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The Bill-to-Cash ES bundle provides enterprise services designed to streamline the bill-to-cash process for the utilities industry. This ES bundle will allow utilities companies to create composite applications that meet their unique needs and allow customer invoices to be processed smoothly.

In particular, the enterprise services included in the Bill-To-Cash ES bundle will help utilities increase process efficiency by reducing manual transaction calls, better collaborate with involved agents, increase end user adoption of existing functionality via tailored user interfaces, and dramatically improve business flexibility.

The bundle supports these goals in the following ways:

  • The Bill-to-Cash ES bundle allows businesses and their partners to build composite applications to support their individual bill-to-cash processes
  • The enterprise services enable tailored user interfaces and business processes that bring additional power and flexibility to the utility bill-to-cash process
  • The bundle provides a variety of enterprise services that can be used to build flexibility and innovation into the bill-to-cash process
  • And lastly, the bundle leverages enterprise SOA by service enabling order to cash functionality in SAP ERP by using reusable enterprise services and business objects provided in SAP ERP 6.0.

Bill to Cash (click to enlarge)

Audience

This bundle is targeted at companies in the utility industry that are seeking to optimize bill-to-cash processes and do not want to spend too much effort in development and implementation.
Roles that will benefit from this ES bundle include customer service representatives, managers, and clerks.

For details on Service Operations, Business Objects and Process Components, please check the ES Workplace.


How To Use This ES Bundle

This ES bundle enables utilities companies to provide call center agents, meter readers, and others with solutions tailored to their individual roles within the bill-to-cash process. The services in this ES bundle can be used to address a number of scenarios including:

  • Detection and processing of bills that are suspected of errors before such bills are sent to the customer
  • Enabling meter readers to print and leave bills for customers right after reading the meter
  • Reversing bills based on customer complaints through an approval process

This highlights just a few of the possible use cases for this ES bundle. enterprise SOA enables the creation of composite applications that simplify these processes. The net result is that, for example, a call center agent with little or no technical knowledge is able to easily retrieve data relevant to their job. Rather than navigating through numerous screens, relevant data can be combined into a single screen targeted at a particular user role. A meter reader with a handheld device can leave a bill at the premises, significantly speeding up invoicing. These and other efficiencies can be realized through the use of this bundle.

The following sections explore three use cases for the Bill-to-Cash ES Bundle. Each is intended to provide concrete examples for the types of functions the bundle supports and shows how different outcomes can be achieved by using the enterprise services in different combinations. While these use cases demonstrate a few of the ways the ES bundle can be used, they are designed to highlight the flexibility and reusability of the business objects and enterprise service operations so as to impart a clearer understanding of how they can be deployed in the customer's business environment. This wiki is also the space for readers to share knowledge and collaborate with other who are implementing the Bill-to-Cash ES bundle.

Use Case 1: Researching Suspect Billing Documents

For utilities companies, incorrect bills mean inevitable (and expensive) calls from the customer.

SAP for Utilities is designed to block the release of anomalous bills so that staff can review them for problems before they go out to the customer.

This use case describes how a composite application could be built to display a list of anomalous bills for a clerk to process.

Creating a list of suspect bills

Anomalous bills are given a special "not released" status in the system indicating that the bill requires additional review. The first thing the composite application would do is call the Find Utilities Invoice Request by Elements enterprise service operation to find all the bills with a not released status. The composite then sends this list to SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI) and asks BI to rank the list by annual revenue. The composite receives the list back from SAP NetWeaver BI in ranked order and then displays it to the customer service representative in the portal.

Investigating a bill

The call center agent selects the first item in the list, which invokes the Read Utilities Invoice Request Basic Data enterprise service, which uses the Utilities Invoice Request business object. This enterprise service operation reads all the details about the invoice from that business object.

The next step for the agent is to investigate what is wrong with the bill, comparing meter readings with past usage and prices to see if there is any deviation. During this step, the composite application calls the Read Utilities Contract Billed Consumption History enterprise service operation. The agent can look at meter readings, price per unit of measurement, and other information. For utilities that provide varied services such as electric, gas, and water, this will allow the agent to look through the data for each of these utility services.

Releasing or blocking the bill

Based on their research, the agent will decide either to release the bill or to block it. If the bill is indeed accurate, the agent will release the document for the next step in the billing process by invoking the Release Utilities Invoice Request enterprise service operation.

If there is an issue with the meter reading, the agent will reverse the billing document so that it can be corrected. Selecting the option to reverse the billing document invokes Cancel Utilities Invoice Request. The agent will follow up this action by blocking the account for further billing while the problem is resolved by invoking the Change Utilities Contract Billing Block Status enterprise service operation.

Handling a blocked invoice

In the meantime, the meter is reread and a correct reading is entered by invoking Change Meter Reading Document Result. A guided procedure informs the agent that the meter has been read.

Now that the bill should be right, the agent removes the billing block so the bill can move forward by invoking Change Utilities Contract Billing Block Status. The composite application then generates an invoice request by invoking the Create Utilities Invoice Request with Reference to Utilities Contract enterprise service operation.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and the associated enterprise services.

