Project Partners Blog

Posts Tagged ‘user interface’


 Project Partners Blog Author: Donna Dignam | Principal Functional Consultant 

In April 2015, FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) issued ASU (Accounting Standards Update) 2015-05 to assist entities to determine when a customer in a cloud computing arrangement “CCA” (i.e. hosting arrangement) included a software license.

If a CCA includes a license to internal use software, the software license is accounted for by the customer as an intangible asset.  Basically, the intangible asset is recognized for the software license, and the payments or said license made over time are recognized as a liability.  If no software license is included in the contract, the company should account for the arrangement as a service contract, and the fees associated with the hosting service of the arrangement are expensed as incurred.

The Update did not give any guidance regarding the implementation costs for activities performed in a cloud computing arrangement as a service contract.  Since the FASB guidance in this area was not explicit, the Board decided to issue an Update to specifically address the resulting diversity in practice.

Who Is Affected by ASU 2018-154?

These Amendments on the accounting for implementation, setup and other upfront costs (commonly referred to as implementation costs) apply to entities that are a customer in a hosting arrangement that is a service contract.  Oracle Cloud computing arrangements where a license is sold to the customer along with a hosting arrangement with Oracle Cloud would be one such customer.

Main Provisions of ASU 20184

The Update’s intent is to align the requirements for capitalizing implementation costs incurred in a hosting arrangement that is a service contract with the requirements for capitalizing implementation costs incurred to develop or obtain internal use software and hosting arrangements that include an internal-use software license.  The current accounting for the service element of a hosting arrangement is not affected.

It is up to the company to determine which implementation costs to capitalize as an asset related to the service contract and which to expense.  Costs to develop or obtain internal use software that could not be capitalized under Subtopic 350-40, such as training costs and certain data conversion cost, also cannot be capitalized for a hosting arrangement that is a service contract.  The company in a hosting arrangement that is a service contract determines which project stage an implementation activity relates to.  Project stages include preliminary project stage, application development stage or post implementation stage.  Costs incurred for the application development stage are capitalized, while those costs related to the preliminary project stage or the post implementation stage are expensed as the activities are performed.

In addition, the company is required to amortize the capitalized implementation costs over the terms of the hosting arrangement.  The term of the hosting arrangement includes the noncancellable period of the arrangement plus periods covered by:

  1. Option to Extend – customer must be reasonable expected to exercise this option
  2. Option to Terminate the Arrangement – where the customer is reasonably expected NOT to exercise this option
  3. Option to Extend or Not to Terminate – where the vendor has control of exercising the option.

Impairment guidance, as if the costs were long-lived assets, and abandonment are to be applied based upon the existing guidance in SubTopics 350-40 and 360-10, respectively.

Income Statement presentation by the entity should be the same line item as the fees associated with the hosting service of the arrangement.  Similarly, classification of payments for capitalized implementation costs in the Statement of Cash Flows are done in the same manner as payments made for fees associated with the hosting arrangement.  In the Statement of Financial Position, capitalized implementation costs are presented in the same line item that a prepayment for fees associated to the hosting arrangement would be presented.

How is This Different and Why is it an Improvement?

Currently, GAAP does not specifically address accounting for implementation costs associated with a HASC.  Therefore, the Update improves current GAAP as it clarifies accounting and aligns the accounting for implementation costs for hosting arrangements, regardless of whether a license is conveyed.

For consulting firms, the new standards present an improved selling point as costs that were previously required to be expensed can now be capitalized.  For capital intensive industries, where cloud applications are being considered and dismissed due to financial considerations around increased expenses (and resulting decreased profitability metrics) due to cloud implementation, the new standard allows a way to capitalize the costs associated to both the license and the implementation and development costs around getting that application stood up.

When Does This New Update Take Affect?

For public entities, the amendments are effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019 and interim periods within those fiscal years. For all other entities, annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2020, and interim periods within annual periods beginning after December 15, 2021 are required.  Early adoption is permitted at any time.

The amendments in this Update should be applied either retrospectively or prospectively to all implementation costs incurred after the date of adoption.

