Supply Chain Finance

In a comment on an earlier article about the cost of DPO, Richard Fitzwilliam commented: “DPO is a key indicator of a company’s health and is one of the levers which drives a company’s share price and therefore its valuation. Discounting does reduce DPO and therefore has a negative impact on share price.” I would not normally respond to a comment if I disagree with it but Richard's point is  an interesting one and it goes to illustrate very well how DPO, discounting and supply chain finance can be seen in entirely different ways depending on the lens you view them through.

So you think DPO is important? Well it is of course but manging it effectively comes at a price and it may be higher than you think. DPO (days payables outstanding) is an imoportant KPI for AP people but in many cases there is a hidden cost in keeping DPO figures high. It's the often significant opportunity cost of not taking discounts.

Many suppliers will offer a discount for early payment. The decision to accept the discount is normally based on two factors. Are you in a position to pay the invoice early? (i.e. are your purchase to pay processes efficient enough to do so) and secondly, the size of the discount. What is not normally considered is arguably the most important factor of all – the mitigation of risk.

The more I look at the proposed acquisition of Ariba by SAP, the less sense it makes. SAP didn't need the functionality. They didn't need the brand. The Ariba shareholders will clearly be pleased to see this deal go through but what, I wonder, would an SAP sales guy be thinking and what would Ariba's competitors be making of it all?