Choose the Right Analytics Tool for Your Billing Data—Ask These 8 Questions

| Data & Analytics

by Chargify

SaaS leaders often spend countless hours researching a new billing solution before pulling the trigger, but often gloss past the quality (or complete lack of) an accompanying analytics tool. These SaaS companies who focus simply on managing their billing and subscriptions ignore the incredible advantages an advanced data analytics tool offers for billing optimization and revenue growth.

Perhaps your organization has already taken the crucial first step toward revenue growth by gathering the raw data you need to make strategic business decisions. But according to TRUE Global Intelligence, 55% of an organization’s data is unusable. It’s just hiding out in the dusty back corner of an old server—unquantified and untapped. Why?

Because while SaaS organizations may be gathering the data they need for informed decisions, they don’t have an analytics solution with the power or flexibility to make sense of it. How does that do anyone any good?

Find the right data analytics tool to optimize your billing.

If you want to harness the true power of your billing data, you need the right tool for the job. However, not all data analytics tools are created equally. Some have more precise functionality but are clunky and hard to use. Others offer a surplus of pre-defined metrics but don’t comprehensively package those metrics the way you need to paint a customized, accurate picture of your billing data.

Finding the right data analytics tool for your SaaS business ultimately depends on 1) who will be using it and 2) what you’re trying to accomplish with that information.

Fortunately, we know a thing or two about billing analytics—and what separates the good from the bad. To find the right fit for your billing business (and avoid the common drawbacks of less-than-fantastic data analytics tools), ask yourself these questions:

1. Does this analytics tool support all billing models and give my business room to grow?

Your SaaS company needs the freedom to experiment with different recurring billing models to align your pricing strategy with customer activity. Don’t lock yourself into a one-dimensional data analytics tool that will grow stale (or worse—inoperable) the moment you add new billing models to the mix. Your data analytics tool should be intuitive enough to scale with your business and accommodate metrics for every billing model your company is employing at any given moment.

2. Can you define your own metrics, or are you limited to what’s provided?

Don’t agree to a data analytics tool that limits what information you can access (or how you access it). Ask potential vendors up front if you can define and add your own metrics to the reports and dashboards. Come to the table prepared with a list of key business metrics that are specific to your billing goals and ask the sales representative to demonstrate how this tool will help you track them. If an analytics tool can’t tailor dashboards to present that data the way you need it, you might be barking up the wrong tree.

3. How easy is it to share information with relevant stakeholders?

What good is a top-notch analytics dashboard if you can’t share the information with your partners, stakeholders, or even teammates? Make sure you ask questions about interoperability and functionality between different platforms, systems, and shareholders when creating your short list of potential analytics vendors for your billing data. If dashboards are shareable, it’s worth digging a little deeper into how easily—and securely—that sharing process is. (Some tools might not have a sharing function that’s compatible with the pace of the 21st century.)

4. Is the data available in real-time?

Though batch data processing is an effective way of processing high volumes of billing data over a specific period of time, it’s not ideal to wait for the repeated “batching” process of data collection, entry, and organization before you can access those insights (and take action, if necessary). Real-time data processing provides you with more precise metrics and the opportunity to take immediate action in those scenarios where acting fast is critical to your business.

5. What technology powers the analytics tool? Is it managed or homegrown?

You must be able to rely on the technology behind your billing data, period. Look for a fully-managed data analytics tool (like Chargify Business Intelligence, which is powered by Stream), versus a homegrown analytics tool simply tacked onto other software by a company who may not have the engineering resources needed to commit to peak performance and accuracy. To keep your analytics running smoothly 24/7, you need a tool that’s consistently optimized and maintained. Learn more about the benefits of managed data streaming and analytics software in our developer guide.

6. Is analytics a core functionality?

When conducting your research, you might come across companies who claim to provide native analytics as a part of their billing platform. This sounds like a win-win—why invest in a separate data analytics tool, when you can combine your billing and analytics into one?—until you learn they’re actually sending you to an outsourced, third-party solution for analytics. This often causes more issues than it solves. Look for a vendor who offers data analytics as a core functionality. This not only simplifies the entire analytics process—from initial data collection to implementation in business applications—it also creates a unified customer profile across all touchpoints, giving you a single Source of Truth to rely on.

7. How clean is the interface?

Many data analytics tools are cluttered and bloated with pre-built reports that look impressive, but don’t really offer actionable insights. Don’t let someone else tell you how to report. When you sign in to your metrics dashboard, it should be a customized reflection of your unique billing priorities. After all, you’re the one paying for the service. If the tool you’re considering doesn’t cut through the fluff and let you build your own custom reports and personalized dashboards, it’s not worth your time (or money).

8. How granular can it get?

Your SaaS business is unique, and your reporting should be too. One-size-fits-all billing data with little customization and filtering just doesn’t cut it when it comes to making strategic business decisions. When searching for the perfect analytics tool for your billing data, look for one that allows you to take a deep dive into each metric to extract the most pertinent information for your billing data insights. This granularity can help you gain powerful insights, like which industry you had most success breaking into and which geographic regions you’re seeing the most growth or churn from, to name just a few.

A modern take on business intelligence.

The fact that you need insightful data to grow your business isn’t a shocking revelation. Where the water muddies (and where many SaaS companies go wrong) is choosing the right data analytics tool for their unique billing metrics needs.

Do your due diligence when researching your data analytics options to find one that analyzes the information you need and presents it the way you need it to. Don’t let someone else’s rigid reporting system hold you back.

Chargify equips your SaaS business for success. Not only is our powerful billing and subscription management software the #1 choice for B2B SaaS leaders, but our Business Intelligence tool also offers intuitive analytics that enable anyone to create actionable metrics with our easy-to-use, customizable dashboard builder.

Click here to learn more about how Chargify Business Intelligence can help you optimize your data analytics strategy by providing a self-service analytics suite to uncover real-time, customized insights for your billing data.

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