Billing & Collections Engine

A Billing and Collections Engine is a class of software that is prevalent in service provider industries, such as telecommunications, IaaS/SaaS, cable, satellite, utilities, and digital media providers. This is often referred to as Service Provider Billing, which is separate from ERP-based Invoicing and Payment engines.

Over the years, this class of billing engines has been called, among other things, telco billers, cloud billers, service provider billers, and subscription billers.

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As companies evolve the product offerings to include more dynamic relationships with their customers, service provider billing is necessary to support Usage, Recurring, and Non-Recurring charges that are common to these business models.

The Billing & Collection Engine sits in the center of the Monetization Ecosystem. As with most service-provider enterprises, billing touches more system domains and requires more application and data interfaces than any other. A strong billing system is the backbone of an effective monetization architecture, while a weak or incorrectly implemented billing system can be the bane of a company and cause serious issues both up- and downstream.


The Billing & Collections function is separated in three distinct areas:

Primary Databases

These databases house critical data schema.

Sub-Functions

These provide more detailed processing within the engine.

Integration Components

Tools such as API, ETL, and Workflow to process data into and out of the engine. These are dealt with as a separate domain.

Billing and Collections Engine Components

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Billing Product Catalog Database

The product catalog, within the Billing and Collections Engine, documents the various products, pricing, discounting, and promotions that are needed to support the business.

The billing product catalog should demonstrate the billing view as it relates to product monetization strategies for a company. The billing product catalog typically works in coordination with ‘selling’ and ‘provisioning’ product catalogs to ensure products and services are sold properly, activated correctly, and billed accordingly. Coordination of these catalogs is a complex effort, but it is a cornerstone to a successful monetization architecture.

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Primary

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Customer-Facing Selling Catalog - the selling product catalog(s) usually found in mature CRM systems, CPQ systems, ordering systems, partner selling platforms, and e-Commerce.

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Billing & Rating Catalog - the billing and rating product catalog(s) that encompass usage, recurring, and non-recurring charges, invoice/statement presentation, AR/GL requirements, and taxation.

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Provisioning & Fulfillment Catalog - The product from the point of view of the provisioning, activation, and fulfillment systems required to manage a network service or fulfill a shipped product.

Catalog Integrations

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Information needs to be captured at order time to be delivered to the billing system(s). Typically requires integration of the selling & billing product catalogs.

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The billing and rating product catalog(s) that encompass usage, recurring, and non-recurring charges, invoice / statement presentation, AR/GL requirements, and taxation.

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Information required to be in sync between the billing system and network systems to ensure usage is properly accounted for and associated with the appropriate customer account.

Orchestration - BI View

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All products/services billed at what they were quoted / ordered. All active services being billed appropriately. All usage has an identified owner. Credit adjustments are minimized. Trouble tickets are minimized.

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VIEWPOINT:

The Product Catalog Problem

The product catalog is a simple concept – it is a list of a company’s products and pricing. However, the waters muddy quickly as companies grow and product data starts innocently scattering throughout a myriad of applications and databases.


READ MORE >

Customer Billing Profile (Hierarchy) Database

If the product catalog supports the billing component of a company’s monetization strategy, it is the Customer Billing Profile where it truly comes to life. This is where the customer data resides. Minimally, this includes key objects such as Customer, Account, and Service Instance. In addition, the Customer Hierarchy will hold information such as bill format preference, several contacts, payment information, taxable status, and geographic information.

For example:

A customer may be Bob Jones, who has two accounts: one for his household, and one for his daughter in college. Each of the accounts has one or more active services.

Billing charges to Bob Jones tie to the product catalog and reside as Usage, Recurring, or Non-Recurring charges associated with these service instances.

The flexibility of the database to support the number and type of customer, account, and service combinations is key to ensure billing will be accurate and easy to understand for the customer. In addition, a strong yet flexible database provides scalability to the monetization ecosystem.

Simplified Billing Customer Hierarchy

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Order Entry

Order entry is the process for creating a new service for a customer. Often, this is the first and only service for a customer. In Business to Business (B2B) models, it is very common for customers to have multiple services and accounts, each requiring effective order entry to capture the necessary information to provision and bill for the service effectively.

It is important to capture the information in an efficient manner that provides a positive customer experience while gathering all the appropriate data at one time.

Order entry can be direct with a customer, performed by the customer, or it can be a ‘swivel chair’ exercise where the sales employee is entering the order from a previously generated quote or contract without direct interaction with the customer.

Here, the focus is on quality and completeness. The customer is not waiting on the line but is relying on the information being complete and correct to ensure accurate activation/provisioning and billing of the service.

Subscription

A subscription involves paying on a periodic basis for an ongoing product or service. In reality, it is a monetization strategy that encourages, by its structure, a customer purchasing the same product or service over and over for some period of time, or with no specified end date.

In the past, many people subscribed to a newspaper and had it delivered on a daily basis to their home. The delivery person collected directly from the subscriber by going door-to-door, and the subscription continued until the customer cancelled. The product was a bundle of printed paper, the delivery method was a kid on a bicycle, and the payment was made in cash when the consumer happened to be at home.

Today, a more common subscription would be an entertainment streaming service (Netflix, Spotify, etc.) with a digital network delivery method and payment made automatically via credit card on a specified day of the month with absolutely no human intervention involved.

This lack of human intervention enables a service provider to increase the value of the service often by simply increasing capacity. As you can imagine, the lack of human intervention also requires a great deal of automation and integration between the customer acquisition, ordering, provisioning, entitlement, billing, and collection systems. In the case of a newspaper boy, he performed all those functions. In the case of Netflix there are complex, typically independent systems that must be kept in sync to provide the level of service that a customer now demands – humans only get involved when there are problems that can’t be fixed automatically.

