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Are Service Provider Billing Platforms Prepared for the Post-Pandemic World?

If there is any silver lining in the dark cloud that is the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic dislocations, it might be found for managed service providers (MSPs). The office closures and widespread work-from-home dynamics created by the lockdowns have sent some business customers back to their providers looking for more bandwidth and more services at a rapid pace.

But if you are an MSP, all that new demand only becomes a windfall if you can turn it into new revenue. Most service providers reading that last sentence would translate it to mean “If I can price the offering right and onboard clients fast enough.” But you don’t get paid when you package services or onboard customers. You can only get paid after you send out your bill.

Unfortunately, many MSPs have been slow to upgrade their billing platforms. Their operational investment has been focused on product development, configuration, pricing, and onboarding. Their front office might be automated, but the back office is still stuck in the past. For them, this must be the next focus of their digital transformation.

This transformation cannot come soon enough. If you’re behind in your billing technology now, you’ll be even further behind even when COVID-19 is behind us. Why? Because business customers have learned how to keep their businesses running under duress, whether they are remote or in the office. Demand for communication services is predicted to rebound in 2021 when business starts growing again, and more funds come available for IT services.

So, as you look ahead to next year and beyond, now is as good a time as ever to elevate your billing system for managed services. Here’s why.

Prioritizing Digital Transformation

One of the reasons many MSPs have not upgraded their billing platforms is the heartbeat nature of the function and complexity of the operations. But cloud-based billing platforms addressed those issues long ago.

Cloud-based systems generally represent the best path to digital transformation as both an upgrade from legacy in-house systems, and as an ongoing process of continual improvement. For MSPs specifically, SaaS billing platforms can leverage best practices for the unique requirements of the industry, enabling companies to improve bottom-line performance. These returns can come in the form of reduced revenue leakage, lower OPEX, and more.

This “quiet” digital transformation is handled in the background by the platform providers. The subscribers to these systems get all the advantages of perpetual refinements and increased capabilities with no adverse impact on their business or their workflow. The platforms can adapt as market requirements change. In effect, the IT implementation function is outsourced; you can leave it to others to manage your digital transformation and enhance your capabilities in ways you may have never imagined.

Alleviating Pressure Across Other Business Functions

What’s more, advanced functionality—like scheduling onboarding—can be activated when you’re ready for it. No need for a “big bang” change.

A subscription software model is not unlike the maintenance contracts that come with packaged software. The difference here is that you are getting value for every penny you spend from day one.

Automated subscription billing systems really prove their worth in day-to-day operations. They are less susceptible to human error, so there is a reduced chance of lost revenue. The fact that the billing process methodically follows the same rules every month means you have a clear path to resolving any billing disputes.  

Most importantly, getting bills out goes much faster and is much less stressful when the process becomes automated. This means your staff has more time available to optimize customer service and pursue new strategic initiatives. 

Scaling for Future Growth

Advanced subscription billing platforms enable business-building capabilities that older, legacy systems simply can’t. Data analysis and reporting features also give executive management a host of strategic insights to help grow customer counts while growing revenue efficiently.

On the flipside, the absence of an integrated and automated subscription billing platform can cost you money. If all those service changes and add orders are not captured in the billing system, that money is lost every month until someone spots the problem and fixes it. It’s just one more reason you need to check now if your billing system is ready for the future.

At some point, this pandemic will be behind us, and our economy will resume a true "back to business" mindset. The MSPs who have used this opportunity to transform their digital platforms for the growth ahead will be rewarded with new revenue, and they will be doing it more quickly and profitably on their new billing system.