Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, Finance and Accounting Transformation

Unveiling Hidden Costs: The Crucial Metrics You’re Overlooking

Posted on June 25, 2024
Written By Priyanka Rout

Unveiling Hidden Costs: The Crucial Metrics You’re Overlooking

In today’s fast-paced business environment, maintaining a sharp focus on financial metrics is paramount for sustaining a company’s health and growth. While many organizations diligently monitor their primary financial indicators, there are several crucial metrics that often go unnoticed, quietly draining valuable resources and impacting the bottom line.

One such overlooked metric is the Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio. Understanding this ratio is vital, as it provides key insights into the efficiency of your company’s cash flow management and supplier relationships. By shedding light on this and other hidden metrics, businesses can uncover opportunities for cost savings and operational improvements, ensuring a stronger financial foundation.

What is Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio?

Accounts payable turnover assesses how promptly a business pays its bills by comparing its accounts payable balances and total purchases. A higher ratio indicates more frequent payments, while a lower ratio suggests less frequent payments.

How to Calculate Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio?

Accounts payable turnover rates are commonly determined by calculating the average number of days an amount owed to a creditor remains outstanding. To find the accounts payable turnover ratio, divide this average number of days by 365.

Average number of days / 365 = Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio


To express the accounts payable turnover in days, use this formula:


Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio in Days = 365 / Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio

Understanding Accounts Payable Turnover Through Examples

To grasp the concept of accounts payable (AP) turnover, let’s consider two straightforward scenarios: one where a company pays its bills the day after they arrive, and another where it pays all bills at the end of each month.

Scenario 1: Immediate Bill Payment

Imagine a company that pays every bill the day after it arrives. If the company incurs $1,000 in new AP bills daily and pays $1,000 daily, the AP balance will consistently be $1,000. Here’s how to calculate the AP turnover for a 30-day month:


Duration: 30 days

Total payments: $30,000

Average AP balance: $1,000

AP turnover calculation: $30,000 / $1,000 = 30


This results in a high AP turnover rate. In reality, very few companies achieve an AP turnover rate of 30 because most do not pay every bill the day after it is received.

Scenario 2: Monthly Bill Payment

Now, consider a company that pays all its bills at the end of each month. With the same $1,000 in new AP bills daily, here’s the AP turnover calculation for a 30-day month:


Duration: 30 days

Total payments: $30,000

Average AP balance: The average between $0 at the start of the month and $30,000 at the end of the month, which is $15,000

AP turnover calculation: $30,000 / $15,000 = 2


This scenario results in a lower AP turnover rate, illustrating how payment timing impacts the turnover ratio.

The Impact of Ignoring Accounts Payable Turnover (APT)

Accounts Payable Turnover (APT) is a key financial metric that gauges how promptly a company settles its debts with suppliers. It’s calculated by dividing total supplier purchases by the average accounts payable over a period. This ratio offers insights into payment efficiency and liquidity management. Overlooking APT can severely impact a company’s financial health and operations.

Cash Flow Issues

One of the most immediate consequences of neglecting APT is the potential for severe cash flow problems. Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and managing it effectively is paramount for sustainability and growth. When APT is not monitored:

  • Delayed Payments: Companies might delay paying their suppliers, leading to strained relationships and a loss of supplier trust. This can result in suppliers demanding advance payments or refusing to extend credit, which further exacerbates cash flow issues.
  • Increased Costs: Suppliers might impose late payment penalties, increasing the cost of goods sold. Additionally, companies may miss out on early payment discounts, which can be a significant cost-saving opportunity.
  • Creditworthiness: Poor APT management can negatively impact a company’s credit rating. A lower credit rating can lead to higher borrowing costs and difficulty in securing loans or credit lines.

Real-Life Examples

Toys “R” Us:

Background: Toys “R” Us, a well-known toy retailer, filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

Issue: One of the contributing factors was its cash flow problems, exacerbated by poor management of accounts payable. The company struggled to pay suppliers on time, which led to strained supplier relationships and further financial difficulties.


Background: Carillion was a large UK construction and facilities management company that went into liquidation in 2018.

Issue: Carillion faced severe cash flow problems and failed to manage its accounts payable effectively. Delays in payments to subcontractors and suppliers led to project delays and increased operational costs, contributing to the company’s financial downfall.

Comprehensive Turnover Analysis to Rescue Your Bottom Line

An effective Accounts Payable Turnover (APT) strategy can significantly enhance your company’s financial health. By optimising APT through various strategic approaches, businesses can achieve a more robust bottom line.

Streamlined Processes

Streamlining your accounts payable processes is crucial for improving APT. Simplified workflows ensure faster invoice approvals and payments, reducing the time and effort required for each transaction. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Automate Routine Tasks: Implementing automation for repetitive tasks like data entry, invoice matching, and payment processing can drastically cut down on manual errors and processing time.
  • Centralise Invoice Management: Utilising a centralised system for all invoice-related activities helps in tracking and managing payments more efficiently.
  • Set Clear Approval Policies: Establishing clear and concise approval workflows ensures that invoices move swiftly through the system, preventing unnecessary delays.

