Zuora is a winning choice for your subscription economy
On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend Zuora Z-Business if asked by a colleague? What advice would you have for that colleague?
- I strongly recommend Zuora, but I also realize that Zuora may not be for everyone and every business. Are you planning on using Salesforce and integrating? Do you need customized quotes, quote templates and invoices? Do you need a strong SOAP/REST API? Do you need a company with strong support in place that can free up your IT instead of burden them? Do you want to use a company that is well funded that will be around in a few years and much longer? Zuora is a positive choice for all these questions.
Please provide some examples of things that Zuora Z-Business does particularly well.
- Salesforce integration is key here with the ability to have sales people build out product quotes with flexible rate plans pushing new subscriptions into Zuora and have those Zuora subscriptions and financials visible within Salesforce to further empower sales.
- Zuora is a solid subscription billing & management platform that is constantly evolving with new releases & fixes - many of which are derived from direct customer feedback. The platform is flexible enough to allow for different kinds of subscription models
- Support, Support & Support. Zuora has grown their support staff and added additional account managers which helps enormously in the first year of operating on Zuora.
- Zuora's API endpoints affords outstanding development opportunity to integrate. We've used it for provisioning internally, mixed reporting & admin controls. It's very flexible.
- Marketing! Zuora does an outstanding job on marketing themselves and their solution. This can be a really helpful thing if you believe in the solution and need to sell the solution internally both upstream and across functional silos.
- What I believe is also a strength is unifying your business so you can focus on your core. If your core business is not subscription management, CPQ (cost-price-quote) and the financial aspects that go with it you can streamline your business down to your core. This is not something Zuora promotes but it's a happy side-effect.
Please provide some examples of areas where Zuora Z-Business has room for improvement.
- User adoption and training in my opinion is one area where Zuora can improve. They have a Zuora University program which I think is essential for people that will be users. However, the system changes often and many times users can't remember how to accomplish something. It's a challenging learning curve for finance people that may have to live in this system on a day-to-day basis, but the UI is easy to learn.
- Account management can use a little improvement. We had virtually none when we first started but a lot has changed internally with Zuora since then and we've since been assigned an account manager. I'd like to see more frequent touching from the account manager to check and make sure things are working and not just with IT but finance people, end-users.
- Reporting. The reporting in Zuora is pretty good and in my opinion better in some ways than Salesforce. Having said that, there is definitely room for improvement. They do make frequent releases to the product that helps the UI including reporting, but they seem like small changes to me. I'd like to see more advanced reporting features and a more robust system to accomplish that. For 80%+ of Zuora users, the reports and engine will be fine for you.
What positive or negative impact (i.e. Return on Investment or ROI) has Zuora Z-Business had on your overall business objectives?
- We've been able to close deals faster with the implementation of Z-Force Quotes and DocuSign within Salesforce. Plus, this puts the tools in the hands of sales to do the work, not support staff. Added bonus of having better information within Salesforce in regards to previous quote history and current subscription numbers.
- Our finance team is better able to act like gatekeepers in some instances when it comes to the kinds of deals that get created because the product catalog and pricing plans are more standardized. A plus in transparency between sales and finance.
- Standardizing your product catalog into a model that works within Zuora can be challenging IF, as a business you've not already formalized your catalog and you do a lot of non-standard things like packaged deals or 'bundling' as some people call it. Having a successful Zuora implementation may mean being flexible in how you sell, but the good news is that making that standardization is good for the entire company, not just sales and finance.
- There is a real sense that you need to find the ROI in Zuora, especially in the early stages but I don't think most people will. When you have to migrate part of your accounting & business to Zuora it shines a very bright light on a lot of flaws you may already have. It takes time to adjust and normalize data in Zuora and in many cases you may not get the kind of accurate business reporting (churn, MRR, ARR) you were hoping for in the first year if your subscription business is based on annual or multi-year deals. If you're monthly, you should have none of these issues.
