Wednesday Oct 01, 2014

Deferred Revenue Replaced by Revenue Performance Obligations

I was talking to Seamus Moran again the other day.

He was saying he had some sympathy for the existing US GAAP folk who had so much to unlearn in respect of the new revenue recognition standard.

He told me that with deferred revenue, you took a sales invoice, and predicted when you’d put that into revenue in the P&L.  You’d add carve-ins and deduct carve-outs and deduct releases to the P&L.

But the new standard takes all of that away.  Instead of accounting for deferred revenue, sales invoices you had to postpone on the sale side, you now have to account for performance obligations, what you owe customers.

It is a big change.  It is not sales invoice-based. The FASB & IASB spelled out the four steps to get a performance obligation value, and they did it so you would get to a performance obligation value, not a delta to a sales invoice.  He said he can recite them: Step 1, ID the contract.  Step 2, ID your promises (assign ID numbers), explicit and implicit, to customers as performance obligations.  Step 3, value the transaction in total, what are you going to get in total.  Step 4, using standalone selling prices (SSP) or estimated selling prices (ESP), allocate the total to the performance obligations. 

At this stage, you now have valued your performance obligations.  No need to go looking at invoices, carvings, or releases. Sure, you may not have all the necessary data, or the quantities aren’t known yet, etc., but this is data you are supposed to book keep, at which you should value revenue, contract liabilities, and contract assets.  Quantity times performance obligation times SSP or ESP.

He says that, actually, embracing the performance obligation idea makes this whole standard much more easy to digest.

Stay tuned for the next in our series of blog posts about the new revenue recognition standard. 

Monday Sep 22, 2014

The New Revenue Recognition Standard: Performance Matters

Last week I was talking to Seamus Moran, our resident accountant and we chatted about the new Revenue recognition Standard, Topic 606 and IFRS 15.

He’d just been speaking at a couple of conferences, and noted that the fundamentals of the standard are beginning to click with people.

A few months ago, he said, it wasn’t obvious to people that the core principle, “you should recognize revenue as you transfer goods and services to customers” was a mandate to recognize revenue as you performed.  That is, as you delivered, executed and serviced.  But now, that mandate was being more widely understood: you must recognize revenue as you perform.

One example is a software company that ships a game with some missions or episodes missing.  Under today’s GAAP, they would have to defer all the revenue until the missing episodes were published. Under the new standard, they would have to – not just “could” – recognize the revenue that related to the delivery they had performed, and postpone recognizing the rest of the revenue until they delivered the delayed missions.  A key question is how to identify and value a performance obligation of this nature, especially since this company doesn’t sell missions separately.

But that’s a blog for another day.

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Focusing on solutions for the Office of Finance, this blog will highlight key financial management market trends, events and other news of interest.

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