What’s the importance of the number 1,440?
In his book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, business guru Kevin Kruse devotes an entire chapter to it, so it must be important.
In fact, 1,440 is the number of minutes in a full day. And even though one minute is a small figure, you lose your momentum every time someone knocks on your door and says, ‘You got a minute?’
“You can never lose time and get it back again,” he writes. “You can’t spend time and go earn more of it. You can’t buy it, rent it, or borrow it.”
A small amount of time lost might not be noticeable at first, but it can quickly snowball. Especially when the minutes are being spent on tasks that could be automated.
This is frequently the case with SaaS businesses falling behind when it comes to digital transformation. Countless hours are continually lost through inefficient processes and legacy systems that eat away at business productivity.
While these outdated, manual systems may have served the purpose in earlier years, in current climates where automation has become the standard to compete, they’re eroding precious time—minute by minute, task by task.
How could your business benefit from an extra 40 to 80 hours of strategic work every month?
The value of digitization and automation in SaaS
In the last few years, digitization has taken on much broader objectives than simply giving businesses an innovative sheen. Many businesses have taken a good, hard look at their processes, identifying challenges, and looking for means of reducing costs and optimizing efficiency through savvy changes to their technology stacks.
There’s the time factor.
When you’ve always done something a certain way—a manual way—it can be difficult to imagine the strategic opportunities that come with automation. But what happens when talented individuals no longer need to spend their time performing tedious tasks and processes? They can shift all that time and energy to more strategic growth initiatives.
There’s also the scalability factor.
By eliminating manual processes through automation, you enable your business to grow without limitations.
For example, consider the effects of automating your SaaS business’s billing process. If it takes 8+ hours a week for your finance team to bill your 250 customers with a manual-heavy system, how long will it take once you grow to 500 customers? 1,000 customers?
An automated billing system doesn’t just save time on the billing process either. There are other factors to consider—collections, revenue reporting, subscription management functionalities, and more that can all be automated to enhance processes for your business and redirect your talented team to better use.
Let’s take a look at how five businesses were losing time—and money—due to inefficient billing systems, and how they recovered it through digital transformation and automation.
1. Legacy billing systems create a drain on time and resources
How much time does your business spend every month generating and adjusting invoices?
If you’re using a manual or legacy system—or even one that just isn’t the best fit for recurring billing—you’re likely spending days putting together invoices for each billing period.
JustLogin, an HR software solution, knew this pain all too well. With its previous legacy billing system, its finance team would have to enter customer data into its system, transfer it to QuickBooks manually, and then generate invoices as needed.
With a few hundred customers at the time, it was taking the team about 80 hours every month to process invoices.
When the business made the decision to digitally transform with an automated billing system, it reduced the hours once spent on manual billing by 90%. This enhancement enabled the business to scale, ultimately by doing more volume of business with the same team.
2. Manual subscription billing management makes scalability a challenge
Is your SaaS business’s current billing solution capable of generating hundreds, if not thousands, of accurate new invoices every month?
If your process isn’t scalable, it becomes a challenge to handle growth when it comes. And unfortunately for many businesses, the solution comes down to an increase in manual work.
While this can work in the short term, it often results in costly human errors and a negative impact on the customer experience.
Avionica has been providing connected aircraft solutions to customers since 1992. And back then, it was managing its customers’ accounts manually. However, as the business continued to grow, its leadership knew it would be challenging to manage larger numbers of accounts with its current process.
When the business transitioned to a more adaptive recurring billing solution to manage its growing base of subscription customers, it started saving roughly 8 hours per week, or over 30 hours per month.
The time savings combined with the confidence of knowing billing is automated and accurate means the Avionica team can focus its efforts on continuing to scale the business.
3. Manual reporting causes data delays and issues with accuracy
The entire business landscape can change on a dime, as many have realized over the past year. Having access to real-time, accurate data gives businesses the ability to pivot as needed.
At the same time, if your data isn’t quite up to par or it takes some massaging to give you the information you actually need, timely decisions may be delayed.
EnVue Telematics can relate to these challenges.
It used to take a solid 24 hours each month for the business to complete its billing process, even though its billing was supposed to be automated.
And getting actionable data meant pulling reports, transferring the data to spreadsheets, and then analyzing it manually—a process that meant the business was always 4 to 6 weeks away from taking action on any findings.
When the business updated its billing system to a more adaptive solution, it reduced the time spent on its billing process by around 60% and access to actionable data became immediate.
4. Inefficient billing solutions require duplicate efforts
While some billing systems may be marketed as automated, automation isn't created equal in platforms. One aspect may be hands-free, but it might not carry that process through to other areas.
And when your enthusiastic sales team is creating variable subscription contracts, or when plans are updated along the way, that information may not carry through with accuracy.
With an inefficient billing system, a lot of background effort has to take place to make sure all these changes and commitments are reflected on the billing side.
Consider CloudPlus, an end-to-end fulfillment platform. Although the business did have an automated billing system, there were recurring issues. Its team was burning up hours every month making manual checks and changes to accounts before billing could be completed.
In fact, billing was a project that took around 40 hours every month. And when there were mistakes, it impacted both the business itself and its customers.
After transforming with a more efficient, automated billing system, what used to take a full week can now be completed in mere hours.
This is enabling the business to refocus more of its efforts on its customers.
5. Manual dunning management leads to recurring revenue leakage
Sometimes, even when your billing goes out on time and it’s completely accurate, the work continues.
There are simply going to be times when your best efforts don’t yield on-time payments from customers. And if you’re working with a manual billing solution, this means managing a complex revenue collections process by hand.
- Notifying customers
- updating payment methods
- retrying payment collections, and
- keeping track of your aging receivables.
This is one of the reasons why construction management software provider CoConstruct decided to transform its recurring billing process.
By automating its customer credit card expiry reminders, its collection reattempts, and its overdue payment reminder emails, the business has been able to improve its collections assurance significantly.
This transformation, along with greater system flexibility, and gaining an accurate and automated sales taxation process has saved the business about 40 hours every month and thousands of dollars in revenue leakage.
Does your technology stack include an automated billing system?
Time makes a big difference in the SaaS world. And though saving more of it is invaluable, an adaptive automated billing system does a lot more than just save businesses hours and days wasted on the billing processes.
These systems also work to eliminate other pain points businesses experience, such as challenges with:
- invoice accuracy
- collections assurance
- data integrity, and more.
What would your SaaS business do with the hours saved every month simply by digitally transforming your billing process? And what other pain points could you resolve with a targeted transformation?