Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cloud-Based Billing Solutions in 2015 : Gigaom Research Report

 David S. Linthicum for Gigaom Research writes:  Executive Summary

Traditional paper invoices are surprisingly common, even in 2015. But such manual workflows make accounting governance and tracking difficult, and can lead to lost revenue and customer dissatisfaction.

Cloud-based billing solutions offer all the features of an enterprise billing application but without the IT involvement and budget. With subscription pricing, businesses can choose the features or bundle together what they need and avoid waves of hardware and software procurements. In addition to the cost savings and robust feature sets, this form of Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers rapid deployment and continuous upgrades. And for companies with complex pricing models, multitiered sales, distribution channels, and shrinking margins, a cloud-based billing solution offers a competitive advantage.

Types of cloud-based billing solutions increase each year. Small businesses have the choice of cloud-delivered accounting packages with billing capabilities such as FreshBooks,, and Intuit’s QuickBooks. Common enterprise options, meanwhile, include RedKnee, NetSuite, Monexa, Aria Systems, Metra Tech, and Zuora. As adoption grows, accounting SaaS will follow the path of other players such as, which evolved from a small startup to becoming the enterprise standard CRM.

This provides an overview of the cloud-based billing solutions market, its beneficial features, and what organizations should avoid. It also covers the existing players and how a company can compare requirements to their own capabilities.

Key highlights from this report include:
  • Cloud-based billing systems are viable options for most enterprises, large and small, so long as they are willing to shift to an on-demand model. Those options can provide continuous system improvements, and are easier to configure and operate than traditional on premise options.
  • Cost should be a core consideration. Since these are subscription services, prices can shift up significantly in the future. To hold down costs, enterprises should consider long-term contracts with key providers. If significant integration is required, it will be more advantageous to sacrifice the flexibility to change providers more frequently.
  • Security and integration are typically afterthoughts with these products but should be prioritized before selecting a provider. Integration costs must be considered to maintain the return on investment.
  • The value of cloud-based billing systems for the customer must be determined. Billing errors and system limitation have been replete with customer satisfaction issues. Customers will choose vendors that simplify doing business.
  • Organizations should perform a point of contact with the target provider before putting a solution into operation. Many will find that a number of solutions do not live up to expectations and requirements. Flaws should be identified early in the process.
  • Worth continual evaluation is the value that this technology brings to business. Cloud-based billing systems are much easier to change out. This feature should be used to an organization’s advantage.
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