A legacy billing system is generally an outdated platform or software that was implemented in the past to take care of bills and processing payments but is starting to become outdated with modern business practices and technology integrations.
If it isn’t broken, why fix it, right? Sticking with a billing system that your team is already familiar with and gets the job done may make sense. The main benefit to sticking with your billing is that you don’t need to make the investment of time and money into upgrading. But what you’re gaining in familiarity and cost savings could have an impact on future growth.
So how do you know if it’s time to move away from your legacy billing system and upgrade. To help you determine this, we have put together this feature checklist for you to review. to and see if your system can do these.
After going through the checklist above, how do you think your current system holds up? If you were able to check off each of those items from the list, amazing, you have a robust billing system that will maximize your growth and revenue. But if not, there may be some impacts to your future growth that you should be aware of.
Ignoring the warning signs that you need a major billing overall may have some longer-term impact when it comes to revenue and growth. Let’s go over how legacy systems may impact future growth.
It still isn’t the end of the world if your billing system is showing its age. What we have found while talking with clients is that there are a few common areas where growth has been impacted due to their aging billing system.
Billing systems were built to fit perfectly with your product(s) at that time. In most cases, the product matured or pivoted and what once was a perfect billing solution turns into a roadblock for product development. Trying to update an older system with newer features isn’t as smooth as you hope. Legacy code can really slow down product releases and may introduce more bugs in the process.
You will especially notice a slowdown when you are building out new products and would like to test out different pricing models like usage-based pricing or subscription based pricing. If you end up pivoting between models, it isn’t as straightforward without a development team to custom code changes into your billing system.
Technology is constantly evolving to minimize newly discovered security vulnerabilities. Legacy platforms that haven’t kept up with patching for the latest security threats or compliance requirements may have impacts on growth, especially if an unexpected intrusion or regulatory fine holds up progress.
A lot of new platforms are turning to infrastructure hosted in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment. In a lot of older implementations, companies had to do a lot of the hosting themselves instead of offloading that task to companies like Amazon. Even though this older model did provide a layer of security, it would require 24 hour support to ensure the system never went down.
By using AWS, you offload internal infrastructure costs/support to them with the added benefit of taking advantage of the state-of-the-art security features, offering extensive protection of data and safeguards against service interruptions.
The other complication with hosting your own billing solution is that it was only scalable to a certain point. As more and more billing data is being processed, it uses up more resources and may require additional servers to pick up the slack. This becomes an expensive endeavor and you can get caught by unexpected spikes in resource requirements.
Modern platform architecture, such as an API-first microservices approach, makes it extremely fast and easy to send billing data to your platform from any source. Not only that, but the fact that the infrastructure is now being hosted in the cloud means that if you have extreme usage peaks (for example, everyone calling or texting on New Years), your system can scale to handle the influx of momentary data.
This is one of the modern ways to build out a very scalable system and is a paradigm shift in platform design which older systems didn’t have access to.
Legacy platforms are not known to easily connect to outside systems without some kind of customization. Over the past few years, technology like Webhooks have made it extremely easy to send important data between interconnected platforms. Not only that, modern platforms have workflow logic built-in as an easy way to connect systems, automate business rules, and eliminate manual processes.
For example, if a customer of a telecommunication company has exceeded their data limit, an automation workflow could be triggered to send a SMS message and email to the customer to warn them that they have passed their data limit.
The decision to stick with something that is outdated but working versus upgrading to minimize future issues is a tough one. Jack Welch, once CEO of General Electric, gives the advice to "Change before you have to." Also consider what is involved in a Build vs Buy decision and whether your business is capable of taking on that challenge.
This is no easy decision and this article is really meant to get you thinking about what is needed 5 years from now instead of the immediate moment. Hopefully you and your team can talk about future requirements, both with system flexibility and pricing models, and look at upgrading your legacy billing system when the time comes.
Chris has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry dealing with Fortune 2000 enterprises and service providers globally. As VP of Innovation Chris interacts in the market and internally providing: technical leadership and vision, mentorship, and creative problem-solving.