What is Working Capital Productivity?

Working Capital Productivity

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Working Capital Productivity

Working capital productivity refers to the efficiency with which a company uses its working capital to generate sales and profits. It aims to measure how well a business is utilizing its short-term assets (like cash, accounts receivable, and inventory) and liabilities (like accounts payable) to achieve maximum operational efficiency and profitability.

Working capital productivity is often assessed through various ratios and key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the management of each component of working capital‚ÄĒinventory, accounts receivable, and accounts payable‚ÄĒas well as the overall working capital position.

Key Ratios for Measuring Working Capital Productivity:

  • Working Capital Turnover Ratio:
  • \(\text{Working Capital Turnover} = \frac{\text{Sales}}{\text{Working¬†Capital}} \)
    This ratio indicates how many times the working capital is turned over in a period. A higher ratio typically indicates better working capital productivity.
  • Inventory Turnover Ratio:
    \(\text{Inventory Turnover} = \frac{\text{Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)}}{\text{Average Inventory}} \)
    A higher inventory turnover ratio implies efficient inventory management, meaning the company sells its inventory quickly and doesn’t hold more stock than necessary.
  • Days Sales Outstanding (DSO):
    \(\text{DSO} = \frac{\text{Accounts Receivable}}{\text{Average Daily Sales}} \)
    Lower DSO values indicate that a company collects its receivables more quickly, which is a sign of higher working capital productivity.
  • Days Payable Outstanding (DPO):
    \(\text{DPO} = \frac{\text{Accounts Payable}}{\text{Average Daily Purchases}} \)
    A higher DPO allows the company to hold onto its cash for longer periods, which can be advantageous for operations and investments.
  • Current Ratio and Quick Ratio:
    While not direct measures of productivity, these ratios can provide insights into the liquidity and risk profile related to the working capital.

Example of Working Capital Productivity

Let’s take an example of a fictional small business, “GreenGrocer,” which sells organic produce both online and through a physical store. We’ll analyze their working capital productivity for the year 2022.

Financial Details for 2022:

  • Sales Revenue: $500,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): $350,000
  • Average Inventory: $20,000
  • Accounts Receivable: $30,000
  • Accounts Payable: $25,000
  • Working Capital: $50,000 (excluding accounts payable for simplicity)
  • Number of Days in the Year: 365

Ratios and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  • Working Capital Turnover Ratio
    \(\text{Working Capital Turnover Ratio} = \frac{\text{Sales}}{\text{Working Capital}} = \frac{500,000}{50,000} = 10\)
  • Inventory Turnover Ratio
    \(\text{Inventory Turnover Ratio} = \frac{\text{COGS}}{\text{Average Inventory}} = \frac{350,000}{20,000} = 17.5\)
  • Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)
    \(\text{Average Daily Sales} = \frac{500,000}{365} = 1,370.97 \)
    \(\text{DSO} = \frac{30,000}{1,3790.97} \approx 21.9 \text{days}\)


  • Working Capital Turnover Ratio of 10: GreenGrocer has turned its working capital 10 times over the year. This is generally considered efficient and suggests the company is using its short-term assets effectively to generate sales.
  • Inventory Turnover Ratio of 17.5: The company is able to sell and replace its inventory 17.5 times in a year, indicating strong sales and efficient inventory management.
  • Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) of ~22 Days: GreenGrocer takes around 22 days to collect payments from its customers. Given the nature of its business, which involves perishable goods, a quicker collection period like this is advantageous.

Operational Changes for Improvement:

Based on the KPIs, GreenGrocer is already quite efficient, but suppose they wanted to improve further. They could:

  • Optimize Inventory: Implement a just-in-time inventory system to further lower average inventory levels without affecting sales, thereby increasing the inventory turnover ratio.
  • Accelerate Receivables: Offer incentives for quicker payments to reduce the DSO further.
  • Negotiate Supplier Credit: Extend terms with suppliers to increase the payable period, thereby improving cash flow without affecting operations.

By keeping an eye on these KPIs and making operational changes accordingly, GreenGrocer can continue to improve its working capital productivity. This will not only improve operational efficiency but also free up cash that can be used for other growth-oriented activities.

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