The beauty of the subscription model is that it is based on recurring charges that are essentially “set it and forget it.” The service can start as a free trial that automatically converts to a paid subscription if no action is taken. Once the consumer is accustomed to seeing a charge on a credit card statement, they may subscribe for long periods of time – whether or not they utilize the product or service. Since cancelling the service requires action on the part of the subscriber, the recurring revenue often continues long-term.

Subscription-based products or services can be a valuable part of a company’s monetization strategy when offered alone or as part of a blended product set that includes one-time purchases and usage-based services.

Usage

Usage processing tracks the consumption of something that can be measured. This can cover tracking or counting the consumption of something that may or may not have an associated billable component.

When the monetization strategy includes usage as a billable entity, usage processing determines when and how much to charge a customer for any individual unit being measured. There are often situations where services might include a charge for every unit used. Other situations include a certain number of units and then charge for any additional units based on a pricing structure or other variable factors related to a service or an individual account.

Units that come into the usage processing system should have some defined unit of measure or the unit type being charged for, such as hours, kilowatts, megabytes, minutes, units, tickets, etc. Having a proper unit of measure can be used for determining rates or just be labels that are used in invoices, reports, or presentations to the customer.

Usage processing is completed by one or more supporting systems depending on the complexity of the business case and the capability of the supporting systems. All usage processing will have at a minimum the ability to load usage and assign a currency rate. The actual rating of the usage records may be handled by a rating system, ERP, or billing system.

Usage processing systems can generally handle a wide variety of granularity between usage records being processed. In many cases, each discreet usage event will need to be tracked individually for analytical or rating purposes, but in other cases, usage may be aggregated and only sent to rating after the usage has been grouped together based on type, date, or some other factor.

Having the ability to monetize services based on usage allows customers to pay for the exact amount of consumption that was used and drives the customer closer to the intersection between the value received from a service and the amount of money spent to use a service. In addition, heavy-use customers can be charged for the additional amount of resources being consumed.

Invoice

Closely related to billing, an Invoice represents the charges due, description of charges, method of payment, and terms of payment. Invoice, Bill, and Statement are terms that are often used incorrectly in the context of service provider billing.

In brief:

Invoice – official accounting term, defined above;

Statement – semi-official accounting term, which is typically provided monthly or quarterly, that represents all of the activity for a given period, including previous balance due, payments, adjustments against previous invoices, new charges, and a new balance due. The typical cell phone or cable bill is technically a monthly statement, which includes information from one or more invoices.

Bill – informal term that can be used to describe an Invoice, Statement, or a guy named William.

Billing

Billing is the crucial process of evaluating a customer’s billing profile, and identifying the new charges that should be generated. These charges will be aggregated to generate an invoice.

For many service providers, the billing output is a Statement in addition to an Invoice that aggregates all of the financial activity since a previous period. In these environments, Billing includes evaluation of payments and adjustments from previous Invoice/Statements to produce a comprehensive Statement, which includes a new invoice and an updated Balance due.

The billing process can be done on-demand, at customer inception, or at periodic intervals – most commonly monthly, but often quarterly or annually.

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VIEWPOINT:

Vendor Risk & the Salesforce Ecosystem

Twenty-seven years in CRM, CPQ, and Billing have taught me a few things. First, don’t talk about your job at a cocktail party. Trust me, they are not interested in the latest bundling strategies in the mid-market, Software-as-a-Service space.

READ MORE >

Entitlement

Entitlement is relatively new to the billing domain. Entitlement, in a billing context, is where the billing system is responsible for being a source of record for communicating whether a customer is entitled to use the service in the manner they are attempting – and whether there is a billable impact to what they are trying to do.

For example, if a monetization strategy is to allow a customer up to 10 downloads of a ringtone before they are charged $.50 per download, then the billing system may be invoked to quickly process a ringtone request and let the customer know that there may be a billing impact to this activity. This is a relatively new requirement, and the billing engine is not the only component that can deliver it, but it is becoming an important part of maintaining a positive customer experience in usage based monetization models.

Prepaid

The Prepaid model for billing is used in many industries – from telecom to health care. It is a monetization strategy built on the premise that it reduces risk to the provider, often in exchange for some incentive to the customer.

Implementation methodologies of the prepaid billing system are as varied as the industries that use them. Providers view prepaid products as everything from a customer paying in advance for a normal periodic service to complex entitlement for products that are dependent on time-of-day, day of the week, quality of service, or some other combination of factors.

In the simplest case, payment is taken to offset future products or services that will be delivered. The challenge to this model is how the cash be will handled and how the revenue will be recognized – typically either upon payment or upon provision/delivery of the services paid for.

In the prepaid entitlements world, the first item to consider is what system is tracking the entitlements and use of the product or service to which the customer is entitled. Complex entitlements are often managed by a combination of an entitlements engine and a real-time rating engine – one to track what has been used and one to track what is due. These implementations typically manage what happens when a customer consumes their prepaid amount and may have integrations with ordering and payment systems to increase the entitlement when it is nearing exhaustion. The other side of that interaction is what happens to unused capacity? The ability to rollover an entitlement to another period is often desirable to retain customers.

Another factor to consider in prepaid billing is what happens when the customer cancels the service. Prepaid agreements are often linked to a contract with some provision for cancellation fees and/or refunds. The billing system may need to respond by prorating charges or adding penalties.

The prepaid model can be a valuable monetization tool for the service provider, but it is not without extra cost and some risk.

Payment

Payments represent customers paying for the invoice or services that they received from a service provider. They can be one-time, upfront payments for a physical good, or they can occur on a periodic basis for a recurring or subscription based service. Recurring or subscription payments occur most often monthly; however, quarterly or annually are other common practices, and subsequently payment intervals.

Payments come in a variety of forms, most commonly:

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Very typical in B2C and B2SMB industries, a credit or debit card is kept on file in a PCI compliant manner and recurring payments are processed on a periodic basis. Credit Card rejects for a variety of reasons are common and should be monitored carefully and proactively.

