This excerpt taken from the HPQ 8-K filed Nov 12, 2008.
Revenue Recognition and Deferred Contract Costs
The Company provides IT and business process outsourcing services under time-and-material, unit-price and fixed-price contracts, which may extend up to 10 or more years. Services provided over the term of these arrangements may include one or more of the following: IT infrastructure support and management; IT system and software maintenance; application hosting; the design, development, and/or construction of software and systems (Construct Service); transaction processing; business process management and consulting services.
If a contract involves the provision of a single element, revenue is generally recognized when the product or service is provided and the amount earned is not contingent upon any future event. If the service is provided evenly during the contract term but service billings are irregular, revenue is recognized on a straight-line basis over the contract term. However, if the single service is a Construct Service, revenue is recognized under the percentage-of-completion method usually using a zero-profit methodology. Under this method, costs are deferred until contractual milestones are met, at which time the milestone billing is recognized as revenue and an amount of deferred costs is recognized as expense so that cumulative profit equals zero. If the milestone billing exceeds deferred costs, then the excess is recorded as deferred revenue. When the Construct Service is completed and the final milestone met, all unrecognized costs, milestone billings, and profit are recognized in full. If the contract does not contain contractual milestones, costs are expensed as incurred and revenue is recognized in an amount equal to costs incurred until completion of the Construct Service, at which time any profit would be recognized in full. If total costs are estimated to exceed revenue for the Construct Service, then a provision for the estimated loss is made in the period in which the loss first becomes apparent.
If a contract involves the provision of multiple service elements, total estimated contract revenue is allocated to each element based on the relative fair value of each element. The amount of revenue allocated to each element is limited to the amount that is not contingent upon the delivery of another element in the future. Revenue is then recognized for each element as described above for single-element contracts, except revenue recognized on a straight-line basis for a non-Construct Service will not exceed amounts currently billable unless the excess revenue is recoverable from the client upon any contract termination event. If the amount of revenue allocated to a Construct Service is less than its relative fair value, costs to deliver such service equal to the difference between allocated revenue and the relative fair value are deferred and amortized over the contract term. If total Construct Service costs are estimated to exceed the relative fair value for the Construct Service contained in a multiple-element arrangement, then a provision for the estimated loss is made in the period in which the loss first becomes apparent. If fair value is not determinable for all elements, the contract is treated as one accounting unit and revenue is recognized using the proportional performance method.
The Company also defers and subsequently amortizes certain set-up costs related to activities that enable the provision of contracted services to the client. Such activities include the relocation of transitioned employees, the migration of client systems or processes, and the exit of client facilities acquired upon entering into the client contract. Deferred contract costs, including set-up costs, are amortized on a straight-line basis over the remaining original contract term unless billing patterns indicate a more
accelerated method is appropriate. The recoverability of deferred contract costs associated with a particular contract is analyzed on a periodic basis using the undiscounted estimated cash flows of the whole contract over its remaining contract term. If such undiscounted cash flows are insufficient to recover the long-lived assets and deferred contract costs, including contract concessions paid to the client, the deferred contract costs and contract concessions are written down by the amount of the cash flow deficiency. If a cash flow deficiency remains after reducing the balance of the deferred contract costs and contract concessions to zero, any remaining long-lived assets are evaluated for impairment. Any such impairment recognized would equal the amount by which the carrying value of the long-lived assets exceeds the fair value of those assets.
The Companys software licensing arrangements typically include multiple elements, such as software products, post-contract customer support, consulting and training. The aggregate arrangement fee is allocated to each of the undelivered elements in an amount equal to its fair value, with the residual of the arrangement fee allocated to the delivered elements. Fair values are based upon vendor-specific objective evidence. Fees allocated to each software element of the arrangement are recognized as revenue when the following criteria have been met: a) a written contract for the license of software has been executed, b) the Company has delivered the product to the customer, c) the license fee is fixed or determinable, and d) collectibility of the resulting receivable is deemed probable. If evidence of fair value of the undelivered elements of the arrangement does not exist, all revenue from the arrangement is deferred until such time evidence of fair value does exist, or until all elements of the arrangement are delivered. Fees allocated to post-contract customer support are recognized as revenue ratably over the support period. Fees allocated to other services are recognized as revenue as the service is performed.
Deferred revenue of $1,473 million and $1,669 million at December 31, 2007 and 2006, respectively, represented billings in excess of amounts earned on certain contracts.