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Seeking Perfection in an Imperfect World - Optimizing the Accounting Calendar

Posted by Rick Childs on March 02, 2022

2022-Accounting Calendar-01

In a perfect world for project-based firms, as soon as a task is performed for a client, money would appear in the firm’s bank account. After all, the firm is contracted to provide services for a fee, and services were performed. End of story, right?  

Well, my bad! In the real world, that performance of services requires a good bit of help along the way, in order to get that payment in the bank. So, the story needs to expand a little to reach this ideal end game. That’s when having and implementing a good accounting calendar becomes a necessity. This routine cadence of work and accounting functions helps firms be able to rely on a regular schedule of deposits for work performed. 

A Good Accounting Calendar is a Necessity

Over the past 30 years, I have worn many hats and filled many roles involved in every step of the revenue process, including being a manager and being managed. I have learned that one of the greatest necessities is a good “Accounting Calendar” because it is essential to control the process and to have a schedule for the activities involved. Furthermore, for this to work, there must be planning, knowledge and “buy-in” by every level and department in the company from executive to “boots on the ground.” There also must be an individual overseeing the activities. That responsibility generally falls within the duties of the controller. 

Venturing back to my “perfect world,” or a reasonable facsimile thereof, if professional services firms setup and work within a good accounting calendar, they can achieve success, lower overhead, reduce billing time and collect payment for services quickly. Moreover, getting the team to follow a schedule is not a “dream.” It can, has been and is being done every day.  

Overview of the Evolution of Revenue

Below is what I call the “Evolution of Revenue.” It walks through from when the work has been performed through money in the bank. The evolution steps include:  

  • Performed Services = Unrecorded Time 
  • Recorded Time = Unapproved Time 
  • Approved Time = Unrecognized Revenue 
  • Recognized Revenue = Unbilled Revenue 
  • Billed Revenue = Uncollected Revenue 
  • Collected Revenue = Money in the Bank 
  • Money in the Bank = Gives the firm options for expansion and compensation… and that’s a whole other story! 

As the “Evolution of Revenue” shows above, it all starts with work being performed and work being recorded. The first tool to be used is a weekly timesheet. Why weekly, you may ask? Weeks don’t coincide with months or years, and firms publish monthly, quarterly, and annually! Granted, but firms are talking about scheduling, efficiency and supervision, therefore, weekly timesheets work the best. Believe me, I have tried them all, and firms can still publish monthly financials. So, let’s look at a sample schedule based on the weekly timesheet: 

  • Work Week is Monday through Sunday. 
  • All time is to be recorded daily. This provides the project manager the opportunity to review, approve and report on work as it is performed – up to the minute budget vs. actual. 
  • Monday - All time for the previous week must be inputted and submitted for approval by noon on Monday. 
  • Noon on Tuesday - The project manager and managerial review of time must be completed by noon on Tuesday. 
  • Close of Business Tuesday - The accounting and human resources review for overhead, benefits, OT, etc. must be completed by close of business on Tuesday. 
  • Wednesday Morning - Time is posted Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. 

So now the firm has time in and posted each week. What then? Well, for one thing, if the firm is using Revenue Recognition – which it should be – it can publish Revenue figures for the previous week on Wednesday morning, along with Employee Utilization figures and Project Management Reports. 

Next Steps in the Evolution

So far, we have covered the first four steps in the Evolution and moved from Performed Services to Unbilled Revenue. Given that, let’s fast forward to Month-End where the Revenue evolves from Unbilled to Billed. Let’s review a couple of thoughts surrounding managing receivables. 

Let’s make the following assumptions:  

  • The billing month-end is the last Friday of the month. 
  • The accounting month end is the last day of the month. 
  • Preferred payroll is bi-weekly. 

Below is a sample of how this schedule lays out on a calendar in Q1 of 2022, spanning 2 weeks and 10 business days. This model has been used successfully with the buy in of project management, billing and accounting and provides principals with revenue by week and for the month on the Wednesday following the last Friday of the month. 


Once the invoices have gone out, the responsibilities for follow-up vary by client and role. For clients that are being billed for the first time, the billing department follows up three days after bills are emailed to ensure that the proper individual received the invoice and to see if there are any changes that need to be made to the delivery instructions. For existing clients, billing is responsible for follow-up on accounts receivable (AR) up to 60 days past due, project management is responsible for AR up to 120 days and departmental management gets involved after that. All responsible parties receive auto-generated AR emails weekly so that all are on the same page as to who is on task.

