Subscription billing software continues to grow as a market, as recurring revenue strategies take precedence across many industries. It’s become clear that SaaS pricing models are no longer confined to the software world; many industries, from healthcare to automobiles, are migrating to a more customer-centric billing approach. As a direct result, invoicing and payment management have increased in complexity.
Expectations regarding customer service are at an all-time high, and those who fail to provide adequate subscriber billing and payment processes are becoming obsolete. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Customers anticipate a seamless billing cycle with maximum flexibility. This sets a standard that few companies are equipped to meet without investing in subscription billing software that can lighten the load. Below we’re going to walk you through the core product features you need to handle the complexity of modern billing.
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- What is subscription management or subscription billing software?
- With so many subscription billing solutions, how do you choose?
- Overview of the ultimate checklist for subscription billing software
- Features for streamlining subscription billing processes
- Features for comprehensive revenue recognition
- Features to support modern pricing models and strategies
- Features to handle dunning and revenue leakage
- Features for optimal payment portal experience
- Features to enable audit-friendly reporting and compliance
- Features to ensure full integration with existing systems
- Comprehensive implementation support and training
Subscription management software (or recurring billing software) allows companies to implement complex subscription billing models effectively. This type of software has a wide range of features that enable companies to scale their subscription services through automating billing and invoicing, managing subscriber contracts, and facilitating comprehensive reporting and audits. It allows you to effectively manage your subscribers’ journey through the entire customer lifecycle, reducing bottlenecks, human error, and improving the overall billing experience for all involved.
Software companies have jumped at the opportunity to build solutions to help manage this complexity. Still, not all solutions are created equal, and many lack the features you will require to scale and grow your subscriber base sustainably. Ensure you get the most value and efficiency for your money and understand the variability between solutions by asking the right questions and looking for key features.
If you’re in the market for a solution, this blog provides a comprehensive list of features (organized by functionality area) you should look for when investing in streamlining your billing processes.
Subscription billing software goes beyond the accounting team, affecting every facet of a company, from customer care to product development. A robust solution offers valuable data and clarity, empowering businesses to make strategic, informed decisions. This checklist aims to provide companies with the clarity required to navigate the intricacies of modern billing, helping them find a tailored solution that meets their unique needs and fosters unprecedented growth.
From customizable billing options to automated renewals and the flexibility to support both free trials and intricate discounts, each feature contributes to a holistic and efficient subscription billing system. Below is a short list of the most critical features you need to look for in solutions:
- Allows for customizable billing options
- Enables different billing frequencies
- Automates renewals seamlessly
- Supports free and paid trials
- Automates invoicing and collections processes
- Invoices customers and collects payments
- Discounts and special offers supported
- Ability to pause subscriptions
- Out-of-box subscription reports
- Customizable reporting options
- Self-service payment portal
- Ability to pause/cancel subscriptions
One of the most complex aspects of subscription management is revenue recognition and deferrals. It’s essential to invest in software that can automate these processes across all contracts so that your team doesn’t sink time into managing these manually. For a comprehensive guide to revenue recognition for subscription billing, read this blog.
- Automates revenue recognition
- Manages accrued and deferred revenue
- Comprehensive dunning tools
- Automates deferral schedules
- Accessible subscription metrics analysis
- Automated billing cycle adjustments
- Real-time revenue reports
- Enables compliance with accounting standards ASC 606 and IFRS 15
Customers have come to expect options when paying for their subscriptions. To remain competitive, companies need to implement both annual and monthly billing options. You may also find yourself experimenting with different pricing models until you find the right fit for your product. The software you select should be flexible when it comes to managing recurring billing and pricing management, so that your team can tweak strategies to best serve your subscribers.
- Tools to support all modern pricing models
- Bulk pricing updates are possible
- Applying discounts and promotions is simple
- Allows for free/paid trial functionality
- Flexible payment scheduling
- Customizable options for bundling
- Enables tiered pricing structures
- Capacity to charge by unit/usage
- Proration capabilities for upgrades/downgrades
- Tracks performance of various models
Recurring billing faces challenges, like losing about 2% of customers monthly due to expired credit cards. Other issues, like failed payments from spending limits or cancelled cards, add to this problem. Dunning management is the way to recover these losses by communicating with customers. Despite its negative image, modern dunning can improve customer experience and boost monthly revenue. Not only that, but dunning can be automated, preventing revenue leakage without using any valuable resources.
- Collections process automation
- Automates delivery of “collection letters” using templates
- Access to voluntary and involuntary churn metrics
- Sends automatic payment reminders
- Reminds subscribers to update billing info
- Flags expiring credit cards or payment methods
- Automates communications for end of free trials
- Enables smart retries for declined/failed payments
- Alerts subscribers when transactions fail
- Provides step-by-step instruction emails for failed payments
- Reports all declined and failed payments
- Access to statements of accounts
With modern subscription billing, payment gateways play a pivotal role in ensuring a seamless and secure recurring revenue experience. To maximize the benefits of subscription-based models, businesses must prioritize certain features in their payment portals. From PCI-DSS compliance to user-friendly interfaces. Automation of payments, easy subscriber information updates, effective dunning features, and the flexibility to transact in preferred currencies round out the key elements for an optimal payment portal experience, providing your subscribers with the peace of mind they seek.
- Self-service payment portal
- PCI-DSS compliant
- Advanced security measures
- Fraud detection tools
- Advanced data encryption
- User friendly interface
- Subscriber friendly UX
- Accepts multiple payment methods
- Automates payments
- Easily update subscriber information
- Effective dunning features
- Allows for preferred currency
Not all software is created equal, and one of the significant differentiators you should look out for is features that enable compliance. No solution can guarantee compliance with accounting standards like ASC 606, but they should provide the tools you need to facilitate compliance with accounting standards. It’s likely that the list of features will mention revenue recognition, ASC 606, or otherwise indicated awareness of tax and compliance requirements. If you do not see this mentioned in the list of features, it’s unlikely that the software will be audit friendly.
- Enables compliance with ASC 606 and IFRS 15
- Accurate, transparent and auditable reporting
- Tools to help meet tax requirements
The integration of software systems is paramount to the efficient functioning of a business. Ensuring a seamless flow of subscriber data and financial insights is critical for maintaining a healthy bottom line. The features required for optimal integration with existing systems go beyond user interfaces and cloud-based reporting; they delve into the very backbone of a company’s operations. From compatibility with existing ERPs and a user-friendly interface to proven integration history and expert support, the checklist for full integration aims to provide a comprehensive overview of support you will require for a smooth transition to using subscription billing software.
- Centralized, cloud-based environment
- Integrates with critical systems such as existing ERPs
- Familiar interface to minimize learning curve
- Ability to grant access across departments
- Software has been integrated with similar setup previously
- Use cases that showcase similar integrations
- Experts to answer your integration questions
- Customizable integration options
- Data migration assistance
- Scalability for future integrations
- API documentation and support
- Security protocol for data migration
- Regular updates and compatibility checks schedule
Comprehensive implementation support and training are pivotal elements in ensuring the seamless integration of subscription billing tools into the heart of a business. Ongoing training and support, coupled with access to learning tools and user guides, empower users to harness the full potential of the software.
- 24/7 global technical support team
- Regular release schedule for updates to software
- Standardized communication protocols for updates
- Scheduled maintenance is transparently communicated
- Realistic implementation timeframes
- References/use cases supporting implementation
- Ongoing training and support
- Access to learning tools and user guides
- Comprehensive implementation mapping