Understanding the significance of revenue backlog in your overall financial landscape is crucial for any SaaS business. Learn why!

Understanding Revenue Backlog and Its Classification in SaaS Businesses

Mastering the intricacies of revenue backlog is crucial for SaaS businesses seeking to optimize their financial performance and predictability. A fundamental concept, revenue backlog, refers to contracted revenue or bookings not yet recognized. This is money promised by customers for future services, not yet in hand but expected.

Accurate tracking and understanding of this metric can offer valuable insights into a business’s current and future financial health. This article delves into the nuances of revenue backlog and its classifications. It offers a comprehensive understanding that can help SaaS businesses thrive in the competitive landscape.

What is Revenue Backlog?

It is a financial term used extensively in Software as a Service (SaaS) industries to denote the total contractual revenue from signed contracts yet to be recognized. It’s essentially the amount that customers have committed to pay for future services. Imagine it as a financial placeholder, a promise of payment for services not yet delivered.

This metric isn’t money currently available in your bank account, but it is nonetheless a part of your financial outlook. It gives a business a better understanding of its income stability and potential growth, providing a clearer picture of future earnings. Understanding and monitoring revenue backlog is critical in accurately forecasting a company’s financial trajectory.

Who Should Track Revenue Backlog?

In a SaaS business, several key stakeholders should closely monitor the revenue backlog. It’s not just a metric for the accounting department to monitor but a crucial data point that can guide decision-making across various levels of the organization. Here are the key personnel who should track revenue backlog:

  • Chief Financial Officers (CFOs): As the primary stewards of a company’s financial health, CFOs need to track revenue backlog to accurately forecast future revenues and inform strategic planning.
  • Financial Analysts: Analysts should track this metric to identify trends, perform in-depth financial analysis, and provide data-backed recommendations.
  • Sales Managers: For Sales Managers, understanding the revenue backlog can help set realistic sales targets and design effective incentive schemes.
  • Investor Relations Managers: This metric is crucial for managers to accurately communicate the company’s financial health to investors and stakeholders.
  • CEO and Board of Directors: A clear understanding of the revenue backlog can aid in strategic decision-making and evaluating the company’s overall performance and prospects.

Examples of Revenue Backlog

Let’s delve into some practical examples to further clarify how the revenue backlog works. These scenarios will illustrate how backlog functions in different stages of a SaaS business, shedding light on its practical application and importance in financial planning and analysis.

New Customer Acquisition

Suppose a SaaS company signs a one-year contract with a new customer. The contract is worth $120,000, payable in monthly installments of $10,000. Although the company can expect this income over the year, it cannot immediately recognize the full amount as revenue. Instead, the $120,000 becomes part of the company’s revenue backlog until it is gradually recognized as revenue each month as the service is delivered.

Customer Contract Renewal

Consider a case where an existing customer renews their contract for another year. The renewed contract is worth $150,000. Similar to the first example, this amount can’t be recognized as revenue immediately but rather joins the company’s existing revenue backlog. The recognition of this amount as revenue will only happen gradually, in line with the renewal contract terms.

Impact of Customer Churn 

Let’s imagine a situation where a customer decides to terminate their contract prematurely. Suppose the original contract was worth $180,000 over 18 months, and the customer cancels six months into the contract. The remaining $120,000, which was part of the revenue backlog, will now have to be removed, accurately reflecting the updated financial outlook of the company.

These examples underline the dynamic nature of revenue backlog and the importance of continually monitoring and updating it to ensure a realistic understanding of a SaaS business’s financial health.

Why is Your Revenue Backlog Important?

Understanding the significance of revenue backlog in your overall financial landscape is crucial for any SaaS business. It plays a vital role in various aspects, from financial forecasting and cash flow management to strategic planning and investor relations. Here’s why your revenue backlog is paramount:

  • Financial Forecasting: Revenue backlog is a reliable indicator for projecting future revenues. It enables businesses to make informed decisions about budgeting, resource allocation, and growth strategies.
  • Cash Flow Management: Keeping tabs on your revenue backlog aids in managing cash flow more effectively, providing insights into when and how much revenue you can anticipate from contracts.
  • Investor Relations: Revenue backlog can be a decisive factor for investors when assessing a SaaS business’s financial health and viability. A robust backlog signifies a solid future revenue stream and stability, fostering investor confidence.
  • Strategic Planning: Revenue backlog provides a forward-looking view of the business’s financial position, serving as a valuable input for strategic decision-making.

The revenue backlog is not just unearned revenue in your ledger; it’s a strategic tool that, when utilized effectively, can drive growth and stability in a SaaS business. Keep a steady eye on this critical metric, and use it to steer your business towards long-term success.