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Still prevalent across all industries, most major service providers work with a Lockbox service provided by major banks to manage incoming check payments.

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Automated Clearing House (ACH) is a form of electronic payments that are processed directly from the payer’s financial institution to the service provider’s.
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Emerging payment methods including PayPal, Bitcoin, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, baseball cards, and beaver pelts.

Tax

Tax regulations vary greatly by jurisdiction, country, industry, and service type. Successful organizations often build revenues on more than one product offering or service line that take place in more than one region/tax jurisdiction. Bundled products, each potentially with unique tax regulations, can be a nightmare for tax managers to account for in a subscription revenue model. Companies unable to accurately calculate and bill for tax risk revenue leakage, face strong punishment and regulatory scrutiny.

Savvy tax engines enable companies to calculate the correct tax for the correct customers and services, which can be presented cleanly on a customer statement. Such offerings can be packaged inside the billing engine, or provided by a third party, relying on API integration to quickly and securely pass customer and tax information from one system to another.

Adjustment

Adjustments are changes to a customer's accounts receivable, or balance. Adjustments that are in the customer’s favor end up being a credit to the A/R. Such adjustments are known as credit adjustments, credits, or, on occasion, credit memos.

In a billing context, billing engines often must handle pre- and post-billing adjustments.  Post-billing adjustments are typical, but many business models require pre-billing adjustments against a charge that has not yet been applied.  For example, if a cable customer experiences a problem with an on demand movie, they may call and complain and get a ‘pre-billing adjustment’ that will negate the charge that is placed on the invoice at the end of the month.

Another form of Credit adjustment is not an A/R transaction at all, but provides the customer with a service credit against future time periods or usage buckets.

Occasionally, an adjustment is made that is not in the customer's favor. Known as a debit adjustment, this adds to the customer's balance. Debit adjustments are pretty rare in most cases, but they can be used to correct erroneous bills or to handle instances such as a penalty for not returning a set-top box to a cable company. Some service providers have a concept of a dispute, which is simply a higher order object creating a case to be investigated that could lead to a credit adjustment.

Billing Operations

Billing Operations is the process of managing the various billing processes that are core to a billing system. The tasks and functions within billing operations includes managing billing runs, posting records to financial systems, monitoring and loading usage records, and managing other billing functions such as bill cycles.

The billing operations functions are typically performed by the billing administration team and will require a level of intervention based on the systems used to manage billing and billing functions.

ATG maintains a complete Billing Operations Map, which spans all tasks and responsibilities in managing a billing system and assigns those to the likely enterprise organizations that should be both responsible and accountable. Please contact an ATG consultant for more information by clicking here.

Credit Card Optimization

Credit Card Optimization can achieve the following goals:

  • Reduce credit card processing costs
  • Reduce risk of internal fraud
  • Increase security of customer PCI data
  • Update credit card information automatically

Cost reductions can be achieved by sending additional customer and transaction information with the credit card transactions to the credit card processor. Sending extra data may be referred to as enhanced data or Level # processing, where # corresponds to the level number.

There are three levels. With each increased level, the amount of additional transactional data is increased. While the specific data may vary slightly between credit card processors, a sample of possible data that may be requested by a processor for each level might include the following:


Level 1

The business entity name and the dollar amount are sent to the processor. Level 1 is generally used for B2C transactions.

Level 2

All Level 1 data along with additional transaction information such as the date, tax codes, customer identifier (account number), merchant postal code, or Tax ID of the seller. Level 2 is usually used in B2B and some B2C, and allows corporations to track and control employee spending

Level 3

This level's transaction information includes all of Level 2 data, and includes additional information such as line-item description and quantities, tax amounts, selling employee, customer ship-to address, or shipping data, if applicable.

When additional credit card data is passed to the processor, the cost per transaction is generally reduced because the risk of fraud is also lessened and the likelihood of recovery is increased. Additional internal optimizations can be made to increase the security and limit the ability for internal fraud to take place. Credit card data should follow practices outlined in the Payment Card Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to ensure controls are in place to reduce risk.

Additional optimizations can be made to reduce the sensitivity of the actual credit card data that is being stored in various systems. One such step is to tokenize credit card numbers so anyone viewing the token would have no value in actually stealing the token. The process of tokenization must be supported by the internal systems as well as the payment processor. When a credit card is submitted to the payment processor, a token is returned and is the actual value stored on file, instead of the credit card, for ongoing or future payments.

Account Updater is a feature supported by some systems – and most credit card processors – which allows credit card numbers and expiration dates to be updated automatically when a customer gets a new card issued. This can be extremely useful to maintain a low level of credit card failures and increase the overall customer experience as service continues uninterrupted, and the customer does not have to call with updated credit card information. Account updater even supports credit cards re-issued as a lost or stolen card.

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VIEWPOINT:

Salesforce Billing Premier Extends Q2C Single Platform

For the first time in my 30-year career working in Quote to Cash, a single cloud provider has an offering that streamlines the selling process, from lead nurturing to opportunity maturation, to quoting, ordering, invoicing, and collection. And, all of this is built on a trusted, scalable, and extensible platform that is unparalleled in managing customer interactions via all channels and devices.

READ MORE >

Collections

Collection activities are undergone when a customer’s payment date is past due, and warrants effort from the business to collect cash. It is up to the business to define thresholds to begin collection activities, as not every customer payment may be worth pursuing the moment it is considered late. Metrics to trigger collection attempts are varied, including; time, account type, outstanding amount, age of outstanding charges, etc.

Collection activities aim to increase cash by collecting past due payments, and decrease the need for bad debt and allowance for doubtful account expenses. Quality collection software shortens the length of time needed to collect remaining balances owed. As delinquent balances are recovered, the FMS must be able to process and account for changes to the appropriate GL accounts quickly, allowing collections to move on to the next high value balance and accounting users to have current financial data.

