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Revenue Recognition - how to account for manufacturing molds?

I have a manufacturing client who builds molds for customers using third party fabricators and then manufactures product for the customer using the mold. The customer is charged for the mold (with markup) upfront (or at least 50%) which is designed by my client, therefore there is some amount of consultative engineering and design work that is incurred prior to the fabricator making and delivering the mold. The question - is when and/or how the revenue should be recognized for the mold? I have generally been recognizing 100% of the mold revenue when the fabricator delivers the mold to the manufacturer and also booking the cost of fabrication at the same time. However, my client thinks that revenue should be recognized when the customer is billed for the mold (before build). Thoughts?

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

If I understand this, your client "X" creates a mold requested by their client "B". That mold is then sold to their client "B". Client "X" safe keeps the mold so they can produce the product that the mold represents. If Client "B" decides to sever their relationship with Client "X", the mold would be returned.

So on production of the mold, its DL + DM and 3rd party costs is then booked to inventory. When you bill Client "B" for the mold, a credit revenue and inventory, a debit to CGS.

Whenever fabrication using Client "B"s mold (that they now own, since title was transferred when you invoiced) there is no longer an accounting trx for the mold; its out of the picture.

Your Client "B" may have additional accounting transactions (possibly to depreciate the mold), but your client ("X") is not involved.

Hope I understood correctly.

Karen Adams
Title: Owner
Company: KJA Associates, LLC
(Owner, KJA Associates, LLC) |

My client provides design services associated with creating the design to give the fabricator. Therefore the question is whether some portion of the revenue can be realized at the time the fabricator is engaged because the design services have been rendered.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Proformative has a free webinar this Thursday with one unit of CPE that covers all things things rev rec:

"The New World of Revenue Recognition: Industry Impacts and Transition Options" https://www.proformative.com/events/new-world-revenue-recognition-industry-impacts-transition-options

Best... Sarah

Topic Expert
Doug Thompson
Title: Director of Revenue
Company: Castlight Health
(Director of Revenue, Castlight Health) |

You are correct, revenue should be recognized on delivery. Delivery is one of the four basic rev rec criteria. Billing does not determine revenue recognition.

Karen Adams
Title: Owner
Company: KJA Associates, LLC
(Owner, KJA Associates, LLC) |

I agree with that for sure. However, what my client is proposing is to recognize some portion of revenue (at billing) to recognize the engineering services provided by their engineering team; work done in order to provide the fabricator with the design to build the mold. At the point of billing, these services have been provided. Would you agree that it would be appropriate to recognize some portion of the revenue that is associated with providing the design to the fabricator?

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

So your client does the design service. The design is then sent to the fabricator of the mold. What do you actually bill for (services-design, fabrication-mold or both)?

Also, how are the PO's/Contracts drawn up (defining these stages or silent)?

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

If the engineering services are under contract without regard to fabrication of the mold, then the engineering services can be recognized as soon as the design has received client acceptance. If the engineering contract is bound to the acceptance of the fabricated mold later in the process, you cannot recognize any revenue until delivery as Doug mentioned.

Similar to Architects where the design or plans are a separate product via acceptance from the construction, even though the Architect might be contracted to also manage the construction. Each element would have a separate contract with separate conditions, fees, and acceptance features.

This might be an exercise in how the contract is carefully worded to allow your client to recognize revenue upon acceptance of the services. This area is quite complex and there should be significant time spent crafting the various service agreements, and by policy not having side agreements between sales people and the client, which keep your client from being able to recognize revenue.

Large manufacturers have this issue many times, where they are required to design and build and test and find acceptance and the product could be several hundred thousand dollars in cost and they would like to recoup by billing and obviously recognize their revenue in the period they incur the costs to avoid losses. Side agreements can keep revenue from being recognized because they introduce a contingency the earned revenue to be delayed. I've seen this in medical equipment manufacturers and it is a real issue, this is why all sales agreements are typically reviewed by finance prior to signing and sales people are immediately under penalty of being fired if they have side agreements.

