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Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. His business interests include a diverse range of industries from manufacturing to property to technology. As a technology commentator he has a broad presence both in the traditional media and extensively online. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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4 responses to “Subscription and Billing Services – Outsource or Roll You Own?”

  1. lancewalley

    There will always be cases where one has to build a recurring billing app, but I really hope that services like Chargify will save the vast majority of businesses from having to take this path.

    As co-founder of Engine Yard, we went through the usual path that leads to getting buried in billing activities, both with software and people. I wrote a blog post all about it that goes into detail and I’ll be echos many businesses:

    As the majority of common recurring billing functions get wrapped into services like Chargify for a small monthly fee, it just won’t make sense, in most cases, to roll your own.

    Instead, all the activities around defining products and pricing, proration, billing cards, declined cards, etc, will be something you outsource just like project management or surveys or email, etc.

  2. TimVanLoan

    A whitepaper to help guide readers towards an answer is definitely needed in this space. From our experience in building billing systems before and now working with companies on Recurly – trends to appear between users who build billing systems themselves vs. go with a pre-built solution.

    One big difference we’ve seen is a developer’s prior experience with billing. As Jason mentioned, having the experience of building a billing engine exposes the hidden complexities of “rolling your own” solution. Many of Recurly’s users (including us) have developed our own solutions before and realized what a pain they are to build, and maintain.

    Many developers have an incredible amount of experience in building web applications and are qualified to do the same for a billing application. The problem is that recurring billing can be deceptively complex. Getting a credit card to bill successfully one time can be straightforward, but challenges such as how to handle declined credit cards in the future can be tricky- as is handling multiple payment plans, upgrades/downgrades and the like. We put a post together on our lessons learned from online billing on our blog to help save developers from making some mistakes we have in the past. The costs in terms of engineering investment and support time can far outstrip the costs of paying for a more flexible, pre-built solution.

    At the end of the day, the decision to build your own billing system or using a pre built system is the true cost of going with either option. Breaking the challenge down into measurable costs (time, $ investment, support costs) really helps inform the right decision. If there is anything else we can help provide in terms of data and suggestions, please let us know. We’re looking forward to your report!

  3. HyacinthMyrrh

    The decision to build your own billing system or using a pre built system is the true cost of going with either option.