About 100,000 NS customers have been exempt from paying for the use of OV-fiets and other door-to-door services they’ve utilized for months.
The cause: an unnoticed glitch in the financial system, partially due to the effects of COVID-19, led to the non-billing of the trips taken. The unaccounted amount, around 1 million euros, stands as a significant revenue loss even by NS standards. Rectifying this is relatively straightforward, yet it prompts a critical reevaluation of the entire process. The question arises: how can such oversights be prevented?
Safeguarding the Process
Drawing on years of experience in managing client billing processes, FIQAS has established procedures and tools to oversee the entire spectrum, from overbilling to underbilling or non-billing. Here are a few practical tips:
Tip 1: Structured Approach
Billing is a meticulous process crucial for incoming payments, essentially the lifeblood of any company. Typically, billing processes follow a series of relatively static steps that need precise execution in a specific sequence. FIQAS suggests creating a checklist/report for each billing process, serving as a control mechanism to ensure every step is correctly executed, aligning with expectations.
In some cases, checks validate automated steps, while in others, manual intervention is required before proceeding. Only when everything aligns can billing continue because even a 99.99% accurate invoice is still an erroneous one.
Tip 2: Ensure Process Integrity
A simple rule: ‘What goes in must come out or be accounted for.’ Whether initiating billing with hundreds or millions of transactions, every transaction should be part of an invoice. Problematic transactions need to be exceptions waiting for resolution. The total of processed and unprocessed transactions should match the initial count.
FIQAS maintains an ‘auditable’ system where each transaction, among hundreds of millions monthly, undergoes multiple process steps from importation to billing. Tracking individual transaction stamps and process totals assures the billing manager that all transactions are accounted for and processed correctly.
Tip 3: System Integration Alignment
Even with tight control over billing processes, any hitch in data delivery can lead to missing transactions and revenue discrepancies. To address this, every system in the chain should generate alignment reports. Comparing these reports ensures the delivered and received transaction counts match throughout the chain, securing uniformity. This is why implementing alignment reports is standard practice in our implementations.
Tip 4: Data Holds the Key
Quantities alone aren’t all-encompassing; it’s about interpreting the data. Services rendered are reflected in digital transactions, containing parameters crucial for assigning the correct price to each transaction.
Take a phone call, for instance, resulting in a transaction that includes parameters like the caller, destination, time, and duration of the call, determining the pricing for each party involved. Incorrect values within these parameters directly impact the invoiced amounts. Similarly, errors can arise from incorrect destination tariffs or other administrative discrepancies.
Historical data becomes crucial in verifying these aspects. Previous billing runs provide insights into the types of revenue generated over time. This information serves as a benchmark for assessing the current billing run. If a certain type of transaction is consistently invoiced at a specific value resulting from ‘x’ transactions monthly, it provides a reliable estimate for the current invoice run. Any significant deviations would be flagged, allowing investigation into the reasons behind them and rectification if necessary.
Various analytical tools exist for conducting these checks based on historical data and trends, including solutions developed by FIQAS. These tools are invaluable in ensuring accurate billing processes by leveraging past data to validate and maintain consistency in billing practices.
Tip 5: Trust Your Instinct
Last but not least, there’s something called intuition, common sense, or billing instincts. This is cultivated through years of invoicing. You learn the norms and exceptions, identifying which clients or product groups need extra attention, and more. There’s no course or book to read for this; it develops through practice.
The billing managers at FIQAS certainly possess this instinct. For them, billing is a full-time job, managing invoicing for various clients throughout the month. Their frequent exposure builds expertise rapidly, likely faster than someone who handles an organization’s billing just once a month.