How to make a SaaS chart of accounts | Sample template

Alvaro Morales

Keeping track of all of your SaaS transactions can get increasingly difficult as your business keeps acquiring new customers, purchasing new software tools, and adding more collaborators to your team. 

That’s why having an easy-to-understand SaaS chart of accounts is so important. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to make one and even provide a sample for you to use.

We’ll go over:

  • A quick definition of SaaS chart accounts and its parts
  • Some tips for designing your chart of accounts
  • How to implement a numbering system for your SaaS chart of accounts
  • A sample chart of accounts for your SaaS company
  • Tips and best practices for managing your chart of accounts

Let’s begin.

What is a SaaS chart of accounts?

A SaaS chart of accounts (COA) is a detailed list that organizes all the financial transactions of a SaaS business. It's the foundation for producing accurate financial documents like income statements and balance sheets. 

Having a well-designed chart of accounts is especially important for SaaS companies as they grow for several reasons:

  • Tracks financial health: The chart of accounts allows you to monitor income and expenses, giving insights into your business's overall financial performance.
  • Decision-making: By understanding where your money goes and how revenue flows in, you can make informed choices about investments, pricing, and resource allocation.
  • Meets reporting needs: Your chart of accounts aligns with accounting standards, which is crucial for tax filing and for presenting financial information to investors.

Key parts of a SaaS chart of accounts:

  • Account names: Descriptive names for each category of transactions (e.g., Subscription Revenue, Marketing Expenses).
  • Account types: Transactions are grouped into broader categories like Assets, Liabilities, Equity, Revenue, and Expenses, which link to the structure of your financial statements.
  • Account numbers: Unique numbers identify each account, making it easy to record and organize financial activity.

Tips for designing your SaaS chart of accounts

When creating your SaaS chart of accounts, finding the right balance between detail and high-level summary is crucial. Investors will want to see a clear overview of your financial standing, while you'll need detailed information internally to make informed decisions about your business. 

That's why building flexibility into your COA is key.

One effective technique for achieving this balance is using parent-child accounts, also known as sub-accounts. Imagine your chart of accounts like a family tree. A parent account, such as "Revenue," might have several child accounts underneath it, like "Subscription Revenue," "Implementation Fees," or "Consulting Revenue."  

This allows you to track income from different sources in detail while still easily calculating your overall revenue numbers.

This approach has several benefits. For external reporting, you can "roll up" the data from the various sub-accounts to present a summarized income statement. Meanwhile, you retain the detailed breakdown necessary for tracking progress on specific revenue streams and making strategic adjustments to maximize your SaaS business's profitability.

How to implement a numbering system

Think of a numbering system for your chart of accounts as creating a roadmap for your financial data. While it might seem like a small detail, a consistent numbering approach brings several advantages, especially as your SaaS business scales:

  • Clarity and organization: A clear numbering system keeps your accounting records tidy and easy to understand, even as they grow. Imagine trying to find your way around a city without street names or addresses — a disorganized chart of accounts can become similarly chaotic.
  • Comparability: Want to compare last year's expenses to this year's? A numbering system keeps things consistent so you can easily track changes over time and spot trends in your finances.
  • Scalability: As you add new products, revenue streams, or departments, a structured numbering system allows you to slot new accounts into their logical place without disrupting your whole system. 

Here's a common numbering scheme for SaaS businesses:

  • Assets (1xxx): What the company owns (cash, equipment, etc.)
  • Liabilities (2xxx): What the company owes (loans, outstanding bills, etc.)
  • Equity (3xxx): The owner's stake in the business
  • Revenue (4xxx): Income from sales (subscriptions, fees, etc.)
  • Cost of goods sold (COGS) (5xxx): Direct costs of delivering your service (hosting, support, etc.)
  • Operating expenses (OPEX) (6xxx): Day-to-day costs (marketing, salaries, etc.)
  • Other income (7xxx): Non-core business income (like interest)
  • Other expenses (8xxx): Non-core expenses
  • Miscellaneous/adjustments (9xxx): For unusual or infrequent transactions

Remember, the first digit in the account number tells you where it fits on your balance sheet or income statement. As you grow, you can add more digits to create detailed sub-accounts that still roll up neatly into their category. 