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Author: Wendy Lamar | Managing Principal Consultant | Project Partners
Oracle E-Business Suite R12 Project Certified Implementation Specialist

The first step in working with a project in the Oracle Projects Suite, project initiation, is typically performed centrally by a project administrator using a template, and then routed for approval (to check proper template usage, project manager assignment, and funding).  Eventually the project manager (PM) is notified that the project is ready to be modified for detail workplan and date input, key member and resource assignments, other project attributes, transaction controls, and detail financial planning. Read the rest of this entry »

There is no cookie-cutter definition of an engineering-construction (E&C) company other than they are all project-oriented businesses who perform construction-related work for a client (often referred to as the owner – the entity paying for the work and for whom the work is performed). There are those who perform design-only work (engineering), construction-only work, or design-build work (a combination of both).

Engineering companies are essentially professional services organizations who specialize in providing engineering-design solutions to clients – often in specialized fields.

Construction companies can generally be classified as either (a) contractors who perform all or most of the work themselves, or (b) subcontractors, who perform specialized work such as electrical, mechanical, or masonry tasks. General contractors (GCs) are contractors who perform many different types of work (even engineering services), often manage overall aspects of large (sometimes global) projects – referred to as construction-management (CM), and usually have access to large bonding resources.

Special cases are owner-CM, or owner-performed work. In the former, an owner (such as a large natural resources company, a government entity, or a specialty retailer) may act as a GC who subcontracts most or all of the work on a project to others, but manages the overall work themselves (CM). In the latter case, owners may have the people and equipment resources to actually perform some of the work rather than contracting it to others.

This article is a discussion of solutions for general contractors who use Oracle Project Management and Project Partners User Interface Applications in the execution of design-build projects. Future papers will focus on the other members of the E&C family. Read the rest of this entry »

Project Managers’ Needs

Project Managers need tools to quickly and easily plan and execute project work.  They typically are used to working with Microsoft® Excel as their primary tool for maintaining every type of project data from WBS and Schedules to budgets, status reports, forecasts, issues and change orders. They even want to see all their reporting data in spreadsheets which in turn allow them to perform any type of analysis they need.  Furthermore, and especially in Professional Services organizations, they need access to project data “on the go” in a disconnected mode as the project managers are frequently travelling to client sites.

Oracle Project Management was one of the first generic project management software applications that was released pre-integrated with the back-office project accounting functions along with other ERP applications. It provides a comprehensive workbench for project managers allowing them to manage all their project information from one place. Being a generic off-the-shelf application, it, however, is burdened with complexity delivered via an HTML-based user interface that requires a significant investment in training to get the project managers comfortable with it. Most organizations cannot afford this investment in time from their project managers as they are already busy with ongoing projects. Furthermore, the HTML-based user interface, by necessity, requires a connection to the office intranet in order to access project data.

Enabling Project Managers

The Project Partners User Interface Applications (UI-Apps) are built to work seamlessly with Oracle Project Management and provide project managers with a simple MS-Excel based user interface with built-in industry specific processes for Engineering and Construction and Professional Services organizations.  The UI-Apps user interface allows for quick and easy retrieval of project information, the ability to update data either while connected to Oracle, or offline, and then a one click upload to Oracle to provide automatic updates back into Oracle Project Management.  Project managers generally would log into Oracle from MS-Excel whenever they’re connected to the office intranet, and download their project information to the UI-Apps worksheets.  They then save their worksheets to their local machines.

Project Managers can now go on the road and review and update information into the UI-Apps worksheets at anytime and, whenever they next connect to the office intranet, they can simply upload the updates back to Oracle. 

UI-Apps Functions

The initial release of UI-Apps covers the following PM functions:

* Build and Maintain Project WBS

   – Create, indent and outdent tasks

* Build and Maintain Project Schedules

   – Update task financial and schedule attributes

* Build and Maintain Project Budgets

   – Select and assign resources (based on resource format) from planning resource list

   – Automatically determine planned resource costs and revenue using cost, burden and bill rates from Oracle Projects

   – Plan in Project or Project Functional Currencies. UI-Apps automatically converts all rates downloaded to the Worksheets into the selected currency

   – Select a spread curve and automatically spread resource costs across PA/GL periods. Update individual periodic amounts and automatically maintain total planned amounts.