Revenue Recognition

Revenue Recognition (Rev Rec) is defined in many ways by many different governing bodies with a seemingly endless list of considerations, rules, exceptions, and headaches. Put simply, revenue recognition principles exist to provide guidance to business owners on sustainable ways to manage money from business operations, and for investors to be able to have transparency to the financial health of a company.

At the core of revenue recognition law is the matching principle, an accrual based accounting principle mandating companies to associate expenses with related revenues consistent with the time periods each is incurred. Pairing revenues with expenses enables companies to more accurately understand their current financial health, whereas recording revenues without regard to expenses (or vice versa) does not paint a clear picture for business owners or investors.

Under US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, created by the FASB), revenue is recognizable when four criteria are met:

  • Persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists
  • The price can be determined
  • The probability of collection is high
  • Delivery is complete

Service providers often provide recurring services billed either in advance or arrears. Quality financial management systems must be able to accurately decipher between earned and deferred revenue, the related expenses, and then amortize the necessary values as service delivery occurs. With Rev Rec being a constantly evolving principle, systems and their users must remain nimble in order to comply with regulations, provide accurate information to business users, and fairly represent a company’s financial standing to stakeholders.

The rules for revenue recognition, and the how billing engines support them, are in flux.  Specifically, service provider customers are currently tackling complicated ASC 605-25 Multi-Element Arrangement requirements and ASC 606 Contracts with Customers requirements. The role of the billing engine in the overall revenue recognition process is changing as well, with the introduction of pure Revenue Recognition engines. The billing engine, Revenue Recognition engine, Financial Management System/GL, and often Excel, are components necessary to support the full requirements of service provider revenue recognition.

Customer Accounts Receivable (A/R)

Receivables represent cash owed to a company for goods/services provided; thus, they have the potential to be a very large asset account. Maintained at the sub-ledger level, Customer A/R is increased as goods and services are delivered, and decreased as payment is received for those services.

A/R is a generic term used for receivables, and can be broken down into two flavors: billed and unbilled. Billed A/R represents the dollar amount a customer has been billed for, whereas unbilled A/R represents receivables which have not been billed to the customer. Though this distinction may or may not be relevant for a company, both billed and unbilled amounts represent an asset.

Accurate customer A/R relies on billing and financial management systems to be in sync since bills generated from the billing engine directly impact receivables. Without harmony between the two, companies risk overstating/understating how much their customers owe them, jeopardizing both asset and revenue quality.

People, Process, and Technology of Billing & Collections Engine

People

All enterprise organizations except the marketing team have ownership in at least one process tied to the Monetization Ecosystem's Billing and Collection Engine domain.

Sales

Product

Customer Service

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

FINANCE

FINANCE - BILLING

OPERATIONS

LEGAL

I.T.

Process

ATG maintains a set of 99 key business processes to support the management of customers and revenue for businesses. Seventy of these processes originate or are impacted by the Billing & Collections domain. Below are the key processes that are touched in Billing, categorized by the organizational unit that owns the process:

SALES

External/Partner Transaction Management

Management and integration of any of third-party resellers/partner, or large enterprise customer, transactions that including selling, billing & collections, and account management.

SALES

Partner Ecosystem Management

Overall category for Management and integration of any of third-party resellers, partner, or add-on marketplace business models and oversight.

SALES

Quote - Product / Service Discount

Configuration of product and service discounts relating to certain criteria (e.g. volume discounts, geography, trying to win the deal, etc.).

SALES

Quote - Product / Service Pricing

Configuration of features and attributes of products and services prior to a sale. Typical in a custom solution environment.

SALES / FINANCE

Sales Reporting

Collecting and analyzing data to inform on key sales and company performance metrics, including revenue and cost analyses, individual and team performance, employee churn, and sales to business model alignment.

SALES / FINANCE - BILLING

Clawback Processing

Executing the payment back of any commissions or spiffs that were paid out but required to be returned due to cancellation or special contractual circumstances.

SALES / FINANCE - BILLING

Commission Dispute Resolution

Submitting a commission calculation or ownership for review and resolution under the premise it is incorrect.

PRODUCT

Bundled Product Introduction Process

Configuring and introduction of a bundled product or service to the product catalog and supporting systems. Includes definition of product/bundle attributes, pricing rules (usage, recurring, non-recurring), discounts rules, product/service lifecycle, revenue recognition, and reporting attributes.

PRODUCT

Entitlement Processing

Management of active products and services within a customer account.

PRODUCT

New Pricing Introduction - Existing Construct

This process is for creation of a new pricing rate for an existing construct. For example, creation of a $24.95/mo. plan for a geography that previously had been at $27.95/mo.

PRODUCT

New Pricing Introduction - New Construct

This process is for creation of a new pricing construct for an existing product or service. For example, creation of a monthly subscription where previously there had only been annual.

PRODUCT

New Product Introduction Process

Introduction of a new product or service to the Product Catalog and supporting quoting, ordering, contracting, provisioning, ticketing, invoicing, payment, usage, and revenue recognition systems. Includes definition of product attributes, pricing rules(usage, recurring, non-recurring), discounts rules, product/service lifecycle, revenue recognition, reporting attributes, and bundling concepts.

PRODUCT

New Product Introduction Process - Mobile

Configure attributes and introduce new products and services, with specific focus on making the product available on mobile devices.

PRODUCT

Promotion & Discount Introduction

The configuration of standard, pre-defined promotions and discounts of products or services.

PRODUCT

Trial Processing

Configuration and management of trial products that do not bill at all during an agreed-upon time frame, or under a certain set of use restrictions. Includes processes for provisioning and reporting.

OPERATIONS

Inventory Management - Logical

The process a company uses to manage the consumption of non-physical asset inventory levels including inventory creation and deletion.

