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CIOs: look for these 5 traits when evaluating billing systems

As the CIO, you probably get a ton of inquiries about software purchases.  It’s a pretty repetitive process: a manager or dep...

As the CIO, you probably get a ton of inquiries about software purchases. It’s a pretty repetitive process: a manager or department head comes to you with an story about how the new tool he or she has discovered. It will have massive benefits for the team - time savings, decreased costs, increased visibility, and the like.

Sometimes these software requests (and eventual purchases) don’t have a huge effect on the rest of the company. Billing systems are another matter entirely, though. Many different divisions of your business may need to access a billing system, with varying levels of visibility. Getting paid and tracking those payments are also critical to your business’s survival.

What’s the best way to insure the stakeholders at your company have chosen the right billing system? Evaluate it yourself, and make sure it has the following traits:

User-friendly - Think about all the different types of employees who will need access to a billing system. Do you have time to train them on a complex billing system? Do they have time to constantly halt their daily work in order to ask questions? Any billing system you select should be easy to adopt without a lot of intervention from you or the billing system’s support team. And if your employees do need support, they should be able to get it quickly - via online documentation, email, or chat functionality.

Flexible - Even though spreadsheets are unwieldy, the common comment from users who stick with them is this: “I can manipulate the data any way I want.” To understand the flexibility of any billing system, give it a brief test drive to understand what you might gain (or lose). Does the billing system have a wide variety of reports that are easily customizable? What kind of variety does it offer in terms of payment providers? Does it include an email platform that allows you to send pre-formatted templated emails, or choose to send your own email? Does it support complex billing structures you may require, like subscription billing, payment plans or even metered billing? Make sure you understand how it compares to your current and future business-critical billing functions.

Integration-ready - Does your existing billing system (even if it is just a spreadsheet) connect with other tools or processes that are vital to the business? Do you have plans to launch additional platforms that will need to be integrated with a billing system? Take a look at the billing system’s website to see which platforms they already integrate with. If you don’t see a critical platform on their list, contact the billing system directly. They may be planning to build the integration you need in the near future, or put it on their roadmap if they know your purchase depends on it. If not, it may be time to evaluate the next platform.

Secure - You likely don’t need much advice about security, since you play such an integral part in the overall security protocols for your business. But we’ll say it anyway: a secure billing system is incredibly important. Security features like https encryption, password and API key encryption, two-factor authentication, control over user permissions, and the usage of third-party payment platforms (instead of storing payment information) are available on various billing systems. If you employ additional security measures beyond what’s available with the billing system in question, check to see if the vendor will be adding that layer of security soon - or move on.

Scalable - Scalability may not be a high priority on your list of concerns. Your company’s growth may be plodding along at a steady rate, and it could be hard to imagine a steep increase in customers or sales at the current time. But what if the unlikely does happen? Will the prospective billing system be able to handle your throughput today AND 6 months from today, on the off chance that your customer base increases tenfold? Can you load-test this new system, or possibly speak with other customers with high volumes? Even if it isn’t on the horizon today, consider taking the billing system for a test drive with 2-4x your regular volume of activity, just to see how it performs.

The selection of a billing system is a process you need to be involved in. It can have ripple effects throughout your business for years to come. If Invoiced is on your list, be sure to check the features and security sections of our site to learn how we stack up. Feel free to contact us directly with any questions.

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