Constant Contact

Constant Contact's image

Company

Constant Contact

Industry

Marketing

Challenge

  • Replace legacy billing system with robust, reliable solution
  • Implement scalable technology to support company growth
  • Improve ability to troubleshoot and remedy issues

Solution

  • jBilling 2

Results

  • Can complete full billing run across thousands of customers overnight
  • Improved functionality, including sales tax and multi-currency options, with plug-ins
  • Implemented a truly flexible, scalable billing system to meet changing needs

Constant Contact Supports Rapid Growth with jBilling

Launched in 1998, Constant Contact is a leading provider of online marketing solutions for small businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations. The company delivers email, social media, and event marketing tools—as well as local deals, digital storefronts, and online surveys—to more than 500,000 customers worldwide. Based in Waltham, Massachusetts, with offices across the United States and in London, England, Constant Contact has received numerous industry awards and has ranked on Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 for the past five years.

Challenge

As more small businesses have turned to the Internet to engage customers, Constant Contact has been there to help guide their efforts and provide the tools and education they need to be successful. As the company has added both products and customers, making sure that its technology can keep up with its growth is one of the company's top priorities, especially when it comes to billing. "For us, our leading concern is scalability," says Michele Tivnan, the Director of SaaS Information Systems at Constant Contact. "Would our billing system be able to churn through invoices as we doubled in size, and would it be flexible enough to adapt to our evolving array of products and services?"

“With jBilling, we can do things we couldn’t have done with any other third-party solution.”

With the company's existing billing solution, Tivnan and her colleague, Kevin Salerno, Principal Software Engineer at Constant Contact, soon realized that the answer was a resounding "no." "As we grew to a multi-product company, we jerry-rigged the system to work for us but that clearly wasn’t ideal," Salerno says. "We started to get to a point where we were struggling to complete our entire billing run in a 24-hour period. If one customer didn't make it through, it impacted the whole bill run."

To complicate the problem, Tivnan and Salerno had a hard time getting support from their billing provider and troubleshooting was very difficult. "When something went wrong, we couldn’t look into the code to figure out why," Tivnan says. "Troubleshooting had to be done with our eyes closed, and from a development standpoint, our hands were tied."

Constant Contact needed to remedy these issues, so the billing team began to search for a solution that was powerful enough to handle large, complex billing runs while still being easy to configure and scale.

Solution

After an extensive review of billing software products, Constant Contact selected jBilling, a solution that could handle the company's complex billing scenarios with ease. "We don't have traditional billing, where you prepay for 12 months and service lasts for 12 months. We have multiple products, add-ons, usage tiers, and options to pre-pay or pay by the month,” Salerno says. “With so many variations, finding a solution that could accommodate that level of complexity was crucial."

“Using our previous solution, billing runs were taking longer and longer, and we didn't have any tools to make them faster. Now, with jBilling, we've eliminated that problem.”

The Constant Contact team also appreciated the fact that jBilling allowed them to keep much of the company's existing infrastructure. "We already had a billing system in place, so we wanted to be able to retain the business rules and basic architecture and just change the code underneath it," Tivnan says. "With jBilling, we could pick and choose the components that we needed and wanted to use so that it was seamless to our users."

jBilling’s flexible plug-in architecture enabled Tivnan and Salerno to customize their system in other key ways. “The plug-ins allowed us to adapt jBilling to our business model and use the system in a unique way to meet our needs,” says Salerno. “With jBilling, we can do things we couldn’t have done with other third-party solutions.”

To underscore this flexibility, the Constant Contact team was able to implement jBilling in a few months at the same time the company was completing a major product rollout. “We have a small team, just  three developers and one or two testers,” Tivnan says. “I think that speaks to just how easy it is to work with jBilling.”

Results

After switching to jBilling, Constant Contact has been able to deploy an extensible, scalable billing system that meets critical performance standards with ease. "We have to finish billing runs on the same day they start to recognize revenue. Using our previous solution, billing runs were taking longer and longer, and we didn't have any tools to make them faster," Salerno says. "Now, with jBilling, we've eliminated that problem. The system performs extremely well and we can keep our operations running smoothly."

“jBilling plug-ins have enabled us to start charging sales tax, include multi-currency payment options, and change our payment processor.”

Constant Contact has also been able to add more functionality to its billing system. "jBilling plug-ins have enabled us to start charging sales tax, include multi-currency payment options, and change our payment processor," says Tivnan. "Our business needs are constantly evolving, so being able to write plug-ins to quickly adapt our system is key for us."

Moreover, Constant Contact has gotten hands-on support from the jBilling technical team, a welcome contrast to its previous provider. "The jBilling team has been very helpful and accommodating," Salerno says. "If certain things didn't work the way we wanted, we would talk with jBilling about the best way to approach it and find a solution. It's been great working with them."

After considering all of the benefits, Salerno continues, jBilling has turned out to be an ideal solution for Constant Contact. "We looked for a year and a half for different vendors, but packaged software applications always promised more than they could deliver. We couldn't see into the code and they were very difficult to implement," he says. "jBilling gave us the flexibility to create a strong billing system that meets our current needs and can support us as we grow."

"We looked for a year and a half for different vendors, but packaged software applications always promised more than they could deliver. We couldn't see into the code and they were very difficult to implement. jBilling gave us the flexibility to create a strong billing system that meets our current needs and can support us as we grow."

—Kevin Salerno, Principal Software Engineer, Constant Contact