Optimize the Accounting Calendar to Realize the Dream

As John Lennon once said, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Having a solid billing and accounting calendar is not a dream, it is a necessary and doable reality. Every firm has a plan and the thing that generally separates the dream from the reality is taking on the responsibility of enforcing the schedule and the deadlines. No one should be exempted from completing their assigned tasks at the time.  

Click the image below to find more accounting and finance resources. 

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2020 Year-End Processing in Deltek

Posted by Rick Childs on December 02, 2020

2020 year end

2020 has been quite a year, to say the least! If you are like most of the people I talk with, you are looking forward to the new year. But, hold on a minute! Those of us in accounting roles generally dread year-end processing and, therefore, year-end itself! Either way, time marches on and we will find a way to deal with it! After all, that’s our job, right?! So, let’s talk about what we can do to make year-end as painless as possible!

Get Your Calendar and List Ready

The first thing to do is to make a good list of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and what it is going to take in time and resources to accomplish! When I think of this type of endeavor, my mind always goes to my Accounting Calendar. That calendar is my guide throughout the year and contains all of the relevant milestones – timesheets and expense report due dates, payroll processing, AP processing, billing, month-end close, etc. My calendar helps me to keep everything in balance throughout the year, rather than waiting until year-end to take it all on.

At year-end, we need to add some items to that list – benefit year initialization, 1099’s, and W-2’s to name a few. Additionally, the tax accountants and auditors (if applicable) will be asking for substantiation (sub-ledgers) for the primary account balances – cash, AR, fixed assets, AP, revenue, for example – on an accrual basis and cash-basis, if needed. Whew! It is a good thing we got to work from home this year! Not having to commute to work freed up plenty of time to get everything done, right?!

Ok, back to the job at hand – year-end close! As mentioned earlier, the accounting calendar will be a big help. One other item, that you should be checking on a regular basis, is the File Reconciliation Report in Deltek (Utilities, Advanced Utilities, File Reconciliation). This report lets you know if you have possibly mis-coded any revenue, direct, reimbursable or indirect expenses. Additionally, it will let you know if your AR, AP and/or unbilled services accounts agree with the sub-ledgers. Remember, the auditors are on their way. Therefore, your Full Sail Partners consultant can help you troubleshoot and correct any issues that this report might point out, as well as helping you run the best reports to troubleshoot any other issues you may find in your assets, liabilities, capital and/or income statement balances.

Other Key Year-End Notes

What about those special year-end items I mentioned, you might ask? Let’s address those now, before another year has come and gone.

Benefit Accrual Year-End 

  1. Validate that you have run all necessary accruals for the benefit year. Remember, accruals may be made at or around timesheet end dates, payroll dates, month-end, etc. But they are not reliant on those dates. Your benefit year has a life of its own and you, as the administrator, just need to be sure that you accrued the proper number of hours for each employee for each benefit.
  2. Validate that employees have recorded all benefit hour usage for the year on their timesheets. If you are using weekly timesheets and your benefit year ends on December 31st, you may not have all benefit hour usage recorded into the system until early January. That is not a problem, you just need to make sure everything is recorded.
  3. Run – and print to PDF/Excel - an Accrued Time Report for each accrued benefit code to document the balances validated in steps 1 and 2 above.
  4. Run the “Open New Benefit Year” Utility.
  5. Run – and Print to PDF/Excel - an Accrued Time Report for each accrued benefit code to document the new balances after the new-year initialization. This is necessary to be sure that all carry-over rules and pre-accrual rules are applied properly and that each employee is starting the new year with the hours that they deserve.
  6. Don’t Panic! Any issues found in the above process can be remedied via accrual adjustments and/or benefit accrual history loading.

