The Challenge of Choosing the Right Subscription and Recurring Revenue Management Solution

While automation can yield major benefits, finding the right tool to automate a complex business process can be daunting.

This is particularly true in the case of subscription and recurring revenue management, where you’ll find a dizzying number of solutions claiming to ease the management of subscription businesses.

Many customers discover too late that the system they chose fails to provide features and functions that are critical to their businesses.

Even in subscription management systems that are rated highly by analysts, you will find case after case of customers describing weak and missing features in their reviews of the systems.

All the problems cited below could have been avoided by deploying MaxQ’s Advanced Revenue Management (ARM) solution.

Lacking Core Competencies

The ability to change a subscription should be a core capability of a subscription management system. However, many customers describe the process of making changes to subscriptions in their systems as “cumbersome,”[1] “complicated,”[2]“very difficult,”[3] and “very painful.”[4]

You also should expect your subscription management system to provide comprehensive and flexible contract management. Yet you will find customers complaining that their systems have serious deficiencies in handling contracts.

For example, a customer reveals that the system his company deployed “has no functionality to manage contracts,”[5] while another customer relates that his system “has limited functionality for typical accounting and contract management needs.”[6]

Term Flexibility Lacking

A subscription management system should be flexible enough to handle a wide range of subscription terms and conditions, such as one-month and annual terms, as well as one-time purchases. Subscriptions with mixed terms should also be supported, such as a mix of monthly, quarterly, and yearly terms.

However, many customers find out the hard way that their subscription management system cannot handle the variable pricing, bundling, billing, and payment processes that today’s subscription businesses require.

For example, customers relate that:

  • “The system requires a workaround for one-time payments.”[7]
  • “The system works well for monthly billing but not for itemized billing that can change month to month.”[8]
  • “The system only supports one default payment method per account.  “We had to design our own payment method to enable customers to use different payment methods for different subscriptions.”[9]
  • “The system did not allow us to add a one-time purchase without making it an ongoing subscription with only one payment.”[10]
  • “We had to hack a way to manage our one-time products alongside our subscriptions.”[11]

Discount Deficiencies

Offering discounts and promotions is a basic business practice for many companies. Yet many customers describe the inability of their subscription management solutions to support discounts and promotions.

For example, customers relate that:

  • “Occasionally, we have an idea for a promotion that we are unable to implement with the provided coupons and cross-sell features.”[12]
  • The system has a complete lack of any ability to provide a ‘the more you spend the greater the discount.’ ”[13]
  • “The system has limited capabilities in setting up different billing models, such as tiered discounting. Because the system does not allow us to bill in a custom way, it makes it difficult to create custom deals.” [14]
  • “The system is suited for SaaS business models where the pricing is standard, and there are little to no discounts involved.”[15]
  • “The system does not provide a method for generating coupon or discount codes, or limiting the use of codes to certain products.” [16]

Custom Coding Required

Analysts use words like multitier, multi-attribute, and hierarchical to describe the broad range of subscription, contract, billing, and payment operations a robust subscription management system should be able to perform.

However, customers describe having to perform custom coding and workarounds for billing, payment, revenue recognition, currency conversion, and other operations because their system lacks these capabilities or can handle only a limited range of operations.

For example, a customer says his system does well “with basic billing operations” but requires custom coding “as scenarios grow a little more complex.”[17]

Another customer says his system has “no flexibility for custom schedules” and requires “too many workarounds to get billing completed.”[18]

Having to perform custom coding for these types of features and capabilities can add considerable risk, as well as complexity and cost.

Integration Headaches

Customers also describe problems associated with integrating their subscription management system with external repositories like data warehouses, CRM systems, and payment gateways like ACH (automated clearing house).

For example, one customer says that “the biggest struggle with my company today is linking the system to our ACH gateway,”[19]while another customer says his company’s system “has no support for ACH payments.”[20]

Mobile access is another key requirement in today’s market, yet a customer reports that his subscription management system provides no mobile access.

The Right Solution

All these problems could have been avoided had the customers deployed a solution like MaxQ ARM, which provides all the features they require as core components out of the box.

