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The Convergent Invoicing ES bundle facilitates enhanced integration of SAP ERP and SAP CRM so that organizations with complex billing processes can create, change, and cancel billable accounts for their customers, as well as retrieve and view invoicing data for services rendered on demand. This data includes unbilled balances, total invoices, individual invoice items, and even billable events (referred to as event data records) that might be summarized in a single line item in an invoice.

Most businesses in the telecommunication, public transport, electronic toll collection, and postal services industries now enable customers to use their services without any need for human interaction. The respective services consumed are rated and stored as event data records. These billable events (or event data records) are automatically recorded and documented in preparation for invoicing according to predetermined schedules (for example, monthly or weekly). In addition, rather than receive numerous invoices for individual services from one or more providers, customers can receive a single invoice from a single provider that includes the total cost of services consumed within a given period, along with itemized overview for each individual service.

The Convergent Invoicing ES bundle enables customers to:

  • Execute complete mass billing and invoicing business processes via SAP CRM and SAP ERP.
  • Integrate event data records (EDRs) for billing and invoicing into SAP CRM call center and third-party applications, including Web 2.0 apps
  • Engage in a variety of post- and prepaid scenarios
  • Submit a single comprehensive bill per customer

Convergent Invoicing (click to enlarge)


Business processes that organizations can execute using the Convergent Invoicing ES bundle include:

  • Creating master data in SAP ERP
  • Propagating EDRs and external billing documents to SAP ERP
  • Displaying invoices and EDRs in external systems such as SAP CRM or a point-of-sale (POS) solution
  • Customer self-service scenarios to retrieve data from back-office systems such as unbilled balances, invoices, invoice items, or even individual event data records
  • Processing invoices on demand

The Convergent Invoicing ES bundle service-enables the billing and invoicing functionality of SAP's contracts accounts receivable and payable component available with SAP ECC 6.0 (since Enhancement Package 2) and provides connectivity between SAP ERP and SAP CRM, as well as with third-party applications. Other contract management CRM systems can also consume the services in this bundle.

Audience

Any organization in the telecommunication, postal services and public transport, as well as electronic toll collection industries will find the Convergent Invoicing ES bundle useful for facilitating and expediting mass billing and invoicing.

The roles in these industries that can use this bundle include:

  • Manager
  • Clerk
  • Salesperson
  • Customer Service Representative
  • End Consumer

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


How to Use This ES Bundle

Convergent invoices allow companies to present customers with a single bill that summarizes multiple users, multiple events, and sometimes multiple service providers. For example, mobile phone services are typically purchased through a single provider. However, when services from that provider are not available, customers can use the services of a third-party provider through a process referred to as "roaming." At the end of the month, consumers receive a single invoice even though they may have received service from their primary provider and then other providers as they incurred roaming charges. This single invoice can also include other services such as email, ring tones, and text messaging that may be offered by a number of outlets that contract with the primary service provider. And of course there could be multiple phone lines on a single statement.

At the end of the consumption period, invoices can be presented that include a total for services consumed, along with itemized overviews for individual services.

The enterprise services in this ES bundle make the integration of different systems a lot easier. In all, this ES bundle provides a level of functionality that applies to all industries where there is a need to aggregate a number of services consumed by a customer into a single invoice as well as to integrate the various systems used to provide those services.

This section explores a series of use cases for the Convergent Invoicing ES bundle. Each scenario shows how different outcomes can be achieved by using the enterprise services in different combinations. While these examples illustrate a few of the ways that this ES bundle could be used, the intention is to show the flexibility and reusability of these business objects and enterprise service operations so that you will have a clearer understanding of how to best deploy them in your own environment. This wiki is also a space for you to share knowledge and collaborate with others who are implementing the Convergent Invoicing ES bundle.

Use Case 1: Creating and Confirming Billing Accounts

Around the world, numerous governments are offering automated toll collection services for private and commercial drivers. In most cases, these services require a transponder to be installed in the vehicle so that when it passes through a toll bridge (gantry), the tag is detected by the roadside equipment and transmits a message to update a database with the new service record. Subsequently those events are enriched, checked and standardized in a mediation system. Once the event is standardized, the event is rated and passed to the event data record database, where it is stored. Through the use of the Convergent Invoicing ES bundle, these billable events (event data records) are aggregated at the end of the billing period and an invoice is created and sent.

This use case handles multiple levels of aggregation. For example, it is one thing for an individual driver to request a billing account and transponder. It is another for a logistics company with a fleet of trucks and drivers to receive an aggregate bill for all services in a given time period, as illustrated in Figure 1. This ES bundle accommodates both types of customers.

