Selecting a SaaS Billing Solution? Here are the Features to Consider

Rajat Sharma, OBRM Consultant, Synthesis Systems

As a business professional, finding a billing solution that’s both cost-effective and efficient is a crucial decision which influences your company’s bottom line, customer satisfaction and retention. In today’s tech ecosystem, there are mainly two types of billing software: traditional on-premises billing solutions and SaaS-based billing platforms.

The on-premises billing solutions offer more control over customization and performance, allowing you to tailor the system specifically to your business needs. However, this increased control often comes with higher upfront costs, ongoing operational expenses, and expensive and time-consuming system upgrades.

Meanwhile, SaaS billing platforms are more user-friendly, easy to operate and customize. Their lower upfront costs make them an attractive option for small and medium-sized enterprises that may be working within a constrained budget.

In this article, we’ll explore various aspects that must be considered when choosing a SaaS billing solution. Let’s consider a few key factors below.

Compliance

It is essential for a billing platform to adhere to various regulations and standards related to financial transactions, customer data privacy, and tax rules.

  • Financial Compliance: This includes compliance with legal and regulatory standards such as PCI DSS for businesses that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information. Non-compliance can result in penalties and damage to reputation.
  • Data Privacy Compliance: Adherence to data privacy regulations such as GDPR in the European Union, or CCPA in the U.S., are important to protect an individual’s personal information.  These regulations require businesses to handle customer data responsibly and provide the customers with the right to their data.
  • Tax Compliance: Tax laws must be followed to ensure that the transactions are taxed with the correct tax rates considering various factors. Depending on the region, different types of taxes like VAT, GST, or sales tax may apply. The billing platform needs to differentiate and apply these correctly. 

Revenue Recognition

A billing system should comply with the regional and global accounting standards (GAAP, IFRS, ASC 606) for revenue recognition.

Strong Integration Capabilities:

Having strong integration capabilities can improve efficiency and customer experience by ensuring data consistency across the systems. This also translates to lower development and customization costs. The billing platform should easily integrate with CRM systems, accounting systems, payment gateways, tax engines, and other third-party software.

Scalability and Performance:

As your business expands, it results in increased transaction and data volume due to an increasing user base and ever-expanding offerings. Having a scalable and high-performing billing platform is necessary for maintaining smooth operations and avoiding situations such as billing delays, invoicing errors, and poor customer experiences.

Listed below are some example parameters to consider:

  • Availability SLA
  • Number of transactions in a given time frame, over a specific data volume
  • Data storage limits
  • Number of concurrent users supported
  • Integration Scalability when working with third-party systems

Configurability and Customizability

A configurable billing system should have a deep domain knowledge integrated into its core and should be able to easily support a wide range of common business scenarios for customer lifecycle management from lead to renewal. Such a system should also adapt to various scenarios using built-in configurations. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Flexible pricing with support for one-time, recurring and usage charges. Support for models such as flat-rate billing, per-unit billing, tiered pricing, trials, freemiums, etc.
  • Complex multi attribute rating and discounting
  • multiple currency support
  • Account hierarchies with complex relationships
  • Subscriptions and associated amendments
  • Flexible bill runs
  • Automated invoicing
  • Payment processing with support for various payment methods
  • Dunning management
  • Reporting
  • Localization

A customizable billing system allows users to enhance existing functionalities or add new functionalities using methods such as:

  • Extending the existing schema with additional data fields and data objects.
  • Implementing logic that operates on both existing and extended schema.
  • Using policy hooks for controlled modifications.
  • Defining custom events and the handling logic for the events.
  • Integrating with external systems.
  • Generating new, comprehensive reports utilizing the extended schema.

Audits

A billing system should systematically audit the data changes over time to ensure transparency and accountability. The audits should be immutable and should record what changed, when, and by whom.

Fine-grained access control

Fine-grained access control ensures that the principle of least privilege is followed, granting users only the access they strictly need; a billing system should allow the organization to define access based on specific tasks, data sets, or functions, ensuring users only access what they strictly need for their roles, thereby enhancing data security and operational efficiency.

Real-time analytics

Real-time analytics allows instantaneous processing and display of data as it’s generated or modified. Such insights allow the businesses to respond swiftly to any obvious patterns or issues. A billing system should allow the users to set up dashboards to monitor specific KPIs or metrics.

System Health Monitoring

System health monitoring is crucial for ensuring uninterrupted operations. By proactively identifying potential issues the businesses can guarantee a reliable and smooth billing process.

A billing system should typically provide:

  • Error and exception tracking
  • Security monitoring
  • Monitoring of integrations
  • Automated alerts
  • Historical data analysis

Customer Support

Effective support ensures smooth operations, improved customer satisfaction, and enhanced trust in the platform.

  • A SaaS billing service provider typically provides support through live chat, email, phone support, and ticketing systems, ensuring users can reach out through their preferred method. The SLAs ensure that the issues get resolved in a timely manner.
  • Another key aspect is a knowledge base for self-help which can allow users to understand and customize the billing system. Additionally, the guided training can help the new users to get onboard quickly.

Regular Patching and Release Management

Regular patching of the billing platform ensures that all the security vulnerabilities and bugs are addressed in a timely manner. Release management involves releasing of the new features and enhancements in a planned manner with proper release notes ensuring that the product evolves to meet the needs of customers and the market.