MaxQ ARM provides a host of advanced automation features that are either missing or require custom coding in other systems—such as automated proration, contract management, payment processing, and variable billing.

Unlike less sophisticated recurring billing systems that handle relatively simple sets of contracts, MaxQ ARM is especially suited to handling the complex billing and revenue management processes of software, SaaS, manufacturing, services, and other B2B businesses.

Built on the Acumatica platform, which analysts have recognized as the leading cloud-based ERP system today, MaxQ ARM extends Acumatica to provide a broad and rich subscription management solution. Customers who test drive MaxQ ARM and compare its capabilities with other recurring revenue management systems typically find MaxQ runs circles around them.

MaxQ is a provider of advanced Acumatica business solutions across a wide range of applications and industriesContact us to learn more about how MaxQ for Acumatica solutions can help your business.

FOOTNOTES

[1] https://www.trustradius.com/products/chargify/reviews

[2] https://www.trustradius.com/products/chargify/reviews

[3] https://www.trustradius.com/products/zuora/reviews

[4] https://www.trustradius.com/products/chargebee/reviews

[5] https://www.g2crowd.com/products/chargebee/reviews

[6] https://www.g2crowd.com/products/fastspring/reviews

[7] https://www.g2crowd.com/products/fastspring/reviews

[8] https://www.trustradius.com/products/zuora/reviews

[9] https://www.trustradius.com/products/recurly/reviews

[10] https://www.trustradius.com/products/recurly/reviews

[11] https://www.trustradius.com/products/zuora/reviews

[12] https://www.trustradius.com/products/zuora/reviews

[13] https://www.trustradius.com/products/zuora/reviews

[14] https://www.trustradius.com/products/zuora/reviews

[15] https://www.g2crowd.com/products/chargify/reviews

[16] www.g2crowd.com/products/chargify/reviews

[17] https://www.trustradius.com/products/zuora/reviews

[18] https://www.g2crowd.com/products/zuora/reviews

[19] https://www.g2crowd.com/products/zuora/reviews

[20] https://www.g2crowd.com/products/chargebee/reviews


The Political Tide Continues to Turn for Cannabis

We are seeing an ever-growing number of signs that the political climate towards cannabis has reached a tipping point and that the legalization of cannabis on the federal level in the U.S. is only a matter of time.

A flurry of legislation has been introduced by Democrats and Republicans to end the federal ban on cannabis and ease the banking restrictions that have been imposed on cannabis companies by federal laws.

End Banking Roadblocks

In the latest news, the SAFE Banking Act was reintroduced, a bill that would enable banks to do business with legal state cannabis companies without fear of federal interference or criminal penalties.

The Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (SAFE) would stop federal banking regulators from being able to “prohibit, penalize, or otherwise discourage a depository institution from providing financial services to a cannabis-related legitimate business.”

End Cannabis Prohibition

On the same day that SAFE was reintroduced, two U.S. congressmen announced their plans to reintroduce two other cannabis measures—one that would end the federal ban on cannabis and one to study the effects of legalization nationally.

In a news conference that included cannabis activists, U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, and Don Young, an Alaska Republican, announced they’re reintroducing The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances, along with The Marijuana Data Collection Act, which would study the impact of cannabis legalization across America.

A Call for Marijuana Justice  

The congressional bills follow on the heels of a similar bill reintroduced in the Senate by New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker. Called the Marijuana Justice Act, the bill also would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and enable banks to provide services to cannabis businesses without fear of criminal charges.

Another bill that has aroused hope for marijuana reform is the STATES Act, which would exempt states that have legalized cannabis programs from federal cannabis laws. The bill also would allow individual states to decide whether to legalize marijuana.

Cannabis Seen as Economy and Health Booster

Another positive sign pointing to national legalization of cannabis in the U.S. was a report released in December 2018 by Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee entitled “The National Cannabis Economy.” The report concludes that “the growth of the cannabis economy presents opportunities for greater job creation, more tax revenue, and better patient care.”

