Working capital is the lifeblood of most organizations and, as such, it needs to be watched closely and managed in a comprehensive, real-time, and proactive manner.
All finance departments must manage working capital to keep their business operations running, while maintaining the agility to support the strategic goals and growth objectives of their business. Working capital management and optimization are key to assuring a business can maintain production, cover the cost of wages and supplies – and also have enough liquidity on hand to service their short-term credit obligations.
Any gaps are likely to be filled by external capital – usually at a higher cost than internally available funding. Being able to accurately measure and manage working capital, and avoid expensive external financing, can provide companies with an important competitive advantage.
Most CFOs use working capital as a key indicator of the operating health of the business. They focus on questions such as: Are we collecting our bills in a timely manner? Are we taking all the discounts that we are entitled to? Are we carrying too much inventory in our warehouses?
These basic metrics all have a direct impact on liquidity. However, the answers to these key working capital questions are inherently dynamic and constantly changing.