What is a webhook? Why will it transform my billing?

Webhooks are important today because we are living in a performance economy. Businesses and individuals want to pay for services that they will actually use. Webhooks empower companies to re-imagine the relationship with their customers.

For billing, your company can create webhooks to tell another application via the web when a specific action in your system takes place. Webhooks send a message—or payload—and are sent to a unique URL. When the Ordway platform sees the event because it is subscribed to your webhook, it can trigger a further action to the benefit of your customers. In Ordway’s case, the communication is encrypted end-to-end for an extra layer of security.

Topics covered in this webinar

  • Why we might want to use webhooks
  • Definition of a webhook
  • Webhooks vs APIs
  • 3 examples of how webhooks will transform your billing

About the presenter

Eren-KoontEren Koont, Platform growth, Ordway. 



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Read the transcript of the webinar archive

Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:00:01] OK. Why don't we go ahead and get started? It's a little bit after one o'clock here on the East Coast of the United States. Appreciate everybody from around the world joining in and they'll probably a few more folks joining in as we continue. But I think we should go ahead and do it. Go ahead and get started. So we're going to talk through a really exciting topic today around Webhooks. And really, this is intended for a non-technical audience, but really an education about what Webhooks are and why will it transform your billing?


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:00:35] So quick agenda for today. We're going to talk about why we might want to use Webhooks, what the definition of a Webhook is, webhooks versus API.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:00:46] Those are terms that you hear thrown around. And we'll try and make a distinction between the two and then three examples of how a Webhooks can transform your billing following a little bit of kuney. So with that, I do want to point you to the in a box in in Zoom. And please submit your questions. We will answer them at the end of the session. And we will also do a little bit of polling during the during the Zoom to make sure that we've got a little bit of interaction doing so.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:01:16] I'm Eren. I'm part of the platform growth team here at Ordway and why don't we go ahead and dive in? So a little context first before we get into this topic. Why should you then be listening to us about this topic? Well, ordered or revenue is really in our DNA. We were founded by Sameer Gulati, who's been at the helm of launching a billion dollar products it at Zoura and Workday and Intacct. And we assembled a team of really deep experts in the ERP finance billing payments space. And so we're a company that serves.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:01:53] Companies around the world and we really know a thing or two about billing and the sales to finance workflow.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:02:02] So before we get into webhooks, let's really set the context as to what we're trying to solve here, so disconnected systems really can put a drag on your business.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:02:15] If you've got manual processes, you know, if you're that person in the middle of all those disconnected processes, it's difficult for your business to provision, make upgrades for your clients because your order management system doesn't necessarily talk to your cut company system, which doesn't really talk to your billing system.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:02:36] And that could be problematic. It's really difficult to make mid contract changes. So especially in this time now with the pandemic having to make adjustments to customer contracts. It is becoming more of the norm and doing that. If you've got all sorts of systems all over the place becomes very, very difficult. Simple problems, which should be simple, are surprisingly difficult, like getting billing data out of your CRM. If salesperson enter something incorrectly that ripples through the entire system and really businesses across the road struggle to make sure that they're keeping all of their systems up to date.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:03:15] And finally, just making sure that everything's up to date so that you can be reporting revenue to the stakeholders internally to make sure that, you know, when renewals happen, all those kinds of things really become difficult if you're not keeping systems in sync.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:03:32] So these disconnected systems really can lead to disgruntled customers, both internal and external. And so we're all living in the performance economy now where customers are expecting, you know, they pay what they use for. They want immediate access to the services that they've paid for. And, you know, frankly, they want less interaction with with people like you and me to make sure that those changes to their service to happen. You know, when's the last time you walked into a bank branch? Have. I'm sure many of you chat online or just want to do things in the products that you use. And that's true for our B2B customers as well. And so ultimately, companies that have a lot of these manual processes and disconnected systems, they might have spreadsheets to calculate prices that are lagging and maybe accumulated over a month as opposed to sort of real time adjustments. They may struggle to provision new parts of their system to a new customer. If the systems are disconnected and then, you know, frankly, having to build big teams to to manage accounts when when a lot of times those simple adjustments can be done through self-service. So I'm going to pause here and we're going to go ahead and launch our first poll.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:05:04] And.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:05:06] How disconnected are your ordered revenue systems, i.e., the manual work to keep the engine going?


