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Case Study:

Glowpoint: Overcomes Challenge of a Complex Order to Billing Process with BillingPlatform


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1.

Company

Glowpoint is a video conferencing solution provider based out of Denver, Colorado that serves over 1,000 customers in 130 countries. While busy celebrating their latest delivery milestone (over one million video conferencing minutes served daily!) – a new problem was growing – scaling its billing processes to keep up with demand.

Simplified Complex Billing and Improved Resolution Times

Situation: Increasingly complex billing process run through a homegrown system was slow to adapt to the needs of the organization and expensive to operate – requiring two FTE development resources and manual spreadsheet calculations.

Action: Selected and implemented BillingPlatform for UI, Order and Subscription Management.

Result: Eliminated the need for IT support. Access to detailed billing insights enabled finance to significantly lower mean time to resolution of billing inquiries.

2.

Challenges

The Complex Billing Problem that Grew Over Time

Glowpoint’s revenue model began with order entry and corresponding product provisioning. Its product line had grown to cover the entire spectrum of video conferencing and related services including premier technical support, monitored endpoints, and livestreaming.

This diverse product line meant that there were multiple pricing models to manage: metered (pay as you go), recurring, and subscription-based. As a result, when customers consumed video conferencing and related services, each activity needed to be associated back to an event type and then grouped to determine which billing rate should be applied. Finally, taxation rules were applied to the calculated rates.

All of this amounted to a process that, while logical to Glowpoint’s billing team, was very complex and at times required an advanced Excel knowledge just to generate an invoice!

Discovering the Limitations of ERP and Homegrown Solutions

The Glowpoint team solved for this in their original technology roadmap. They had been successfully using their ERP system to run many aspects of their core business, including accounting and operations. It naturally made sense to have order entry and billing be part of this system.

“The original plan was to run our billing through our ERP. The challenge was that our ERP was not flexible enough for the level of complexity the finance team required.” - Cherie Yueh, Finance Director, Glowpoint.

With the ERP’s shortcomings, the finance team decided to develop a homegrown solution. They partnered with the IT team to eliminate as much of the manual spreadsheet number crunching as possible. Their custom developed system processed the applicable rates and then generated a data file that could be uploaded into their ERP to allow finance to create customer facing invoices. However, finance found that they had no visibility into the calculations. The final output did not tell the finance team how usage was rated, and what rules were imposed for rating those items.

Finance still had to match usage within spreadsheets. Any questions about the calculations required IT involvement to analyze code to understand things at the line item detail. Likewise, any changes requested for new reports immediately incurred development time. Customer billing inquiries resulted in lengthy delays (sometimes taking days), which negatively impacted client satisfaction.

“Supporting our legacy billing system was taking away valuable resources from product development and delivery. This meant longer lead times between product releases – delaying the features that would ultimately be driving future revenue streams.” Ted Tzeng, SVP Technology.

This homegrown solution resulted in a sub-standard experience for both finance users and end customers. Glowpoint’s homegrown solution was underperforming and billing at Glowpoint was still a tedious and expensive task! To compound the problem, increased industry competition was putting additional pressure on the system, forcing Glowpoint to adjust the pricing and packaging of its solutions as a lever to drive customer acquisition and retention.

3.

Solution

In Search of a Better Billing Experience

Convinced there must be a better alternative, finance and IT renewed their search to identify a solution to improve transparency and flexibility while lowering their overall cost of ownership. Their search led them to engage with BillingPlatform.

Glowpoint found that the complexities involved in its pricing structure could be addressed in BillingPlatform without custom development. In addition, unlike other vendors, BillingPlatform was able to automate Glowpoint’s existing revenue model without requiring them to change how they ran the business. Finally, the customer data from Glowpoint’s CRM, MS Dynamics, was integrated with BillingPlatform to enable the sales organization to synchronize data and automate order provisioning all the way through to billing and invoicing.

“Around the office we compared BillingPlatform to upgrading – that makes sense for our company, not another organization’s that we were told was ‘best practice’. As a member of the front-line team that has to live in this world on a daily basis, the change couldn’t have been more dramatic. Wishlist items like creating discounts for reaching usage thresholds and multiple product lines (cross-sell) are now handled with ease. Around the office we compared it to upgrading from driving an old clunker to a high-performance sports car!” - Cherie Yueh, Finance Director, Glowpoint.

5.

Results

The Glowpoint finance team now has a solution they can independently manage themselves. It accommodates all of their complex needs including one-to-many provisioning, dynamic tiered pricing, adjustable ratings, and invoicing on a per client basis.
Glowpoint’s customer-facing teams also benefited:

  • Finance can quickly answer customer inquiries with confidence by having access to line item details
  • Customer Success now has a means to easily access customer, account, and pricing information all in one place to drive more impactful client meetings
  • Sales now can manage leads, create quotes, and start the billing process at the touch of a button where they previously had to log into different systems for each task.

“With BillingPlatform’s modernized quote-to-cash back-office system, our (the Glowpoint) team can now stop worrying about billing and instead focus solely on achieving our next milestone - two million minutes of video conferencing served daily!” - Matt Thompson, SVP Operations Glowpoint

For more information on how Glowpoint achieved success with BillingPlatform, please contact us sales@billingplatform.com.

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