Automated Revenue Assurance
Revenue Assurance connects activities related to the financial aspect of the telco. These activities are often separately and concurrently running, initiated as required in response to an event or on a regularly scheduled basis.
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Revenue Assurance connects activities related to the financial aspect of the telco. This includes:
- The creation and management of accounts for recording customers’ invoices and payments.
- The generation of invoices to customers and OLO partners and tracking their payment status.
- The receipt from OLO partners of invoices (e.g., for offnet connectivity services, or subscriber roaming services) and their verification, allocation and payment.
- Credit control, accounts receivable, collections and related activities.
These activities are often separately and concurrently running, initiated as required in response to an event or on a regularly scheduled basis.
Revenue Assurance depends on data held in systems of record, such as customer data in CRM systems, service usage and charging data in billing systems, and invoicing and payments data in ERP systems. Ensuring that all these systems have a consistent, accurate and timely data view is a crucial driver for revenue assurance.
Customer-related financial data is typically initially gathered during the Order Capture stage, but until the order is submitted, there is little necessity to store the data in revenue-related systems.
Depending on the type of customer, a complex hierarchy and interrelated set of accounts may need to be established, for example to separate the purchaser, the service owner, the service user, and the invoice payer.
Account relations may also be created to enable resource-sharing functionality (such as shared data limits). Commercial and business validations may cause the rejection of the customer, for example, based on their address, credit score, or market segment.
From a Revenue Assurance point of view, the next step is to create – or to re-validate –billing accounts in the billing system, which are linked to relevant usage, payment, and reporting accounts as necessary. Any one-time charges (OTC) related to the customer order – for example, WiFi router fees, installation fees, or early-termination fees – are added to the account and will appear on the following customer bill (Billing Initialisation). For new services, the usage account(s) are activated to eliminate revenue loss arising from the time the service is technically active to when the customer is informed.
The billing of the service can now be initiated this will establish the date of the following bill and the invoice frequency. This will also ensure that recurring charges and usage charges related to the service are included in future invoices issued
As the Service Provisioning process for the order completes, the billing of the service can now be initiated (Billing Activation). This will establish the date of the following bill for the customer as well as the invoice frequency. The date of the invoices may need to be selected to distribute the load appropriately on the internal systems that generate and distribute customer bills.
This step will also ensure that recurring charges and usage charges related to the service are included in future invoices issued; for service cessation, a final invoice will be required to capture the last entries of these charges.
The Billing use cases are responsible for generating and distributing bills to customers regularly. There are often multiple data sources that must be queried to provide input into the bill generation process, and this often identifies several data quality issues that must be resolved before the bills are created.
Typically, the telco’s entire customer base is not all billed on the same day to prevent performance problems in the operations. Instead, the customer base is divided into batches, which are then separately-but-identically processed across the billing period. CORTEX has delivered a 75% reduction in manual effort for billing operations at a European CSP.
The Sales Ledger records all income-related activities, such as the customer paying their bill. This will ensure the customer payment is correctly received, acknowledged, and allocated to the appropriate internal reporting accounts. If applicable, the payment will also be applied to the customer’s financial account for inclusion on the next bill.
The sales ledger activity is also where overdue bills are identified and handled. In this circumstance, this may result in one or more actions – typically, there is an escalating sequence of responses that the telco will adopt, requiring a long-running process that may last months before the outstanding debt is cleared:
Sales Ledger records all income-related activities. This ensures the customer payment is correctly received, acknowledged, and allocated to the appropriate internal reporting accounts.
- reminders of outstanding amounts to be issued to the customer.
- late payment or interest charges to be added to the customer’s account and shown in the next bill.
- orders generated and submitted to degrade, suspend or cease some or all of the customer’s services.
- a payment plan to be agreed with the customer, which will reflected in future invoices, and tracked to ensure compliance.
- updates to internal or third-party credit control or financial risk tracking systems.
- write off the debt in Telco’s financial records.
- selling of the debt to a debt collection agency.
- initiating legal proceedings.
The Purchase Ledger function tracks and records all financial outgoings to be paid. It comprises processes including issuing purchase orders, accepting deliverables, validating and paying invoices, and allocating costs to approved budgets. Typically, invoices will be received from third-party suppliers and partners for re-sold products, service components (e.g., last mile connectivity or IMS functionality), and charges incurred by home subscribers roaming to other networks.