7 Steps to Easily Approach Data Challenges Given the New Accounting Standards

Emma Fulcher
Emma Fulcher
In Analytics and Technology, Forecasting, Revenue Recognition (ASC 606)
Emma Fulcher is the Social Media Manager and Content Writer at Xactly. She attended San Jose State University where she received her degree in English.

During the second webinar in our Revenue Recognition Standards series, Caitlin Steel shares how the new Accounting Standards Update (ASU) will change your accounting process for commission expenses, and how you can get ready for it.

With these new changes you will be required to produce more, and different, data than is expected today. We’ve identified three primary challenges when it comes to the new standards. The first challenge is one that directly affects commission administrators, around meeting data needs. This data will most likely be used by a balance sheet accounting team to establish accounting estimates around the life of the customer, and to manage the amortization to ultimately create the journal entries they need. Of course, all these pieces must be consistent, reliable and ultimately, auditable.

In our previous webinar, about 82 percent of our viewers indicated that they anticipated having to change their data. As we review common practices, many companies approach their commissions calculations by aggregating detail on the payee. This of course makes sense when you’re producing a payroll file. However, with the new rules, you’ll need to structure your data differently, to be able to report on the commission at the customer, contract, or product level.

So how will you approach this data challenge? Where do you begin? Here are our 7 steps.

Assemble a team

The right team members could include your Comp Admin team; from plan designers to executives to the people producing the data. It could also include Accounting team members; this could be controllers, those from your internal audit organization, or balance sheet accountants. Individuals from your internal Audit team, as well as IT may need to be included in analyzing how you approach your data.

Gather your existing data

Once you have the right team assembled, gather your existing data. What do you have today? When you understand what you have, you understand if you have enough detail to report correctly on it. Over 90 percent of our Xactly Incent™ customers use the Xactly Analytics™ tool, which holds the opportunity to report the data out in a structure that best support this change for you.

If you are looking for more information on revenue recognition, feel free to contact us or view our revenue recognition accounting standard resources.

Identify the data you will need

This is where assembling the right team becomes very important. First, identify the approach your company will take to deal with these accounting changes. Next, look at what kinds of transactions that you have in your system, because different types of transactions will require your accounting team to conclude how they’ll make their estimates or their amortization calculations. Third, you also need to be clear with your accounting and auditing teams about the timing of these changes. For most U.S. publically traded companies, everyone is going to need to start reporting under these changes for fiscal years that begin after December 15th, 2017. But, that can require companies to have a “look-back” of two years. Lastly, understand the method to calculate the amortization. Where is this data going to go? Where will it be used?

Determine any gaps in what is available today

Outline the reports that accounting will want to make eventually, and then identify what’s missing in that report. What kind of information do you need? What is the source of that missing data?

Design solutions to meet your company’s specific needs

What is the solution for each gap you identified? Some of these will be smaller efforts, such as including a piece of data in your analytics view that you haven’t before. Some will be bigger pieces, like making sure you capture more data that you previously haven’t captured.

Implement changes

Make sure you keep track of your progress for each piece. Don’t forget that unexpected challenges will come up, and implementing changes like this will be a huge team effort. It’s important that you jump in to help solve these unexpected challenges.

Test results and improve as needed

What items are you expecting? Try running a scenario. If you’re a customer of Xactly Incent, run some information through your Xactly Sandbox™, and make sure that the data that’s produced is what you expected.

Join us for our final webinar in the Revenue Recognition webinar series on November 15th, where we will tackle the ways to use Xactly Incent™ to prepare for the accounting changes coming soon.

If you have additional questions, visit our revenue recognition standard FAQ or revenue recognition resources.

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7 Steps to Easily Approach Data Challenges Given the New Accounting Standards