“A good billing system is like an octopus.”
From Wikipedia: Octopus (pl. octopuses/octopi) are soft-bodied, eight-limbed molluscs of the order Octopoda.
Yes, an octopus has eight limbs. The thought that a billing system is like an octopus occurred to me some years ago when thinking about Ubersmith (which is actually more than a billing system, as you know, with billing as the premier component) and other billing / similar systems at a higher level.
I know I discussed the idea internally at that time and have shared it with some customers or partners here or there, but I don’t think I ever formally shared it externally.
Ubersmith has eight main components (or limbs):
- Customer management
- Sales quoting
- Order management
- Device management
- Support ticketing
- Customer portal
- Plugin system and API
We can take the octopus concept further by noting that these limbs should be flexible / able to move around and grow over time. Your billing system should be solid and strong but not rigid or static.
When I think about all of the third-party integrations a good billing system has, the octopus comes to mind again for me. Ubersmith reaches out and touches so many different types of systems. Even within one type of integration (payments, for example), we reach out to many different systems.
While I’ve included some areas not all billing systems or companies address, the octopus idea definitely works for pure billing systems and companies also.
I hope you find the octopus concept interesting and/or useful to read about and easy to remember. If you have any thoughts or questions after reading this post, I’d love to hear them.
Kurt Daniel, CEO