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:05:12] And this is we'll give people about 30 seconds to make their answers.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:05:24] Seeing some.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:05:29] Give people a few more moments to answer.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:05:36] And we'll give five, four, three, two, one.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:05:42] It looks like about half of you were in the very disconnected and half of you were in the not disconnected, and that's it's good that nobody was choosing that middle option of pushing in the middle. So it's you know, we're going to be talking about how we can help all these systems and even for the folks with very connected systems, maybe improve some efficiency in those systems. All right. So let's get into the topic webhooks. It's really about facilitating data flow and connecting systems efficiently. So a quick definition of what a webhook is. webhooks are automated messages sent from apps when something happens? That's a really basic basic definition. But you've got your software. And imagine one of your users wants to add more of something to your service. In this example where an ad tech company that has three new students and, you know, they want to add three new students to their to their system, to your system, and they go ahead and make those changes and your software can then start. Telling other parts of your system or other parts of your ecosystem, other SaaS products that you work with. That something has changed in your system. So the Web hook is is a message that is sent to you. And it's generally the messages. The payload is usually in a JSON format, which is a industry standard format. Very simple to understand for for both technical and non-technical folks. You can see here we've got first name, last name and then the major physics or ICS. And we see Bill Gates is a new student here at our ED Tech Company. And so those changes happen in your software. And so the payload is sent and that is sent to a unique URL. So just like a Web page that you might be browsing in on your Internet browser, like Google Chrome or Safari. And thank goodness they just retired Internet Explorer. I just saw officially, I think support ends yesterday or today. I'm not quite sure. But, you know, it's the payload is sent to that unique URL and so other apps are listening for that Webhook. And so the Ordway platform, for instance, or, you know, different apps that you use within your company, they're listening for that payload to be delivered to that unique URL. And they can take that information and start doing other things. So that's kind of a high level of what a Webhook is. So now we want to talk a little bit about the difference between API calls versus webhooks. And you may have heard of API, as you may have heard of webhooks, but API is really a method to communicate between software when there's lots of change going. Lots of information being passed in real time. And it's something that they're constantly looking for new information. But the data may not be changing very much. So it's something that it's very hard for certain types of applications. It's inefficient to use an API because you're using lots of resources. And that can be an issue when some companies, they limit the number of API calls you can make or they create tiers of API calls. So the more you use an API, the more costly it becomes. So API is definitely are important. And we have REST API at Ordway and many of our customers use that REST API. But we also support webhooks and in many of our customers use webhooks as well. And so webhooks are used when something changes fairly infrequently and it's really designed to keep systems in sync. And, you know, the when a Webhook payload is sent, it's sending a change and it's being used only with the actual data that's changed. I'm going to dove into this a little bit more. This is a graphic that we found on Medium that also explains this idea of API versus Web hook. So the API is is really it's looking for that change. And it might be asking a lot of questions of is it done yet? How about now? How about now? How about now? Finally it gets a yes. This kind of reminds me of the story of kids in the back in the seat of a car, wanting to know when they get to the end of a road trip. It it really only is when you get to the end of that road trip that that the state changes and the information is where it needs to be, whereas webhooks are really only looking for that state change. All right. So let's get into some examples now, self-service customers. You know, your system may be creating or stored, storing some information about the trial, something that's been purchased, an upgrade. What the effective start date of that event is that trial, the billing start date, the turn. And so. With that, there is a form submission on your site and this is a screenshot from a demo we have of Ordway that sort of simulates some of this kinds of stuff. But really that all of that information on that from the consumer, the customer, they've they've submitted that to the forum and now we need to do something with that data. So in this example, the Webhook is used to create a subscription contract in Ordway that's ready for the next billing run. And the product is provision back in the system to be able to start using that service immediately. So I'm going to pause here and we're going to go ahead and do another poll.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:12:24] And.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:12:30] Do you have self-service customers or the ability for customers to make changes?