Better Vendor Terms

Negotiating favorable terms with your vendors is another vital strategy to improve APT. Strong vendor relationships can lead to better payment terms, discounts, and overall cost savings.

  • Early Payment Discounts: Some vendors offer discounts for early payments. Taking advantage of these discounts can improve your cash flow and reduce expenses.
  • Extended Payment Terms: Negotiating extended payment terms can provide your company with more flexibility and improve your cash flow management.
  • Consolidated Purchasing Agreements: Bundling purchases with fewer vendors can lead to better terms and increased bargaining power.

Leveraging Technology for Better Invoice Management

Embracing technology can revolutionise your accounts payable processes, making them more efficient and accurate.

  • Invoice Automation Software: Investing in robust invoice automation software can streamline the entire accounts payable process, from invoice receipt to payment.
  • Electronic Invoicing (e-Invoicing): Adopting e-invoicing can reduce processing time, lower costs, and minimise errors associated with manual data entry.
  • Data Analytics: Utilising data analytics tools can provide valuable insights into your payment patterns and vendor performance, enabling more informed decision-making.

The Benefits of Regular Audits

Regular audits are essential for maintaining an efficient APT ratio. They ensure compliance, uncover discrepancies, and highlight areas for improvement.

  • Identify and Rectify Errors: Audits help in identifying errors and discrepancies in the accounts payable process, ensuring accuracy and compliance.
  • Enhance Internal Controls: Regular audits strengthen internal controls by identifying weaknesses in the process and recommending improvements.
  • Improve Financial Planning: By providing a clear picture of your financial activities, audits enable better financial planning and decision-making.
  • Boost Credibility: Regular audits enhance your company’s credibility with vendors and stakeholders, showcasing your commitment to transparency and efficiency.

RELATED BLOG: Top KPIs to Evaluate the ROI of Accounts Payable Outsourcing

Beyond APT – Other Costly Metrics Overlooked

  • Days Sales Outstanding (DSO): DSO measures the average time to collect payment after a sale. High DSO indicates slow collections, leading to cash flow problems. Monitoring DSO helps identify issues like lenient credit terms or ineffective collection efforts, improving liquidity.
  • Inventory Turnover: Inventory Turnover measures how quickly inventory is sold and replaced. It indicates efficiency in inventory management, helping reduce holding costs and optimise stock levels.
  • Gross Margin Return on Investment (GMROI): GMROI compares gross margin earned with inventory costs, indicating the profitability of inventory investments. A low GMROI may signal the need for better inventory management or pricing strategies.
  • Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC): CCC measures how long it takes to convert investments in inventory and resources into cash flows from sales. A shorter CCC reflects efficient operations and quicker cash flow turnaround.
  • Return on Assets (ROA): ROA indicates how effectively assets are used to generate profit. A low ROA suggests underutilisation of assets or insufficient returns relative to assets employed.
  • Operating Expense Ratio (OER): OER is the ratio of operating expenses to total revenue, highlighting the portion of revenue consumed by operations. High OER may indicate inefficiencies requiring cost control measures.
  • Net Profit Margin: Net Profit Margin measures the percentage of revenue remaining as profit after deducting all expenses. A declining margin may signal rising costs or falling revenue, necessitating cost management or revenue enhancement strategies.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Monitoring the Accounts Payable Turnover (APT) ratio is crucial for financial health. This ratio reflects how well a company manages payables, impacting liquidity, operational efficiency, and stability. Ignoring it risks increased expenses, strained cash flows, and supplier relations.

To mitigate these risks and boost performance, businesses can outsource accounts payable or automate it. Accounts payable outsourcing companies provide expertise and resources for accurate, timely processing, freeing up internal resources. Accounts payable automation reduces errors, processing time, and enhances compliance, improving efficiency and financial transparency.

QX is a leading accounts payable outsourcing services firm dedicated to improving accounts payable efficiency with high processing accuracy and low operational costs. Driven by principles of process excellence, standardised AP practices, and the utilisation of advanced accounting technologies, QX maximises the potential of AP outsourcing for its clients.


What are the key considerations when selecting an outsourcing vendor for accounting functions?

When selecting an outsourced accounts payable vendor, consider their expertise, reputation, cost structure, technology, scalability, communication, and compliance with regulations to ensure they can meet your needs effectively and securely.

How to find an outsourcing partner?

To find an outsourcing partner, seek recommendations, research online, use industry associations, attend trade shows, issue RFPs, and consider consultancies specialising in outsourcing connections.

What are the keys to a successful outsourcing relationship explain?

A successful outsourcing relationship relies on clear communication, defined expectations, mutual trust, regular monitoring, cultural alignment, flexibility, and strong contractual agreements.

Originally published Jun 25, 2024 03:06:49, updated Jun 25 2024

Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, Finance and Accounting Transformation

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