Welcome to the Exact Product Blog

On this blog we will cover stories from all around the Exact ecosystem.

Posts Tagged ‘subscriptions’

Forecast your subscription business using MRR

Written by Remco Kroes on . Posted in Exact Online

A recent survey by Exact showed that businesses expect revenues to pick up in the next few years. It looks like we left the recession behind and firms are more positive on their business outlook. Growth is back on the agenda! Achieving growth is now one of the key priorities for many businesses.

Achieving growth
In a typical subscription-run business growth is achieved by acquiring new customers, upgrading existing customers, and preventing customers from cancelling (‘churning’) or downgrading their subscriptions. However, when running such a subscription based business measuring growth can be hard. Especially when you are offering multiple subscription plans with dissimilar terms and conditions. For example, offering monthly based subscriptions next to annual based subscriptions. To add to the complexity, many firms still rely on spreadsheets. Making it even harder to monitor growth accurately.

Choosing the right metric to monitor growth
No matter whether you are a start-up or a public company, one of the key metrics used to monitor growth in a subscription run business is ‘Monthly Recurring Revenue’ (MRR). This metric is relatively new and currently adopted by many fast-growing SaaS firms. MRR calculates subscription fees normalized to a monthly amount. It typically excludes one-time (e.g. set-up fees) or usage fees.

Why MRR?
One of the main reasons why firms with a growth objective are using MRR is to better track performance and monitor growth trends. Real growth rates and real churn rates are difficult to measure when offering a variety of subscription models. Not every subscription is alike – terms and conditions may differ per customer or customer segment. Various pricing plans may exist and subscriptions can be offered on a variety of terms (e.g. on an annual, quarterly or bi-monthly base).The MRR metric helps you to average your various pricing plans and billing periods in to a single and consistent number that you can use to determine whether or not you are on track in realizing your growth objective.

Net add MRR
As stated earlier growth is achieved by acquiring new customers and preventing customers to churn or to downgrade their subscription. You cannot meet growth objectives by only focusing on generating new customers. If existing customers decide not to renew their subscription or decide to downgrade you need to acquire even more new customers. Acquiring new customers can be costly. When you are able to upsell or deepsell – you do not only have an ability to positively impact net add MRR but also reach MRR growth at lower customer acquisition costs. Assuming that it is less costly to target existing customers than targeting new business. It is key therefore to monitor how MRR develops within a timeframe. What is the net added MRR in a given period? It is key to monitor cancellations, renewals, upgrades and downgrades.

What’s coming up: MRR reporting in Exact Online
Exact Online supports subscription run business by offering an all-in one solution including recurring billing, CRM, projects and accounting. We want to better support our customers in measuring growth of their subscription business. This year we made investments to enhance our subscription engine, e.g. subscription cost analysis. Next, we are planning to release a wide range of recurring revenue reports and dashboards reflecting best practices in managing subscriptions – including the ability to monitor MRR, net add MRR, cancellations, and more. For more information, please contact remco.kroes@exact.com


subscription reports


Manage and control your subscription business in the cloud

Written by Remco Kroes on . Posted in Exact Online

Companies can generate subscription-based recurring invoices using Exact Online. Further enhancing our subscription engine will be one of our priorities this year.  We want to better support firms, such as online or software vendors and better facilitate subscription management and reporting, but also improve ease of use . It is our aim to help you to better run  and forecast your subscription business.


This January we released a number of enhancements:

  • Adding a purchase order (PO) number to a subscription and printing this reference number on your sales invoice.
  • Printing a start- and end-date of subscription on your sales invoice.
  • Adding notes to the subscription header.
  • Ability to im- and export subscriptions using XML.

 Are you selling services using contracts or subscriptions?  Do you want to manage your subscription business in the cloud using Exact Online? We welcome your feedback and ideas on how to better manage your monthly contracts, SLAs, software license or hosting contracts, and more!  Just send an e-mail to remco.kroes@exact.com and we’ll get in touch with you.

The new way to get started with subscriptions!

Written by Emiel Romein on . Posted in Exact Online

You may already know that we developed a new way to get started in Exact Online. Marco Kastrop wrote about it in his February post Get set, Ready…GO!. He explained there how we learned from the logistic pilot customers that we needed to improve the ‘Getting Started’-process. And we did!

You can access the new subscription Getting Started in both the Panel menu and the new Tab menu, but because I’m only going to show you how to access the Getting Started in the Tab menu, I’ll first explain how to switch to the new Exact Online menu style.

Robert Huberts wrote about the new menu last October in the post Introducing a new menu style for Exact Online. I’ll keep it short and just show you the menu style option.

  1. Click the User settings link in the bottom-left of your screen.
  2. Change the Menu style option from Panel to Tab menu.
  3. Click Save to save the change you’ve made.

