
Containers and Packaging44
Electronic Equipment, Instruments and Components58
Energy Services and Equipments81
Engineering and Construction82
Food27
Food and Staples Retail6
General and Specialty Retail7
Household and Personal Care40
Industrial Conglomerates62
Internet and Catalog Retail16
Machinery57
Metals and Mining32
Office Equipment, Services and Supplies48
Oil and Gas42
Pharmaceuticals68
Semiconductors and Semiconductor Equipment52
Telecommunications Equipment57
Textiles, Apparel and Footwear36
Utilities47

More DSO calculations and formulas

Standard DSO

While standard DSO is most commonly used, there are other forms of DSO that may provide better insights into your A/R operation.

Standard DSO = (Ending Total Receivables / Total Credit Sales) x Number of Days in Period

Best Possible DSO

This calculates the absolute best DSO you can achieve. The closer you are to this figure, the closer you are to virtual perfection. Your terms of sale will impact it.

Best Possible DSO = (Current Receivables / Total Credit Sales) x Number of Days

Delinquent DSO

Also referred to as Average Days Delinquent, Delinquent DSO calculates the average number of days invoices are past due. It’s a very direct way of determining exactly how tardy customers are at settling their accounts.

Standard DSO – Best Possible DSO = Average Days Delinquent

What DSO Can and Can’t Do

While DSO is a typical benchmark for A/R operations, it’s not the end all, be all. Ideally, it should be used with other metrics to create a holistic overview.

A good evaluation should include KPIs like Percentage of A/R Past Due and Days Past Due. This ensures that biases are filtered out. You may also consider a weighted form of DSO that accounts for outliers. If you have a single account that is 60 days overdue for 80 percent of your outstanding payments, your DSO will be flawed. It’s not designed for extreme cases like that.

Regardless, monitoring DSO and having a top mark in your industry is important. Being an industry leader means you’re more financially flexible than your competition and avoid unnecessary costs associated with financing or collections.

Embracing technologies like automation and payment portals will keep your score low, payments coming and provide companies and edge over their peers.

Understand your DSO with Invoiced Analytics

Invoiced offers Accounts Receivable Automation software that allows businesses to improve the efficacy of their A/R processes. From automated invoicing and collections to paymentsanalytics (like DSO), and integration capabilities, Invoiced puts the world of A/R at your fingertips. 

Schedule a demo – live and tailored to your business – to discover how efficient your A/R can be with Invoiced.

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