Accounts Payable 1099 Initialization and Printing 

  1. Let all appropriate personnel know the last date that AP checks & disbursements will be issued to vendors. Also, let everyone know when the first check run for the new year will be run. Yes, I know, everything changes at year end, but, with a plan, you can work with the changes.
  2. Once all 2020 payments have been processed, and before any 2021 payments are processed, run the 1099 Initialization Utility. This utility modifies two fields in the Vendor Info Center Firms (Vision) or Hub (Vantagepoint) – paid this year and paid last year. The utility moves the paid this year amount to paid last year and zeroes-out the Paid This Year Amount. Now you are ready to cut checks in the new year.
  3. Run a Vendor Ledger Report for all 1099 vendors and validate the Paid Last Year Amount. Once validated, you can then run 1099’s prior to January 31st.
  4. Don’t Panic! If you find discrepancies between the Paid Last Year amount and the Vendor Ledger Report, you can validate the proper amount and modify the field in the Vendor/Firm setup, then generate/regenerate the work file in 1099 processing (accounting, accounts payable) and process your 1099s.
  5. Keep an eye out for a Cumulative Update in the mid-December, 2020 to mid-January, 2021 range that will include an update to 1099 Processing to include the 1099-NEC form for Vision 7.6 and Vantagepoint 3.0 and above. If you haven't done so yet, please be sure to subscribe to Knowledge Base Article #39799 – Master Hot Fix List for Vision.

New Fiscal Year Initialization 

  1. This time, I am going to start with “Don’t Panic!” Although this one seems like a huge deal, opening a new year does not close out the old year. Changes will be made to the previous year balances throughout the year-end close, tax season and audit season. So, just plan to open the new year as soon as feasible.
  2. The primary consideration for opening the new fiscal year is that this process resets the Year-to-Date “tracking mechanism” in all overhead projects. Because of this, you might reserve the morning of January 2nd for finishing up the postings of 2020 items (AP invoices, etc.) that might have come in during the holidays and then open the new year so that you can record new cash receipts that also might have arrived.

Don’t Panic about Year-End

As you might have noted, the overall theme is “Don’t Panic!” Year-end does not need to be stressful! And, if you take advantage of the processing options available in Deltek Vantagepoint or Vision, you can save yourself a lot of time and money come year-end, tax-time and audit-time. How? By maintaining and following a good Accounting Calendar and by setting up General Ledger Account Groupings to present your financials in the formats that your CPA and auditors prefer. Don’t wait for them to ask for sub-ledgers to prove AR, AP and Revenue, have them ready and balanced all year.

Additionally, Deltek’s Recurring Transactions can help to make it easy to take care of accruals and depreciation, etc. on a monthly basis. As always, if you have any questions or need assistance with any of the setup, processing or recording discussed here, just send an email to Consulting@FullSailPartners.com. Furthermore, Deltek has several resources available through the Deltek Customer Care portal including:

  • Year-End Resources such as knowledgebase articles, videos and documentation
  • The Deltek Community which allows users to connect with peers to ask questions and exchange knowledge and ideas
  • Live Chat with a customer care analyst to get answers regarding year-end

This may not have been the happiest of years, but at least now, year-end does not have to be stressful! Happy New Year!

Deltek Customer Care

Key Findings from the 41st Annual Deltek AE Clarity Report

Posted by Rick Childs on July 15, 2020

Deltek Clarity

Every year, Deltek collaborates with ACEC, ACEC Canada, AIA and SMPS to conduct a study to measure the health of the AE industry. The 41st Deltek AE Clarity Report provides a comprehensive assessment of the 2019 performance of AE firms. Furthermore, the study collected responses from more than 415 firms of all sizes within the AE industry. While many of you will eventually read over the findings, here is a summary of what you will discover in detail.

Clarity on AE Technology Trends

With no surprise, technology is a leading focus for AE firms. It seems like this is a trend every year, and it is now becoming even more important for AE firms to invest in technology to be competitive. Surprisingly, augmented and virtual reality is driving a deeper interest into technology investments for AE firms. Even more, firms that have been challenged by the costs of emerging technologies are finding them more affordable as they become more mainstream. According to responses from the Deltek Clarity survey, firms have accepted that the cost of investing in technology has a significant and beneficial impact on the efficiency of their operations.

Clarity on Financial Statements

2019 proved to be another great year for the AE industry in regard to financial performance. The report explains that over the past 10 years, the financial stability of the AE industry has remained strong and has shown growth. While many of the core metrics measuring financial strength demonstrate small changes from year to year, the changes are continuously positive. A significant finding is that operating profit on net revenue and net fixed assets per employee did rise in 2019. Furthermore, the benchmarks for operating profit on net revenue and net labor both surpassed the high performer thresholds which backs the findings of financial stability in the AE industry.

Clarity on Business Development

This section has some interesting findings. Win rates were down and so was revenue from the firm’s top three clients. However, there may be some factors that can explain these results. Is it because firms are lacking a formal go/no go process to improve new business pursuits, or are firms pursuing business in new markets? Are your firm’s top three clients doing less work? Perhaps it is a combination of all these things. But one thing remains certain, that business development continues to be a challenge for AE firms.