- Customer service has greatly improved. Our team has better transparency into the subscriptions of our customers and it makes it easier and faster for our CSA staff to zero in on the products and services our customers are using.
- Sales has much better information at their fingertips in Salesforce to help them make better sales.
- Making the migration from wherever you are into Zuora can be very challenging. In our case we had a homegrown solution so the migration was a bit difficult. Post-migration we felt a bit like we got kicked out of the nest with some rising frustration. This has since changed with added account management and increased support.
How many people in your company use Zuora Z-Business? What business functions do they represent?
- 5 - CEO for business reporting. IT for functional integration and sandbox testing. Finance for subscription management, billing, invoicing, and payments. Customer Service for reviewing account status. Sales uses it within Salesforce itself for building quotes, amendments, renewals and viewing subscription financials for accounts.
How many people do you have in-house to support Zuora Z-Business on an on-going basis. Describe the types of people or skills required to support Zuora Z-Business.
- 2 - IT from an administration standpoint (and integration). In IT we make sure we add/remove users and permissions for whom can log in and what can they access. We also have one well trained Customer Service Director that routinely verifies active customer subscriptions and aides Finance people if there are issues. Otherwise, Zuora requires little-to-no support - in many cases finance goes directly to Zuora support for questions and they are super responsive in most all cases.
What are the 3-5 most important use cases for this product in your organization?
- We use Salesforce with our sales team and the integration was an attractive feature and has radically changed our sales process for the better.
- As a business we needed a standard way to sell our products. Adopting this solution gives good business boundaries to selling strategies without crippling sales efforts.
- Focusing on our core business instead building and maintaining our own subscription platform.
- Better transparency across functional areas when it comes to subscriptions and finance measurements.
What are some unexpected or innovative ways that your organization has been able to use Zuora Z-Business?
- We've been able to use Z-Checkout integrated with our website for customer self-serve 'buy now' scenarios while staying completely PCI compliant.
- We've been able to use the Zuora API to pull back data and marry it with other internal data for reporting purposes.
- Our use of Z-Force 360 & Z-Quotes within Salesforce, married with DocuSign has been a real blessing to streamlining our sales process. We've seen quotes to signed deals in a manner of minutes instead of hours, days and longer.
What are some additional ways that your organization might be able to use Zuora Z-Business in the future?
- We're looking at adding the Z-Finance module onto our services to help our monthly accounting close and free up some frustration with Quickbooks Online we're facing - plus we'll get some added report enhancements that we've been looking for.
- We intend to grow our self-serve 'buy now' and take advantage of Z-Payments / Z-Checkout for monthly credit card subscribers. Our business 'as-is' is strongly annual subscription and corporate invoicing which Zuora supports.
- We imagine using the API more to create a more formidable customer account management experience on our website.
Evaluation and Selection
Did Zuora Z-Business replace another product in your organization? What products did you replace and why did you want to replace them?
Which other products were on your short list as alternatives to Zuora Z-Business? What made you choose Zuora Z-Business over the alternatives?
- The UI and ease-of-use was really great in Zuora. The Salesforce integration was truly impressive. We liked the flexibility we could have within Zuora for various custom selling models, product catalog. Zuora really seemed to fill a sweet spot. Other systems were large but cumbersome and would easily require IT resources to help support the staff that would be using those systems but not so in the case of Zuora. Zuora was intuitive and easy to pick-up and provided a path for growth and integration.
Which factors were most important in your decision to purchase Zuora Z-Business? Can you elaborate on the single most important factor in your decision?
The CEO was an early employee of Salesforce and as such was well funded. Even if there were visible warts on what we'd get from Zuora, the confidence level is very high that issues would get resolved and fixed. UI/UX was the single biggest user factor. We didn't want a scenario where finance people hated what they were using as they went into the solution. It's intuitive for them to do what they need to do without asking for help.
- Product Features
- Product Usability
- Vendor Reputation
- Positive Sales Experience with the Vendor
- Analyst Reports
If you had it to do over, how might you change the evaluation and selection process that you went through?