An Antifragile Revenue Operations Workflow: The Promised Land for SaaS

~ 6 min read | January 22

One page into Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile and all I could think of was – What if Taleb was a RevOps Hero who dug his nails into fixing leaks in a SaaS business’ revenue operations workflow?

In the book, Taleb talks about how we must make every system not merely less vulnerable to randomness and chaos, but ‘antifragile’ – poised to benefit from stress, errors, and change.  Like the mythological Hydra generated two new heads each time one was cut off.

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder and stressors, and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.

Here’s a chapter that could have made it to the book if it were to explore fragility in SaaS Revenue Operations.

Chapter ##: Randomness Baked into SaaS Revenue Operations

There are limits to organization, boundaries to connection, zany randomness that you may never see coming, nonlinear customer patterns that you will not be able to account for, and threats to team efficiency that can topple something that’s working.

– Unhacking SaaS Growth

Revenue Operations workflow for a SaaS business is prone to randomness. 

Never-ending trial experiments. Tug of war between Sales Ops and Billing Ops. Ever-evolving processes. Out of the blue compliance regulations. Ambitious marketing experiments. Brainstorming sessions that beg new datasheets and metrics dashboard. Sprouting invoicing regulations. The must-do yet hard-to-pursue pricing experiments.

What combats all the randomness is the revenue infrastructure you build. The tools that enable your revenue operations workflow such as CRM, subscription management and billing solution, and accounting tools decide the nature of this combat.

Here is how your infrastructure could react while it encounters randomness:

  1. Being Fragile – Limits your revenue opportunities by not letting you adapt – neither by throwing in more people nor time.
  2. Being Robust – Remains unreactive on its own but lets you deal with the chaos by eating away more labor and time.
  3. Being Antifragile – Solves for unseen circumstances out of the box and turns them into revenue opportunities.

The Vulnerable Fragile

Any system that avoids disorder and makes itself vulnerable to shocks can be termed as fragile. Fragile systems tread uncertainties and stressors with tranquility. And a SaaS business that builds a fragile revenue infrastructure might topple down due to positive stressors such as scale.

SaaS businesses hardly resort to billing logic improvisations to increase revenue flow in their formative years. The initial foundation would be to accommodate essential, straight forward use cases such as billing customers monthly.

As the business moves forward in the journey of finding a product-market fit to scaling, the array of billing use cases they encounter increases exponentially. From a billing problem, it becomes a workflow bottleneck. Flexibility transforms from a good-to-have feature to a business advantage. But to handle all requests, you’ll have to go back to the code base you’ve built. As things accumulate, you stumble upon the realization that you’ve outgrown the solution as it was meant to be rudimentary and now needs work bottom-up.

The Unflinching Robust

Robust systems, on the other hand, might look like what you exactly need. They can stand up to shocks without changing what they essentially are. Most of the tools that are out in the market qualify to be a robust platform. They are systems that can solve the present; work squarely with unknowns; shaken by uncertainties in the air; act as a pain reliever and not a gain creator. 

But here is what happens when you aim for your revenue operations workflow to be robust — You miss out on new revenue opportunities and spend time on fixing the inefficiencies.

While scaling up-market, every SaaS business has outlier customers with one-off and niche product requests. While building a revenue engine, such requests can’t be productized from the get-go. The story wasn’t any different for Chargebee either. We had to solve certain edge-cases of some enterprise-grade workflows by suggesting workarounds and patch-codes on top of the product. That meant, for every update we pushed to actually productize those edge-cases, the customer had to keep updating their ‘fragile’ patch-codes.

And that’s when we saw the need for us to step up from a robust to an antifragile system. By collating revenue workflows from 10K businesses, our Product team set out to build out a platform that has 420+ billing scenarios productized and a codebase that embraces a rapid scale.

The Adaptive Antifragile

Antifragile tools are flexible. They work readily with disorders or adapt quickly to work with disorders. And as business aims to scale quickly or move upmarket, they will need to be on top of seen and unseen disorders. 

antifragile-systems-revops

Source

The higher the revenue targets, the more essential it is to have neater workflows and processes with increased efficiencies to maximize revenue opportunities. 

For instance, businesses that aim to have shorter sales cycles to reach full revenue potential would need everything from a clean CRM to accelerated approval cycles. 

Imagine the inefficiency building up while you are waiting for your finance team to approve all the contracts. What about the increasing risk of losing a prospect to your competitor because your quote workflow requires a lot of back-and-forths? Every time your sales team and finance ping pongs, you are losing out on revenue.

You need a system that solves your present and your future needs out of the box. In other words, all your feature requests should be productized by the tools in your RevOps stack for you to pick from when the scale demands.

A reliable revenue engine doesn’t cruise the highway only to stall when the unexpected off-road creeps up on the horizon. It lets you adapt on the move and keep cruising.

When you get stuck, it should send a rescue team with a bag of alternatives, a box of suggestions, and witty, empathetic helpers. When you are missing out on a data point or glitch, it should aid in spotting it. And when you are trying to inch towards a revenue opportunity, it should give you the right levers to run the mile. 

If your revenue operations workflow and revenue engine tick the above boxes, you have built a revenue infrastructure that is Antifragile. For in the world of disorder and chaos, antifragility is what you should aim to achieve for your SaaS business to scale rapidly.

Are you a RevOps person who’s looking for an antifragile revenue management infrastructure for your SaaS? Chargebee is a revenue ops platform that handles recurring billing and subscriptions on one hand and integrates with each of your GTM and finance tools on the other to become the single source of truth for all revenue analytics. Check out our capabilities in this RevOps menu, and schedule a free personalized consulting session to learn more.

Swetha Murali

Product Marketer | Chargebee