As a leader in the ebilling space, we were recently asked to contribute to course materials for a module on ebilling, as part of a larger MBA in Credit Management.  It’s an honour to help shape the academic understanding of such an important field.

The MBA materials we have created address Philosophy, Policy and Process considerations for ebilling, as well as presenting a case study on ebilling for real-life context.

So, where does one start when learning about ebilling?  With a firm grasp of the ‘why’ to ebilling; the philosophy underpinning it.  We broke this philosophy down into sections, starting with challenges faced when using traditional billing.  Ebilling arose as advances in technology offered a route to tackle these challenges, evolving in sympathy with buyers’ needs and a range of internal drivers.

Ebilling Philosophy

From a philosophical perspective, ebilling exists to support the accounts receivable team’s need to bring cash into the business quickly and efficiently.  This needs to be carefully balanced against the demands on a seller to invoice, or bill, in a way that suits buyers.  In a world where customer loyalty is low, and businesses face growing competition, it pays to adapt billing to meet buyers’ needs.

We also explain, in light of customer experience management, how businesses need to view billing as part of their brand connection with customers, considering the ramifications of how all aspects of their billing process influence existing and potential customers.

Overall, ebilling philosophy is about supporting the needs of the business directly through improving cashflow, insight and enhancing Accounts Receivable efficiency, and indirectly through the ability to better meet customers’ needs and expectations, whilst improving customer experience and perception of the brand.

Ebilling Policy

Once the philosophy behind ebilling is understood, this can be put into context via principles set out in an ebilling policy.  Policies need to evolve over time, adapting to external factors but driven by internal stakeholders who have a firm grasp of the ebilling philosophy.

Ebilling policy should encompass communications, formatting, standards, integration, administration and risk management policies.

Policy ultimately drives process, so establishing a detailed and extensive ebilling policy makes it easier to develop effective ebilling processes that deliver on the overarching philosophy.

The communication policy should set out whether push or pull ebilling processes are emphasised for ebilling communications, and what options are available for each of these.  Formatting and standards policy outlines which standards are adhered to and formatting considerations relating to these.  It should also outline how future standards and formatting requirements will be incorporated and how legal requirements, such as EU Directive 2014/55/EU are supported.

Integration policy provides the business with guidance on how all aspects of integration with external data sources and accounts payable systems, or VANs, needs to be undertaken.  This policy drives the creation of individual processes for each integration requirement.

Administration policy for ebilling should outline administration hierarchy within the business, including workflow for all aspects of communication creation, reporting, action on exceptions and escalation pathways.  Policy should be designed to streamline responsibilities and access, providing the greatest overview with the least complexity for the most senior roles.  Administration policy should also take into account the option for handing-off to outsourced partners for faster resolution of issues, where appropriate.

Finally, risk management policy ensures risk is managed appropriately throughout the ebilling process.  Risk management will be shaped by a combination of factors, including the organisation’s philosophy or appetite for risk, the industry they trade in, the mix of customers, margin achieved and both internal and external risks to security.

Ebilling Process

The ebilling Process is the manifestation of associated policy, reflecting the organisation’s ebilling philosophy, through specific tasks and routines.  Documentation of the ebilling process is required to ensure tasks adhere to the agreed policy.

The ebilling process is made up of a number of process areas, each defining tasks relevant to their area.  The overarching process documentation presents a management-level view of how policies are applied to deliver on the ebilling philosophy of the business.

The ebilling process should encompass the following aspects:

  1. Ebilling Production Process
  2. Distribution and Communication Process
  3. Payment Handling Process
  4. Reporting Process
  5. Escalation and Dispute Resolution Process
  6. Management and Process Automation

To ensure ebilling success, processes must be reviewed and refined by their process owners – utilising insight from reporting and reflection on how we the process implements policy and supports the overarching philosophy.  Processes should evolve over time and may even feed back into policy review.

Ebilling isn’t just academic

As a leading supplier of outsourced ebilling services, we put all of the above academic considerations into practice on a daily basis.  Approaching ebilling with a thought to philosophy first, policy second and process third, ensures completeness and delivers ebilling success more quickly and consistently than jumping straight into process application.

Not everyone has the time or resources to study for an MBA and become familiar with the detail around these points, but outsourcing your ebilling requirements to Netsend provides you with the assurance that the approach will follow this best practice.

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