The 9 Best Accounting Software Tools for SaaS Companies

saas accounting

It might be the first dollar you spend from your own money to launch the company. Or, if you’re lucky, it might be the first dollar you make from an early adopter on your minimum viable product (MVP) pilot. On the surface, accounting at a SaaS company may look like accounting at any other business. KPMG Handbook, Revenue recognition, is a complement to this industry-specific Handbook.

Most SaaS businesses will recognize revenue using the accrual accounting method, which is different from the cash accrual method. One of the many ways in which SaaS businesses are unique is in their recurring revenue models. For SaaS businesses, it’s preferable for customers to make an up-front payment for an entire year’s worth of service. From an accounting perspective, this creates a liability that should be recorded as deferred revenue and recognized on a pro-rata basis as the contract is fulfilled. Operationally, this aids cashflow and gives the SaaS business additional capital to invest in growth. Revenue recognition under GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) in the U.S. and global IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) rely on accrual accounting.

The Balance Sheet

ASC 606 and IFRS 15 apply to SaaS companies and to companies in other industries with customer contracts revenue. Differences in accounting treatment and guidance for ASC 606 vs. IFRS 15 are described below in the Revenue Recognition section of this guide. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, are accounting rules, guidelines, and regulations to standardize business accounting methods across industries. GAAP exists to create transparency and consistency in financial reporting from one organization to the next. All companies should set up an accounting solution and a bank account on day one. You never know when your SaaS startup will grow, and you won’t regret having a trusted accounting system to help guide and support your business through the exciting (and complex) growth.

  • These fall under Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), operating expenses such as SG&A and R&D, and non-operating expenses including interest expenses or taxes.
  • This is a model where software acts as a service and SaaS vendor as a provider of it.
  • The right infrastructure, technology, and processes can help elevate SaaS accounting from its traditional bean counter stereotype to strategic partner in growing an organization.
  • In essence, it reconciles the balance sheet and income statement to determine the financial position of your business.
  • The matching principle means that revenues and their expenses must be recorded in the same period.
  • The way that a SaaS business receives revenue is far from the only difference between SaaS business accounting and accounting in more traditional businesses.

For a SaaS company one of the best ways to market its product is via affiliate marketing. With the power of affiliate marketing, the company can reach target customers using an army of affiliates around the world. If a customer is not supposed to pay any sales tax, Transaction Cloud takes care of validation and removes the taxes. If the customer is supposed saas accounting to pay the taxes, the platform collects and retains all the information required by the tax authorities. When a SaaS vendor sells through the platform, Transaction Cloud becomes the seller of record for the end customer. Hence Transaction Cloud is responsible to calculate, collect, register, file, remit and answer queries from tax authorities.


GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) are created by FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board), and GAAP uses accrual accounting. They’re utilizing modern financial management and accounting software that offers fully integrated, comprehensive functionality across accounting and financials. That enables SaaS businesses to streamline and optimize their financial management efforts by automating manual tasks such as sales tax calculations. The key here is to defer these expenses and recognize them in portions equal to the revenue item to which they are attached. One aspect that makes SaaS accounting different is the dynamics of cash flows in SaaS businesses. For instance, recurring payments and the ability to downgrade, upgrade or purchase add-ons make SaaS accounting different from traditional models.

  • This Handbook provides detailed technical guidance on applying ASC 606 (and Subtopic ) to software licensing and SaaS arrangements.
  • The transaction price that was determined in Step 3 must then be allocated against various performance obligations.
  • Both the business and the customer should be aware of and in agreement on the terms of the contract, especially those related to payment terms and schedules.
  • It’s not a GAAP or accounting defined metric, but it’s a way of looking at contracts that has been informally agreed upon by well-known SaaS investors and startup founders.

In simple terms, SaaS accounting implies that accountants do not have to carry their systems to the client’s place for using the particular accounting software. Instead, these software can be used through the virtual server using any system across the globe. So, while the accountant based in London can take that extended holiday in New York, the European client in financial agony can still be served by using the latest technology. As long as any system is available, the true aspect of round-the-clock accounting firms can be maintained, and leveraged upon. However, the scruples about data leakage cannot be ignored, especially by the large and small enterprises.

Setting up a chart of accounts for a SaaS business

The ASC 606 revenue recognition standard generally requires an entity to recognize revenue for license renewals no earlier than the beginning of the renewal period. Additionally, a modification of a term license of intellectual property (IP) may include an extension to the original license’s term with the purchase of additional rights. Further, a modification of a term license of software may include the ability to revoke the licensing right and convert to a hosted solution.

  • Kruze’s calculator tells you how much it will cost to prepare your startup’s tax return.
  • This recognition is the case regardless of when the client pays the SaaS company, so even if the client pays upfront or quarterly, the revenue is recognized the same.
  • Several years ago, SaaS companies have become subject to charging (or at least collecting!) sales tax in many states in a Supreeme Court ruling entitled Wayfair vs North Dakota.
  • If you want to collect international payments, you’ll likely need an additional payment solution that specializes in global payment processing.

Odoo’s easy-to-use software is ideal for businesses looking for a customizable ERP system that extends beyond accounting. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from Odoo’s flexible pricing structure, even though it’s a little complicated. As a Cloud-based ERP solution, NetSuite is the best choice for companies looking for powerful reporting and various integrations. There are too many functions and a high price tag for most medium and large-sized businesses to justify the use of this software. Building a sophisticated accounting and finance infrastructure that’s equipped to handle the rapid growth of your SaaS business is no easy task.

Introduction To SaaS Accounting

Recognizing deferred revenue before fulfilling your contractual obligations can lead to inaccurate growth forecasts, which, as we know, is terrible for business. In other words, if you need to know whether your business is growing or not, you need to keep an eye on these KPIs. ASC 606 defines a flexible, robust five-step framework that encompasses the revenue recognition principles across industries. This has cleared up the clouds of confusion that loomed over SaaS accounting due to inconsistent and unclear practices. There are a few top-line SaaS metrics that every SaaS business must track. In order to comply with the GAAP principles, a solid understanding of these key metrics is crucial.

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Cash-basis accounting records all income and expenses of the business as the cash comes in and goes out. The differences between income and cash receipts can be seen on the income statement and statement of cash flows. Everything should mostly even out on an annual basis, but quarterly or monthly statements may see large variations. ASC 606 requires software and SaaS entities to make significant judgments and estimates to account for their revenue contracts.

Detailed customer and revenue reports

Revenue recognition continues to be top of mind for software and software-as-a-service (SaaS) entities because of the complex nature of their arrangements and evolving business models. Apprenda can also be used for safe development of accounting software, and accounting data maintenance. As the system is fully secured, so accounting organizations can save a lot of hassles over data integrity and security, subsequently leading to lesser hair-falls and migraines. So the 24/7 global access can be obtained by logging into your account using any system, laptop or mobile, and an active internet connection.

What is a SaaS expense?

The SaaS startup cost is the amount of money you need to spend to get your business off the ground. This can include product design and development costs, UX design, marketing expenses, and any other necessary investments in order to get your company up and running.

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