Manage Usage Data
Usage based charge models in Zuora Billing allow for the conversion of units into money, usually based on a tiered pricing model. During the customer account's next billing run, Zuora will scoop up and (if there is more than one usage record for an account) aggregate all the relevant usage records and apply the charge model to convert the uploaded units into monies owed. Usage billing is always done in arrears. That is, you bill for usage after your customer has used (consumed) the units.
If you are new to the topic of usage with Zuora, review the following articles first:
- Import Usage Data
- Post for import usage data (API reference)
In Zuora, usage is measured by units and there are no restrictions for what is measured by your units. For example, a unit can represent a seat, a license, or even a gigabyte of storage. You can also create new units of measure at any time by going to Billing > Customize Units Of Measure.
Options to upload usage information
You can upload usage information in the following two ways:
- Use an Excel spreadsheet or comma-separated value (
.csv) file to manually upload usage through the Zuora UI. See Adding usage data for details on how to upload usage and to understand how the usage upload record attributes are named and what their purposes are.
- Use the Zuora API to create usage objects.
Note that there is no screen to enter individual usage records using the Zuora UI, you can only upload a file or use the API to add usage records. All usage data must be in the Zuora specified format. You must utilize your metering system's reporting features to report the data in the necessary format or utilize an ETL or data mapping tool to convert the metered data to Zuora's format.
Therefore if regular, such as daily, uploads are needed, you should either be prepared to upload a file each day or develop an automated process to do the equivalent using the Zuora API. Use cases on working with the Zuora Usage object can be found in our API documentation.
Do I need to upload usage daily?
Before rushing into daily uploads you should review your actual business need, starting with what do your Units of Measure (UOMs) represent in the real world? As we have noted earlier, Zuora will sum the usage for a particular charge, subscription or account, but Zuora does not currently provide any other aggregation functions such as average, min or max — only summation. So if you are measuring something like average disk space usage over a month, your external metering system must only supply one value for that UOM, for each account, and for that time period. So if your customer is on a monthly billing plan you would upload one record per month for that account, for that UOM. Zuora's billing engine will then convert the UOM amount in that record to the appropriate charge automatically.
As a result, many customers prefer to do all usage value derivation external to Zuora and only upload one usage record per charge, per billing period regardless of usage type. This often results in one upload file per month, which is more manageable using a manual process.
What if I accidentally upload the same usage records twice?
Zuora Usage objects always have one of two statuses: Pending or Processed. When initially uploaded, all objects have a Pending status, but after having been processed by the billing engine and turned into a charge, the status is updated to Processed. Once processed by the billing engine, the associated amount has been converted to a charge on an invoice and can no longer be deleted. If the status is Pending, you can use the Zuora UI or the API to remove usage records.
Delete usage records
Using the Zuora UI go to the Usage page (Billing>Usage) and you'll see a list of all recently uploaded usage. If you only need to remove an individual record click on the Status (must be Pending) for that record and you will be presented with a screen that allows you to edit or delete that usage record. If you uploaded an entire file in error, just click on the file name in the File Name column (next to Status) and you'll be taken to a screen where you can delete all the usage uploaded by that file.
The Zuora API also allows you to delete usage records by specifying the appropriate usage object identifiers, see Deleting Usage in the API documentation for details. Zuora provides an
ImportId field for each usage record that can be used to easily identify which records came from a specific import.
Extract uploaded usage and notifications
You can now export uploaded usage using the Full Data Sources feature (currently in controlled release, contact Zuora Global Support if you are interested in this feature).
There are also two Import Notifications available, one for successful imports and one for failed imports. You can find these notifications by going to Billing > Setup Profiles, Notifications, and Email Templates. See How to handle usage import failure for more information.