The report cites figures showing the cannabis market will reach $11 billion in sales in 2019 and $23 billion by 2022, with the industry employing more than 120,000 people. As more states move to legalize cannabis, says the report, these numbers will only continue to rise, potentially providing a new stream of revenue and jobs to local economies.

But to realize these benefits, says the report, “policymakers must address conflicts between state and federal regulations that impede the growth of the cannabis economy.”

DEA Doubles Down on Cannabis

Another sign of the growing acceptance of cannabis was the DEA’s announcement that it aims to raise the production quota of cannabis for research purposes from 2,500 pounds in 2018 to 5,400 pounds in 2019. The initial quota for 2018 was 978 pounds, so the new quota represents a substantial year-to-year increase.

More cannabis producers also will be able to participate in the DEA program. Up to now, only the University of Mississippi has been granted the legal right to produce cannabis for the DEA.

Many Positive Signs

As we noted previously, the attitude towards cannabis among politicians has been shifting as the cannabis market expands dramatically and local cannabis ventures bring jobs to communities across the country. More and more states are moving to legalize cannabis, and high-profile converts like John Boehner are helping to give impetus to the growing legalization movement.

The legalization of hemp, the FDA’s approval of the first cannabis-based drug, and the DEA’s reclassification of CBD used in FDA-approved drugs also are signs that cannabis has turned a corner and is heading for national legalization.

As cannabis businesses ramp up production and expand their footprints to meet the growing demand, these companies will benefit from an advanced cannabis management system like MaxQ Cannabis that can help them optimize operations while minimizing costs.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis management solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis business expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends in the cannabis industry. 

Read or new eBook, “Why the Right Cannabis Management Software Is Critical to Success!”


Acumatica Shares Its Success and Strategy at Summit 2019

When prospects ask why we chose to build our MaxQ solutions on the Acumatica platform, we cite Acumatica’s modern cloud-based design, integrated architecture, rich feature set, user-friendly interface, comprehensive mobile support, and advanced automation capabilities.

All these capabilities and more were highlighted at the recent Acumatica Partner Summit, including enhancements made in 2018 that made the Acumatica ERP an even stronger platform. Improvements slated for 2019 promise to make the Acumatica platform even stronger still.

Focus on the User

Acumatica has been recognized by IDC, Nucleus Research, Gartner, PC Magazine, and others for its dedication to creating a user-friendly experience, and this year’s Summit showed an ongoing commitment to making the system easy to use.

Several improvements centered on the Acumatica Generic Inquiries tool, which is used to extract data for reporting and analyses. In the new version, Acumatica is making it easy for non-coders to make queries.

Importing data into Acumatica also is being made easier. The results of Generic Inquiries, for example, can be used to import data from Excel spreadsheets and other import scenarios.

Page customization also has been made easier for non-coders.  A new feature, called Custom Conditions, allows non-coders to add new business rules to existing pages.

Another new feature enables you to personalize an Acumatica instance using colors—for example, to differentiate between different company sites and branches. A new feature called conditional highlighting, added to queries, uses color again to make it easy to identify information, such as high performing and low performing records.

Easier Data Access & Monitoring

Another new ease-of-use feature is the Side Panel, a panel at the right side of your form, which enables you to see information, eliminating the need to navigate between records or open multiple browser windows. For example, using side panels you can see inventory item details while querying a sales order line without having to drill down to the inventory item.

Other new ease-of-use features include a processing bar that enables you to monitor the status of long-running processes as they run in the background.

Easier Application Development

Acumatica also is making application development easier using its Business Query Language (BQL). Creating a complex BQL query has been difficult in many cases, so Acumatica is creating a new technology called Fluent BQL that makes it dramatically easier to write and read queries.

A new integration between Acumatica BQL and Microsoft LINQ also has been created to make querying easier and more expansive. The ability to easily extract information from an Outlook email is another improvement.

AI Is a Major Direction

Incorporating AI and machine learning into the Acumatica platform is a big priority going forward. Among the processes that are being enhanced by AI are customer help queries and the automation of accounting processes such as expense report coding. For example, a user will be able to simply swipe a picture of a receipt and the data will automatically be entered into the system.