Clarity on Project Management

What, what, what? The 41st Deltek Clarity Report found that AE firms, which are project-based businesses, have recognized they need to improve their project management capabilities. Yes, you read that right. Many AE firms are reporting they need to better define responsibilities and processes, develop better practices, and invest in project management training. How fantastic that AE firms are recognizing that project management and delivery is hindering the overall performance of their firm and acknowledging there is a need for change.

Clarity on Human Capital Management

Human Capital Management is a not a problem unique to the AE industry, and it affects nearly every profession. For AE firms, talent acquisition is the top challenge leaders face each year. Since a firm is only as good as the people it employs, acquiring and retaining top talent is essential to staying competitive. Unfortunately, talent acquisition is going to continue to be a challenge for AE firms since the number of available experts is limited. Also, AE firms continue to fall short due to lack of succession planning. This is something AE firms should evaluate as we approach a generational change and baby boomer retirements.

Learn More with the 41st Deltek Clarity Report

For many, the Annual Deltek AE Clarity Report is a valuable tool used to benchmark the performance of your firm. It’s important to keep in mind that using this report from 2019 to compare to your current fiscal year of 2020 may give you skewed results as the global pandemic’s effects are still unseen and predicting the impact is nearly impossible. Good news though, you can still compare your 2019 results against the report findings, and Deltek plans on releasing the 42nd Annual Clarity Report in 2021, which will most certainly shine light on the impact of the global pandemic.
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Management of Change Series – Finance

Posted by Rick Childs on October 24, 2014

management of change financeYou are the authority on finance:  You speak in numbers using  words like “return on investment,” “profit,” “revenue,” and, of course “results.”  In this third installment of our Management of Change Series, we explore change management through the eyes of the financial experts who prove the attainment of goals with reliable, empirical evidence … bottom line numbers.  

But how?

Many professionals are capable of creating and clearly defining goals, not the least of whom are the executives in your company, as we explored in our Management of Change – Executive.  But as the financial wizard, your job is to establish clear, numerically defined, indicators of success which start with a distinct baseline.   After all, to know where you are on the journey, you need to know where you have been.

So, back to our initial question:  How do you prove goal attainment once goals have been clearly established?  It is best to use a defined, multi-step program.

  1. Establish a baseline – This is not about finding bottom line numbers, somewhere, as some sort of false starting point.  Your baseline must include the numbers which clearly support the defined objectives. 
  2. Define financial checkpoints – Change is a time intensive process and must therefore be managed as meticulously as the most important project, since implementing change is, in fact, a project.  Your firm’s success is dependent upon this project.  Financial objectives must be managed throughout the change process, through project status reports, so that there are no financial surprises at the end.
  3. Determine final success numbers – We certainly know that success isn’t always defined by dollars but also by numbers indicating things like percentage increases or decreases.  But, and this is important, don’t be tied to a specific number, instead determine a tolerance range as your indicator of success, your ROI.  Remember, that management of change is not just about processes but also about the people in your organization, and, as we all know, change in people is difficult.  This speaks to user adoption, i.e. how your employees adopt, accept and embrace the changes being proposed. According to “The ‘harder’ side of change.  The What, Why and Ho of change management’” The consequence of not managing the people side of change, i.e. employees and customers, has “tangible and real financial impact on the health of the organization and the project.” Therefore, set an acceptable level of success and celebrate when you’re within a good range of your numbers.
describe the imageHere is your softare toolbox for managing the above steps.

Even more numbers

Management of change for “finance types” is unquestionably about the numbers.  But all good number crunchers know that numbers reflect all sorts of things:  More than just bottom line profit/loss, percentage increase, or improved customer satisfaction numbers. Financial repercussions also must be measured for change that doesn’t occur to account for potential adverse effect of not making a necessary change.  Therefore, numbers have to be analyzed reflecting the “opportunity and efficiency costs of NOT making the change both of which also directly impact ROI” as we discussed in our introductory piece to this series.   

Bottom line

The financial side of the management of change is really where cold numbers meet the warmth of the human ability to accept and adapt to change.  The purpose of this piece is not to immerse you in ROI calculations, number projections, or columns of dollars – all of which you’re thoroughly aware – but, instead, to ensure that all involved in the change management process are aware of the steps to proving the financial effect of change as well as to speak to the financial ramifications NOT making changes.  Those numeric bottom line steps are the solid evidence of change management success.  Our next installment features project managing your change.