* You can easily switch back. In the new style click the General tab and click User setting. It’s in the bottom-right of the General tab.

When you change to the new menu style you can open the subscription Getting Started by clicking Sales tab > Getting Started > Subscriptions (bottom-left).

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the Subscription Getting Started -our new starting point to learn about the subscription functionality, set-up the system and even use the functionality on a daily basis, if you want.

There is a process flow visible that explains the way subscriptions works. Clicking an icon in the flow will guide you to that specific process in Exact Online. Clicking the Invoice generation icon – for example – will open the invoice generation page. Clicking the Invoice process icon will open a more specific Getting Started page where the invoice process is explained.

Furthermore, you have links on the right of the screen to the Customers cockpit and help files. Typing a question in the search box brings you answers from the range of available help documents.

In the top-left of the screen is the link Make this my startpage. If you click this link, this page will open when you start Exact Online. You can change the startpage (or homepage) again in the User settings.

Of course, it is still possible to use the subscription menu to access all the subscriptions functionality. Simply click Sales tab > Subscriptions > Show all.

I hope that with this guided start, you will enjoy a great new experience working with subscriptions!

Prorated subscription billing

Written by Remco Kroes on . Posted in Exact Online

We will soon support the ability to influence the billing cycle and flexibly define your billing cycle independent from the start date of your subscription. Helping you to better align subscription billing periods with your customer’s or your own financial or calendar periods. Using this new feature you can charge your subscribers on every first (or any day) of the month, whilst activating subscriptions on any day and partially charging them for the first invoice period (prorated billing).

Forecast your subscription business using MRR – part 2

Written by Remco Kroes on . Posted in Exact Online

Exact Online offers all-in one business software in the cloud including CRM, accounting and subscription management. It is designed to support subscription-run businesses in helping them to manage their customers, recurring billings and subscription analytics. In an earlier post we wrote about our objective better support our subscription-run customers in measuring the growth of their subscription business.  In this post we discuss two new improvements made.

Manage and control your subscription business in the cloud – part 2

Written by Remco Kroes on . Posted in Exact Online

In an earlier post we talked about our plans to enhance our subscription engine. This month we released our new subscription card – designed to provide immediate visibility on everything related to the subscription. Contract conditions, current status, products embedded in the subscription bundle, invoices sent, etc. are now shown in a concise and clear way.


We also worked on enhancing subscription billing (see earlier posts on the ability to send & track invoices or improvements in electronic invoicing.)  Other topics we are currently working on:

  • Generate invoices every ‘x’ months or years. Previously you could only generate invoices per month, per quarter, or per (half) year. We added an invoice interval per period – facilitating more invoice options. For example, you can now generate invoices every 2, 3, 4, months or years.
  • More flexibility to customize your subscription invoice. We will add notes to subscription header & lines – with an option to print these notes on your invoice.
  • Purchase order (PO) reference number – Your customers may require invoices to be always sent with a clear reference to the order, so called PO number. To facilitate this need, we will add a possibility to register the customer PO number on the subscription and print it on an invoice. This will prevent from sending sales invoices without purchase order number. As a result you can expect fewer invoices to be rejected and more invoices to be paid faster.
  • Classifications – The option to categorize subscriptions using a new classification field. For example, classifications can be used to group and report on similar subscription plans.
  • Enhanced connectivity – Do you use specialized business applications or websites in which you want to show or handle subscription-related information? Earlier we added the possibility to im/export subscription data using XML. Next step is to support connectivity using so-called REST (Representational State Transfer) API technology.

Are you selling services using contracts or subscriptions? Do you want to manage your subscription business in the cloud using Exact Online? We welcome your feedback and ideas on how to better manage your monthly contracts, SLAs, software license or hosting contracts, and more!  Just send an e-mail to remco.kroes@exact.com  and we’ll get in touch with you.

Creating invoices for subscriptions

Written by Robert Huberts on . Posted in Exact Online

In a recent post Emiel Romein explained the process of creating invoices for subscriptions, see Turning subscriptions into money. In this post I am going to explain the process of creating the invoices in more detail and give you some tips that may help you in using the functions more efficiently.

As Emiel already showed you, the process of invoicing subscriptions only contains a couple of steps. You create some subscriptions and then go to the Generate invoices function in the subscriptions menu. In this screen you will see a list of subscriptions that can be invoiced. Select the subscriptions you want to invoice and press the Generate button. The generated invoices are now available for final printing and processing.

The subscriptions you see in the Generate invoices screen are filtered based on the values in the filter section in the top of the screen. There are several filters available, but two of them are important for showing the subscriptions that need to be invoiced.

