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Billing system re-design

We are in the process overhauling our billing system, which is entirely spreadsheet based, manual intensive, very prone to error, with very limited analytics ability.

We are a SAAS software vendor who sells licenses. 

  • there is prepay arrangement, i.e., fixed fee prepaid for a number of licenses. 
  • there are different types of licenses and discounts btw types of licenses, i.e., if you buy license A and B together, we will only charge you X vs. buying seperately you would need to pay XX.
  • once the customer goes over the prepay,  there are pricing tiers based on the overage, i.e., if the customer prepays 5 licenses and actually deploys 11 licenses, he will pay X for license #6 to #10, and will pay Y for license #11 (license #1 to #5 are already prepaid previously).
  • customers can deploy our licenses in multiple physical sites, and there is further arrangement to allow the customer to cap the number of licenses per site, i.e., you will only pay 5 licenses no matter how many licenses you have deployed in your New York city office, for example.

My questions are:

  1. what's the best practice in terms of streamline / improve?
  2. any suggestions on a consulting firm who have experience handling this? 

thanks a lot....

Answers

Topic Expert
Joan Varrone
Title: CFO
Company: Cloud Cruiser
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, Cloud Cruiser) |

This sounds complicated and I can see why it is hard to track. If you can't change the billing practice, you should look into two vendors that specialize in subscription billing which is Zuora and Vindicia. However make sure that they can handle your use case as I know of one company that purchased Zuora and then tried to implement and found out that their used case did not work.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Hi Anon,

I think your idea to first look at your processes before deciding to evaluate software is very sound, and often overlooked.

Seeing as you mentioned you are looking for a consulting firm as well, can you and I talk? It's what we do at TSI - process design/improvement and software selection. We are an independent firm with no financial ties to technology providers.

I'm at lgreenattransforming [dot] com.
Kind regards,

Len Green

vincent kavanagh
Title: VP Solution Consulting
Company: Transverse
(VP Solution Consulting, Transverse) |

That kind of complexity is manageable, it depends on the tools you deploy. You should not have to change the way you do business, or want to do business, to suit your billing system.

Certainly you aren't alone in finding yourself in a position where rapid growth and/or un-forecast trends in the way your business has developed have brought you to a point where Excel becomes so unwieldy as to become a business-prevention tool.

I don't know if you were at ProformaTECH and saw our COO, Chris Couch present - he covered a lot of this in his talk. Happy to share that if you weren't there.

In terms of consulting, I would think it depends on your needs. There are one or two specialist billing consultancies out there but they can get expensive if you are a smaller business. Vendors like ourselves have Consulting capabilities (but they are clearly not independent).

To Joan's point above, make sure that you see your most complex use-case (or desired usecase) fully demonstrated within the proposed solution - not just in PowerPoint!.

Anonymous
(Internal Audit) |

really appreciate all the help!!!

Ken Stumder
Title: Finance Director / Controller
Company: Ken Stumder, CPA
(Finance Director / Controller, Ken Stumder, CPA) |

Joan - our billing team was looking at Zuora a little while ago. We shelved adopting it for the near-term. If you could expand on the difficulty the company you mentioned encountered with their use case it would be most appreciated.

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