Operationalizing the revenue recognition requirements
In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. The standard provides companies with a single model for use in accounting for revenue arising from contracts with customers supersedes current revenue recognition guidance, including industry-specific revenue guidance. The core principle of the model is to recognize revenue when control of the goods or services transfers to the customer, as opposed to recognizing revenue when the risks and rewards transfer to the customer under the existing revenue guidance.
The effective date for public registrants will be 2017 for calendar year-end (annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2016). Early adoption is not permitted. The guidance permits companies to either apply the requirements retrospectively to all prior periods presented, or apply the requirements in the year of adoption, through a cumulative adjustment. The delayed effective date and transition options are intended to allow companies a reasonable timeframe to comply. However, addressing some areas of the standard may require longer lead-time, particularly related to revenue or billing systems where separation and/or allocation changes may be required, so companies should perform a preliminary analysis of the new requirements on a timely basis.
Considerations and challenges
The changes will present complexity for companies in various industries. Examples of some of the challenges are:
- Bundled goods and services
- Transaction price calculations
- Contract considerations (i.e., contract combinations and modifications)
- Capitalization of costs to acquire customer contracts
Organizations may need to consider other project needs, including:
- Implementation of updated or new systems, processes and controls, where required
- Effective training and communication of new requirements
- Effective program and resource management related to this effort
Some effective first steps to consider as you begin to evaluate the implications of the new standard may include evaluating significant revenue streams and key contracts to identify the specific revenue recognition changes required and the specific business units where these changes may have the greatest impact; addressing the longer lead-time areas where new calculation engines or revised allocation processes may be required; and establishing a granular project plan and roadmap to manage the effort across multiple business unites and countries.
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