It is difficult to infer organizational performance from one or two simple numbers. Nevertheless, in practice a number of different ratios are often calculated in strategic planning endeavors and, taken as a whole and with some caution, these ratios do provide some information about the relative performance of an organization. In particular, a careful analysis of a combination of these ratios may help you to distinguish between firms that will eventually fail and those that will continue to survive. Evidence suggests that, as early as five years before a firm fails, one may be able to detect trouble from the value of these financial ratios.
The ratios tend to be most meaningful when they are used to compare organizations within the same broad industry, or when they are used to make inferences about changes in a particular organization’s structure over time.