Step

Enterprise Service Operation Invoked

Step 1: Read the outsorted (anomalous and unreleased) billing documents

Find Utilities Invoice Request by Elements

Step 2: The composite application calls SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence to sort and rank the billing documents, then displays the list to the user

(No enterprise service is invoked in this step)

Step 3: The agent selects the first bill in the list and reads the details

Read Utilities Invoice Request Basic Data

Step 4: The agent drills into the customer's consumption history

Read Utilities Contract Billed Consumption History

Step 5: Based on his research, the agent decides to either reverse or release the billing documents.  
If the agent releases the bill, the process ends. If he reverses it, the process continues with step 6.

Release Utilities Invoice Request or Cancel Utilities Invoice Request

Step 6: The agent sets a billing block on the account at the contract level

Change Utilities Contract Billing Block Status

Step 7: The documents are changed after a correct meter reading has been taken

Change Meter Reading Document Result

Step 8: The billing block is released on the contract level

Change Utilities Contract Billing Block Status

Step 9: The bill is sent on to the next step in the billing process

Create Utilities Invoice Request with Reference to Utilities Contract

Use Case 2: Mobile Onsite Billing

As a strategy to reduce postage costs, utilities in some countries such as Brazil, Japan, and Turkey use Mobile Onsite Billing. The process allows meter readers to create billing documents and print invoices at a customer's site immediately after taking a meter reading. The meter reader carries a handheld device or a small laptop and uses that to send the meter reading data to the backend system where a bill is produced based on relevant client details such as name, address, contract, price, and so on. The meter reader then prints the bill on a portable printing device and then gives it to the customer.

A key benefit of this process is that errors in meter readings can be immediately detected by the backend system, increasing the quality and timeliness of billing.

The reader enters identifying information for the customer on the mobile device, which invokes the Find Contract Account by Business Partner enterprise service operation. The reader then takes the meter reading and enters it into the mobile device, which sends it to SAP for Utilities for processing, which invokes the Change Meter Reading Document Result enterprise service operation (this is a change service because a batch process created blank documents for all the customers on the meter reader's route for today in advance.)

The meter readings are then processed into an invoice request (by invoking Create Utilities Invoice Request with Reference to Utilities Contract) and then into an invoice (by invoking Create Utilities Invoice). The handheld device then reads the invoice by invoking Read Utilities Invoice Basic Data and formats the document for printing.

The meter reader prints the bill and leaves it with the customer, who we hope will pay it promptly.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and the associated enterprise services.

Step

Enterprise Service Operation Invoked

Step 1: The meter reader enters information that identifies the customer

Find Contract Account by Business Partner

Step 2: The meter reader takes the meter reading and enters it into the mobile device

Change Meter Reading Document Result

Step 3: The system generates an invoice request and then an invoice

Create Utilities Invoice Request with Reference to Utilities Contract and Create Utilities Invoice

Step 4: The handheld reads the invoice and the meter reader prints it using a portable printer

Read Utilities Invoice Basic Data

Use Case 3: Reversing an Incorrect Bill

A utility customer has called to complain about a bill that she believes is incorrect. However, corporate policy restricts what the call center agent can do to resolve the problem; reversing a bill may require approval. To make sure that their call center agents follow corporate policy, the utility company has set up a composite application with a guided procedure that walks the agent step-by-step through the process.

When the call center agent receives the call, he asks the customer for identifying information such as the invoice number or the service address, which he enters, invoking the Find Utilities Invoice by Elements enterprise service operation. The agent then selects the proper invoice, which invokes the Read Utilities Invoice Basic Data enterprise service. He reviews the invoice and agrees that a reversal is needed. The agent then marks the document for reversal and notes a reason for the decision. The manager in charge of approving reversals receives the request, reviews it, and uses the Read Utilities Contract Billed Consumption History enterprise service to perform additional research. (Of course, there are other possibilities; the pricing may have been wrong or a payment may have been misapplied, for example.) If the bill should be cancelled, the manager then invokes the Cancel Utilities Invoice enterprise service operation. The customer is put on the schedule for meter reading so that the bill can be corrected.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and the associated enterprise services.

Step

Enterprise Service Operation Invoked

Step 1: The call center agent asks the customer for identifying information (invoice number or service address, for example)

Find Utilities Invoice by Elements

Step 2: The call center agent selects the bill in question from the resulting list

Read Utilities Invoice Basic Data

Step 3: The call center agent marks the bill with a request for reversal and a reversal reason and sends the reversal request to the manager in charge of approving such requests

(No enterprise service is invoked in this step)

Step 4: The manager reviews the request and performs additional research

Read Utilities Contract Billed Consumption History

Step 4: The manager approves the request

Cancel Utilities Invoice

Future Directions

In the next iteration of the Bill-to-Cash ES bundle may include services to handle budget billing and price maintenance as well as enhanced services for meter reading.

System Requirements

Related ES Bundles

SOA Homepage on SDN