Cash Conversion Cycle: What Is It, How to Calculate, and Improve It

19 September, 2022
19:37 mins
Brett Johnson, AVP, Global Enablement

Listen to the blog:

19:37 mins

Table of Content

Key Takeaways
Introduction
What is the Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC)?
How to Calculate the Cash Conversion Cycle?
Why Is the Cash Conversion Cycle Important to a Business?
Cash Conversion Cycle Interpretation: What is a Good Cash Conversion Cycle?
How to Improve Your Cash Conversion Cycle?
How Automation Can Revolutionize Your Business's Cash Conversion Cycle
Conclusion
FAQs on Cash Conversion Cycle

Sign up for O2C Insights

Join our 50,000+ community

Key Takeaways

  • The cash conversion cycle represents the duration required by a company to convert investments in production and sales into cash or working capital.
  • A shorter cash conversion cycle leads to healthier cash flow, allowing the company to meet financial obligations promptly without incurring penalties.
  • Improving CCC requires a holistic approach that involves optimizing the entire supply chain, from purchasing and production to sales and collections.
  • Technology can play a key role in improving CCC by automating processes, providing real-time data and analytics, and enabling businesses to make more informed decisions
keytakeway

Introduction

The biggest challenge most businesses face amidst the economic slowdown is cash flow. A lack of cash flow stifles growth and can even lead to business failure.If you want to improve your company’s financial health and cash flow, one key metric to consider is the cash conversion cycle (CCC). At its core, the CCC is a measure of a company’s operational efficiency. By managing the CCC effectively, companies can optimize their working capital and improve their overall financial performance.

In this blog post, we will cover the cash conversion cycle in detail, including its formula and calculation. We will also provide real-world examples of how the CCC is used in different industries, and strategies for improving your company’s CCC. So, let’s dive in.

What is the Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC)?

The cash conversion cycle (CCC) – also known as the cash cycle – measures the length of time it takes for a company to convert its production and sales investments into cash. This metric aids businesses in improving cash flow and profitability by expediting inventory turnover.

CCC varies depending on the business type and industry. For instance, industries like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and e-commerce often have an immediate cash conversion cycle, whereas heavy machinery manufacturing and construction typically experience a longer period.

It is a critical measure of a company’s financial performance, and is used by businesses of all sizes to track how quickly they are able to sell their inventory, collect cash from customers, and pay their suppliers.

How to Calculate the Cash Conversion Cycle?

Are you wondering how to calculate the cash conversion cycle (CCC) for your business? Understanding the calculation and the cash conversion cycle formula can help you gain valuable insights into how efficiently your company is managing its working capital and generating cash flow from sales.

The CCC covers three stages of a company’s sales cycle – current inventory sales, cash collection from the current sales, and payables for outsourced goods and services. The CCC can be calculated using three working capital metrics, and each of these metrics holds valuable insights into what is happening within the business.

The three metrics are:

  1. Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO)
  2. Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)
  3. Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)

The formula for calculating the cash conversion cycle (CCC) is: Cash Conversion Cycle = DIO + DSO – DPO. Where DIO stands for Days inventory outstanding, DSO stands for Days sales outstanding, DPO stands for Days payable outstanding.

highradius

Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO)

Days Inventory Outstanding measures the average number of days it takes for a company to sell its inventory. It indicates how efficiently a company is managing its inventory and turning its assets into revenue. Essentially, DIO measures how quickly a company is able to convert its inventory into sales.

DIO = (Average Inventory/Cost of Goods Sold X Number of Days)

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)

Days Sales Outstanding is a financial metric that helps businesses measure the average number of days it takes to collect payment from customers after a sale. This metric is crucial for assessing a company’s cash flow management and evaluating the effectiveness of its credit and collection practices. By calculating DSO, companies can determine how quickly they can convert sales into cash, which is essential for maintaining a healthy financial position.

