ProAbono is neither a CRM nor an ERP nor a Payment Gateway, it’s a Subscription Billing System. It is designed to be part of your information system and handle something that quickly becomes tremendousely complex : the management of your subscriptions.

To understand how it works, let us start with the core concepts:

Core Concepts

Let’s review those concepts.

Customer

A Customer in ProAbono is a reference to a user in your paying service. That means we assume the Customer does exist in your own user repository.

For developers: the API provides a very convenient ReferenceCustomer field intended to contain your user unique identifier, so you don’t need to store extra data.

A Customer can have :

  • a full name.
  • an e-mail.
  • a billing address.
  • a payment method

No more, no less.
That’s what ProAbono needs to manage your subscription billing. If you want additional fields, you have to handle it on your side. However, they are easy ways to design a seemless registration or subscription user experience.

Offer

An Offer is a template of Subscription. It describes :

  • terms of payment, including extra fees
  • the Features of the subscription, like options and metrics
  • a few customization information like a translatable title and description
For developers: Offers are meant to be created using the ProAbono backoffice and not the API. In contrast with many subscription systems, we provide an editor so your sales team is free to create any offer they want without disturbing the technical team.

When a Customer selects an Offer and subscribe, ProAbono creates a Subscription which is a snapshot of that Offer. It comes with two benefits:

  • You are free to change the Offer at any time : it won’t affect your current Customers. Of course if you really want to, we’ll let you change all legacy Subscriptions, but don’t do that lightly.
  • You can customize every single Subscription. That might scare you if you come from an excel-based subscription business, but nowaday, customers really want tailor-made subscriptions. Tackling that complexity is what makes ProAbono convenient.

Feature

Feature is one of the most powerful… feature of ProAbono. It’s a mitigation between a metric and a subscription extra charge add-on.

Features allow you to :

  • Set metrics with a specific value in each offer, like “2 team members”, “5 team members”, …
  • Add extra charges in case the customer wants more, like “+10€/extra unit”.
  • Define steps to have a volume discount.
  • Achieve real usage-based billing, like freemium or pay-as-you-go.
  • Propose paying or free options the customer can activate when subscribing or later.
For developers, Features allow you:

  • to use ProAbono as an access-control provider of your online service.
  • to simply push usages into ProAbono to have it all computed and billed automatically, whatever the complex subscription offers you sales team is up to.
  • to keep your focus on your product and not the ever-changing billing rules. For the record : ProAbono has been designed by a developer that was harassed never-ending salesmen requests.

Subscription

A Subscription is what you think it is.
In ProAbono it’s an exact copy of the related Offer at the time it was subscribed.
As such, it has :

  • terms of payment, including extra fees
  • Feature, like options and metrics

A Subscription is related to a customer that can be charged :

  • At subscription only, if it’s not recurring.
  • Periodically, if it’s recurring.
  • Monthly, for usage-based subscription.
  • Occasionnally, if it’s what you need

You can even specify a different buyer, in case the recipient of the subscription is not the one that gets charged.

A subscription is created automatically when the Customer chooses an Offer in the Customer Portal and follow the subscription process you configured. Afterward, all the related operations are made in the Customer Portal, like upgrading, updating the options, download the invoices, etc.

For developers, Subscriptions can be created:

  • automatically on the Customer Portal.
  • by API.

In contrast with many subscription systems, creating a Subscription by API is not the standard. You might want it, but generally, it’s recommended to let ProAbono handle the subscription funnel, it saves a lot of unnecessary work.

Creating a subscription by API is mostly used :

  • to activate a silent trial when you have a straightforward registration process.
  • when you need a customization before you customer subscribe, however that’s not common as you can really build tailor-made Offers.
Those 4 concepts are the corner stones of ProAbono.
Next step : Customer Portal – How it works