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Days Payable Outstanding – Overview and Calculation

In the procurement process, it’s crucial to assess the Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) to understand your current procurement situation. Procurement managers should be well-informed about this accounts payable metric as it plays a key role in determining the extent to which a company can maximize its procurement savings.

In this article, we’ll delve into the meaning of DPO, examine what constitutes a favorable DPO rate for typical procurement procedures, and explore how you can leverage this information to your benefit in upcoming procurement projects for your company.

What is Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)?

Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) is a financial metric that measures the average number of days a company takes to pay its suppliers after a purchase is made. It is a crucial indicator in the context of procurement and accounts payable.

In simpler terms, DPO reflects the efficiency of a company’s payment process. A higher DPO suggests that the company takes longer to pay its bills, which can be advantageous for cash flow management. Conversely, a lower DPO indicates quicker payment to suppliers but may impact the company’s available funds.

Monitoring and managing DPO is essential for procurement managers as it directly influences the company’s financial flexibility and ability to maximize savings during the procurement process.

DPO is one of three metrics utilized in calculating the Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC), a metric that assesses the duration it takes for a company to convert its inventory into cash.

Cash Conversion Cycle Calculator   Free ready-to-use calculator built for finance professionals to calculate finance metrics.

How to calculate the Days Payable Outstanding?

The formula for calculating Days Payable Outstanding is as follows:

DPO = ( Accounts Payable / Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) ) X Number of Days

Here’s a breakdown of the formula:

Accounts Payable: This represents the total amount of money that a company owes to its suppliers for goods or services received but not yet paid.

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): This is the total cost incurred by a company to produce or purchase the goods that it sells during a specific period.

Number of Days: This is the time frame over which you want to calculate the DPO. Commonly, it’s calculated on an annual basis, so the number of days would be 365.

Days Payable Outstanding Calculator   Free ready-to-use calculator built for finance professionals to calculate finance metrics.

Let’s go through an example:

Suppose a company XYZ Inc. has $50,000 in accounts payable, $200,000 in COGS, and wants to calculate the DPO on an annual basis (365 days).

DPO = ( 50,000 / 200,000 ) X 365

DPO ≈ 91.27 days

So, the company XYZ Inc. takes approximately 91.27 days, on average, to pay its suppliers after the purchase of goods.

How to Interpret Days Payable Outstanding?

Analyzing Days Payable Outstanding can provide valuable insights into a company’s financial dynamics. Here’s how to interpret DPO in both high and low scenarios:

High Days Payable Outstanding


  • A longer payment period allows for better cash flow management as funds remain with the company for an extended duration.
  • Extended payment periods contribute to more efficient working capital management.


  • Prolonged payment cycles may strain relationships with suppliers, potentially affecting future collaboration.
  • Suppliers might withdraw early payment incentives, reducing the company’s cost-saving opportunities.

Low Days Payable Outstanding


  • Strong Supplier Relationships: Timely payments foster strong and positive relationships with suppliers, enhancing collaboration.
  • Potential Discounts for Early Payments: Suppliers may offer discounts for prompt payments, providing cost-saving opportunities.


  • Shorter payment cycles can strain available cash, impacting overall cash flow.
  • The need for quicker payments may lead to increased reliance on financing options, incurring additional costs.

Maintaining a balance in Days Payable Outstanding is crucial. While a high DPO can enhance cash flow and working capital, it should be managed carefully to avoid strained relationships. Conversely, a low DPO can strengthen vendor relationships but may pose challenges in cash flow and financing. The optimal DPO depends on the specific needs and circumstances of the company.

How to Optimize Days Payable Outstanding?

Here are some strategies to optimize or improve Days Payable Outstanding:

Negotiate Favorable Payment Terms

Negotiate longer payment terms with suppliers without negatively affecting the relationship. Explore discounts for early payments to incentivize suppliers for timely invoices.

Efficient Invoice Processing

Implement streamlined invoice processing solutions to ensure prompt and accurate processing. Leverage automation to reduce invoice approval time and minimize errors.

Vendor Collaboration

Communicate openly with suppliers about payment terms and explore mutually beneficial arrangements. Collaborate with key suppliers to find solutions that enhance both parties’ financial positions.

Effective Working Capital Management

Implement robust working capital management practices to optimize the balance between payables and receivables. Identify and eliminate inefficiencies in the working capital cycle.

Forecast Cash Flow

Develop accurate cash flow forecasts to plan for upcoming expenses and avoid unexpected cash shortages. Align payment schedules with the company’s cash flow cycle.

Utilize Financing Options

Explore financing options, such as supplier financing programs or lines of credit. Evaluate the cost and benefits of financing options to ensure they align with the company’s financial goals.

Regularly Review Payment Policies

Periodically review and update payment policies to adapt to changes in the business environment. Stay informed about industry standards and benchmarks for payment terms.

Invest in Auto Disbursement

Implementing an Auto Disbursement solution accelerates payment processes. By shifting from traditional, time-consuming methods such as checks to instant fund transfers, companies significantly enhance operational efficiency. Real-time payments guarantee suppliers receive money on time, cutting down on the DPO period without sacrificing precision or dependability. This shift not only aligns with modern financial practices but also streamlines the entire payment cycle.