DSO =(Accounts Receivable/Total Credit Sales X Number of Days)

Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)

Days Payable Outstanding is a financial metric that measures the average number of days it takes for a company to pay its invoices from trade creditors or suppliers. This metric is crucial for evaluating a company’s cash flow management and assessing its ability to meet its financial obligations. Essentially, DPO indicates how long a company takes to pay its suppliers and manage its working capital effectively.

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

Cash Conversion Cycle Example

Let’s take an example to simplify the process of calculating the cash conversion cycle. Consider a company called ABC Inc., which operates in the bicycle manufacturing industry – aims to calculate its cash conversion cycle. To begin, the company must determine its days inventory outstanding (DIO), days sales outstanding (DSO), and days payable outstanding (DPO).

DIO: The company’s DIO can be calculated by dividing the average inventory by the cost of goods sold (COGS) and multiplying by the number of days in the period. Suppose ABC Inc. has an average inventory of $500,000 and COGS of $3,000,000 for the year, and the year has 365 days. Then, the DIO can be calculated as follows: DIO = (500,000 / 3,000,000) x 365 = 60.83 days.

DSO: The company’s DSO can be calculated by dividing the accounts receivable by the total credit sales and multiplying by the number of days in the period. Suppose ABC Inc. has accounts receivable of $800,000 and total credit sales of $5,000,000 for the year. Then, the DSO can be calculated as follows: DSO = (800,000 / 5,000,000) x 365 = 58.4 days.

DPO: The company’s DPO can be calculated by dividing the accounts payable by the COGS and multiplying by the number of days in the period. Suppose ABC Inc. has accounts payable of $400,000 and COGS of $3,000,000 for the year. Then, the DPO can be calculated as follows: DPO = (400,000 / 3,000,000) x 365 = 48.67 days.

Now that we have calculated the DIO, DSO, and DPO, we can use the CCC formula to determine the company’s cash conversion cycle. Substituting the values we calculated, we get: CCC = 60.83 + 58.4 – 48.67 = 70.56 days. Therefore, the cash conversion cycle of ABC Inc. is 70.56 days.

Why Is the Cash Conversion Cycle Important to a Business?

Now that we have understood the formula and calculation for the cash conversion cycle, let’s dive deeper into why it’s important for your business and how it can impact your financial health.

The cash conversion cycle helps manage the inventory. If not managed well, a company will either be short on supply or have too much of it, increasing storage costs. Apart from the inventory management and cash flow efficiencies, CCC also assists finance leaders in: 

importance-of-cycle

1. Determining the financial health of the company 

The CCC is often used by key stakeholders to assess a company’s financial health and liquidity. A lower CCC indicates that a company is able to convert its inventory and receivables into cash quickly, which can improve its ability to meet its financial obligations and pay back business loans.

2. Improving trade credit terms with vendors

Vendors often look at a company’s CCC when deciding whether to offer trade credit. A lower CCC indicates that a company has healthy liquidity and is more likely to pay its bills on time. This can improve a company’s chances of getting better credit terms from vendors.

3. Gaining easy access to capital and loans

A lower CCC can also improve a company’s chances of getting approved for business loans. This is because a lower CCC indicates that a company has healthy cash flow and is better able to pay back its loans. This can add a sense of security for lenders and increasing approval prospects.

Cash Conversion Cycle Interpretation: What is a Good Cash Conversion Cycle?

When analyzing your cash conversion cycle, keep in mind that it depends on the industry and business nature; there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Generally, a lower CCC is considered better, but the appropriate target CCC varies by industry. For example, retailers typically have a shorter CCC than manufacturers because they have a faster inventory turnover rate.

highradius

In some cases, even a negative CCC may be desirable. This means that the company is able to collect payment from customers before it has to pay its suppliers. This can be advantageous because the company has a positive cash flow without having to use its own capital. However, negative CCCs are rare and may not be sustainable in the long term.A high CCC can indicate that a company is having difficulty managing its working capital. This can result in a short-term cash flow problem, which can lead to liquidity issues if not addressed.