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Deltek Vision Tips: De-Mystifying Cash Basis Accounting

Posted by Rick Childs on March 29, 2013

Cash Basis AccountingFor many of us, the mere mention of cash basis is not unlike the old “fingernails on a chalkboard” – not something we want to hear.  However, cash basis accounting need not be something that is left only to your CPA.  Your Deltek Vision system can be set to easily track your transactions and financials on both an accrual basis and on a cash basis with minimal effort. 

What is Cash Basis Accounting?

Cash basis accounting is the process of recognizing revenue and expense at the time that you actually receive and disburse cash in your accounting system.  Accrual basis accounting, on the other hand, recognizes revenue when you produce invoices (creating accounts receivable) and recognizes expense when you enter vendor invoices (creating accounts payable).  For firms utilizing Vision’s Revenue Generation feature, revenue can be generated when time and expense is posted to the system – prior to invoicing the client.  Most firms that we consult for maintain their day-to-day books on an accrual basis and leave cash basis for their CPA to calculate at year-end for filing of tax returns. 

How and when should I get started with cash basis accounting?

To start using cash basis accounting in Vision, you will need to get with your CPA and make a plan.  It is generally best to enable cash basis at the beginning of your fiscal year, however, it can be enabled at any time.   You will also need to get copies of your year-end accrual and cash-basis financials from your CPA to ensure that your beginning balances for both methods are correct in Vision.  Most firms get accrual based closing entries from their CPA, but may not be getting cash-based closing entries.  Talk with your CPA and setup a time to bring your Vision accounting system up to date as of your most recent fiscal year end. 

The next thing you will need to do is to map your Accounts Receivable account(s) to the proper Revenue account(s) in the Chart of Accounts Info Center.  This setting lets Vision know which Revenue account(s) to credit when you record a Cash Receipt transaction in the transaction center.  The following illustration shows the process of recognizing both accrual and cash basis revenue in Vision:

Cash Basis Accounting, Deltek Vision Finance

Taking Cash Basis accounting to the next level:

  • You and your CPA may want to recognize cash basis revenue using multiple revenue accounts.  This can easily be accomplished by creating multiple AR accounts – one for each type of revenue.  Your AR reporting does not need to change and you and your CPA will have better detail
  • Many options are available for cash-basis reporting regarding timesheet postings and payroll.  Ask your Full Sail Partners Consultant when you are ready to explore these options, including the use of a Payroll Payable liability account as opposed to your Job Cost Variance expense account.

Has your firm implemented cash-basis accounting? Leave a comment and let us know your experience.

Be sure to check out other articles written by Rick Childs

Deltek Vision Customization: Simplify Your Billing Invoice

Posted by Rick Childs on February 05, 2013

Deltek Vision’s billing system is very versatile, allowing you to present many different billing formats for your clients without having to create different invoice designs. This is accomplished by using Vision’s Project Billing Terms. By using billing terms you can produce an invoice for your clients that bills Fixed Fee, % Complete against a Fee, Hourly, Consultant and Expense billing, all on a single invoice. A drawback to this “mixed billing” formatting in Vision is that it produces a lengthy invoice with individual billing sections for each billing type. The fee billing phases can be combined into a single billing block, but each T&M phase must be billed separately.

So how can this be resolved?
Full Sail Partners' custom department has tackled this issue with several of our clients and has designed a solution to this problem. The invoice design can be used with any of your existing Vision Invoice Templates and combines all of your Fee, Time, Consultant and Expense billing into a single billing block:

Deltek Vision Summary Block Invoicing









In the sample above:

  1. Pre-Design and Schematic Design phases are hourly with a limit (Budget)
  • The actual value of the billable time entered on these phases is displayed in the JTD Billed Column
  • The percent complete is calculated by dividing the JTD Billed into the Budget
  • The Fee Remaining Column is another new feature that can be displayed or suppressed (hidden)
  • Design Development is hourly without a limit/budget
  • JTD Billed = the value of billable time on the phase
  • Percent Complete is not displayed when there is not a limit/budget
  • Bidding and Negotiation is Percent Complete by Phase
  • The Percent Complete is entered in the Fee tab of Billing Terms
  • JTD Billed is calculated from the % Complete, as in typical % Complete Billing
  • Reimbursable Charges are actual charges with a limit/budget
  • Like the Labor phases above, the actual value of billable expenses is displayed in the JTD Billed column
  • The percent complete is calculated by dividing the JTD Billed into the Budget
  • The Fee Remaining Column is another new feature that can be displayed or suppressed (hidden)

By using this new invoice design, an invoice that might have been 2-5 pages long can now be presented to the client on a single page. Additionally, Billing Backup displaying the details for the time and materials phases can be added to the invoice by selecting that option in the billing terms, as normal.

