SA International's Evolution from a Homegrown Billing & Subscription Solution

SA International evolved from its homegrown subscription billing and management solution to Chargebee and reduced the time spent maintaining its platform from 80 percent to 10 percent

Before Chargebee

Expensive in-house, homegrown subscription and billing solution that couldn’t adapt to customer requests or handle changes such as payment pauses, modifications, or additions

Spent 80 percent of project management time maintaining its homegrown solution

Excessive costs, lengthy delays, and mounting frustration without engaging the developers

After Chargebee

Reduced time spent maintaining its subscription billing and management from 80 percent to 10 percent

Predictable budgeting and eliminated the need for expensive, specialized in-house developers and consultants

Efficiency gains with invoices being sent out promptly and payments received more consistently

See how Chargebee is a trusted partner in 6500+ growth stories

At SA lnternational (SAi), simplicity isn't just a goal-it's a fundamental philosophy driving their mission. SAi specializes in developing cutting-edge design to production software for sign-making, printing, machining, and many more applications. With software in over 25 languages, SAi empowers users worldwide to effortlessly create graphics and seamlessly reproduce them across various output devices, including large-format printers and CNC woodworking machines.

Leveraging an extensive suite of tools, including plug-ins for industry-standard programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, SAi ensures that design workflows remain efficient and are optimized for industry-specific applications. Supported by a global network of resellers, SAi serves a diverse clientele of over 100,000 customers across 50-plus countries. With offices strategically located in the United States, Belgium, China, India, Australia, and Brazil, SAi operates at the forefront of the digital graphics and machining industries.

In this case study, we delve into SAi's transformative journey from its legacy homegrown subscription and revenue growth management system to the seamless integration and efficiency of Chargebee.

The Problem - A homegrown subscription billing system that was expensive and resource-intensive to maintain

SAi faced numerous challenges with its homegrown subscription management and billing platform. Initially designed by SAP consultants in Europe, the in-house system came with a hefty price tag of approximately $60,000 to $90,000. Despite the investment, the system could not flexibly adapt to customer requests or seamlessly handle changes such as payment pauses, modifications, or additions without engaging the developers. This setup led to excessive costs, lengthy delays, and mounting frustration.

Rick Marden, the CFO of SA International, explains that when he asked his project manager how much time they spent maintaining the system, he responded, "I'm spending 80% of my time on this system, and then the other 20% I'm answering questions to our customer service people," and that was mind-blowing.

Additionally, after a rigorous evaluation by their CTO, the code base of the homemade solution was deemed weak and insecure - a grave concern considering it represented over half of the business's revenue. Marden shares, "This represents more than 50% of our business. I need to take a look at this homegrown system." And so he starts looking at the code and says, "Whoa. This is really weak stuff, and it isn't solid." He continues, "This represents millions of dollars of our business," and adds, "I am not confident in this homegrown system. We need to find a professional company that does this for a living and knows how to do it."

The Solution - A professional subscription management solution created to scale

Realizing the inefficiency and risks associated with their homegrown system, SAi's search for a professional subscription management solution led them to Chargebee, alongside other competitors. Despite initial skepticism, Chargebee won over the decision-makers with exceptional service, responsiveness, and an easy-to-use product.

The transition to Chargebee was marked by excellent sales experience, significant improvements in response times to customer requests, and a dramatically reduced dependency on developers for system maintenance. The Chargebee platform proved adaptable and user-friendly, enabling instant modifications that previously took weeks to process.

"Things that would take weeks to adapt with our homegrown system, we can now do in two or three minutes. Chargebee saves us a tremendous amount of time. We're much more responsive to our customers, and our CTO and I have an assurance that the finances and money are secure and that the system won't go down. We won't miss a month's worth of billing and all these potential problems we saw. So it's been an excellent move for us."

Rick Marden, CFO, SA International

Implementation process

The transition to Chargebee was meticulously planned and executed in phases to ensure minimal disruption to SAi's operations. The process began with a comprehensive needs assessment to understand the specific requirements and challenges faced by SAi. Chargebee's team then worked closely with SAi to tailor the subscription management solutions to fit these needs. This collaboration was instrumental in customizing workflows, pricing models, and billing cycles.