In the case of the logistic service provider, a contract account is created for the company, and billing accounts are created, one for each of the vehicles that will be enabled with a transponder.

Billing Accounts and Contract Accounts

Here is some background information about billing accounts and contract accounts.

A billing account is a master data object that can be compared with a contract stating which kind of service is offered in a certain time period at a given price (agreeing on special conditions like discounts, surcharges or basic fees). Whereas a contract might contain additional data such as legal agreements, a billing account only focuses on billing-relevant data such as the type of service (for example, phone service or tolls), the billing schedule, and the rate that applies for billing.

A contract account is an entity in SAP FI-CA. The ARIS definition for this business object reads, "A contract account is a structure element of Contract Accounts Receivable and Payable processing for data entry and reporting of all receivables and payables of one or more companies to one or more business partners. It contains guidelines and agreements with regard to one or more business partners concerning payment, dunning, interest calculation, tax calculation for receivables and payables."

A billing account is assigned to a contract account. A contract account might have multiple billing accounts for multiple trucks (billing toll services) or multiple phone lines. A contract account might also have different billing accounts for different services (such as postal services).

Figure 1. A convergent invoice for a fleet of trucks (click to enlarge)


This use case can also be adapted to cover services provided by a telecommunication company. An example would be employees who have a mobile phone that is provided by their employer. With the Convergent Invoicing ES bundle, the employer receives one invoice that aggregates costs for all phones provided to employees and that offers the possibility to drill into charges for one employee and again into detailed call records for that employee. Such call records can include the time of each call, its duration, and the phone number dialed.
This use case also covers the process used to change a billing account. For example, a state may decide that trucks with a certain pollution class should pay lower tolls. If a logistics provider makes such an improvement to all or some of its vehicles, the correspondent changes to those billing accounts can be updated to reflect the respective price change.
To create a new contract account and associated billing accounts:
Generally, a request to create a new account will be fielded by a customer service representative and the necessary information will be entered into the CRM system, which maintains the contract account. CRM then requests creation of as many billing accounts as necessary in SAP ERP by invoking the Create Billable Services Account enterprise service operation once for each billing account.

ERP then responds with the Confirm Billable Services Account Creation enterprise service, which confirms the creation of each billing account in ERP.

The following table summarizes these steps and the associated enterprise services:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: A customer service representative receives a request to create a billing account

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 2: The customer service representative enters details about the contract in CRM. In this example, the account includes three billing accounts

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 3: The customer service rep saves the information about the account, which creates the contract account in CRM

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 4: CRM invokes creation of three billing accounts in ERP

Create Billable Services Account

Step 5: ERP replies to CRM with a confirmation that it created the billing accounts

Confirm Billable Services Account Creation

To change a billing account:

The process to change a billing account is similar to that of creating a new billing account. A customer service representative fields a call from a customer seeking to change some aspect of the billing account for a particular contract. The representative opens CRM and finds the proper account to change.

The customer service rep selects the billing account that needs to be changed and makes the necessary changes, perhaps adding a particular service to that account or changing the terms of that service.

After making these changes, the customer service rep then saves the changes, which updates CRM. CRM then invokes the Change Billable Services Account enterprise service operation to send the change to ERP.

ERP responds to CRM with the Confirm Billable Services Account Change enterprise service operation.

The following table summarizes these steps and the associated enterprise services:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: A customer service representative receives a request to change a billing account

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 2: The customer service rep finds and selects the account to be changed in CRM

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 3: The customer service rep saves the changes in CRM

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 4: CRM sends the changes to ERP

Change Billable Services Account

Step 5: ERP sends a message back to CRM confirming that it made the changes requested

Confirm Billable Services Account Change

Use Case 2: Allowing Customers to Look Up Their Statements through a Web Portal

Companies can allow customers to look up their statements and view specific charges. One option is to create a web application that allows customers to do this themselves.

The customer logs into the web application, which identifies the customer and pulls up all relevant invoices by invoking Find Contract Account Statement by Elements enterprise service operation. The customer selects the invoice from the resulting list (or the composite may automatically display the most recent invoice). In either case, the composite would invoke the Read Contract Account Statement enterprise service operation to read the statement that was sent to the customer.