One other feature that is included with this invoice design is the ability to present the Fee and Labor Phases in the block format above, while displaying Consultant and Reimbursable Expense charges in their traditional sections following the Fee/Labor billing block. This is accomplished by the use of custom fields in the project info center which allow for individual selections for Consultant Charges, Reimbursable Expenses and the option to display or suppress the “Remaining” column above.

View the video for a demonstration of this flexible new invoice design or contact your Full Sail Partners representative. Your clients will love it and your invoices will be easier to read.

Going 'Green' with Vision Invoicing to Collect the 'Green' Faster!

Posted by Rick Childs on November 27, 2012

Everyone is talking about Going Green these days but like the weather, who really does anything about it?  One way to Go Green using Vision is to take advantage of Vision’s ability to email invoices to clients.  This process can save your company time and money while saving the planet!

Here’s how it works: 

  • Once you get your drafts back from the Project Managers, go into Interactive Billing and make your adjustments for held time, changes in percent complete for billing fees, writing-off expenses, etc.  Preview your invoices to make sure that each is ready to send to the client, but do not “Accept” the invoice at this point.

  • Make sure your invoice template includes images from your letterhead so that the emailed invoice will look like the one that you would mail.  Adding images to invoices is really not very difficult and is definitely worth the effort.  You can have multiple invoice templates – one for printing on letterhead, one for emailing and one for draft invoices, for example.

  • Once the invoices are ready for production, go into Batch Billing, select to print for Active Projects, select “Final Run” as the run type and set to use Billing Terms for AR, Backup, etc.  This will produce the invoices according to each project’s billing terms.  In the Invoice Template field, select your Email Invoice Template, which includes images discussed above.  Then, select to email the invoices to the Billing Contact.

Deltek Vision GO GreenTry this with a small group of invoices to start until you get the hang of it.  Then expand to include all your invoices.  This method not only saves you time and money (printing and mailing costs) in producing final invoices, but it also gets your invoice to your client sooner which can reduce your cash cycle days.

Taking Green Invoicing to the next level:

  • To personalize your invoicing, think about setting up user ID’s tied to your project managers.  This will allow you to send the invoices and have it appear to the client that the project manager is the one that sent the invoice.

  • Follow-up with the clients to ensure that delivery was successful.  Now that you have reduced the time it takes to deliver invoices, use some of that saved time to give a call to your clients to make sure that they received the invoice.  This gives you the opportunity to get some “personal time” with your client and to solidify the process

  • Add additional email addresses where clients need to have the invoice delivered to multiple recipients. 

  • Create email templates to personalize the email, give the client additional information and to save time when producing the emails.

Give Green Invoicing a try.  Save time, money and the planet!  

 Deltek Vision, Go Green, Green, Paperless Invoicing


Evaluating Business Performance Utilizing Revenue Generation

Posted by Rick Childs on September 07, 2012

Revenue Recognition, WIP, Work in Progress BlogThe timing of when you recognize revenue for your business can be influenced by a number of factors.  In normal day-to-day business, most firms use a revenue generation model that recognizes revenue on an accrual basis – revenue hits the books and project reporting when clients are billed for services rendered.  For tax purposes, revenue is not generally recognized until the client pays for the services rendered (cash-basis accounting).                                         

In addition to standard accrual and cash basis recognition of revenue, many firms are interested in recognizing revenue at the time services are performed.  That revenue is then tracked on the project and financial statement as either unbilled or billed revenue.  This article will focus on those revenue methods that recognize the value of your qualified Work In Progress (WIP), as unbilled revenue. Additionally, the methods described, will allow unbilled revenue to be reported on project reports and on your financial statements. 

A word of caution!  Before changing your method of revenue recognition, you should meet with your tax professional to discuss the requirements for your firm and discuss industry standard revenue recognition methods to determine right method for your firm.  Also, you will want to meet with the owners of the firm, as well as, the project and divisional managers to discuss their requirements for financial and project reporting in regards to recognizing unbilled revenue.  