The Summit audience saw a natural language search demo using Acumatica’s new Alexa for Business, using voice commands used to look up inventory, opportunities, and contacts, as well as to approve expense claims.

Another demo showed Google Cloud Vision Product Search being used to look up common items. In this case, a smartphone camera was able to locate a pair of shoes. This type of search could be useful in manufacturing and field service scenarios, such as searching for the right ingredient, component, or replacement part.

Reporting, Security, and BI Advances

Surveys show that comprehensive and flexible reporting is a top priority for customers, so Acumatica is taking steps to enhance its already strong reporting tools and dashboards, including adding more prebuilt reports to the platform. A new document data dictionary also has been added.

A new multi-factor authentication security feature has been added that requires a code to be entered by a user to be allowed to log in. The code can be sent in different formats to mobile devices and a fingerprint scan can be used to gain entry as well as typing in the code.

Connectedness Is Next

As Acumatica CEO Roskill explained, the next phase beyond the cloud is connectedness, so the focus in 2019 is on advanced integration across the entire business, including better integration of accounting and inventory. The aim is to connect partners, suppliers, customers, and business units, while creating exceptional customer experiences at the same time.

More Kudos for Acumatica

Acumatica has received numerous honors and recognition from industry analysts and product reviewers. At this year’s Summit, Acumatica CEO Roskill shared the news that Acumatica had just received PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for Best ERP for the third year in a row.

Acumatica also won the SIIA Codie Award, the Oscar of the software industry, for best cloud ERP solution and best manufacturing solution. Acumatica earned the top ranking in ERP usability from Nucleus Research for the third year in a row, as well as the highest customer satisfaction rating from Gartner in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises.

Gartner accurately recognized Acumatica as “visionary” in its first magic quadrant evaluation of cloud-based ERP vendors. Acumatica has been executing on its vision at a high level to create what many analysts deem to be the leading ERP platform.

Big Growth Numbers

As Acumatica CEO Jon Roskill noted, Acumatica put up some impressive growth numbers in 2018.  Acumatica now has 5,200 customers, 1,200 of whom joined in 2018. Acumatica systems worldwide performed more than 160 million ERP transactions per month, which totaled more than 1 billion transactions in 2018. Acumatica had 103 million logons in 2018, with 99.999% uptime and 97% support satisfaction.

Acumatica’s focus on customer success has resulted in Acumatica’s continued reign as the fastest growing cloud ERP vendor. The revenue goal for 2019 is 88% growth, which would enable Acumatica to maintain that lead.

Biggest R&D Budget 

As Jon Roskill noted, Acumatica does not have a sales force, relying rather on VARs and ISVs as the channel through which it sells its products. This channel is also growing rapidly, with 47 new VAR partners joining the Acumatica ecosystem in 2018.

Because Acumatica does not have to pay a sales force, it can devote more resources to R&D.  As a result, said Roskill, Acumatica has more developer resources devoted to ERP development than any of its competitor, including Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle.

Development will continue to focus on enhancing the core modules and the usability of the software, including the ability to cross modules and send information from one area of the business to another, such as intercompany financials and payment processing. Lowering the cost of migration of data is another aim.

A Fruitful Partnership

Independent software vendors like MaxQ are able to extend the Acumatica platform to provide advanced solutions for particular applications and industries like recurring revenue management, inventory management, and cannabis management.

This year, we were pleased to see Acumatica incorporate the MaxQ Advanced Billing solution into the Acumatica platform. We also were pleased to see MaxQ CEO John Pavain among the 30 partners who received Acumatica’s Most Valuable Professional award.

The usability, integration, data manipulation, AI, reporting, and other enhancements that are strengthening the Acumatica ERP, coupled with the enhancements MaxQ has built into our Acumatica solutions, makes a MaxQ Acumatica solution an unbeatable value proposition for our customers.

We encourage you to check out the latest MaxQ Acumatica solutions to see what we mean.

MaxQ is a provider of advanced Acumatica business solutions across a wide range of applications and industriesContact us to learn more about how MaxQ for Acumatica solutions can help your business.