   – Save working and submit for approval (Baseline for Financial Plans and Publishing for Workplans)

* Capture Project Schedule Progress

   – Update Progress – Physical Percent Complete, Estimates to Complete, Task Progress status

* Update Project Financial Forecasts and Schedule Attributes

   – Update WBS – New tasks, task dates, other financial and schedule attributes

   – Review and Update Forecast – Review actual-to-date and maintain ETC/EAC amounts

   – Save Working – progress, Workplan Updates and Forecasts

   – Submit for Approval – Progress, Workplan changes and Forecasts.

* Review Project Costs

   – Review Cost summary by WBS and Cost Categories

This is accomplished via five MS-Excel worksheets that are delivered for handling time-phased and lump-sum plans, one sheet each for budgets and forecasts. One additional sheet is provided for reporting project costs by WBS and implementation defined cost groupings. 

Above and beyond the core functionality shown above, each of the sheets is also highly configurable.  A large selection of fields and table columns can be displayed or hidden based upon requirements.  Custom fields can also be displayed/updated providing the ability to save and retrieve customer-specific data back into Oracle Projects via Oracle-supported DFFs and/or UDAs.  Additionally, each worksheet can be configured with custom colors, fonts, prompt and column heading names and row/column sizes.

Deploying UI-Apps

The UI-Apps are delivered with pre-built configuration capabilities that allow the implementation team to quickly setup the worksheets to meet their business process and the worksheets adapt to the planning configurations from Oracle automatically. The look and feel of the worksheets can be rapidly adjusted to user requirements using built-in table configurations and standard MS-Excel formatting capabilities and various delivered extension points allow the implementation team to add data elements and custom business validations to the worksheets using easily available PL/SQL skills.

These various configuration options enable a rapid implementation cycle for the UI-Apps – 4-6 weeks after receiving the software.

All in all, UI-Apps enables project managers via built-in industry specific MS-Excel worksheets giving them a familiar user interface and enabling allowing them to manage better and deliver better profits.

One of the biggest challenges that Project Managers (PMs) face in managing a project is weeding out mischarges to their projects. This issue is particularly aggravated in the following industries:

  1. Construction industry:  Due to very thin margins on project work, any mischarges if not controlled and quickly reversed can wipe out the margins for the project
  2. Any Cost Reimbursable type of contract particularly with the Government:  because these charges don’t get caught and then when they show up on invoices, the client starts disputing the invoices based on these mischarges, causing delays in payments and cash flow issues for the project.

The advent of Project Partners User Interface Applications ( a new product that allows you to provide Microsoft(R) Excel based user interfaces for 1 or more related project functions), has provided the ability to provide this critical function for project managers via an easy to use Excel interface for users of Oracle E-Business Suite Projects applications. The following section provides an overview of this solution.

An Excel worksheet will be setup that will allow Project Managers to pick their projects and specify expenditure types and the period for which they would like to review detailed charges.

All charges of the type specified (or all types) and in the current period will then be displayed to the PM with appropriate information for each cost transaction charged. The PM then has the ability to specify “Approved” or “Questionable” for each of the charges. Mass functions for both of these states will be provided to make life easier for the PM.

The screen will also filter out any transactions that had been previously approved by the PM.

This new Status field will be stored as a DFF against the Expenditure Items in Oracle Projects. A perdiodic (nightly) alert will be sent to the HelpDesk/IT/Project Accountant group if “questionable” transactions are found on any project. This group will review the transactions in Oracle’s standard Expenditure Inquiry screen and take appropriate action to research and either clear or transfer out the questionable charges. If the Transactions are cleared as being correctly charged, they are updated in the status field with a “Cleared” status and the PM can subsequently review and approve them.

An additional benefit of this approach, is that when invoices are generated and presented for review to the PMs, they can have a quick report (or another Project Partners User Interface Applications worksheet) wherein they can pull up any “Questionable” charges on the invoice and ensure that they are eliminated or cleared before the invoice goes out to the client.

This is a an example of how Project Partners User Interface Applications, combined with the expertise from Project Partners resources, can help you make life simpler for your Project Managers.

That’s it for now and remember:

There is no better way to manage a business than to Manage by Project.

PS: I welcome all comments / trackbacks / pingbacks / queries to my nascent venture here. I will try and respond to your comments, etc in future entries.