A high CCC may also suggest that the company is inefficient in managing its inventory levels, collecting payments from customers, or paying its suppliers.

A simple way to understand the trajectory of a cash conversion cycle is using graphical interpretation—the downward and upward movement. If the CCC is in a declining trend, it denotes a positive sign, and if you observe an upward trend, it means potential inefficiencies in your order-to-cash processes.

In short, CCC is a valuable metric, but it doesn’t have a definitive good or bad score. Assess its significance within your company and its unique requirements. Additionally, monitoring cash management efficiency is the initial step to unlock your most cost-effective capital source. With understanding in hand, you can develop a plan for further improvement.

How to Improve Your Cash Conversion Cycle?

To optimize your CCC, focus on reducing DIO and DSO while increasing DPO. This involves selling inventory faster, collecting payments sooner, and extending bill payment periods. However, remember that shortening collection cycles is not the ultimate goal; the key is to prevent customers from falling too far behind on their payments. By being proactive and preventing delinquency, you can improve cash flow and maintain control over accounts receivable collection, crucial for running your business efficiently.

We all know that merely sending an invoice and expecting timely payments may not always be realistic. That’s why it’s important to take preventive steps to avoid delinquency from the outset. By working to keep customers from becoming significantly past due, you can reduce overall cycle times and ensure a consistent cash flow. Here are some tips to help improve the cash conversion cycle:

highradius

  1. Manage payables better: Managing payables such as supplier payment terms is the key to controlling working capital. You can see positive trends in your CCC if you leverage and consolidate your spending by increasing supplier collaboration and extending payment terms.

  2. Prioritize inventory management: Poor inventory management could lead to lower sales due to the inability to service the placed orders. Thus, inventory management should be prioritized alongside sales, profit, and payment data of the customers. Development of new relationships with customers and clients can also improve inventory management.

  3. Enable your customers to pay their due: To improve your cash conversion cycle, understand why customers delay invoice payments. Offer solutions to resolve their underlying invoice issues and disputes to reduce the risk of overdue invoices. Categorizing and prioritizing customers by size and risk profile can also be beneficial.

  4. Communicate consistently: Maintain consistent follow-ups through emails and phone calls. Utilize all provided contact information, including office phone, mobile number, email address, and supervisor’s details. If there’s no response within 24 hours to a voicemail or email, consider making another call or escalating the matter to the contact’s supervisor.

  5. Set it in stone: Be clear with your clients and clearly convey your payment expectations and collection procedures to them. Encourage open communication and have clients explain their payment processing procedures to work together in ensuring timely payments. This collaborative approach fosters a smoother payment process and strengthens client relationships.

  6. Think ahead: Be proactive and anticipate customer needs. For example, if a customer requires an additional bill copy, send it in advance without waiting to be asked. Maximize your collection management software by configuring it to automatically send transaction documents, such as invoices or proofs of delivery. This proactive approach improves the customer experience and streamlines the collection process, enhancing efficiency and satisfaction.

  7. Call early, call often: When significant dollars are involved, calling before an invoice is past-due is an effective strategy. Making a list of those who are likely to pay late and flag their transactions for a proactive call. If an invoice goes overdue, make a call or send an email within days of the event. This approach helps in early resolution and ensures timely payments, contributing to better cash flow management.

  8. Leverage automation: Harness the power of automation to optimize your cash conversion cycle. The efficiency of your cash conversion process directly influences working capital, cash flow, and overall financial performance. In today’s competitive landscape, relying on outdated, manual procedures can hinder growth and efficiency.

How Automation Can Revolutionize Your Business's Cash Conversion Cycle

If your business is not leveraging automation, it’s time to consider the transformative potential it can bring to your CCC. By automating critical processes such as credit management and collections, businesses can streamline their workflows, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency. Here are some key benefits of automating these processes:

  1. Efficiency: Automation allows businesses to prioritize customers based on their credit risk and payment behavior, enabling collectors to focus their efforts on the most critical accounts. This streamlined approach to collections enables a more efficient use of time and resources, leading to faster revenue realization.