How Does Revenue Backlog Impact a Business’s Revenue?

The relationship between revenue backlog and a business’s revenue is direct and significant. Revenue backlog acts as a predictor of future revenue. The more your backlog, the more revenue you can anticipate in the future, given that the services are delivered as promised. 

However, it’s important to note that a high revenue backlog doesn’t always equate to immediate liquidity. These are funds that will be received gradually over the duration of the contracts.

For instance, if a SaaS company secures a 12-month contract worth $120,000, the entire value becomes part of the business’s revenue backlog. But it doesn’t translate to immediate revenue. The company will recognize this as revenue in increments over the agreed-upon duration, in this case, $10,000 per month for a year.

Additionally, revenue backlog also impacts revenue consistency. A robust revenue backlog allows a business to maintain consistent revenue streams, particularly important for SaaS businesses running on a subscription model. They can predict their monthly recurring revenue more accurately, streamlining budget planning and resource allocation.

Lastly, changes in the revenue backlog, such as a sudden increase or decrease, can influence revenue trends. These changes could result from new customer acquisitions or customer churn respectively. 

Therefore, monitoring it can help identify potential issues or opportunities, giving businesses the time to strategically address them. To summarize, the revenue backlog can significantly impact the revenue of a business by influencing future revenue predictions, revenue consistency, and revenue trends.

How to Calculate Revenue Backlog?

Calculating revenue backlog is an essential part of financial planning for any SaaS business. It provides a forward-looking view of the company’s financial position. A correct calculation can offer insights into projected revenues, assist in effective cash flow management, and aid strategic decision-making. Here’s a step-by-step guide to calculating your revenue backlog:

Step 1: Identify Unrecognized Revenue

The first step in calculating the revenue backlog is to identify all the revenue contracted but not yet recognized. This includes all the active contracts for which the service has not been fully delivered or paid. 

Step 2: Determine the Total Contract Value

Next, determine the total contract value (TCV) of each contract. The TCV is the total contractual revenue from a customer, including recurring and non-recurring income.

Step 3: Subtract Recognized Revenue

Subtract any revenue already recognized from the TCV for each contract. This gives you the remaining contract value (RCV), i.e., the revenue to be recognized for each contract.

Step 4: Add Up the Remaining Contract Values

Add the RCVs from all the contracts to get the total revenue backlog. This total value represents the revenue the company expects to recognize from the existing agreements, assuming all services are delivered as promised.

Sample Calculation of Revenue Backlog

To visualize the process of calculating revenue backlog, let’s consider a hypothetical SaaS company A, which has three active contracts:

  • Contract 1: 12-month contract worth $120,000, of which 6 months ($60,000) has already been recognized.
  • Contract 2: 24-month contract worth $240,000, of which 12 months worth ($120,000) has been recognized.
  • Contract 3: 6-month contract worth $30,000, with no revenue recognized yet.

Now, let’s calculate the revenue backlog for company A:

  1. Identify Unrecognized Revenue: We have already identified three contracts for which the service has not been fully delivered or paid.
  2. Determine the Total Contract Value (TCV): The TCV of the three contracts is $120,000 (Contract 1) + $240,000 (Contract 2) + $30,000 (Contract 3) = $390,000.
  3. Subtract Recognized Revenue: Subtract the recognized revenue from each contract’s TCV to get the Remaining Contract Value (RCV):
    1. Contract 1 RCV = $120,000 – $60,000 = $60,000.
    2. Contract 2 RCV = $240,000 – $120,000 = $120,000.
    3. Contract 3 RCV = $30,000 – $0 = $30,000.
  4. Add Up the Remaining Contract Values: The total RCV or the revenue backlog for company A is $60,000 (Contract 1) + $120,000 (Contract 2) + $30,000 (Contract 3) = $210,000.

Hence, Company A has a revenue backlog of $210,000, which it expects to recognize from the existing contracts, assuming all services are delivered as promised.

Remember, when it comes to calculating revenue backlog, accuracy is key. Monitoring and updating this metric can ensure a realistic perspective of the company’s financial health and prospects.

Revenue Backlog Vs. Deferred Revenue: What’s the Difference?

While revenue backlog and deferred revenue represent financial aspects that have yet to be realized, they carry distinct definitions and implications for a business.

Deferred Revenue, or unearned revenue, represents payments received in advance for services or goods to be delivered in the future. It is classified as a liability on the balance sheet as it denotes the company’s obligation to deliver services or products in the future. For example, suppose a SaaS company receives a payment for a one-year subscription but has only fulfilled six months of the service. In that case, the remaining six months’ payment is recognized as deferred revenue.

