Companies' efforts to improve their working capital seemto be lagging.

NACHA's recent decision to provide same-day settlement of ACHtransactions should be a plus going forward for working capital atcompanies that use ACH to make payments or that receive a lot ofconsumer payments via ACH. However, a couple of recent surveyssuggest that over the past year companies made little headway infreeing up more of their cash through receivables, payables, orinventory.

Consulting company REL's annual benchmarking of working capital at 1,000 largecorporations showed there was no change last year in the averageorganization's cash conversion cycle, a measure of the time ittakes a company to recoup the money it spends producing goods bycollecting from its customers.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.