SaaS Metrics - Backlog vs Def Rev

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Quick question related to SaaS accounting - Is it fair to say that: 

Deferred Revenue = Billings - Revenue 

Backlog = Bookings - Revenue

Understand these terms are more nuanced than the above equations (Def Rev is broken up into a short term and long term liability, Backlog is a non-GAAP measure that depends on the company, etc.). But the above is currently a way I like to think about these terms - curious how you all think about the relationship between def rev and backlog.  

Comments (4)

 
Most Helpful
Sep 11, 2020 - 12:18am

I am not a SaaS investor but this is how I learned to think about these confusing terms.

For all these SaaS terms there are 3 things to think about: has performance obligation been completed? has cash been received? has invoice been sent?

 

Bookings = all commitments via contracts to the service/subscription. This is the most general number. This corresponds to TCV and foreshadows growth.

Billings = subset of bookings, represents the bookings for which invoices have been sent. 

Backlog = subset of bookings, represents the bookings for which invoices have not been sent

RPO = subset of bookings where performance obligation has not been completed

Deferred revenue = subset of billings, represents the billings for which performance obligation has not been completed and cash has been paid

Revenue = subset of billings, represents the billings for which performance obligation has been completed, whether cash paid or not

AR = subset of revenue, represents the billings for which performance obligation has been completed and cash has not been paid

 

Caveat that you can have mixed pairings of these attributes. That's why you have so many different metrics. You can have cash paid but obligation not completed and invoice received (deferred revenue). You can have cash not paid but obligation completed and invoice sent (AR). And so forth. 

For general SaaS evaluation here's what I'd look at : generally for top line growth (don't just use revenue growth or 3x twice/2x thrice) I'd look at bookings, RPO, and LTV/CAC, and ARR. for profitability & efficiency, I'd look at recurring gross margin, FCF margin/conversion (maybe rule of 40), and operating leverage as the key metrics. if you have positive earnings, time to look at ROIC.

Array

 
Sep 27, 2020 - 3:20pm
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