On the other hand, Revenue Backlog stands for contracted revenue that has yet to be recognized. It represents the total contract value that will be received over time as the goods or services are delivered. But the payment has not yet been received, nor has the service been fully executed. It’s essentially a promise of future cash flow.

The key difference lies in the payment and service delivery terms. Deferred revenue indicates a payment has been received, but the service has not been fully rendered. Whereas revenue backlog implies a future payment for the contracted service yet to be fully delivered. 

Therefore, while deferred revenue points to a current obligation (a liability), a revenue backlog represents future potential income (an asset). Understanding the distinction and interplay between these two concepts will help businesses better manage and forecast their financial performance.

How Does ASC 606 Affect Backlog Disclosure?

ASC 606, also known as Revenue from Contracts with Customers, is a recent accounting standard update that impacts how companies recognize revenue from customer contracts and, consequently, how they report backlog. The standard, implemented by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), requires companies to recognize revenue when a good or service is transferred to the customer in an amount that reflects the consideration the entity expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services.

In terms of backlog disclosure, ASC 606 impacts it in two primary ways:

Increased Transparency

Under ASC 606, companies are required to provide more detailed disclosures about their contracts with customers. It includes significant payment terms, the nature of the goods and services promised, and the judgments made to apply the guidance in context. This translates into a more transparent reporting of the revenue backlog. It allows stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of a company’s financial health and future revenue prospects.

Change in Backlog Definition

With the implementation of ASC 606, some companies may experience a change in their definition of backlog. For instance, under the new standard, companies are required to recognize revenue at the time of the transfer of control to the customer, which could be before the fulfillment of the entire contract. This could mean certain previously considered backlog contracts no longer meet the new definition.

Revenue Recognition Criteria Under ASC 606

Under ASC 606, revenue is recognized if several specific criteria are met. These criteria provide a framework for businesses to recognize revenue in a way that depicts the transfer of promised goods or services to customers, in line with the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled. The criteria are as follows:

  • Transfer of Risks and Rewards: The risks and rewards associated with the ownership of the goods or services have been substantially transferred from the seller to the buyer. The seller should not retain any managerial involvement or effective control over the goods sold, and the ownership transfer should not be on a consignment or approval basis.
  • Lack of Control: The seller does not retain control over the goods or services sold. This implies that the seller has transferred the ability to direct the use of and obtain benefits from the goods or services to the buyer.
  • Collection of Payment: The collection of payment for the goods or services is reasonably assured. This criterion evaluates the customer’s intent and ability to pay the due amount within the contract terms.
  • Measurement of Revenue: The amount of revenue can be reasonably measured. This means the transaction price (the amount of consideration expected to be entitled in exchange for transferring goods or services) is determinable.
  • Measurement of Costs: The costs incurred or to be incurred with respect to the transaction can be measured reliably. This allows the seller to match the costs incurred to the revenues earned, a concept fundamental to the principle of accrual accounting.

By adhering to these criteria, companies can ensure they comply with ASC 606, thereby promoting transparency, consistency, and accuracy in their financial reporting. It’s essential for businesses to periodically review these conditions and ensure their revenue recognition practices align with the standard’s requirements.

How ReliaBills Helps SaaS Business

Apart from managing revenue backlog, sending invoices and receiving payment are two critical aspects of running a SaaS business. Fortunately, you can streamline these crucial processes with the help of a billing and invoicing solution like ReliaBills.

ReliaBills is a cloud-based invoicing and billing software designed to automate payment processes, reduce administrative overhead, and streamline payment processing duties. ReliaBills’ payment processing features include automated recurring billing, payment tracking, payment reminders, online payment processing, and much more!

It also provides valuable tools that help manage customer information, monitor payment records, and create proper billing and collection reports. As a result, invoice and billing management are simple and convenient. You also get access to active customer support, ready to assist you whenever you need help.

Get started with ReliaBills for free today! And if you want more features, you can upgrade your account to ReliaBills PLUS for only $24.95 monthly! Subscribing to ReliaBills PLUS will give you access to advanced features such as automatic payment recovery, SMS notifications, custom invoice creation, advanced reporting, and more!

With ReliaBills, you have an all-in-one solution to your invoicing and payment processing needs. Our convenient solutions will enable you to focus more on running and growing your business. Get started today!

Wrapping Up

In the rapidly evolving SaaS landscape, managing revenue backlog is crucial to financial stability and business growth. By adhering to the guidelines set by ASC 606 and utilizing powerful tools like ReliaBills, businesses can ensure accurate revenue recognition, streamline billing and invoicing processes, and, ultimately, foster a healthy financial future. Understanding your revenue backlog isn’t just about knowing what’s in your bank account today—it’s about planning and preparing for tomorrow.

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