OPERATIONS

Inventory Management - Physical

The process a company uses to manage the consumption and replenishment of tangible inventory levels.

OPERATIONS

Order Management - Orchestration

The business processes related to customer orders for products or services. Typically important when there are complex products and services that span multiple provisioning and fulfillment options. Bundling of disparate products, or bundling of products and services (PS, Training, etc.) can add to the need for Order Management.

OPERATIONS

Quote - Product / Service Approval

Configuration of required approvals for products, services, discounts, and pricing configurations prior to the sale.

LEGAL

Contract Lifecycle Management

Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) supports the process of negotiation, redlining, electronic signature, versioning, and storage of contracts.

LEGAL

PCI Compliance

Ability for customer to satisfy contractually obligated PCI requirements.

I.T.

Cross-Training of Monetization Ecosystem Components

Process for training organizational resources

I.T.

Data Stewardship Across Monetization Ecosystem

Process of assigning ownership and sources of truth for data within the organization.

I.T.

Maintenance & Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem

Process around assuring that all touchpoints and connections in the ecosystem are optimized and working to their full potential.

I.T.

Monitoring & Testing of Vendor Functional Releases

As ecosystem components release updates and patches, each is checked and tested to confirm all systems are working together as required by the business' requirements.

I.T.

Security Oversight of Monetization Ecosystem

Process for maintaining and controlling access and permission to ecosystem components.

I.T.

Vendor Management of the Monetization Ecosystem

Management of ecosystem component vendors including proactive communication of changes and general relationship nurturing.

FINANCE - BILLING

Balance Management - Prepaid, Deposit, Rollover

Business rules and processes surrounding the management of prepaid balances, deposits, and rollovers.

FINANCE - BILLING

Bill Day Usage Processing

The process of invoicing usage that has been accumulating since the previous statement/invoice period. Bill day usage processing includes calculation of charges, potential overage, decrementing credit balances, and managing rollover and pooled usage constructs.

FINANCE - BILLING

Bill Run Operations

Tasks and functions associated with initiating and maintaining the billing process, including bill cycle management, usage file management, payment batches, credit card rejects, etc.

FINANCE - BILLING

Billing Setup Process

Tasks and functions associated with setting up the billing processes for given products and services.

FINANCE - BILLING

Billing / Invoice Processing - Recurring / Periodic

Process for aggregating financial activities and adjustments for a given billing period and generating the respective invoice.

FINANCE - BILLING

Credit Card Optimization

The overall optimization of credit card processing, including the establishment of Payment Gateway profile, keeping CC current, managing rejects, chargebacks, etc. Optimizing revenue, and reducing risk and fraud is paramount here.

FINANCE - BILLING

Credit Card Processing

Methods to receive credit card payments including authorization, payment gateway, processing, interchange, and credit card success/failures.

FINANCE - BILLING

Daily Usage Processing

Methods used to track consumption of usage units associated with a given billing period. Usage Processing includes mediation, loading, rating, and guiding usage to the appropriate billing account. This information will be used to update the customer on current consumption, as well as to be processed during bill day invoicing processes.

FINANCE - BILLING

Dispute / Adjustment Processing

Settling disputes/adjustments regarding customer payments or account. Key process for clients that are operating in a Balance Management or 'On Account' environment.

FINANCE - BILLING

Dunning Processing

The process a business goes through to initiate collection of a past due payment from a customer. Includes reporting on aged balances and monitoring revenue leakage associated with past due balances.

FINANCE - BILLING

Invoice Finishing & Delivery

Typically, billing engines produce raw invoice or statement data. Often, external applications are used to package this data for presentation on a paper invoice, electronic distribution, or alternate media. Most billing engines have rudimentary invoice presentation capability.

FINANCE - BILLING

Payment Processing

The steps taken to process different payment methods from customers.

FINANCE - BILLING

SOX/Regulatory Compliance

The ability to provide proof of internal controls to prevent fraud and material misstatements.

FINANCE - BILLING

Subscription Management

The processes a company uses to manage complex customer subscription attributes, including recurring billing, IN Proration (service sign up), OUT Proration (service disconnect/cancel), and associated usage, recurring, and non-recurring processing.

FINANCE - BILLING

System Auditability

Provides assurance that source system data is accurate, and a paper trail exists from a transaction to financial statements.

FINANCE

Close Process

Includes all activities needed to reconcile and close the monthly, quarterly, and annual accounting periods.

FINANCE

Collections / Treatment Processing

For net terms customers, the ability to pro-actively manage a process to collect money from customers who have fallen behind in the periodic billing. These are processes specifically designed to keep customers, that for one reason or another have balances in 30-60, 60-90, etc., day buckets.

FINANCE

Credit Check Management

The process of verifying customer credit history, during new the prospecting process, new customer creation, or during the life of a customer.

FINANCE

Financial Statement Preparation

Production of accurate, auditable, and presentable financial statements in the most efficient manner possible.

FINANCE

Revenue Recognition Processing - Contract Line Item Segmentation

Methods used to categorize contract items to ensure revenue is recognized properly.

FINANCE

Revenue Recognition Processing - Earned Trigger Processing

Method for appropriately triggering revenue recognition events.

FINANCE

Run Rate Reporting

Run rate reporting is critical for revenue forecasting, and can help project other key metrics.

FINANCE

Tax Processing & Filing

Methods used to streamline complicated taxation rules and regulations, including the accurate filing of corporate income and sales tax information.

FINANCE

Actual Tax Calculation

The process of calculating the actual tax to charge the customer, at the time of invoice.

FINANCE

Exception Certificate Management

The methods of managing registration, storage, and renewal of all applicable exemption certificates, preventing the company from paying taxes where they aren’t owed.

FINANCE

Tax Determination

The method to define how tax will be applied and where for each entity.

