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DSO Demystified: An Informative Guide to Days Sales Outstanding for Construction Business Owners

Updated: Apr 3

In the construction industry, efficient cash flow management is crucial for success. Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) is a powerful metric that can help you stay on top of it. Understanding Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) can be a game-changer for optimizing cash flow management.

This blog post will dive into the top 10 questions related to DSO in the construction industry. So, grab a cup of coffee and join us on this journey to optimize your cash flow. And don't worry, we have got your back - CCA, a bookkeeping services firm specializing in Sage 100 Contractor, is here to help you every step of the way!

Table of Content:

What is dso?

1. What Is DSO?

Days sales outstanding is a critical financial metric. It measures the average number of days it takes for your company to collect payment after services are performed on credit. The lower the DSO, the more quickly payments are collected. The higher the DSO, the longer the firm waits for its money.

2. Why Should You Care About DSO in Construction?

Paying attention to DSO can bring a wealth of benefits to your construction business, such as:

Boost Your Cash Flow:

Lowering DSO means you'll get payments faster, putting more working capital in your hands. Use this extra cash to cover expenses and seize exciting growth opportunities!

Optimize Your Credit Management:

Keep an eye on your DSO to uncover any weak spots in your credit policies and collection practices. Once you know where the issues lie, you can make impactful adjustments.

Stay Ahead with an Early Warning System:

Watch out for a rising DSO, as it could signal upcoming problems like payment disputes. By tackling these issues head-on, you will dodge significant cash flow disruptions and stay on track for success!

3. How Does DSO Differ Between Industries, and Why Is It Important for Construction Companies?

DSO could differ across industries due to differences in payment terms, invoicing practices, and industry-specific challenges.

In the construction industry, managing DSO is particularly important due to the often complex and lengthy nature of projects, which can result in cash flow fluctuations and financial instability if not properly managed.

4. DSO Calculation: How To Calculate DSO?

The DSO formula is super simple to calculate:

DSO formula

The DSO formula calculates the average number of days needed to collect payments. It does so after completing a construction project. Keep an eye on DSO trends to get valuable insights into your client's payment habits. With this knowledge, you'll be able to better predict cash flow and keep your construction business thriving!

5. What is a Good DSO for a Construction Company Like Yours?

A lower DSO often means better cash flow management. It also indicates a more efficient collection process. Generally, a 45-day DSO is seen as average in the construction industry. However, this can vary based on factors like company size, customer base, and industry sub-sector. For example, commercial construction firms might have a different average DSO than residential ones.

Every construction company is unique. A "good" DSO for one may not be the same for another. To set a suitable target DSO, follow these steps:

What is a good dso number?

1. Dive into your DSO history:

Explore your company's past DSO performance to spot trends and uncover improvement opportunities.

2. Know your construction niche:

Research your sub-sectors' average DSO to get a benchmark that's truly relevant to your business.

3. Assess your uniqueness:

Think about factors like your customer base, payment terms, and project complexity. These can influence your DSO.

4. Set a realistic target:

With all this knowledge, establish a target DSO that's achievable and in line with your company's ambitions. Aim for a sweet spot between better cash flow management and strong customer relationships.

6. Lower DSO with These Top Tips!

Want to improve your DSO? Try these strategies:

  • Streamline invoicing and collection processes

  • Set clear payment terms and conditions

  • Harness technology to optimize credit management

  • Review customer credit policies regularly

7. DSO vs. CEI: What's the Difference?

While DSO is a valuable financial metric, it's essential to understand how it differs from another key metric: Collection Effectiveness Index (CEI).

cei vs dso example

Definition and purpose:

  • DSO calculates the average days needed to collect payment.

  • CEI measures how effective your collection efforts are.


  • DSO: (Accounts Receivable / Total Credit Sales) x Number of Days in the Period

  • CEI: (Beginning AR Balance+ Credit Sales During Period - Ending Total AR Balance) / (Beginning AR Balance+ Credit Sales During Period - Ending Current AR Balance) x 100


  • DSO: A lower DSO indicates better cash flow management and a more efficient collection process.

  • CEI: A higher CEI (closer to 100%) shows your company collects a larger percentage of its receivables. This indicates more effective collection efforts.

Tracking both DSO and CEI helps you understand your contractor's performance. It provides insights into your company's credit management and collection efficiency.

8. How Technology Can Help Construction Businesses Manage Their DSO?

Technology can streamline invoicing and collection processes, saving time and reducing errors. Contractors can also get a clear view of their financial data in real-time, and make informed decisions to improve DSO.

For example, Sage 100 Contractor is a construction accounting software that helps improve DSO. Through automation and real-time data, you can generate invoices and send them to your clients automatically. This helps save time and reduce errors compared to manual invoices.

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9. Contracts and Payment Terms: What is the Impact on DSO?

Payment terms and contract agreements can significantly impact DSO in construction.

To minimize their effects, be sure to:

  • Clearly outline payment terms and conditions in contracts

  • Establish milestones and progress payments

  • Communicate proactively with clients to address payment-related issues

10. How CCA and Sage 100 Contractor Make DSO Management a Breeze

As a specialized bookkeeping services firm utilizing Sage 100 Contractor exclusively for the construction industry, CCA is your go-to partner for mastering DSO. Our team of experts can help you:

  • Streamline invoicing with Sage 100 Contractor for accurate and timely payment.

  • Provide accurate financial reports, including DSO and other critical metrics

  • Offer industry expertise and tailored solutions to improve your cash flow management

In Conclusion

DSO is a key metric that can help you unlock the full potential of your construction business. By understanding the top 10 questions related to DSO in the construction industry and partnering with CCA, a specialized bookkeeping services firm utilizing Sage 100 Contractor, you can confidently take control of your cash flow and stay ahead of the competition. So, let's conquer that DSO together and build a successful construction empire! Don't hesitate to reach out to CCA and start taking control of your cash flow today.

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