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Company Spotlight: Ubersmith Oustources Billing for Businesses Both Large and Small
By Jeff Goldman

January 25, 2005

Ubersmith was first developed in 1999 by the hosting company Voxel Dot Net. “We developed it because Voxel needed a billing manager and a support manager,” says Matthew Toback, Ubersmith’s Chief Operations Officer. The solution then branched off into its own company, and Ubersmith, Inc. was incorporated in 2002.

For a while, Toback says, Ubersmith was targeting higher-end customers rather than competing on price. “A lot of the clients that we got were people who really wanted a solid system,” he says. “It was more targeted towards the accounting. Then about a year and a half ago, we started to undertake a complete interface redesign.”

(877) GET-UBER
Ubersmith logo

At the time, Toback says, the system had a lot of features, but they weren’t organized in a particularly usable manner. “So we stopped all advertising, and we did a complete interface redesign from the ground up, really focusing on how people use the system,” he says. “That took about a year, and we just released the new version in November after a few months of beta testing with existing customers.”

Toback says the time was well spent. “The usability of it makes a huge difference, because your employees have to use it and you have to use it, and you don’t want to have to explain 18 times how to do something for someone,” he says. “The goal is that, while we have documentation, you shouldn’t have to rely on it as a crutch — you shouldn’t have to think about it.”

The solution’s essential accounting functionality is a key strength. “That’s really where Ubersmith started,” he says. “Strictly because it is a billing package, we wanted to do it correctly, so we enlisted the help of several people — people with specialties in accounting, professors that teach accounting — to make sure that we were doing it right.”

Professional and Lite Versions

The product is now available in two versions, Professional and Lite, which Toback says enables the company to compete on price in a way it couldn’t before. “Lite is really meant for the smaller hosting companies,” he clarifies.

The Professional version, on the other hand, allows a larger company to track different brands and divisions separately, enables different administrators to receive different levels of access, and offers additional reporting options. It also includes a device manager for organizing and monitoring a company’s network.

Toback says the network monitoring is a strong selling point for the Professional version, particularly for companies that are hosting the product on Ubersmith’s servers. “It’s offsite network monitoring built into their billing system, which they don’t have to pay someone else to do. And then some people have actually offset the cost of Ubersmith by reselling monitoring services to their clients,” he says.

The company can import data from a wide range of billing systems, including systems that customers have built themselves. “We just had a recent import that was over 10,000 clients,” Toback says. “We imported all their prior invoice history, everything, so the new system really picks up where the old system left off — it’s not like you just have your client names and addresses, and then you have to start from scratch.”

Both the Professional and Lite versions, as of January 2005, are only offered as outsourced solutions hosted by Ubersmith, though Toback says downloadable versions will be made available soon. Pricing for the Professional version starts at $59.95 per month, while the Lite version costs $39.95 per month.

Reporting and Reliability

Aaron Phillips is Vice President of the dedicated server company FastServers.Net. When the company was founded in 2001, Phillips says, there weren’t many billing packages to choose from. “We started out with software which was designed for recurring billing for dialup service providers, and we just made it work for what we were doing,” he says.

In 2002, FastServers.Net switched to Ubersmith, and Phillips says it was a great move. “We can’t live without it,” he says. “It’s the core of our business right now. It does all of our billing support, central location for all of our customers to log in — it’s a very big foundation of FastServers.Net.”

The best thing about the software, says Phillips, is its reporting functionality. “When we want to find out how many customers signed up from this date to this date, we can get that out of any billing software, but Ubersmith can get more concrete — where they signed up, geographically where they came from — we can just generate any kind of report we want,” he says.

Having the software and the data hosted by Ubersmith offers an additional advantage, according to Phillips. “You’ve got to have some serious time wrapped into making sure that stuff stays secure,” he says. “One of the reasons we’ve stuck with Ubersmith is because they provide outsourced billing software, and it’s the only thing they do. That’s the type of company we like to work with.”

Article adapted from ISP Planet

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