5 open source billing systems to watch

Integration between components turns billing into business management -- without breaking the bank!

Collecting money from customers should be the easy part of your business, but an billing system that underperforms can make life unnecessarily difficult for CIOs.

In this edition of 5 Open Source Products to Watch, we take a look at billing systems. That’s right, there are open source applications available for invoicing and billing customers. They’re open source, Web-based and can be extended and integrated to suit specific needs.

Best of all, they don’t cost a red cent.

1. AgileBill

AgileBill was released as a commercial product in 2004 and then open sourced by its creator Tony Landis in 2008. AgileBill is a billing and invoicing application suitable for the membership/subscription type of business model, including Web hosting companies, ISPs and VoIP providers.

AgileBill features plug-ins for payment processing, provisioning, and interfacing with third-party applications and services. It has also given rise to the AgileVoice and AgileISP VoIP and ISP billing applications, respectively.

Licence: Open AgileBill Licence

2. Amberdms Billing System

The Amberdms Billing System (ABS) is a billing system that also provides a number of useful accounting and business management functions. ABS has apps for invoicing, service management, HR and time-keeping, and is designed for small and medium businesses as well as small ISPs and IT companies.

Third-party integration can be done via the API and commercial support is available from New Zealand company Amberdms.

ABS claims to have an “easy UI” and integration between timekeeping and invoicing features means customers can be automatically billed for hours worked.

Licence: AGPL

3. Freeside

Freeside is a billing, trouble ticketing and provisioning automation software tailored to online businesses, including ISPs, ITSPs, hosting and content providers.

The billing functionality includes real-time credit card and e-cheque processing using the popular payment gateways; e-mail, fax, printed and online invoicing; and flexible pricing and rating plans, like anniversary billing and usage based billing. Freeside also integrates Request Tracker, another open source project for support ticketing.

Other features include a customer self-care portal (with an API for extensibility) and reseller functionality which allows “virtualized” reseller access.

Licence: AGPL

4. CitrusDB

CitrusDB is a billing system developed with PHP and MySQL that can also be used to keep track of customer information (CRM), services, products, invoices and credit cards, and support information. The goal of the project is to provide an open source customer care and billing solution that can be used in many different service industries like ISPs, consulting, and telecommunications.

Standard billing features include any billing cycle -- one-time, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, 6-months or yearly -- and billing is able to provide batch credit card exports, printed invoices, or emailed invoices.

CitrusDB also has an online account manager which allows customers to view their account services and recent balance and payments. It also allows them to submit support notes to their account via the online form.

Licence: GPL

5. JBilling

JBilling is a Web-based billing system developed in Java. It is cross-platform and supports multiple database systems. The project claims it can scale to “invoice millions” and can be run on a single server or a cluster of specialised nodes.

Its features include automated invoice generation and payment processing; the ability to send invoices as e-mails, PDF attachments or paper; the ability to accept partial and advance payments; bundles, packages, plans and promotions; and a business rules management system.

Professional support is also available for JBilling, which also has multiple language, currency and localisation support.

Licence: AGPL

For more articles in this series, be sure to check out:
5 open source security projects to watch
5 open source network management projects to watch
5 open source virtualisation technologies to watch
5 open source CRM systems to watch
5 open source VoIP softphones to watch
5 open source office suites to watch
5 open source IP telephony projects to watch
5 open source help desk apps to watch
5 enterprise open source wiki apps to watch
5 open source project management apps to watch
5 free project management applications you must try