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Why you should track your company’s subscription spend (even if you are running a small business)

28 May, 2020
Pattern

A study of 2,500 Americans, conducted by Waterstone Management Group, revealed a major gap in perception and reality when it comes to subscription services spending. 84% of the participants underestimated what they spent each month on subscription services and the average person spent 197% more than they initially thought.

Our data indicate that the same thing applies to businesses as well. Companies using Substly think they spend about half of what it actually turns out they do. It is not uncommon for us to hear reports of people in management almost “falling off their chairs” when they see an aggregate view of their spend on the subscription dashboard. That might not come as a complete shock to some, but what surprised us most is that it seems to apply to companies with as little as 20 employees almost as much as larger organizations.

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With that said, spending money on subscription services isn’t a bad thing. 86% of end-users surveyed by BetterCloud, said software usage with SaaS applications help them succeed more than desktop alternatives. And some subscription services may actually save your company money. When organizations adopt cloud office systems like Google G-Suite and Microsoft 365 they save more than 35% on their cost, according to the same study by BetterCloud.

So, why is this happening?

With the vast majority of vendors moving to subscription-based business models, managing subscription costs isn’t limited to only SaaS. Today, almost everything is being bought “as-a-service”; memberships, newspapers, furniture, coffee, plants, office space, cars, etc. Putting together a list of subscriptions, keeping track of how much is being paid, when renewals happen, who is responsible for a subscription, or keeping up to date with who is using what is a daunting task!

The subscription business model is in many ways designed to make you think you pay less than you do by charging you on a monthly basis and making products easily accessible to anyone in a company to buy. Do you feel like you have control of the subscription services in your company? Or do you think your company might be like one of that 84 % of consumers that overestimate their subscription services spend?

How to get started tracking subscription spend in a smaller company

Many smaller companies start out with a simple spreadsheet. If you’re good with Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, a spreadsheet might be a good way to start your subscription management efforts and at least get a list of your subscriptions. If not, you might find it harder than it first seems. To make it a little bit easier, we’ve decided to share a copy of a spreadsheet we used to gather data from our first pilot customers. Feel free to download it, use it, and start saving your company money.

Download Spreadsheet
(Open the Google Spreadsheet and make a copy to your own Google Drive or download as Microsoft Excel)


As you expand your subscription and user management efforts you might find a few limitations while using this or any other spreadsheet; no reminders or notifications of upcoming renewals, no real-time currency conversions, difficult to compile data for budgeting, transparency within the company, no data repository for documents/contracts, etc.

In fact, we created Substly to go beyond the limitations of spreadsheets. We hope the spreadsheet gets you started and that you keep Substly in mind when you feel it is time to upgrade your subscription and user management efforts. The ROI of a service that helps you care for all your other services can be staggering.


As the subscription economy is booming and spending on subscription services increases each year the only question is how businesses will take advantage of this – or fall victim to it. When you need to get the most out of your company subscriptions, Substly is here to support you. Substly is perfect for small and medium-sized companies that want to improve their subscription and user management.

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