The average company purchases and consumes hosted services from between seven to twelve different software vendors. That means seven to twelve different vendor interfaces to administrate with a username and password for each, multiplied by the number of end users. And what happens every time an employee joins or leaves the company? Someone needs to deal with their specific user account across those seven to twelve different interfaces.
It’s exhausting to think about let alone continually manage from a business perspective. And that’s just the beginning.
In order to get services to end users, there’s a tech stack process that’s often followed. It goes like this: service vendors go through distributors to get to managed service providers, or MSPs. The vendors take this route in order to gain access to MSPs’ customers, which of course, have end users.
CloudPlus is an end-to-end fulfillment platform that’s working to streamline and simplify the complex nuances of this service distribution process and the stack in which it operates.
“That’s not an arguable stack either,” says Tony Francisco, CloudPlus CEO. “It’s a reality across the IT industry in a variety of combinations. Once you understand the landscape, you understand that distribution and management are critical components.”
And that’s where CloudPlus really shines in this equation.
The company is adding value to software service distribution by enabling automation at all levels and by providing access to a full set of features. When a customer purchases hosted services—and CloudPlus can provide services from any vendor with an API, such as Microsoft, TitanHQ, and Webroot—that’s just the first step in the sales process. The CloudPlus platform streamlines these purchases and allows for the day-to-day management of subscriptions with a user-friendly interface that can be made available to both customers and resellers.
Remember that mess of vendor interfaces and user profiles described earlier? The CloudPlus platform consolidates it down to a single username and password. And anything done to that user account affects all associated vendors, services, and associated data. This ultimately eliminates floating licences, security risks, and the costs of all that extra management effort.
While CloudPlus can act as the distributor, MSPs can maintain their hard-earned relationships and agreements with vendors, and most importantly, customers get more value.
“It’s the holy grail from the customers’ perspective,” says Francisco.
And the industry is happily taking advantage of this offering from CloudPlus. With some major new deals on the table, and the expectation that it will double and then triple its flow of revenue within the next six months alone, business is booming for the company.
The evolution of service provisioning
CloudPlus got its start back in 2003 as one of the world’s very first hosted Microsoft Exchange providers. The company experienced triple digit percentage growth within its first seven years of business—all with a single salesperson and zero marketing team.
After some time and experience within the space, CloudPlus evolved, realizing there was an opportunity to fill a gap in the market. Using everything it had learned since it began, the company’s team rebuilt the business from the ground up into the true fulfillment platform it is today—an end-to-end, from ‘vendor all the way to end-user platform’ that has a hosted services distribution platform at its core.
“With that, the natural fit is a billing entity that goes with it,” says Francisco. “I don’t want to say the billing component is as important, but it sure is pretty damn important.”
CloudPlus knew that in order to continue scaling at its current rapid pace, it would need to find the right billing solution to wrap its platform around. And the accounts receivables platform provider it was using at the time simply wasn’t cutting it.
(L-R) Joshua Valentin, Account Manager, Kelly Weber, Vendor Manager, Tony Francisco, CEO
Manually managing recurring billing without support
Kelly Weber, vendor manager at CloudPlus, initially got involved in the company’s billing process because she saw recurring issues she wanted to fix, once and for all.
With the company’s old billing system, Weber was continually stuck re-doing tasks that were supposed to be automated, wasting countless hours and experiencing endless frustration. CloudPlus’s hundreds of subscriptions required manual changes each month. Then, they often had to be re-done, and sometimes re-done again before billing could go out.
Billing used to be a week-long project every month, and I was a real pleasure to be around during that time,” jokes Weber.
“I started asking, ‘what can we do to better automate our processes’, and ‘what can we do on the back end to fix some of the issues we’re having so it’s a more seamless process’?”
Unfortunately, when it came to fixing billing issues it was experiencing, the team at CloudPlus faced a huge uphill battle. Its previous billing system’s support process devolved from one-on-one collaboration directly with the company’s owner, to only being able to access support over the phone, and then only through email with a lengthy 24- to 48-hour initial response time.
Another issue was that when something was wrong on their billing end, regardless of who was at fault, it was also affecting the company’s partners and customers.
With something as important as billing, and with the amount of revenue we were pushing through the system, what drove us to switch is that we just didn’t feel comfortable anymore,” says Weber.
That’s when the CloudPlus team began searching for a better recurring billing solution.
Making the switch to a better subscription billing solution
When Francisco and CloudPlus engineer Bill Vasser began researching Fusebill, they were very impressed with its application programming interface (API). They saw an opportunity to have a custom billing solution without having to start building one from scratch.
And customization was key. CloudPlus uses the Fusebill platform differently than most clients due to the very individual subscription agreements it has with each of its own customers.
“Fusebill’s design model makes a lot of sense,” says Vasser. “From a usability perspective, once we were able to get past that initial hurdle of our ad hoc billables in Fusebill, which its team very graciously and deftly helped us out with, it was all downhill. We knew exactly what to do, and we knew how to do it. It was just a matter of devoting the time, testing it, and getting it done.”
Now that CloudPlus is up and running with Fusebill, its previous week-long billing process has been reduced to just a couple of hours at most. The company’s hoping to reduce that time even further, and perhaps even move to billing its customers automatically in real-time—functionality that Fusebill’s other clients already enjoy.
Within the company’s current billing process, Weber says the ability to quickly search and edit customer profiles has been saving her a ton of time and effort. She’s also able to see the business’s financials at a glance through their dashboard, as well as take advantage of advanced dunning management capabilities.
If CloudPlus has any declined credit cards after billing rolls out, Fusebill is set up to perform automatic card retries. Since CloudPlus’s previous billing solution did not allow for this, it saves Weber a lot of time not having to process and reprocess payments. It also vastly reduces the occurrences of her having to create tickets for fully declined payments.
With so much less time spent on the financial minutia, as Weber puts it, she says she’s been able to spend more time looking at actual growth and exploring what CloudPlus needs in order to keep growing.
Outside of her role in finance, she’s also able to use the time saved on billing to increase communication with clients, in addition to performing other important tasks unrelated to billing.
Why CloudPlus chose Fusebill for recurring billing
“There are three main components to why we chose to switch to Fusebill,” says Francisco. “The first is we were looking outside of our current vendor because problems weren’t being resolved very quickly.”
With Fusebill, the CloudPlus team has rarely required the help of support staff—perhaps only once every quarter, according to Weber. And when they have, they receive a response within hours, and firm resolution within the day. The team also knows any urgent issues can be addressed immediately over the phone.
“Second, we chose Fusebill because of its API and functionality...pretty impressive,” says Francisco.
And the third reason CloudPlus made the switch was Fusebill’s ability to scale out.
As CloudPlus continues adding more and more partners and end-customers, it requires a recurring billing engine that can handle the billing load its pushing through it. The team at CloudPlus feels confident Fusebill will be able to keep up with that growth to ensure CloudPlus’s partners and clients always receive the best service possible.
The corporate culture at CloudPlus is very clear,” says Francisco. “Everyone understands its all about the end-user experience—not about driving sales, sales, sales. Our culture revolves around developing something that drives value, and the sales will come consequently after.”
Tony saw this same customer-focused mentality in Fusebill, and it was the final determining factor when he chose to select Fusebill as CloudPlus’s new subscription billing platform.