Understanding SaaS Remaining Performance Obligations

Understanding SaaS Remaining Performance Obligations

SaaS companies need to understand what their Remaining Performance Obligations (RPOs) are for liquidity management and to plan for future expansions. Publicly traded SaaS firms are now required to publicly disclose their RPOs according to ASC 606.

In this article, we will walk you through how to calculate RPO, the complexities surrounding RPOs, and reporting best practices. 

How to Calculate RPO

In order to calculate RPO precisely, companies must be meticulous in tracking two main components: the deferred revenue balance and any unbilled amounts stemming from multi-year contracts. Both of these elements are integral for estimating upcoming revenues as well as displaying a more comprehensive understanding of the business’s financial standing among other firms operating within the SaaS industry. 

Deferred Revenue Balance

The deferred revenue balance is a crucial metric to measure for SaaS companies as it shows the amount of prepayment customers have made in regards to their contractual obligations. The liabilities are recognized on the company’s balance sheet and denoted as revenues that haven’t been earned yet, making monitoring this data vital for gaining insight into future income streams while also keeping track of any performance commitments yet to be fullfilled. Properly managing credits or delayed payments pertaining to revenue can make a significant difference in financial health alongside long-term profits from those postponed earnings.

Unbilled Amounts from Multi-Year Contracts

Tracking the unbilled revenue from multi-year contracts is essential for accurate RPO calculations. This information provides useful indications about potential future earnings and related estimations of income. For this purpose, a CRM system should be utilized to monitor precisely what remains to be billed across all these contracts. It is pivotal that organizations properly track these amounts to ensure they can provide a clear view into their financial situation moving forward.

RPO Calculation: Step-by-Step Guide and Example

Calculating RPO may be intimidating, but clearly understanding its main components and following a logical approach will make it much easier. Here is an overview to calculate the RPO:

Start by looking at the deferred revenue balance on your balance sheet, which displays revenue yet to be recorded. Then include any unbilled amounts from multi-year contracts representing contracted but non-invoiced money in that total calculation for future revenues potential & average annual contract value.

For example, a SaaS business has $1 million in deferred revenue plus another $500k in unbilled cash from long-term deals. Our total Recognized Potential Outcomes would thus equal $1.5MM ($1MM+ 0.5MM).

Compliance with ASC 606 and GAAP Metrics

To ensure that financial reporting is consistent and transparent, companies must adhere to the guidelines of ASC 606 and GAAP metrics when preparing RPO reports. This revenue recognition standard provides a structure for recording income from customer contracts. Once goods or services have been delivered to customers, they should be marked as being received by them in order to satisfy this requirement.

Following these regulations guarantees reliable finance details and encourages trust among investors and any other stakeholders who rely on these fiscal statements for their decisions.

ASC 606: A Brief Overview

The ASC 606 standard is a revenue recognition guideline that provides clear rules and regulations for reporting revenue earned from customer contracts. This system was established in order to address some previously inconsistent SaaS accounting practices, giving greater clarity overall. The five-step procedure outlined by this regulation includes identifying the contract with customers, recognizing performance obligations within those agreements, and determining transaction prices for each aspect of the deal. Then allocating them accordingly before ultimately acknowledging receipt through completing said obligations. By adhering closely to these instructions, companies can ensure financial transparency and offer investors an easier way to measure their economic performance due to how consistent they have been regarding income registration on these matters.

RPO as a GAAP Metric

RPO is not present on financial statements as part of Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), but instead disclosed in a note, to provide more comprehensive data regarding the company’s fiscal condition and future revenue capacity. The main distinction between GAAP RPO and non-GAAP RPO lies in that GAAP includes only irrevocable backlog, whereas non-GAAP takes into consideration both cancellable orders. By revealing this information through an extra explanation, it confirms compliance with accounting rules while also providing investors & stakeholders with relevant facts about its potential earning power.

Challenges and Best Practices in RPO Reporting

SaaS firms need to ensure that they have a precise and accurate view of their future revenue potential for stakeholders and investors. This can be accomplished by adopting the best practices in RPO reporting such as implementing automated systems which track unbilled income, formulating an established approach to consistent documentation, and being aware of any multifaceted agreements over multiple years. All these measures are necessary if organizations wish to manage issues regarding unregistered earnings efficiently.

Tracking Unbilled Revenue

It is essential to accurately track unbilled revenue when calculating RPO, as it comprises the yet unpaid contracted money that must be factored in. Keeping tabs on this type of income enables firms to analyze their stream and make informed decisions about resource assignment and financial forecasting. To ensure precision regarding RPO figures, organizations ought to use CRM software or other automated applications which help simplify the process. This keeps them one step ahead in today’s SaaS industry competition landscape.

Consistency in RPO Reporting

Having reliable RPO reporting is essential for giving stakeholders and investors a clear overview of the potential future income associated with a company. This type of consistency allows organizations to measure performance over time, check improvements, and recognize patterns.

To guarantee that consistent reports are being provided, businesses should create an organized process where this information can be collected on a regular basis, everyone in charge must understand how important this procedure is, and using automated software may help streamline it while assuring accuracy plus transparency thus enabling trust between all involved parties.

The Future of RPO in SaaS: Trends and Predictions

As we look into the future, there is much potential for SaaS companies when it comes to RPO. Automation of financial reporting will help provide investors with more precise data on projected revenue opportunities, which in turn enables them to make informed decisions. Public SaaS firms that successfully manage their RPO metrics have a better chance at adapting and capitalizing on new openings within the continually transforming software as a service sector. It’s important for these businesses to stay up-to-date regarding current trends and prospects so they continue advancing and succeeding over time.


For SaaS CFOs, it is imperative to have an understanding and control of RPO in order to maximize future revenue potential and aid with financial planning. 

Frequently Asked Questions


What does remaining performance obligation mean?

The remaining performance obligation (RPO) represents the total future obligations arising from contractual relationships, which includes invoiced and not yet invoiced amounts.

Why is remaining performance obligations important?

Remaining performance obligations provide investors with an idea of what future revenue will look like. This information is especially important for companies that go through lengthy sales cycles. Through remaining performance commitments, insight can be gained into the visibility and longevity of a product’s success in the market.

How do you determine performance obligations?

To identify performance obligations, a company must examine the contract to establish if it contains explicitly stated promises and determine if each good or service provided is separate enough for the customer to benefit from independently.

How is deferred revenue connected to RPO?

Deferred revenue and performance obligations are intricately linked since it’s income that has been billed, yet cannot be acknowledged until certain conditions have been fulfilled.

What are the key components in calculating RPO?

To figure out the RPO, both the deferred revenue balance and the unbilled amounts of multi-year contracts must be taken into account. Deferred revenue is a key factor in this calculation process as it balances with any expected future income from the business.

Here are three more financial accounting for SaaS articles you may want to read:

Importance of Financial Leverage Ratios
Outsourcing Your CFO Role
Essential Liquidity Ratios and Metrics