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Billing and CRM – built in or integrated?

10th April 2018  by Gareth

Recently we were asked by Comms Business magazine, as part of their feature on billing solutions, whether telecoms resellers need or want CRM functionality built into the billing platform. This is a question that we’re asked fairly frequently by various industry players.

Billing and CRM

Our stance and approach to this is also discussed during the course of most meetings with prospective partners. Expectations and opinions on this subject seem to vary greatly depending on who you’re speaking to.

Our belief is that no one software solution can ever do everything perfectly. An effective back office solution must be formed with ‘best-of-breed’ software packages that are integrated with APIs. This will deliver far greater results than one product alone could ever hope to achieve.

Incorporating functionality from other types of applications into the billing platform, CRM and accounts functionality for example, may sound good on paper but, in reality, is unlikely to deliver the results a CP is looking for.

What reasonable expectation could any billing software vendor have of emulating the range of functionality available in mass market CRMs such as Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM or Salesforce?

The one exception to this rule is in the area of service management. Functionality that’s specific to network service management is likely to be useful in a billing platform and unlikely to come from anywhere else. This is especially the case if the billing platform in question also offers functionality for provisioning lines and managing faults with WLR3.

For most CPs, the billing platform is likely to be their core revenue management software. It’s just as likely that it is the only software package that’s purpose built for use by CPs. It’s logical, therefore, that integration of back office systems should be structured around the billing platform. This is why Union Street has developed out of the box integrations with other software packages such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Sage Accounts.

To make it easier for CPs and third party integrators to integrate other systems with our platform, we have recently put a great deal of effort into developing our APIs. Our new REST APIs provide access to a much larger range of data stored within aBILLity’s database. They also feature extensive rules for validation to ensure data is managed accurately and in accordance with business needs.

In addition to developing the scope of our APIs, we offer the option to create a sandbox environment in our cloud platform where new integrations can be trialled using test systems.

The debate on whether or not billing platforms should feature functionality that’s typically found in other types of business support systems is certain to rage on but, in our experience, doing what you do best is always better than taking a jack of all trades approach.

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