FINANCE

Currency Conversion

The point within a multinational company's sales cycle where currency is converted. This conversion may occur at the transaction or during the commissioning process and must be carefully monitored to ensure accurate conversion rate and payment amount and to enable standardized reporting.

FINANCE

Update Tax Rates

Refers to updates to tax rates with regulation changes at local and federal levels.

FINANCE

Assign Nexus

The process of determining the contact required between a seller and a tax authority has occurred, assigning the appropriate jurisdiction or nexus for taxation regulation.

FINANCE

Tax Filing & Remittance

The methods used to track filing requirements, complete filings, and remit taxes to the appropriate tax authority as determined by nexus.

FINANCE

Jurisdiction Registration

The process of registering for the identified tax authority as determined by nexus.

FINANCE

Actual Tax Calculation

The reference to the calculating of the estimated tax during the sales cycle, typically during quoting.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Cross-Sell Processing - Ongoing

A central method for increasing Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and is the process of selling additional product(s) or service(s) to a customer during the customers' entire lifetime with your company. This process is separate from Cross-sell Processing - Initial order.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

End-Customer Self-Help

The way a customer can resolve problems on their own.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

End-Customer Self-Help Mobile

The way a customer can resolve problems on their own via a mobile platform.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

End-Customer Account Maintenance

The methods by which a customer can manage their own account details via customer portal, website, within the product, etc.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Proactive Customer Notification - Success Focus (Recommendations, Advice of Charge, Overage Notifications)

Exceeding customer expectations by using data and triggers to notify them of an opportunity or looming risk.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Up-Sell Processing - Ongoing

A central method for increasing Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and is the process of moving a customer to a better or higher version of a product or service throughout their lifetime with your company. This process is separate from Up-Sell Processing - Initial Order.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Customer Usage Monitoring

Tracking and recording customer product usage throughout a billing period and life cycle. Closely related to daily usage processing, this process can be used by Customer Success agents to find customers who are experiencing problems with their product usage, are not using key functions of the product, or are nearing billing thresholds.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

New Customer Onboarding

The process of creating a customer account, properly provisioning products and/or services, and communicating welcoming messages.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

NPS / CSAT Monitoring

Process of tracking, reporting, and following up on customer satisfaction metrics, by customer segment or product.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Retention / Churn Monitoring

The process of monitoring customer turnover.

ALL

Daily, Periodic, or Ad Hoc Reporting (ETL, Report, Dashboard)

Movement of data between domains to create a single source of truth for reporting and dashboarding. Includes key metrics such as revenue analytics and other KPIs

Technology

There are a host of technologies available for companies to choose from when it comes to the Billing and Collection Engine domain. From the huge, suite-based Lead-to-Cash solutions, down to much simpler recurring payment providers, there is a billing and collection engine out there to suit nearly any business case.

However, for most complex multi-channel service providers, the choices come down to these three categories of billing software:

  • Platform-Native Billing Solutions
  • Cloud Service Provider Subscription Billing
  • On-Premise Service Provider Billing

Typically, the complexity of requirements drives the decision of which platform should be utilized. Careful consideration should be given to the following complexities:

  • Business Model
  • Product & Pricing
  • Selling Channel
  • Geographic Considerations
  • Financial Operation

For more information and a complete checklist, contact a representative at ATG.

Key Billing & Collection Vendors

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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1999
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.salesforce.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

The Salesforce platform supports companies through the entire Quote to Cash process through multiple native apps, as well as a large variety of integrations offered through the AppExchange. The billing application is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) billing solution, formerly known as Steelbrick CPQ & Billing. Seamlessly integrating invoices, collections, taxes, and reporting, into one platform, all within Salesforce.

A full audit trail of every action within Salesforce, including recorded e-signature approvals, is offered. Also, Salesforce’s billing application manages revenue and billing for subscriptions, one-time billing, and complex usage-based billing scenarios.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ)
  • Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)
  • Order Management
  • Billing & Collection
  • Payment Processing
  • Tax Management
  • Usage Processing
  • Revenue Recognition Management

TARGET MARKET

Salesforce Billing targets organizations in many industries. Target organizations are of any size.

CUSTOMERS

  • Entrust Datacard
  • Kronos
  • Informatica
  • IAS
  • Ansarada
  • SkyTouch
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2008
HQ: Austin, TX
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.gotransverse.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

With a focus on recurring customer and billing management, Gotransverse delivers cloud-based, agile monetization and subscription management solutions. goTransverse TRACT can support flexible monetization and packaging strategies while powering stable and reliable dynamic billing relationships.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Usage Processing
  • Payment Processing

TARGET MARKET

Gotransverse targets large enterprise organizations in high tech, media and entertainment, cloud apps and infrastructure, logistics and fulfillment, and IoT.

CUSTOMERS

  • Amplifier
  • Bandwidth
  • DigitalOcean
  • Ethoca
  • Genetec
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1982
HQ: Chesterfield, MO
Company Type: Public
Website: www.amdocsoptima.com
Delivery Method: On-Premise

OVERVIEW

Amdocs Optima is a digital customer management and commerce platform designed to rapidly and securely monetize any product or service. Amdocs Optima provides solutions for both B2C and B2B companies, and its platform can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud to support the entire business lifecycle.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Resource Management (CRM)
  • Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ)
  • Order Management
  • Usage Processing
  • Billing & Collection
  • Payment Processing

TARGET MARKET

Amdocs Optima targets organizations in the telecommunication and utility industries. Amdocs Optima is tailored for carrier wholesale Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs) and Operators (MVNOs).

CUSTOMERS

  • Liberty Global
  • Vodafone
  • Effortel
  • Oi
  • Jainpu Technology Inc.
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2008
HQ: Austin, TX
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.gotransverse.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

With a focus on recurring customer and billing management, Gotransverse delivers cloud-based, agile monetization and subscription management solutions. goTransverse TRACT can support flexible monetization and packaging strategies while powering stable and reliable dynamic billing relationships.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Usage Processing
  • Payment Processing

TARGET MARKET

Gotransverse targets large enterprise organizations in high tech, media and entertainment, cloud apps and infrastructure, logistics and fulfillment, and IoT.

