How to maximize ROI & boost financial productivity
As subscriptions become an essential part of consumers’ lives, their demands and expectations evolve. Flexibility and convenience are key elements of the customer experience, but they may represent a challenge for businesses. While automated subscription management and recurring billing can help companies like yours stay secure and compliant, many leaders face one question: whether they should continue building and maintaining their platform or outsource to a third party.
To guide you in this decision, we’ve created a comprehensive checklist with the top strategic elements to consider when working towards a solution that will support your business today and in the future.
Download it now, or keep reading to learn more.
What to consider when building a recurring billing platform
Building and maintaining a subscription billing platform requires deep consideration of development and financial resources, integrations, customer management, payments, analytics, security and compliance, and revenue recognition.
Think about your short and long-term goals and ask yourself: how can I optimize my resources and headcount to maximize ROI?
Let’s review some consideration areas that finance teams must take into account to surpass subscriber expectations while staying compliant.
1. Development & financial resources
Do you have enough financial resources to keep and maintain your platform? According to CIO.com, maintenance and support are ongoing costs often much greater than the initial build cost over a product's lifetime.
You must have adequate developer resources to build your platform. These are the 2023 average U.S. base salaries of key roles in the building process:
Product Manager: $127,938
Software Engineer: $141,462
QA Engineer: $98,359
Based on our estimates, it will take one software engineer approximately a year to build an initial minimum viable product (MVP). Think about how much additional headcount you’ll need to complete the job in the necessary time frame.
Additionally, it’s crucial to account for the expenses of keeping your recurring billing solution up-to-date. Some of the ongoing costs you’ll need to consider are:
The IT resources and infrastructure that ensure your platform is patched against the latest security threats, meets the latest compliance standards, integrates with third-party systems, and continues to meet subscriber and business needs.
The human resources costs of recruiting talent with knowledge of billing, payments processing and orchestration, and security components while ensuring all staff are certified according to compliance standards.
The risk of a single point of failure–if the IT resources that build the system leave, who will know how to manage the custom system?
The high opportunity cost of reallocating limited engineering resources away from strategic projects and building core innovations that can differentiate your product and support business growth.
2. Seamless integrations
Designing the backbone of a platform is just the beginning–it requires countless integrations to be built and maintained. Does your homegrown solution allow you to:
Integrate with your accounting platform: Whether you use NetSuite, QuickBooks Online, Xero, or another accounting solution, integration with your recurring billing platform is key to synchronizing the financial data that can impact operations.
Keep your systems in sync when an event occurs: Your billing platform must be able to send real-time event notifications, such as when a subscription gets paused or canceled.
Integrations are essential as they connect all your business components to facilitate data flow for successful operations.
3. Analytics and insights
Real-time, comprehensive insights into business performance are key to avoiding guesswork and making informed decisions. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you have 360 reporting and insights? Having visibility across all your subscription offerings helps you track the performance of different plans, the impact of experiments, and subscriber trends to make strategic decisions that propel revenue growth.
Do you have access to subscription data from app stores? Platforms like the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store typically don’t provide you with meaningful analytics, and the metrics they do provide come in unique, rigid, proprietary formats.
Data visibility and accurate reporting drive informed decisions that maximize your business’ revenue, which is key to long-term success and sustainability.
4. Security and compliance
Your subscription billing platform must protect customers’ data and comply with privacy and tax laws–it is a serious undertaking. Consider the following:
Handling taxes worldwide: Different tax laws can make seemingly simple subscriptions surprisingly complex, as they differ based on your subscribers’ locations and are constantly evolving. How will you stay compliant today and in the future?
Ensuring compliance with the payment card industry (PCI): Merchants are responsible for ensuring PCI compliance at different levels based on how many transactions they process per year and which card issuers they accept payments through. Additionally, you must adhere to 12 requirements to remain compliant and pass regular audits. Do you have the bandwidth to self-assess?
Ensure compliance with SSAE 18: To comply with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), publicly traded companies must maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting (ICFR). In the case of subscription businesses, where most transactions are recurring, it becomes more challenging.
Compliance with industry regulations and data protection laws not only shields your business from legal liabilities but also creates a sense of security among subscribers. In today's digital landscape, where data breaches are a constant threat, prioritizing security and compliance is imperative.
5. Revenue recognition
Revenue recognition compliance is non-negotiable. Without fully understanding its implications, businesses are prone to high costs and a muddy financial future. Your recurring billing platform must work hand in hand with your revenue recognition systems to:
Adhere to GAAP’s revenue recognition standards: Compliance with revenue recognition standards, such as GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in the U.S. and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) globally, is essential for businesses to maintain transparency, accuracy, and consistency in their financial reporting.
Keep up with revenue recognition compliance costs: You’ll need an internal team of experts and ongoing resources to ensure consistent compliance as mandatory changes are constant, and audit fees can add up quickly.
Stay on top of changing revenue recognition standards: To avoid reporting errors, you must be agile enough to respond to changing pricing and marketing promotions.
Following these guidelines makes assessing financial health easier for investors and stakeholders while preventing misleading financial statements and investor distrust.
The verdict: Building or buying subscription billing software?
Recurring billing consists of many moving parts, and keeping them updated and secure is an endeavor–an automated subscription management platform can help you stay on top of the latest regulations and accounting standards.
Does your current solution help you stay compliant and in the loop? Get this subscription software checklist to find out.