The Invoiced up to and including field in the subscription holds the date up to which the subscription is invoiced. So the corresponding filter in the screen controls which subscriptions are shown in the screen based on the date they need to be invoiced again. The second important filter is the Not yet invoiced filter, checking this filter will result in showing all invoices that have never been invoiced (and therefore have an empty Invoiced up to and including date in the subscription).

Some tips to make working with the Generate invoices function easier

  • The invoice date in the screen is default set to the current date, however it can be changed if you want to. Keep in mind though that this date is only for planning the invoices, the actual invoice date is determined at the moment the invoices are printed.
  • You can enter a general description for the invoices, but it is not mandatory. If you do not enter a description, the description from the subscription is copied to the invoice.
  • The administration settings (subscription page) has a useful setting that will allow you to automatically add a number of days to the Invoiced up to and including date filter. So if you want to see all the subscriptions that need to be invoiced in the next 5 days, enter 5 in the setting.

  • Different subscriptions for the same customer that are processed at the same time will be grouped together in one invoice. If the customer wants to have separate invoices you can disable the grouping in the customer’s account card.
  • After you generated the invoices there is a confirmation message in the top of your screen. This message also contains a link to the Print invoices function, so you can go to printing the invoices in one click.

The invoice is not correct, can I still change it?

It can happen that you have generated invoices for a number of subscriptions, but when you check the invoices before printing you notice one or more are not correct. Maybe the customer has more subscriptions that need to be invoiced or something in the subscription is not correct. At this point you can still correct this by deleting the invoice. This will cause the Invoiced up to and until date in the original subscription to be reset to the value prior to generating the invoice. So you can make adjustments to the subscription and generate the invoice again.

If you already printed the invoice and you or the customer notices it is incorrect, you can only correct the invoice by creating a credit note. This credit note will be linked to the subscription. If you need to create a new invoice you will have to do that by manually entering it in the invoice solution, it cannot be generated from the subscription solution.

When do you send the invoice?

In the last months I have had meetings with a number of customers that use the subscription solution in Exact Online. One of the things I noticed is that quite a number of customers sent the invoices in advance of the subscription period. Although it is not something you can indicate in the subscription itself you can manage this when generating the invoices. You need to change the Start or Invoiced up to and until date filters to look further in the future.

I hope the above information will make using Exact Online a little easier for you. As always let me know if you have questions or remarks by leaving a comment.

Turning subscriptions into money!

Written by Emiel Romein on . Posted in Exact Online

Recently Robert Huberts posted an article about how to setup prices for subscriptions. Before that I showed you how to create a subscription and subscription types in only 4 easy steps. It’s time to make it interesting and generate those important invoices!

Let’s say I’m a small household appliance maintenance guy. I have several services I offer my customer and one of them being basic maintenance (work on any household product that needs a periodic cleaning or check-up).

So I’ve setup a type for the basic maintenance subscription I want to offer. I called it Basic and it’s a subscription of two years after which it will automatically continue. Customers can cancel any time after the two years.

Great news! I’ve already got 3 customers who have subscribed for my basic maintenance services. As such I’ve created three subscriptions in Exact Online. My first customer is Femke van der Brinkhoven from Amsterdam. She gets my Basic 24/7 stand-by service and the basic cleaning of any household appliance for only €7, 90 per month incl. VAT.

The other two subscriptions are for John van Bergen-Dalen and Jack van Dijk. But these last two subscriptions are different because they will not be invoiced to the people who get my services. Both will be invoiced to Marco de Graaff – the employer of John and Jack.

Now that I have sold and created my first subscriptions I’m very keen on actually invoicing my customers. So I go to Generate invoices in Exact Online and I quickly see all subscriptions that can be invoiced, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Now comes the really exciting part! Check all subscriptions you want to invoice (I can select all lines via the one checkbox in the lines header) and click the Generate invoices button.

There I go! I have just created my first subscription invoices! In this case I created two invoices. One for Femke and one for Marco. The subscriptions of John and Jack are – by default – combined to one invoice because it’s sent to one person. If I want I can always overwrite this setting on Marco’s account card so that he receives one invoice per subscription.

Finally I can print or send the invoices. I just go to Print invoices in Exact Online. Select all generated invoices with one click and press the Print button. In the case shown below I will see a preview of the invoices. If I choose Final in the print options the invoices will be finalized. I’ll also get extra output options like: sending the invoice by e-mail, Digital Postbox or according to the account settings which could be a mixture of all options.

So to summarize, the invoicing of subscriptions basically involves two steps:

  1. Open the Generate invoices page, select all subscriptions and press the Generate invoices button.
  2. Open the Print invoices page, select all generated invoices, choose to test (trail) or finalize and press the Print button.

By keeping the software simple and easy I finally have the time to actually do maintenance instead of spending hours and hours behind my computer!