CUSTOMERS

  • Amplifier
  • Bandwidth
  • DigitalOcean
  • Ethoca
  • Genetec
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1994
HQ: Engelwood, CO
Company Type: Public
Website: www.csgi.com
Delivery Method: Cloud or On-Premise

OVERVIEW

CSG provides business support systems (BSS) software and services to handle billing, customer experience, and revenue management needs for businesses in the digital services market. CSG’s has two on-premise customer care and billing product lines. Advanced Convergent Platform™ (ACP) is the solution for cable billing, customer care, and business optimization. Singleview performs real-time rating, charging, and billing for wireline, wireless, and mobile virtual network operators, and IP carriers. Ascendon is a SaaS, cloud-based platform that enables comprehensive settlement capabilities (including hierarchies), order management, and converged billing to enable any monetization model.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Service Delivery
  • Order Management
  • Payment Processing
  • Billing & Collection
  • Product Catalog Maintenance
  • Usage Processing
  • Business Intelligence
  • Financial Management
  • Rev Rec Management

TARGET MARKET

CSG targets large enterprises in telecommunications, cable, and financial services.

CUSTOMERS

  • Wells Fargo
  • Citigroup
  • JP Morgan/Chase
  • Sprint
  • Discover Financial Services
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1876
HQ: Stockholm, Sweden
Company Type: Public
Website: www.ericsson.com
Delivery Method: Cloud or On-Premise

OVERVIEW

Ericsson has over 140 years of experience in the communications industry and offers BSCS iX, a convergent, end-to-end billing and customer care system for any type of communications service provider. A component within the BSCS iX solution is Charging and Billing in One that allows businesses to handle all customers and services in a real-time, streamlined, converged charging and billing system. The software covers prepaid and postpaid, voice and data, fixed and mobile, and retail and wholesale models.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)
  • Service Delivery
  • Order Management
  • Billing & Collection
  • Payment Processing
  • Tax Management
  • Commission Management
  • Marketing Automation
  • Product Catalog Maintenance
  • Usage Processing
  • Business Intelligence
  • Rev Rec Management

TARGET MARKET

Target organizations are large enterprises, but Ericsson has a product subset for emerging telecommunication companies.

CUSTOMERS

  • Ooredoo Group
  • HomeSend
  • U Mobile
  • Nextel

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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1993
HQ: Waltham, MA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.netcracker.com
Delivery Method: Cloud or On-Premise

OVERVIEW

In 2008, NEC acquired Netcracker and subsequently consolidated all of its telecom software and services assets under Netcracker. The later acquisition of Convergys’ BSS business created a powerful, end-to-end offering. The revenue management product line is one of 12 components in the Digital Business Enablement offering located on Netcracker’s platform. It performs the monetization of digital services including mediation, billing, converged rating and charging, and voucher management.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)
  • Order Management
  • Service Delivery
  • Billing & Collection
  • Middleware & Connectivity
  • Payment Processing
  • Tax & Commissions
  • Product Catalog Maintenance
  • Usage Processing
  • Business Intelligence
  • Financial Management & Revenue Management

TARGET MARKET

Netcracker targets communications service providers who are medium to large enterprises.

CUSTOMERS

  • T-Mobile
  • Cox Communications
  • Cricket Wireless
  • Vodafone
  • Virgin Media
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1977
HQ: Redwood City, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.oracle.com
Delivery Method: On-Premise

OVERVIEW

Oracle Billing and Revenue Management (BRM) supports charging and rating for any service, payment method, geography and type of customer and partner to monetize new business models such as flexible consumption and as-a-service models. The solution allows application extensions and has prebuilt integrations to other products within the Oracle portfolio including E-Business Suite, CX Cloud and analytics.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Middleware & Connectivity
  • Payment Processing
  • Tax Management
  • Commission Management
  • Marketing Automation
  • Product Catalog Maintenance
  • Usage Processing
  • Business Intelligence
  • Financial Management
  • Revenue Recognition Management

TARGET MARKET

Oracle BRM targets organizations in any industry. Oracle BRM target organizations are generally medium to large enterprises.

CUSTOMERS

  • Equifax
  • Intuit
  • Cyxtera
  • Spectrum
  • Symantec
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2008
HQ: Englewood, CO
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.billingplatform.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Billing Platform gives customers the power to design dynamic product offerings, monetize the end-to-end process, integrate with critical applications, streamline communications, gain valuable business intelligence, and design the model and business logic that fully supports the needs of the customer. Users can quickly and accurately implement any pricing and rating model, as well as roll out new products and services to rapidly turn ideas into cash.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Order Management
  • Billing & Collection
  • Payment Processing
  • Tax & Commissions
  • Usage Processing
  • Business Intelligence
  • Financial Management & Revenue Management

TARGET MARKET

Billing Platform is designed for many industries. Target organizations are generally medium to large enterprises.

CUSTOMERS

  • Thales
  • Cengage Learning
  • Energy Australia
  • Packet Fabric
  • Floor & Decor

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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2009
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Privately held
Website: www.financialforce.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

FinancialForce is a cloud-based applications company headquartered in San Francisco, CA. FinancialForce offers cloud ERP for the new services economy. FinancialForce integrates into many CRM systems (e.g., Salesforce) and unifies data across the enterprise in real-time, enabling companies to rapidly evolve their business models with customs at the center.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Service Delivery
  • Business Intelligence
  • Financial Management & Revenue Management

TARGET MARKET

FinancialForce targets organizations in many industries.