Enabling Revenue Generation

As revenue generation posts revenue to your financial statements, you will need to create at least two general ledger accounts: 

  • Unbilled Services (asset – balance sheet)

  • Unbilled Revenue (revenue – income statement) 

The unbilled services account will carry the job-to-date unbilled revenue amount for your projects.  The balance in this account will be carried over from one fiscal year to the next.  The unbilled revenue account will carry the year-to-date unbilled revenue amount for your projects and the balance will be cleared to retained earnings at the end of each fiscal year.  At all times you should be able to balance the detail on your projects to the balances in your GL accounts.  This is called file reconciliation and it is very important that you reconcile these balances on an on-going basis.  When performed properly, revenue generation will never cause a file reconciliation issue. 

In addition to the general ledger accounts, you will need to establish and setup revenue methods to be used in the revenue generation process.  These revenue methods will be specified at the lowest level of your project setup so that the work performed on those project levels can be recognized as revenue.  We will be using two revenue methods in this discussion:

  • Method “W”, which calculates Total Revenue as Job-to-Date (JTD) Billed plus WIP at billing rates

  • Method “B”, which calculates total revenue as JTD Billed 

Note: the Revenue Generation Method is used to calculate Total Revenue.  Billed Revenue is then subtracted from Total Revenue to calculate Unbilled Revenue. 

To determine which revenue method to use, this decision should be made on a project by project and phase by phase basis.  You will only want to recognize revenue on those projects and phases where you expect to be able to bill and collect on your work effort.  Also, you may need to set limits on your revenue generation methods so that revenue is not calculated above and beyond your contractual limits with the client.  In some cases, Method W might be used on one or more phases in a project and Method B is used on other phases within the same project.  Additionally, the method used may need to be changed as a project reaches a fully billed status. 

Running Revenue Generation

The following should be completed, before running and managing revenue generation:

  • Determine your revenue methods

  • Create your GL accounts

  • Create your revenue methods

  • Setup these revenue methods in your projects 

We recommend starting with a small sample of projects, testing your revenue generation methods, and procedures on these projects before expanding to all billable projects.  Keep in mind that you can use Method “B” on some projects, which will keep them on an “Accrual” basis where revenue = billed. 

Part of the management of Revenue Generation is the creation of good reports to check your “baseline” prior to generating revenue.  Then check the reports again after generation of revenue and after billing.  A report should be created showing the Contract Amount, Billed Revenue, Unbilled Revenue and Total Revenue at a minimum.  This report can be run at the project level to verify overall amounts and/or at the phase level to verify individual phase level amounts.  

Revenue Generation should be run at the following times and for the following reasons:

  • Each week after posting time and expense | Ensures revenue is generated and can be viewed on reports

  • Month end, prior to billing | Verifies the total of unbilled revenue for the month can be viewed

  • Immediately after billing | Confirm billed and written-off amounts are properly recorded and unbilled revenue is verified as total revenue less billed revenue 

Verifying and Managing Revenue Generation

As mentioned above, Revenue Generation should be run following billing and the unbilled revenue.  The remaining unbilled on reports should be compared to the general ledger balance (in the Unbilled Services asset account) and to unbilled detail and summary reports.  If there are any projects where the unbilled amount does not seem right, run a project detail report to see all individual transactions and billing statuses to determine where the discrepancy might be.  

One action that might cause unbilled to be different than expected would be where you process a fee based invoice for less than the unbilled amount of labor and do not put any of the labor on hold prior to billing.  In this type of situation, you might bill $5,000 on $6,000 worth of labor and expect there to be $1,000 of WIP remaining.  However, if you processed the invoice without putting any of the labor on hold first, then all $6,000 of labor would be cleared as having been billed against the $5,000 fee and you would not have any WIP remaining. 

Another item to keep in mind is that the billing process does not have any effect on total revenue.  The process of billing simply moves revenue from Unbilled to Billed.  When using Revenue Generation, revenue is only generated when Revenue Generation is run, not at time of billing.  

General Ledger effect when generating revenue:

  • Debit to Unbilled Services

  • Credit to Unbilled Revenue


General Ledger effect when running billing:

  • Debit to Accounts Receivable

  • Credit to Unbilled Services

  • Credit to Billed Revenue

  • Debit to Unbilled Revenue

To learn more about revenue recognition, join our webinar as we discuss the 9 key points to keep in mind regarding Revenue Generation. 

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