The customer's questions relate to a particular billing account and often to particular charges for that billing account. To find those charges, the customer can drill down into the account by clicking on a billing account on the statement, which invokes the Find Billable Services Record by Elements enterprise service operation, which uses the Billable Services Record business object to find event data records in SAP ERP that match the search criteria. To display these records to the customer, the composite invokes the Read Billable Services Record enterprise service operation. The customer may want to examine details for other billing accounts by repeating these steps, drilling down into each billing account to display and verify the detailed charges on that account.

The following table summarizes these steps and the associated enterprise services:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: The customer logs into the web application

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 2: The web application looks up the customer's statements in CRM

Find Contract Account Statement by Elements

Step 3: The user selects a statement or the application defaults to displaying the latest statement

Read Contract Account Statement

Step 4: The user drills down into a particular billing account to find out the details of charges

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 5: The web application searches for the event data records for that billing account in SAP ERP

Find Billable Services Record by Elements

Step 6: The web application displays the details to the user

Read Billable Services Record

Use Case 3: Creating an Invoice on Demand

In some business scenarios, a company needs to create an invoice for a customer on demand. For example, customers who have prepaid for certain services and have reached the end of their use for those services will want to settle their account. If a truck driver paid a deposit for the use of a transponder, he wants to settle the account and receive back the balance immediately in cash at the end of his trip.

The Convergent Invoicing ES bundle provides enterprise services to facilitate creation of an on-demand invoice and then to settle that invoice with the customer---often while the customer waits for the process to complete.

In order to create the invoice, the Convergent Invoicing ES bundle sequences through a series of enterprise services.

To begin, the user enters an ID number such as one mapped to a specific transponder or a phone number in order to identify the contract and billing account. The user then selects an option to settle the account, which invokes the Create Contract Account Invoicing Task enterprise service operation. This is the trigger to initiate the on-demand invoicing process.

Next, the Create Contract Account Invoice Request enterprise service is invoked to search for any outstanding billing items and aggregate them. The composite application then invokes the Create Contract Account Invoice enterprise service in order to produce the actual invoice.

At this point, the customer may actually close the account (if this is a final bill). In this case, CRM invokes the Cancel Billable Services Account enterprise service operation. The ERP system responds with Confirm Billable Services Account Cancellation.

If the account is not to be cancelled but will simply be deactivated, available in case the accounts needs re-activation at a later point in time, CRM can instead invoke the Change Billable Services Account enterprise service operation, indicating that the account should be put on hold for the time being. ERP then responds with Confirm Billable Services Account Change.

The following table summarizes these steps and the associated enterprise services:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: The user calls up the service in CRM to settle the account

Create Contract Account Invoicing Task

Step 2: The application will then search for the necessary information to create an invoice

Create Contract Account Invoice Request

Step 3: Once the data has been collected, the application will create the invoice

Create Contract Account Invoice

Step 4: The customer will either settle the account (and cancel it),
as in steps 5 and 6 or settle the account and deactivate it for now (see steps 7 and 8)

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 5: If instead the customer wants to close the account the user will enter this into the system

Cancel Billable Services Account

Step 6: ERP confirms that it has cancelled the account

Confirm Billable Services Account Cancellation

Step 7: The customer may then settle the account, but maintain it for future use.
CRM requests that ERP make a change to put the billing account on hold.

Change Billable Services Account

Step 8: ERP confirms that it has put the account on hold.

Confirm Billable Services Account Change

Use Case 4: Canceling Billing Accounts

In this use case, the customer has decided to cancel a billing account. This could be an individual user with a single billing account or a company with a number of billing accounts under a contract account.

In case a contract is cancelled completely, the system needs to cancel all assigned billing accounts.

To begin, the user will enter the request to cancel the account into the system. CRM will then invoke the Cancel Billable Services Account enterprise service.

ERP then responds with confirmation that it cancelled the account by invoking Confirm Billable Services Account Cancellation.

The following table summarizes these steps and the associated enterprise services:

Step

Enterprise Service Invoked

Step 1: The user enters the request to cancel the billing account into the system

(no enterprise service is invoked during this step)

Step 2: CRM tells ERP to cancel the account

Cancel Billable Services Account

Step 3: ERP sends back confirmation that it cancelled the account

Confirm Billable Services Account Cancellation

Future Directions

Possibilities for enhancing the Convergent Invoicing ES bundle include adding more services to further strengthen the integration between SAP CRM and SAP ERP.

System Requirements

SOA Homepage on SDN

"Toll Financing: How to Reduce the Operating Costs" by Erik Amdel and Morten Welde, an article that describes how implementing defined interfaces, such as SOA, can keep operating costs low for toll operators.