CUSTOMERS

  • Salesforce
  • Hewlitt Packard Enterprises
  • Seagate
  • Lexmark
  • Avid Technology, Inc
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1998
HQ: San Mateo, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.netsuite.com

Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

NetSuite SuiteBilling places billing at the core of the business. Using a unified framework, NetSuite SuiteBilling supports transaction, subscription, usage-based, and any hybrid model of billing. This framework makes NetSuite SuiteBilling an agile and flexible solution for billing and revenue management processes. The centralized framework supports monetization models and allows customers to be innovative while staying in accordance with the latest revenue recognition.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Financial Management
  • Order Management
  • Usage Processing
  • Revenue Recognition Management

TARGET MARKET

NetSuite targets organizations in many industries, including fashion and apparel, manufacturing, software, financial services, and nonprofit. Target organizations are mostly mid-market enterprises and divisions of large companies.

CUSTOMERS

  • DocuSign
  • Roku
  • CallidusCloud
  • IBA
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1997
HQ: Munich, Germany
Company Type: Public
Website: www.hybris.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud provides a simplified, automated approach to managing CPQ and billing processes while maintaining the ability to integrate with other SAP services to help transform businesses. SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud goes beyond linear, fixed monetization processes and allows companies to adapt their systems dynamically while delivering personalized billing and ordering experiences.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ)
  • Billing & Collection
  • Usage Processing
  • Payment Processing

TARGET MARKET

SAP Hybris Revenue Cloud targets organizations in many industries. Target organizations are any size

CUSTOMERS

  • Three.co.uk
  • 21Diamonds
  • Kompass
  • Henkel
  • Ericsson
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1998
HQ: San Mateo, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.netsuite.com

Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

NetSuite SuiteBilling places billing at the core of the business. Using a unified framework, NetSuite SuiteBilling supports transaction, subscription, usage-based, and any hybrid model of billing. This framework makes NetSuite SuiteBilling an agile and flexible solution for billing and revenue management processes. The centralized framework supports monetization models and allows customers to be innovative while staying in accordance with the latest revenue recognition.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Financial Management
  • Order Management
  • Usage Processing
  • Revenue Recognition Management

TARGET MARKET

NetSuite targets organizations in many industries, including fashion and apparel, manufacturing, software, financial services, and nonprofit. Target organizations are mostly mid-market enterprises and divisions of large companies.

CUSTOMERS

  • DocuSign
  • Roku
  • CallidusCloud
  • IBA
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2011
HQ: Walnut, CA
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.chargebee.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Chargebee billing is a recurring and subscription management tool that can help SaaS and similar businesses streamline their revenue operations. Chargebee handles all of a business's crucial workflows from lead to ledger with powerful integrations that include Salesforce, Xero, QuickBooks, Avalara, Slack and more.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Subscription Management
  • Recurring Payments
  • Payment Gateway Integration
  • Taxes, Accounting
  • Revenue Recognition

TARGET MARKET

Chargebee targets organizations in many industries.

CUSTOMERS

  • Study.com
  • Freshworks
  • Envoy
  • okta
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2009
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.recurly.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Recurly is a subscription management platform that delivers standout results to brands worldwide. Recurly’s Revenue Optimization Engine uses machine learning based on millions of successful transactions to improve billing continuity. Revenue optimization tools to help manage at-risk subscribers and improve your customer churn rate. Tools for billing and payments allow you to set your own payment terms, customize prices, and send personalized bills.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Business Intelligence
  • Subscription, Recurring, SaaS Billing

TARGET MARKET

Recurly target market is companies that use recurring billing cycles or need subscription management tools.

CUSTOMERS

  • BarkBox
  • Twitch
  • Starz
  • AccuWeather
  • FabFitFun
  • Speedo
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2009
HQ: San Antonio, TX
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.chargify.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Chargify is touted as the only billing and subscription management platform built specifically for B2B SaaS businesses. Chargify gives customers the ability to remove billing bottlenecks to give teams the speed and flexibility to accelerate growth. Chargify also offers multiple integrations such as accounting, analytics, CRM, customer support, eCommerce, forms, marketing, messaging, sales tax, and workflow automation.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Recurring, Subscription, Elastic Billing
  • Business Intelligence
  • Revenue Retention

TARGET MARKET

The target market for Chargify is B2B SaaS businesses that need subscription management tools and billing.

CUSTOMERS

  • Newsweek
  • Mailgun
  • Stackoverflow
  • Dnsimple
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2020
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.stripe.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Stripe is a technology company that works to build economic infrastructure for the internet. Stripe combines applications and payments platforms to put revenue data at the heart of business operations. They help new companies get off the ground floor and grow their revenues, and aid established businesses to accelerate into new markets and launch new business models. A long-term goal for Stripe is aiming to increase the GDP of the internet.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Billing & Collection
  • Subscription Management & Analytics
  • Revenue Retention
  • Invoicing

 

TARGET MARKET

The target market for Stripe is businesses of every size from startups to public companies that need to accept payments and manage their business online.

CUSTOMERS

  • Target
  • Expedia
  • Doordash
  • Instacart
  • Nat Geo
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1972
HQ: Newtown Square, PA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.sap.com
Delivery Method: On-premise

OVERVIEW

SAP, an acronym for Systems, Applications & Products, engages customers with on-premises customer relationship management (CRM) software across every channel. SAP CRM helps business users manage marketing, sales, and customer service processes. Within the SFA (Salesforce Automation) solution, accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, and quotes are managed in one location.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Order Management
  • Billing & Collection
  • Payment Processing
  • Product Catalog Maintenance
  • Usage Processing
  • Business Intelligence
  • Financial Management
  • Revenue Recognition Management

TARGET MARKET

SAP targets organizations in many industries including, energy, financial, telecommunications, healthcare and high tech. Target organizations are typically small-to-medium enterprises.

CUSTOMERS

  • Globenet
  • Adobe

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