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:12:39] OK, we've got some people coming in. We'll give people another five seconds or so.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:12:54] Five, four, three, two, one.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:13:00] Once again, it looks like there is a fairly close distribution of yes and no in the audience, and so this is one example that webhooks can can help us, something that has changed and your system can drive other applications like Ordway to start doing things with that. That information. Let's go ahead and actually try it if you want. We're gonna go in and if you want, I'm going to throw this into the chat. So if you want to go to this site and. And I just put into the chat. Well, we'll just go ahead and show you an example. And again, this is something that we set up for an event we did a few months ago, but it's, again, using the Webhook and API to take some. And we don't have any email validation on here.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:14:11] But.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:14:14] We'll just go ahead and submit that form. And that sends a system that sends the Webhook to URL. That then does something in the Ordway system. You guys can do that, too, if you want. Well, we'll set up a billing run and you get a fake invoice later today, but I won't spend the time doing that right now. Let's move on to our next example. And so sending a HubSpot deal to Ordway, so making sure that your your CRM and your billing system, your your billing and revenue recognition system are in sync. So we've got all this data stored over in our CRM like the deal amount. The products purchased the effective date of the contract when the when the service actually starts, the billing start date, the term who the billing contact is, all that sort of thing is stored in the HubSpot sales CRM.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:15:20] And when you close when that's the event that that's from dragging from negotiation over to close one, that that's really a time for celebration at all organizations. But this is a time for celebration and making sure your order to revenue process that much more efficient, because now all sorts of stuff start can start happening in your in your billing engine. And so you close with a deal and you set up a workflow in in HubSpot.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:15:51] And for those that use HubSpot and are more familiar with it, you can set up automation's within HubSpot and you can see that for any deal that is close one, it's going to post to this webhook. It's going to trigger the trigger, the webhook. And so that Webhook goes out to that unique URL that Ordway is listening to. And then all of a sudden there's a draft subscription in Ordway ready for billing. And so, again, all of that data, which many times would have to be transmitted via an email to somebody at a deal desk, and then reimput into QuickBooks to fire off an invoice. All of that delay, instant gratification for the customer, you know, potentially some heartache internally if some of the details are wrong. All of that kind of goes away and can go immediately into starting to work with your customers, send out that first invoice provision, the the service, and start a wonderful decade long journey with your new customer. So that's a second example of using webhooks to keep systems in sync. And in this case, it's the CRM and the Ordway platform. The last example, we're going to highlight a Ordway customer Dispatch and there's a case study about them on our Website.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:17:20] You go to Ordway Labs dot com and click on case studies, but they are both using APIs and webhooks to talk to the Ordway system. And so just a little bit about their business. They are a last mile delivery service.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:17:33] They price HVAC parts. That gets sent to construction sites or houses. And depending on the size in the van, the distance traveled all sorts of things that is used to generate prices and invoices and statements that aggregate all sorts of transactions into one bill for their for their customers. They are doing that via the API because they've got lots of transactions going through the system all the time. So that that's something that in that earlier example where there's lots of data changing, lots of interaction between the systems, that's when an API makes a ton of sense. They also want to keep some of their systems in sync using webhooks so that they're ordered to revenue event is when there's a change in Ordway. Ordway will send data via Webhook back to Dispatch to maintain their system of record and make sure that their one source of truth, which is unified between their Dispatch platform and Ordway platform. All of that is maintained in, in and kept in sync. And so, you know, the things that they're doing with their webhooks and API is the API is driving all that Real-Time invoicing for their customers. And then the Webhook, you know, when it's only about keeping things in sync or when data is not changing a lot, that then gets sinked back to the product, the Dispatch product. All right. So we're kind of in the homestretch here and really webhooks is really about eliminating error. So, you know, just to reiterate that definition that we started with at the beginning, Web books are automated messages sent from apps when something happens that if that's the one thing you take away from this webinar, hopefully that will help you up your your tech cred internally. And now you can start talking to friends and family about Web looks and be the expert that you now are. And then webhooks and it guys are using conjunct in conjunction quite often, and they serve different purposes depending on the use case. And certainly we can help you think through all those use cases. We've got an amazing implementation team that knows how to really solve business challenges.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:20:08] And so we welcome any opportunity to talk to you about how you want to improve your order to revenue flow.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:20:15] And then they're really about order management and making sure that you're able to meet the needs of your customer in this evolving world that we're living in.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:20:24] People want there. They want it and they want it now.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:20:27] And they want to have it without having lags because somebody like me is standing in the way of that of them getting to their service. And then really it's about, you know, keeping systems in sync. And that is what I will finish up with. And, you know, I want to point you to our webinar archive. This webinar will be available tomorrow and we'll send it out to those who weren't taking notes vociferously. You'll have this and you'll have access to the content tomorrow. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Q&A and look to see what we got. A few questions have come in.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:21:14] OK.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:21:15] So the first question is, I'm not technical. How difficult is it to set up webhooks? Well, it's it's actually fairly straightforward for somebody on your engineering team. And I think it's one of the reasons why the web of technology was created was to make it easy for.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:21:37] Company systems to talk to systems like Ordway. And so this is a pretty standard technology and concept that many, many folks use, and I'm sure your developers will love implementing webhooks more so than implementing something from scratch. So on the scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most difficult to one being the easiest. It's probably a two. So definitely if you're interested in this, let's let's talk some more about it. Let's see. Let me pull up the next question.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:22:18] Does Ordway limit webhook or API calls? Good question. Yeah. Yes, some companies do that. I know that Salesforce does that. HubSpot does that. In fact, we do not. And many of our customers are sending hundreds of thousands of API calls to our system. And it's really designed to handle that scale. And in Dispatch's case, you know, they've got all sorts of transactions going from there. Their last mile delivery service. And so companies like that and other companies are really hammering our system. And we're we're handling it with with grace. So let's see if there are any other questions. It looks like they're not, so I think we're gonna go ahead and wrap this up for today. Definitely appreciate you spending time and hopefully it was educational and you now know a lot more about Webbooks.


Eren Koont, Platform Growth, Ordway [00:23:16] Take care.