Many finance organizations have been there–investing in a variety of software solutions that promise insight into key metrics to drive decisions about strategy. So much data is then produced that determining what's working or not is daunting. Hussmann Corp.'s credit department, stymied in its goal to divine what was behind a key metric–days sales outstanding (DSO)–took matters into its own hands.

And just in time, too. With the financial crisis squeezing dollars for most U.S. businesses, getting a firmer grip on DSO would provide Hussmann, a St. Louis-based manufacturer of refrigeration and food merchandising equipment, insight into "our quality customers, rather than our marginal customers," explains Tom Croke, director of credit in Hussmann's climate control technologies division.

Previously, Hussmann confronted mixed results in analyzing DSO, causing it to consider whether the effort and resources devoted to the metric were worth it. "With dozens of processes and strategies employed, some in place for years, along with various information and software vendors in use, identifying the contributors versus the non-contributors was not as transparent as we would have liked," Croke notes.

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