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How to calculate accounts payable days

Understanding accounts payable days

The concept of accounts payable days, commonly known as Days Payable Outstanding (DPO), is pivotal in managing a company's cash flow and overall financial health. This metric not only gauges how effectively a business manages its payables but also impacts its liquidity and relationships with suppliers. This refreshed guide aims to offer a deeper understanding of accounts payable days, how to calculate them using a straightforward formula, and the application of this metric in different industry contexts. We'll also explore how modern software solutions can optimize this process for businesses.

What are accounts payable days?

Accounts payable days are also referred to as days payable outstanding (DPO), a financial ratio that reveals the average number of days of credit the organization has to pay invoices and suppliers. The accounts payable days show the number of days it takes an organization to pay suppliers.

Understanding the DPO reflects current AP workflows, showing where improvements should be made. For example, late payments can lead to costly fees and penalties and damage supplier relationships. Determining where to improve efficiencies ensures timely payments and helps the organization save money.

Why do you need to calculate accounts payable days?

Calculating accounts payable days helps management determine how long it takes to pay suppliers and keep track of cash flow. With that in mind, a high DPO shows a company takes longer to pay back its suppliers. Then it is crucial to determine the reason it takes so much time. For example, is the organization maintaining cash for a more extended period for potential investments? Or, conversely, is the company struggling to repay its suppliers, causing a liability?

A low DPO indicates the business pays back suppliers faster than usual. Thus, early payments can impede cash flow that could otherwise be used for investments. However, a low DPO can also show the company is taking advantage of money-saving discounts for early payments and nurturing strong supplier relationships for improved production times. Either way, management must continually gauge AP workflows to determine the reasons for a high or low DPO. AP automation provides financial data in real-time for instant analysis of the full process AP cycle.

The formula for calculating accounts payable days

Accounts Payable Days (DPO) is a crucial financial metric for assessing a company's efficiency in managing its payable obligations. It indicates the average number of days the business takes to pay its invoices. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the formula:


Average Accounts Payable

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

X   365

DPO = (Average Accounts Payable / Cost of Goods Sold) X 365

Average Accounts Payable: This is the average amount a company owes to its suppliers over a period. It's calculated by adding the accounts payable at the beginning and end of the period and then dividing by two.

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This figure represents the direct costs associated with the production of goods sold by a company.

Multiplying by 365: This converts the ratio into an average number of days.

Let's illustrate this with an example. Assume a company has an average accounts payable of $50,000 and a COGS of $300,000 for the year. Applying the formula:




X   365
≈   60.83

DPO = (50,000 / 300,000) X 365 ≈ 60.83

This result means the company, on average, takes around 61 days to pay its suppliers.

Understanding DPO helps businesses optimize their cash flow and negotiate better terms with suppliers. A higher DPO can suggest efficient working capital management, allowing the company to utilize its cash on hand for longer periods.

AP days variables

Beyond the formula, other considerations include excluding cash payments to suppliers and including only credit purchases to ensure the AP days are high enough. In addition, AP automation simplifies the process by making pertinent financial data instantly available for analysis and processing.

How do you calculate accounts payable turnover in days?

To dig deeper into the calculations, accounts payable turnover in days shows the average number of days a payable remains unpaid. In other words, what is the average time it takes for your company to pay a typical invoice?

To calculate the accounts payable turnover in days, divide 365 days by the payable turnover ratio. Understanding the time it takes to pay suppliers also helps indicate the creditworthiness of an organization - and make the necessary improvements to improve cash flow and creditworthiness.

Benchmarks in accounts payable days

Accounts payable days (DPO) is not a one-size-fits-all metric; it varies widely across different industries, reflecting distinct operational and financial practices. In this section, we explore how DPO benchmarks differ among sectors and what these variations indicate about a company’s cash management and supplier relationships.

Understanding your industry’s benchmarks is crucial for businesses to assess their own DPO in the context of their sector and strive for optimization. Companies must balance maintaining a healthy DPO that benefits their cash flow while nurturing positive relationships with suppliers.

Automation makes calculations and timely payments easier

Learning how to calculate accounts payable days is just the beginning. Once the organization understands its payment patterns, improvements can be made based on current cash flow and production needs. Continued evaluation is critical to staying productive and profitable in a constantly changing global marketplace. AP automation provides a secure and collaborative environment to share financial data in real time and make time-sensitive decisions when they matter most.

Moreover, the advent of modern software solutions, like those offered by Medius, adds a new dimension to managing accounts payable days. These solutions automate data analysis, enhance decision-making with advanced analytics, and integrate seamlessly with your financial systems. This level of automation and integration not only streamlines the calculation of accounts payable days but also offers real-time insights and monitoring, ensuring more strategic and efficient financial management.

Also, keeping track of AP benchmarks helps determine how well your AP department functions, cash flow, and overall supplier satisfaction. With AP automation, teams can collaborate anytime and from any location to make important decisions that support continued production and improve brand reputation. This proactive approach in managing accounts payable, facilitated by advanced software solutions, is key to avoiding late payments, interrupted production, and potential brand damage.

Understanding how to calculate accounts payable days, and leveraging the right technology to manage it, is crucial to the overall success of an organization. Learn more about AP automation and how it supports timely invoice payments and strong supplier relationships - helping organizations improve cash flow and boost the bottom line.

Streamlining your accounts payable process

Embracing AP automation, especially with solutions like Medius, is pivotal for any organization striving to optimize its financial health. Such technologies streamline the calculation and management of accounts payable days, ensuring more strategic financial operations and robust supplier relationships.

Discover how Medius's AP automation solutions can support timely invoice payments and strengthen your organization's financial performance. Take this crucial step towards improved cash flow and a healthier bottom line today.

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