With the wide variety of regulatory requirements in Europe, developing an effective and efficient approach to billing customers amid this complexity can be a challenge, to say the least. This research abstract looks at the recent experiences of a major corporation that has implemented a European customer billing system, including the results of developing and administering this kind of delivery model.
A recent Peeriosity PeercastTM featured a member company with 50,000 employees and $15 billion USD in revenue. Headquartered in the United States, they have customers in over 170 countries, with a significant presence in Europe with service centers for the region located in Krakow and Budapest. The Credit Services tower of their GBS operation provides the following services: Credit Risk Management, Billing, Cash Application, Dispute Management, Collections, Cash Flow Management, and Distributor Finance.
In January 2018, the company launched an initiative to improve its Finance service delivery model, including Billing. Some of the objectives for doing so include the following:
- Improve the customer experience
- To get a clear picture of the current distribution map in countries with determining ratio per each method and corresponding costs
- Identify gaps and pain points within the billing process
- Understand requirements and interdependencies between countries
- Build a strategy and recommend preferred options to be widely used
- Address to the functions and business the potential savings
This project spanned eight months and included the following steps related to the Billing process:
- Mapped the Billing process by country and completed a cost assessment by method/ country
- Identified process and management of 3rd party providers in existing countries
- Billing Playbook – Defining billing strategy based on assessment
- Understand operational support organization impact (analysis, set-up & testing)
- Communication and alignment with divisions on the Billing Playbook and their role in promoting/ supporting certain billing delivery methods
- Cost / Benefit Analysis of funding solution
- Create a cheat sheet with the summary of frequently asked questions and thresholds and set up criteria for each delivery method
- Power BI Billing Dashboard – Monthly online reporting tool
Some of the lessons learned from this project included the fact that many customers are interested in going paperless and appreciate proactive communication related to this topic and the importance of strong communication and alignment between different departments and divisions.
iPollingTM Results Review
A poll was developed in conjunction with this PeercastTM using the iPollingTM technology. The first of two questions looked at the standardization level of customer billing practices across the company. The single country design was the most popular, with 33% of the companies utilizing that approach. This was followed closely by the global design at 25%, followed by multi-regional and multi-country both at 17%, and the single region at 8%.
The second poll question then addressed which geographic area has typically been the most challenging to standardize billing practices, with Europe clearly being the most challenging, with both Eastern and Western Europe each receiving 33% of the responses. This was followed by Latin America, which includes Mexico, Central America, and South America, also with a third of the responses. Interestingly, the Americas and Asia-Pacific were not selected by any company as being the most challenging in this area.
A couple of the comments made by Peeriosity members as it relates to this poll include the following:
Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: We bill from a single instance of SAP so that part is easy and we can configure the output to match local statutory requirements. The challenge is what interfaces we need to build for the electronic invoicing requirements by country. This is most prevalent in Latin America, but Europe/Asia are beginning to pick up.
Manufacturing Member: We are increasingly utilizing e-invoicing options.
While the project will likely be challenging, streamlining the billing process in Europe can be rewarding. By focusing on the customer experience while carrying out a detailed analysis of the regulatory landscape and leveraging technology wherever possible, great headway can be made in this critical area of any Order-to-Cash (O2C) operation.
What is the status at your company regarding the effectiveness of the European billing operation? Is your current approach meeting your needs or is it time to take another look at this important aspect of your O2C operation?
Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?
“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion. Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content. Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees.
“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.
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