Build vs. Buy | Evaluate your subscription billing solution options

Subscription Billing Suite

Published on: March 19, 2024

When finding the right solution for your subscription billing needs, many face the dilemma of whether they should build or buy. A quick Google will give you multiple takes on the pros and cons of each, often leaning more heavily towards the “buy” answer. However, each approach has good reasons, and what works for one company won’t always be the best solution for the next. In this blog, we will focus on the nuances of the dilemma, addressing the core challenges that face companies where billing efficiency is critical to overall performance.


What to consider when deciding whether to build vs buy billing software


1. Gain a comprehensive understanding of what subscription billing solutions can achieve

One of the critical steps in making the right choice for your company is to gain a comprehensive understanding of what a subscription billing solution can do. What are the features your company needs to make operations run smoother? And even, do features you don’t know about exist that can make your team’s life easier? Many companies are surprised at the sheer depth of modern billing solutions and their effectiveness in removing bottlenecks and facilitating best practices. If you want to get a complete overview of what a subscription billing system should be able to do, check out our ultimate checklist for subscription billing solutions. It provides an exhaustive list of features that might help you successfully navigate the decision about whether it’s better to build vs. buy recurring billing software.


2. Consider the time required for full implementation

Consider the time required for full implementation when deciding between building or buying a subscription billing solution. Building a custom solution from scratch can be a time-consuming process, involving development, testing, and debugging. Depending on the complexity of your requirements, it could take several months or even longer to complete.

On the other hand, purchasing a pre-built solution typically offers faster implementation, as the software is already developed and ready to deploy. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to get your billing system up and running, allowing you to start realizing benefits sooner. However, it’s essential to weigh the trade-offs between time to market and customization options to ensure the chosen solution aligns with your company’s needs and timeline.


3. Assess each option in line with business requirements to determine what’s feature bloat and what’s necessity

When assessing each option in line with business requirements, it’s crucial to distinguish between feature bloat and essential features. Feature bloat refers to unnecessary functionalities that may complicate the system without adding significant value to your business operations. On the other hand, identifying necessary features ensures that your subscription billing solution meets your specific needs and supports your core business processes effectively.

To determine what constitutes feature bloat versus necessity, engage stakeholders across departments to understand their workflows and pain points. This collaborative approach can help prioritize features that streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and contribute to overall business success. Additionally, consider scalability and flexibility, as the chosen solution should be able to adapt to future growth and evolving business requirements without unnecessary complexity. Once you have a clear picture of what you’re looking for, it’s time to build a roadmap to help with the migration to a new solution.

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4. Tailoring a solution to meet unique requirements

Tailoring an existing subscription billing solution to meet unique business requirements is essential for maximizing its effectiveness. While pre-built solutions offer a range of features, they may not perfectly align with every company’s specific needs. Building a custom solution provides the opportunity to incorporate tailored functionalities that address unique challenges and support distinctive business processes.

By working closely with developers and stakeholders at the solution provider’s company, it’s possible to build workflows that are customized to fit exact requirements, resulting in a more efficient and seamless billing process. Additionally, customization allows for greater flexibility and scalability, enabling the system to adapt to changing business demands over time. However, it’s essential to balance customization with considerations of development time, cost, and ongoing maintenance to achieve the optimal solution for your organization.


5. When can you expect to see an ROI

Determining when you can expect to see a return on investment (ROI) from your subscription billing solution is crucial for making an informed decision. The timeline for ROI realization can vary depending on factors such as the cost of implementation, the efficiency gains achieved, and the overall impact on business operations. With a pre-built solution, ROI may be realized relatively quickly due to faster implementation and immediate access to essential features.

Conversely, building a custom solution may involve a longer initial investment of time and resources but could lead to greater long-term ROI by precisely addressing your unique business needs. Factors such as increased efficiency in billing processes, reduced error rates, improved customer satisfaction, and the ability to scale operations can contribute to ROI over time. By conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis and considering both short-term and long-term impacts, you can better understand when to expect ROI from your chosen subscription billing solution.


6. Consider how you will maintain the system and processes

Considering how you will maintain the subscription billing system and associated processes is vital for long-term success. Whether you build or buy a solution, ongoing maintenance is necessary to ensure the system remains efficient, reliable, and aligned with evolving business needs. With a pre-built solution, maintenance typically involves regular updates and patches provided by the software vendor. It’s essential to stay informed about these updates and implement them promptly to keep the system secure and up to date.

Additionally, training staff on any new features or changes to processes is crucial for maximizing efficiency and minimizing disruptions. For a custom-built solution, maintenance may involve monitoring system performance, addressing any issues or bugs, and implementing enhancements or updates as needed. Establishing clear maintenance protocols and allocating resources for ongoing support and development will help ensure the continued success of your subscription billing system in the long run.


7. Security should be central to your conversation

Security should be at the forefront of discussions when considering a subscription billing solution. Whether building or buying, ensuring the security of sensitive customer data and financial information is paramount to maintaining trust and compliance with regulatory requirements. When evaluating options, inquire about the security measures implemented by the software provider or development team.

This includes encryption protocols, access controls, data storage practices, and compliance with industry standards such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). Additionally, consider factors such as vulnerability management, regular security audits, and incident response procedures to mitigate risks effectively. Prioritizing security in your decision-making process will help safeguard your business and customer data from potential threats and breaches, enhancing overall trust and credibility in your subscription billing operations.

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