Subscription plan management has come off age in the new technological landscape. The unprecedented boom in the service economy across the world and the ongoing internet revolution has transformed the business matrix of  the service sector. To come straight to the point, digitization of services has crossed its stage of infancy and is well on its way to youth. There is no dearth of hosted billing software product in the market. Hence, choosing a hosted billing system is not a big deal. Rather gray cells are tested to the fullest, when businesses have to craft a subscription management strategy.

To begin with, the service sector by nature does not have and also does not need a physical interface between the company and the customer. Billing processes have been automated and thus it is faster and more efficient. Quality of billing processes has moved up several notches. Manual errors in billing are passe. The digital economy is growing rapidly and cloud products like invoicing software have enabled service providers like banks, education, enterprises, telecom providers, internet service providers and the BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance) sectors to bridge the digital divide. The questions that are about to come up in the near future are going to be different. A vital question that service providers are set to face in the near future is as follows:

“Can the same subscription management strategy work for all segments?”

The answer to this question is complex and multidimensional. Not only does it take into consideration, the various bases of segmentation, but also alters the process of billing and subscription plan management. It also leads to a differentiation between hosted billing software and business invoicing software.

subscription plan management

The terms e-billing and e-invoicing are used interchangeably in common industry parlance. Specifically,e-Billing refers to electronic bills catering to the Business-to-Customers (B2C) Segment. On the other hand e-Invoicing is used for Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Government (B2G/G2B) segments. Thus the context we are referring here is post paid customers and not the pre-paid ones.

Since the target segments are different, billing processes are bound to differ. A business invoicing software would focus on certain features such as role-based access, organizational hierarchy, ability of doing bulk / batch payments and batch reports for various parameters. On the contrary a hosted billing software would focus more on usage details, plan configuration, customer profile updates and single account payment.

The fundamental product differentiators in this context are the capabilities in both are cost & budget management, hierarchy management and split reporting (distinction between personal & official calls) which are mandatory for an invoicing software . Also in case of e-invoicing an additional corporate address book feature is needed and should be integrated with the corporate directory listing as well for a quick view of details in already available format in the directory. This can be enabled by a strong API framework to import a database of clients into the invoicing system.

Both implementations have their own set of challenges. Business invoicing seems to be more complex. For example, organizational hierarchy can have different number of levels of different organizations. Implementing this into an invoicing system, one needs to take care of various customer attributes that are captured in the hierarchies. Bulk user upload, budget allocation and management as per various roles in the organization are also certain exclusive features of e-invoicing process and thus should be accommodated by the invoicing software.

Moreover, e-Invoicing also stresses on advanced analytics and the duration for showing various trends (metered usage, duration, etc.) and data retention periods are for a wider period as compared to e-Billing.

Knowing the difference between the target segments that the business is serving enables it to focus on a more customizable strategy and system for subscription plan management and billing. The two product types may be same in the theoretical sense, but have wide differences in their ramifications.Understanding the two processes of billing and invoicing is critical to success in online subscription management. It can help us in being more focused towards the corresponding implementation (whether we are doing it for enterprise / consumer segment). Therefore, during project planning  there is a need to keep a focus accordingly. The right path. Use cases need to be prepared accordingly to address the key business scenarios so as to ensure that none of the essential features are missing and we know that the focus isn’t lost.

In the final diagnosis, the choice of hosted billing software or business invoicing software boils down to a matrix of systems and strategy. The interplay of these two variables decides on how a business sells services and consequently makes recurring revenue through recurring billing. At Netfunda, our business consulting team works with the team of software engineers to join the dots. Netfunda OneClickBill is a cloud product that works for both the contexts. For businesses use it as hosted billing software, it has been administered with a fully customizable front end. This allows service providers to engage directly with consumers. The digital interface between customers and service providers makes a big difference to the buying experience and can hardly be understated in the B2C space. On the other hand, the software also has a very powerful recurring billing API framework that allows developers to import data from CRM databases. This feature has been instituted to cater to the requirements of invoicing as practiced in the B2B space.