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What Managed Service Providers Need from their Billing System

By July 31, 2019July 3rd, 2020No Comments

Billing used to be relatively straightforward for managed service providers (MSPs). In the days when the break-fix pricing model was predominant throughout the industry, MSPs simply billed their clients for the time a technician was needed to resolve any issues, along with the cost of any resources required to do the job. However, as IT infrastructures become more complex, so do the pricing models employed by MSPs.

Today, it’s not uncommon for MSPs to offer a diverse set of pricing models to clients based on their usage and needs. These models include, but are not limited to, per device billing, per user billing, usage-based billing, and flat-rate billing.

In many cases, a client will elect services that blend different types of billing, as well as add-on services that further complicate the picture. The manual billing methods of the past are no longer enough for keeping up with the complexities and dynamic nature of modern MSP services. When manual billing becomes a labor-intensive and error-prone process, the solution is an automated billing solution for MSPs.

The drawbacks of manual billing for MSPs

A typical client of an MSP will require support for a certain number of devices and servers, which is often billed based on usage. This means costs are determined by how often the client submits a request for help related to each workstation or server. Naturally, this number varies from billing cycle to billing cycle.

In addition, most MSP clients require more services, including data backup, anti-virus support, and software updates. They might also require remote monitoring and management (RMM) services, which allow the MSP to keep tabs on client networks.

For a client subscribing to a range of services like this, manual billing becomes a procedural nightmare. Data regarding each service must be pulled from various locations: the number of help requests needs to be found in the MSPs ticketing system, the RMM data needs to be extracted from relevant reports, and the cost of any add-on services also needs to be added into the mix.

Manually pulling this data and unifying it line-by-line takes a significant amount of labor and opens up MSPs to a high rate of errors, which impacts customer satisfaction and revenue. Consider further that this process needs to be repeated for dozens or even hundreds of clients each billing cycle, and the workload becomes unbearable.

Maintaining a manual billing process in an increasingly complex and automated environment is a recipe for disaster. Not only are MSPs putting their own revenue at stake, but also their reputation with their clients. Eventually, as the competition automates their processes, MSPs still employing manual billing are bound to fall behind.

Automating billing processes for MSPs

Luckily, automation solves much of the problems that revolve around billing complexity. An automated MSP billing solution allows for custom billing on a client-by-client basis, with which you can simply set a client up within the system by selecting each service they’ve requested. Then, the automated billing solution will track the level of usage of each service, include the cost of any add-ons, and calculate the total. In minutes, the automated billing solution will pull all the relevant data and create the invoice for that client.

Now, imagine this solution running across every single client. An automated billing platform saves MSPs time, money, and reputation by creating invoices quickly and accurately for every client on the system. Any changes in service level requested by a client can simply be changed within the system at the start of the billing cycle and the automated billing solution will account for it, so the dynamic nature of an MSPs work will never complicate the process. For example, if a client needs to reduce the number of managed devices, it takes just a few clicks to update their information within the system.

Automation is now a must in the modern MSP industry, and to take things to the next level, MSPs need a billing solution that can address all their challenges.

Automation is only one piece of the billing puzzle

One of the benefits of the right billing solution for MSPs, and specifically automation, is to reduce errors and streamline the billing process. However, these are only two key considerations when it comes to meeting client expectations. To truly be a top-tier MSP, a billing solution must be adaptable to meet the following challenges:

  • Scalability: An MSP must be able to grow along with its customers, expanding its services as it does so. At the end of the day, a client hires an MSP to help support their growth, so an MSP’s billing solution must be capable of scaling to meet the evolving demands of a growing clientele.
  • Bandwidth billing: Billing based on network usage allows MSPs to create services for clients that are based on their needs. MSPs should make sure their billing provider offers this feature so they can expand their reach and enable more clients to enjoy their services.
  • Device monitoring: Device management is a central part of MSP services. For clients, it outsources a burdensome task, while for MSPs it represents a key recurring revenue source. A billing platform that can track and monitor devices across the client’s network and then use that data to create an invoice for the client further serves to streamline MSP billing processes.
  • Usage-based billing: This expands on bandwidth billing by allowing MSPs to respond to the consistent changes in client needs. Many MSP services aren’t compatible with a flat-rate model, so a flexible billing solution that can track client usage and bill accordingly is essential.
  • Infrastructure management: It is not uncommon for MSPs to support a client’s entire IT ecosystem. In these cases, it’s critical for MSPs to use a billing platform that can associate a client with specific devices, services, and usage levels across the network.
  • Order management: A billing system with order management functionality can help MSPs manage the entire client lifecycle. From the moment a client requests a quote to the delivery of an invoice each cycle, it’s important that a billing system be able to track and monitor services provided to a client. This includes automated sales quotes, e-signing of contracts, account setup support, service provisioning, and the beginning of the billing cycle.

These are the challenges that Ubersmith solved for Atlantic Metro Communications, an MSP based in Parsippany, New Jersey. The company required a software system that was comprehensive and capable of automating as much of its functions as possible. They also needed a platform that integrated with other essential software – such as device management and help-desk ticketing – and that could scale along with their business, as well as their clients.

Bring your billing into the modern era with Ubersmith

The key to modern MSP billing is marrying automation with a comprehensive, integrated, and scalable platform. A billing platform is more than just an invoice generator; it must be a partner that can track and monitor every facet of MSP operations and client usage. Not only does a billing platform like Ubersmith reduce the cost associated with billing and improve the accuracy of invoices, but it also allows MSPs to evolve alongside their clients and offer new services that support client goals.

In the modern era of MSPs, no one can afford to fall behind. That’s why Ubersmith ensures an MSP will always remain one step ahead as clients’ needs grow and change over time.