This could be an area of additional consulting revenue for you, in helping them to construct their engineering services agreements to ensure they can segregate that element from the fabrication.

Good luck.

Karen Adams
Title: Owner
Company: KJA Associates, LLC
(Owner, KJA Associates, LLC) |

Thank you Valerie. Since my client is a very small manufacturer they do not have much in the way of formal agreements other than a Quote and Purchase Order - neither of which has very much verbiage in terms of what is being provided other than a Mold at the end. However, they can certainly make some improvement in the how each of these documents is crafted in order to be as beneficial as possible in terms of revenue recognition.

Stephen Turk
Title: Principal
Company: Stephen Turk, CPA
(Principal, Stephen Turk, CPA) |

Karen:
You need to look at the guidance on Multiple Element Arrangements at ASC 605-25. Your client is basically saying that the design services should be a separate unit of accounting from the fabrication of the mold. That is, the design services must have value to the customer on a standalone basis. That analysis is going to be based on the specific facts. If there are multiple vendors that could do the fabrication, and other companies that could provide design services, there may be a good case for separating the elements.
Even if it's a separate element, you still need to meet all of the revenue recognition criteria. In particular, your client will have to demonstrate that there is some form of customer acceptance of the design - for example a formal sign-off on the design before fabrication starts - in order to recognize the applicable portion of the revenue.

Karen Adams
Title: Owner
Company: KJA Associates, LLC
(Owner, KJA Associates, LLC) |

Stephen, Thank you for the reference to the applicable guidance.

Karen Adams
Title: Owner
Company: KJA Associates, LLC
(Owner, KJA Associates, LLC) |

In answer to Wayne's follow up question - my client is a $6M manufacturer and does not have many formal order processes as a small business. That being said, my client provided a Quotation on the Mold with the following wording: "Molds are purchased by and are the property of [Customer]. Molds require a 50% upfront payment with balance due upon inspection of the first unit of product" the customer did place a Purchase Order reading "50% due with PO, remaining due upon completion of tool"; the tool being the mold. There is no distinction in the Quote or PO for design services or mold fabrication.

Margins on molds sold in the past were in the 5%-10% range but this mold has a 62% margin and the sale is much larger in dollars than any prior mold sale. My client doesn't want to wait until the mold is complete to recognize revenue because he says that there were engineering services performed in-house that went into the sale of the mold and he should be able to recognize that value. Meanwhile their VP Engineering says that his participation was really on the consultative selling side, including doing some work to prepare the Quote, and that there was little engineering services involved. [The VP Engineering does oversee the work of the fabricators and the contract design process when needed on any mold but his oversight seems to me to be more 'regular' overhead type work and not something that gets charged to COGS. I would charge the outside service costs to COGS though]

To me this is a classic case of the company needing to book more revenue and my client looking for any which way to increase sales.

Again, that being said, I do legitimately want to help them book as much revenue as possible given the true circumstances. If rewording the Quotes/POs to call out the different (actual) services provided can provide the appropriate support to recognize elements of the sale than I will certainly look into the guidance on this for support.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Based on what you wrote, I would say he might be able to book unearned revenue, but he doesn't earn the revenue until title transfers, "...until first inspection..."

It is at this point that their is final acceptance, irregardless of the monetary payment specified.

If you change the PO/Quote wording, then you can made the invoicing process in stages (and an acceptance of a deliverable), with each stage a rev rec point.

Karen Adams
Title: Owner
Company: KJA Associates, LLC
(Owner, KJA Associates, LLC) |

Wayne, Thank you. I think identifying the different stages of the process is the first step.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

You may want to do a quick study of the cost of engineering vs. the cost to manufacture the mold. You would essentially be using a bit of a percent of completion method to recognize revenue. In other words take engineering cost and divide by total cost to determine how much revenue to recognize. In our business we have art and plate charges that we bill and recognize revenue when the plates are used, but these are far more immaterial than a mold.

Karen Adams
Title: Owner
Company: KJA Associates, LLC
(Owner, KJA Associates, LLC) |

Thanks Patrick. A good suggestion.

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