  2. Improved Accuracy: Automated credit management systems use advanced analytics to provide businesses with real-time credit risk visibility. This enables decision-makers to make more informed credit decisions, reducing the risk of bad debt and improving overall accuracy in the credit management process.

  3. Faster Dispute Resolution: Automated dispute management systems enable businesses to quickly identify and resolve disputes, reducing the time it takes to resolve payment issues and improving cash flow.

  4. Enhanced Customer Experience: Automated collections systems enable businesses to engage with customers in a more personalized and timely manner. This can lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as faster payment times.

  5. Data-Driven Insights: Automated systems provide businesses with real-time insights into their collections process, enabling decision-makers to analyze performance, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions that improve overall cash conversion cycle.

banner

Conclusion

The cash conversion cycle is vital to your business, impacting revenue generation and overall financial performance. Optimizing your CCC ensures a smooth flow of funds and optimized working capital. The easiest way to achieve this is through automation. 

Automating the processes involved in setting customer credit limits, inventory tracking, and collections can help businesses reduce manual efforts and errors, leading to faster revenue realization and improved cash flow. By leveraging AI and RPA technology, businesses can streamline the order-to-cash process and gain real-time insights into their collections’ performance.

At HighRadius, we offer AI-based solutions that can help businesses optimize their cash conversion cycle. Our Autonomous Receivables platform enables businesses to automate credit management, collections, and dispute resolution, leading to faster revenue realization and improved cash flow. Our solutions are designed to streamline workflows, reduce manual errors, and enhance the customer experience, all of which can have a significant impact on a business’s financial performance. By leveraging our AI-based solutions, businesses can improve their CCC and gain a competitive advantage in their industry. Schedule a demo call to learn more about how HighRadius can optimize your cash conversion cycle and improve your financial performance.

banner

FAQs on Cash Conversion Cycle

  1. What is the cash conversion cycle (CCC) ratio?
  2. The cash conversion cycle (CCC) ratio is the metric that defines the number of days a company takes to convert the money invested in the inventory to cash.

  3. What are the factors affecting the cash conversion cycle?
  4. The factors affecting the cash conversion cycle (CCC) include inventory management, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. A longer inventory holding period, longer payment terms from customers, and longer payment terms to suppliers can all contribute to a longer CCC.

  5. What is the optimal cash conversion cycle?
  6. The optimal cash conversion cycle (CCC) varies by industry and business nature. Generally, a lower CCC is considered better as it indicates efficient management of working capital. However, the appropriate target CCC varies by industry, and businesses should aim to improve their CCC over time.

Related Resources

All
Autonomous Receivables
Collections
Talk TO Our Experts

Break the Silos Across Your A/R Teams with HighRadius!

Gain 360-degree visibility of your global A/R processes with HighRadius' A/R Management Software

The HighRadius RadiusOne AR Suite is a complete accounts receivable’s solution designed for mid-sized businesses to put their order-to-cash on auto-pilot with AI-powered solutions. It leverages automation to fast-track key accounts receivable functions including eInvoicing & Collections, Cash Reconciliation, and Credit Risk Management powered by RadiusOne AR Apps to improve productivity, maximize working capital, and enable faster cash conversion. Affordable, quick to deploy, and functionality-rich: it is pre-loaded with industry-specific best-practices and ready-to-plug with popular ERPs such as NetSuite and Sage Intacct. The HighRadius RadiusOne AR Suite is designed to automate labor-intensive processes while streamlining credit and collections activities for faster AR processing, better cash flow and improved profitability.

Lightning-fast Remote Deployment | Minimal IT Dependency Prepackaged Modules with Industry-Specific Best Practices.

Automate Your Order-to-Cash Today!