A pilot program was initially rolled out to a small subset of customers, allowing the SAi team to gather feedback and make necessary adjustments before a full-scale launch. Training sessions were conducted for the customer service and finance teams, focusing on the functionalities and benefits of the new system, ensuring a seamless transition for employees and customers. Chargebee provided continuous support throughout the implementation, promptly addressing technical issues to maintain business continuity. The Chargebee team held weekly check-ins for the first nine months, bi-monthly meetings for the following six months, and monthly meetings to check in on an ongoing basis.

This structured approach minimized disruptions and expedited the integration of Chargebee into SAi's operational framework, setting a solid foundation for improved scalability and customer satisfaction.

Results - A massive reduction in system maintenance from 80 to 10 percent

The results of implementing Chargebee were noteworthy. The project manager at SAi experienced a drastic decrease in time spent on the subscription system, from 80% to a mere 10%. With access to transactions and logs via Chargebee, the customer service team could swiftly address and resolve queries independently.

Marden summed up the impact of Chargebee on SAi in three words: secure, professional, and ease of use. Not only did Chargebee alleviate the financial and operational stress of the subscription management process, but it also started contributing to the growth of the company's subscriptions. With new features and modules, Chargebee transitioned from a platform for billing and collecting to a tool actively driving subscription growth.

Marden explains, "The benefits far outweigh the cost. Chargebee is helping us to grow subscriptions, not just bill what we collect. The new programs and modules that they've added are helping us to grow and communicate with our customers and potential customers. So it's a win-win for us everywhere."

Financial Benefits

The financial benefits SAi reaped from the switch to Chargebee were substantial and multifaceted. First and foremost, the shift resulted in direct cost savings. The hefty annual investment required to maintain their prior, in-house platform - which ranged from $60,000 to $90,000 - was significantly reduced. Chargebee's pricing model, based on a subscription that scales with the business, allowed for predictable budgeting and eliminated the need for expensive, specialized in-house developers and consultants.

Furthermore, the efficiency and automation provided by Chargebee reduced the time and resources previously dedicated to manual billing and subscription management tasks. This reallocation of resources meant that SAi could direct more attention and funds towards growth initiatives, such as market expansion and product development, rather than sinking them into system maintenance.

Another noteworthy financial benefit was the improvement in cash flow management. With Chargebee's streamlined and automated billing cycles, invoices were sent out promptly, and payments were received more consistently. This improvement in the receivables turnover ratio directly impacted the company's liquidity, providing more working capital to fund operations and investments.

Lastly, the enhanced customer satisfaction and flexibility offered by the new system increased customer retention and acquisition. The ability to quickly adjust and customize subscriptions without major delays or developer involvement improved the overall customer experience, increasing renewal rates and attracting new business. This growth in the customer base subsequently translated into increased revenue streams, further stabilizing and boosting SAi’s financial health.

The transition to Chargebee proved to be a financially strategic move for SAi’s, cutting unnecessary costs and fostering an environment for sustainable financial growth and stability.

Scalability and future implications

The scalability offered by Chargebee stands as a pivotal advantage for SAi, especially in supporting its long-term growth objectives. The platform's cloud-based infrastructure and APl-first design cater efficiently to the expanding needs of SAi, enabling the integration of new services and the accommodation of an increasing customer base without the need for extensive infrastructure overhauls or increased operational costs. Chargebee's flexibility in handling a wide range of billing scenarios, including recurring, usage-based, and hybrid models, allows SAi to seamlessly adapt to market changes and customer preferences.

Adopting Chargebee allows SAi to explore innovative subscription models and global market expansions easily. Marden says, "So it has helped us immensely to know we have thirty-some-odd gateways available through Chargebee. We can pick and choose or take them all and get them to our customers, which makes it easier for them to engage with our company and buy our product. That's what I can do in a finance department with Chargebee's help to grow our company internationally."

The enhanced security features and compliance with international payment standards ensure that SAi's well-prepared to manage potential regulatory challenges in new markets. The data analytics capabilities of Chargebee present an opportunity for SAi to gain deeper insights into customer behavior, driving informed decision-making and strategic adjustments to subscription offerings.

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Tech Stack


Worldpay, GoCardless, Chargebee, Checkout, Avalara, Razorpay



Things that would take weeks to adapt with our homegrown system, we can now do in two or three minutes. Chargebee saves us a tremendous amount of time. This efficiency not only boosts our responsiveness to customers but also secures our finances and assures system reliability, preventing potential billing issues
Rick MardenCFO, SA International