A Quick Reminder to Update for Changes in Accounting Policies (Especially Revenue Recognition!) for Quarter-End

It is hard to sit in a room with more than one accountant and not hear talk about the impact of the new revenue recognition standard.  Even with that level of buzz, check out this excerpt from a real company’s Form 10-Q upon adoption of the new revenue recognition standard:

Accounting Standards Update.

On January 1, 2018 we adopted the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Under this new standard our significant accounting policy for revenue is as follows:

Revenue: Revenue is recognized at the time 1) persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, 2) services have been rendered, 3) the sales price is fixed and determinable and 4) collectability is reasonably assured.We generally recognize revenue over time because of continuous transfer of control to the customer. Since control is transferred over time, revenue and related transportation costs are recognized based on relative transit time, which is based on the extent of progress towards completion of the related performance obligation. We enter into contracts that can include various combinations of services, which are capable of being distinct and accounted for as separate performance obligations. We account for a contract when it has approval and commitment from both parties, the rights of the parties are identified, payment terms are identified, the contract has commercial substance and collectability of consideration is probable. Taxes assessed by a governmental authority that are both imposed on and concurrent with a specific revenue-producing transaction, that are collected by the Company from a customer, are excluded from revenue. Further, in most cases, we report our revenue on a gross basis because we are the primary obligor as we are responsible for providing the service desired by the customer. Our customers view us as responsible for fulfillment including the acceptability of the service. Services requirements may include, for example, on-time delivery, handling freight loss and damage claims, setting up appointments for pick-up and delivery and tracing shipments in transit. We have discretion in setting sales prices and as a result, the amount we earn varies. In addition, we have the discretion to select our vendors from multiple suppliers for the services ordered by our customers. These factors, discretion in setting prices and discretion in selecting vendors, further support reporting revenue on a gross basis for most of our revenue.

Clearly the language bolded above is the old ASC 605 accounting standard, not the new ASC 606 accounting standard!  Here is an example of the language based on the new standard, courtesy of one of the early adopters, Workday:

Revenue Recognition

We derive our revenues primarily from subscription services and professional services. Revenues are recognized when control of these services is transferred to our customers, in an amount that reflects the consideration we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those services.

We determine revenue recognition through the following steps:

  • Identification of the contract, or contracts, with a customer
  • Identification of the performance obligations in the contract
  • Determination of the transaction price
  • Allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract
  • Recognition of revenue when, or as, we satisfy a performance obligation

Subscription Services Revenues

Subscription services revenues primarily consist of fees that provide customers access to one or more of our cloud applications for finance, human resources, and analytics, with routine customer support. Revenue is generally recognized on a ratable basis over the contract term beginning on the date that our service is made available to the customer. Our subscription contracts are generally three years or longer in length, billed annually in advance, and non- cancelable.

Professional Services Revenues

Professional services revenues primarily consist of fees for deployment and optimization services, as well as training. The majority of our consulting contracts are billed on a time and materials basis and revenue is recognized over time as the services are performed. For contracts billed on a fixed price basis, revenue is recognized over time based on the proportion performed.

Contracts with Multiple Performance Obligations

Some of our contracts with customers contain multiple performance obligations. For these contracts, we account for individual performance obligations separately if they are distinct. The transaction price is allocated to the separate performance obligations on a relative standalone selling price basis. We determine the standalone selling prices based on our overall pricing objectives, taking into consideration market conditions and other factors, including the value of our contracts, the cloud applications sold, customer demographics, geographic locations, and the number and types of users within our contracts.

So, as mundane as it seems, this tip is to be sure you have addressed new standards and related changes in your accounting policy disclosures!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

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