The Great Subscription Billing Solutions Debate: Build vs Buy

By Erika Malzberg October 29, 2018

When it comes to the subject of billing solutions for companies with consumption-based offerings, IT leaders continually run up against the age-old debate: BUILD vs BUY.

Specifically:
— Is it worth the time/money/resource investment for companies to build an in-house subscription billing system?
— Or does it make more sense to buy a subscription billing system that’s purpose-built?
— And what happens as your company matures and the challenge to manage recurring billing, consumption-based pricing, and dynamic subscriptions grows exponentially?

We finally decided to address this great debate in a Build vs Buy webinar in conjunction with CIO.com. Zuora CIO Alvina Antar engaged with two representatives from Zillow: Isaac Sheldon, Director of Product Development for Zillow, representing the voice of Product, and Neil Smith, Sr. Manager of Financial Applications for Zillow, representing the IT organization.

Both sides of the debate were addressed by the Zillow team:

BUILD: “Change is constant. Product will change, price, go to market, new initiatives, the system will change. If you can, try to build for change.”

BUY:”Focus on the value of your team. Just because can build and implement something, doesn’t mean you should. Take into consideration the cost of that.”

Subscription Billing Solutions Topics:

— Leading your systems strategy
— Building a flexible stack that enables your business case and future growth
— The mix: what developers should build vs what should be left to IT, Finance, and Operations
— Resource allocation: the “magic %” that engineers should focus on internal development vs product differentiation
— Hidden complexities behind building your own solution
— Getting buy in on your billing strategy
— Evolving your IT stack

IT/Finance Webinar Poll Results

With an audience of hundreds of finance and IT leaders, we ran a couple of polls that yielded some really interesting results:
— Nearly 70% of our virtual debate audience are currently using their own homegrown system.

— The majority of our live audience (more than 40%) said that 80% of their engineers’ time is focused on maintaining legacy systems with only 20% dedicated to product differentiation.
— On average, it takes about a month to launch new pricing for 50% of our live audience — with 28.6% of our audience saying it takes 3 or more months!

For more poll results and best practices for evolving your back office and monetizing your offerings, download the full webinar…Subscription Billing: Build vs Buy.