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SaaS Billing - Do or Don't?

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Post SaaS Billing - Do or Don't?   Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:01 pm

When a company wants to develop and deploy software as a service application is because of the need for rapid implementation and the ability to handle SaaS as an operating rather than capital expense. Somewhat, it is simple as the application is accessed over internet. You just need to find a service you like, type the URL, set up an account, do a little configuration, pay the monthly fee and it is done.

But pricing and billing SaaS operations are not that straightforward for the vendors themselves. They need flexible billing tools because their subscribers demand different payment options. Apart from the subscription based services, the communication services providers are looking for more advanced billing scenarios such as billing for actual consumption, pre-paid, real-time balance check etc.

According to different analysts and area experts, the costs as well as the offered options for support & maintenance are among the top reasons why SaaS is being embraced by companies.

The decision for billing software deployment will depend on the investments associated which are quite significant for the companies. Therefore, a solution offered in the Software as a Service model can be beneficial as it avoids software license(s), infrastructure, employee(s), and training investments. The companies will be able to use the full software functionality without the need for buying the system including low cost access to new technologies.

With SaaS solution, carriers will be able to focus on their core business as they will now outsource the software maintenance to companies specialized for this service. The burden of keeping software online and up-to- now falls upon the SaaS vendor. With other words the vendor is on the hook that holds the responsibility for managing both the software and hardware components, network issues such as data backup and disaster recovery planning; upgrading the software automatically for customers on a regular schedule etc.

The logic is simple... It is as a web-based solution that allows its users to be on top of their billing no matter where they are at reduced cost. While SaaS vendors do charge for their services, it is regularly the case that the monthly service fees fall below expenses associated with month-to-month expenses incurred to support the same application(s) in-house. Therefore the savings can be reallocated for increasing market share and developing other competitive advantages.

But in today's dynamic environment not all the things are that Black or White. The operators are facing with lot of other challenges/ issues that needs to be overcome.

When implementing SaaS solution the option for service customization and flexibility on client request is on a low level. Even if the services are offered, companies will run the risk on finding issues when automatic upgrade occurs. Therefore, depending on your business need tread carefully on customization paths... SaaS can not deal with many special characteristics, and this fact can carry client dissatisfaction.

Moreover, apart from billing, the operators are looking to support other business processes such as running marketing campaigns, managing contacts with the customers, managing complaints, sending invoices etc. It is important to make all these systems talk together so without the proper process integration a list of problems and inefficiencies can appear on the carrier's side.

Still, SaaS is nowadays seen as unsecure system when dealing with confident data. Companies are supplier dependent with little control over the system. Therefore, in order to have the IT systems safe and secure, it is important that the SaaS solution includes data backups, the best antivi¬rus software, firewall configuration, emergency power, fire protection, air-conditioning systems and human access control etc.

Conclusion

As known, an operator has to bill its customers to survive. If it does not issue any bills it cannot collect revenue. Without revenue it cannot pay its suppliers and staff. It will therefore cease to operate.

The big players are in conflict with the SaaS model for Billing application as they have the constant need for quick adaptation required by the business. Therefore, SaaS with a certain degree of adaptation and personalization is more and more attractive for small operators or new players.

However, as mentioned before there's a whole bunch of compliance issues out there that companies should take into consideration when choosing SaaS Billing. Even though using new technologies seems a good idea, the integration between the different layers might be impossible. These types of integrations might be easier or more difficult, depending on the services you choose and how you choose to manage your data.

So, before making the decision, ensure you're ready to exploit the pros and deal with the risks associated with the potential issues. This will allow you to avoid a lot of the confusion!

About Seavus

Founded in 1999, today the Seavus Group is an innovative provider of information technology solutions, custom software development, project outsourcing and quality software products. Seavus is well positioned and highly experienced in providing project management products, enterprise-wide business solutions, system integration and support to our customers worldwide. Seavus' headquarters are located in Sweden with offices in Denmark, United States, UK and the Balkans. We currently have a staff of over 300 professionals.

With the Seavus global network of partners, resellers and distributors we are able to deliver high quality products and develop, deliver, implement and support projects around the world.
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