How to transition reporting in your new subscription model
by Niclas Lilja, on Mar 13, 2018
A major concern that can appear when transitioning to subscription model is the apprehension of new processes and reporting methods. Many CFOs and business controllers may be used to certain ways of reporting information and processing data, and are unsure of how those reports may be translated to the new business model and systems that they have. But with the right tools and infrastructure in place, you'll find that the methodology is easy, and will save you time and money in the long run.
Consider what is most important in reporting
Think about your manual reports: what is crucial for your business, and what kinds of reports are you going to need to properly manage your subscriptions and customers? You may want to consider SaaS best practices, and the most important subscription metrics, like monthly recurring revenue (MRR), average revenue per user (ARPU) and annual contract value (ACV).
Businesses making a transition should understand the importance of linked data so that you are able to drill down and fully see how the underlying data points dictate the performance metrics and results. Since many traditional companies use Excel to produce their current reports, you may be used to more "static" reporting methodology. But often with automated metrics reporting, you will find the information you have to be more actionable so that you can make informed, real-time business decisions.
Starting by identifying which reports you'll want to continue, and which ones you need start will provide the correct foundation for you in your transition. You won't want to only translate your old reports to new automations only to find that you're missing key information and the right KPIs for growing a subscription business.
Preparation is key
Just as evaluating your existing reports, and what will be important after a transition, you must prepare for how you create automations for aggregating information in the future. Look for where there may be gaps in information, or how there may be issues or mistakes when transitioning. When translating, there can be hidden changes that you may be unaware of, and you end up finding there are missing pieces when reporting in the future.
For example, the item keys or product information tags you use in reporting may be a different naming or numerical system in an automated system. Avoid confusion by evaluating if this may pose a problem, and try to implement a solution beforehand.
Practice change management
As with any major change in an organisation, you should help you and your staff adjust to the changes over time. If you implement new systems and processes without proper onboarding and change management, you'll find that the learning curve is steep - or worse - you have employees who reject the change.
For traditional software companies who are transitioning to SaaS and/or subscription models, you can find that there may be apprehension to change when things have "always been done" the same way. But with proper change management, you can show your team members the benefits of automating reporting, and the time, cost and error savings that can occur from moving away from manual reporting methods. Set up training sessions on the new systems, provide plenty of opportunities for your staff to give feedback and ask questions, and leave a lengthy transition period for employees to get used to the new ways of doing things.
Get the right tools that set you up for success
Any transition from manual reporting to automation will only be successful if you have the right tools for the job. If you are implementing a new system, make sure you have all the integrations that you need, and the capabilities that you want. There is nothing worse than implementing change in your organisation as a way to save time and money, only to find pitfalls later on. There are some important things to consider when transitioning to a subscription model business, and ensuring you have the right systems is one of them.
For automating your existing financial reporting and managing your new subscription customers, you may actually want to keep your ERP and CRM for some data and integrations. But if you want accurate subscription reporting, you could benefit from a tool purposefully built for subscriptions to get to the core metrics that enables you to run a subscription business.
When all is said and done, transitioning manual reporting methods to automation in a new subscription model business doesn't have to be difficult or scary. Preparation, change management, and ensuring you have the right tools and processes will make the difference in executing a smooth transition. When your new systems are in place, you'll find that the time and money you save will be well worth any apprehensions you may have now.
Have apprehensions about other aspects of your business transformation? Download our White Paper on the right considerations when transitioning from traditional software company to subscription business.