For instance, you might start with "6000" for general marketing expenses, then add "6100" for paid advertising, "6200" for trade shows, and so on.

Sample chart of accounts for a SaaS company

Now, let's see how a complete SaaS chart of accounts might look. Keep in mind that this is just a starting point — your business might need more or fewer accounts depending on your specific circumstances.

Account number

Account name

Account type

Detail type


Current assets






Checking / savings / bank name


Accounts receivable




Prepaid expenses


Prepaid rent, insurance, vendor, etc.




Product type (if applicable)


Current liabilities




Accounts payable




Credit card payable


Card issuer


Accrued expenses


Expense type (Salaries, utilities, etc.)


Owner’s equity




Common stock




Retained earnings




Preferred stock


Investor type (if applicable)






Subscription revenue


Subscription plan


Implementation fees




Professional services


Service type


Cost of goods




Hosting costs




Customer support




Data integration costs


Customer/project (if applicable)


Selling, general, and administrative (SG&A)




Marketing and advertising




Paid ads


Platform (Google, Facebook, etc.)










Payroll taxes


Tax type


Other income

Other income



Interest income

Other income



Other expenses

Other expense



Interest expense

Other expense




Other expense

Asset type


Best practices for managing your chart of accounts

Think of your chart of accounts as a living document. As your SaaS business grows and evolves, so should your financial tracking system. Here are some key practices to ensure your chart of accounts remains a powerful tool:

  • Schedule regular reviews: Don't let your chart of accounts collect dust. Set aside time quarterly or at least annually to review it. Ideally, these reviews should involve your finance team (accountant, bookkeeper, CFO) and potentially key stakeholders from other departments (e.g., product, sales) as their insight could be valuable. 

    These should be the questions in everyone’s minds:
    Are we tracking the right categories of income and expenses? Do we need to add new accounts to reflect new revenue streams? Regular check-ins help you and your team catch potential issues early.
  • Adapt to change: As your SaaS company scales, you might introduce new products, enter new markets, or restructure departments. Your chart of accounts needs to keep pace. 

    Be prepared to add new accounts or sub-accounts or adjust your numbering system to ensure your financial data clearly shows
    your evolving business.
  • Prioritize clarity: When in doubt, opt for account names and a structure that's easy to understand, even for non-finance people. 

    A clear chart of accounts
    makes it simpler to train new team members, collaborate across departments, and make decisions informed by accurate financial data.
  • Stay consistent with coding: Make sure everyone in your organization understands how to record transactions to the correct accounts. 

    Inconsistent coding can make your financial information messy and less reliable. Providing clear guidelines and examples is a way to prevent data issues down the line.
  • Use your accountant's expertise: Your accountant or bookkeeper is a valuable resource when managing your chart of accounts. 

They can offer guidance on best practices, point out potential areas for improvement, and help you align your COA to meet reporting requirements smoothly, including preparing for potential audits.

Next steps

So, you've meticulously designed your SaaS chart of accounts to optimize tracking and reporting. Now, it's time to focus on the billing process that brings those numbers to life. 

Building a flexible, scalable billing system in-house demands significant engineering time and resources, diverting focus from your core product.

Orb is a done-for-you billing platform that helps you turn your carefully crafted chart of accounts into a powerful revenue engine. 

Here's how Orb does it:

  • Precision from the start: Orb's SQL editor ensures your billing calculations perfectly match your chart of accounts structure, laying a foundation for reliable financial reporting aligned with your growth strategy.
  • Simplified technical setup: Orb offers native integrations with your data warehouse, CRMs, and accounting systems, minimizing the need for custom development work. Orb's intuitive UI also empowers finance teams to manage the billing process directly.
  • Agility to match your growth: With features like plan versioning, Orb adapts as your SaaS business evolves. Easily make pricing changes, launch new plans, and modify billing structures — all without disrupting your existing chart of accounts or revenue streams.  

Orb's detailed reporting also provides granular insights on revenue, usage, and customer segmentation.

Learn more about how Orb can help you make the most out of your usage-based finance workflows.

May 8, 2024

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