A few days ago, we opened up a new reporting tool in private beta. In a nutshell, it allows you to see sales & revenue data more deeply and more easily than in the past.

I used the new report to consider some pricing adjustments. If you haven’t heard the term “eating your own dog food,” it means using your own product/service as your customers do.

I ate our own dog food and it was good. In fact, it was excellent.

From Days to Minutes

I wanted to see how much revenue Chargify collects in the form of “ramp up” or “overage” fees on our various price plans. I wanted to see this for a particular month (November). I wanted to see this for only a subset of our plans. I thought it might also be nice to see where we tend to give any credits or refunds.

Until a few days ago, I would ask someone who’s very talented with CSV exports and Excel to crunch the data and let me know the results. And because he has other requests lined up, the results would realistically take hours or days.

I started down that path, only to have Michael (our CTO) say, “No, Lance, you can get that info using the new report.”

Software is Eating the World

Most of us have heard Marc Andreessen’s saying about software eating the world. This is a clear example.

I went to the new report (which is beautiful, btw), played with various parameters, and had the answers I needed almost instantly. Just for fun, I played around more – changing “cash” to “accrual,” changing the date range, and changing which products I wanted to include. Each time I had a new set of answers in a matter of seconds – there wasn’t even any humanly discernible load time in my browser.

Since I had taken the labor-powered path many times over the past five years to get these answers, this new experience really brought home how much different this new path is: hours or days turned into minutes or seconds, and we’ll never take the old labor-intensive path.

Of course, there will be reports we want that we didn’t automate in our reporting engine, and those will require a data export and spreadsheet time (or API calls and software). But more and more, we’ll expect to ask a question and get the answer really fast, with no human involvement.

Ask Away

Many times in the past, I just didn’t ask the question on my mind because I knew that each question took up precious human bandwidth, which might be needed to answer some other question.

This new software direction allows all businesses running on Chargify (including Chargify) to ask more questions.