July 2023

Unit4 Financials by Coda

Complex Billing Challenges Solved:Introducing MBilling for Unit4 Financials by Coda

As a business evolves, the finance function must ensure that billing processes remain fit for purpose. A sub-optimal billing system can leave you with cash flow woes, revenue leakage, dissatisfied customers, and a mountain of extra work to handle.

Millennium’s powerful sales invoicing solution, MBilling can provide a future-proofed alternative to legacy processes. Designed for Unit4 Financials by Coda customers and underpinned by order-to-cash specialists, MBilling ensures billing processes are able to support business growth – rather than being a barrier to it.

Here’s a closer look at the challenges associated with complex billing and at how MBilling can address them.

Complex billing defined

According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect a personalised approach from the companies they do business with. Meanwhile, 80% of B2B buyers expect the same buying experience as B2C customers, with 65% of business buyers saying vendors are not demonstrating an adequate understanding of their needs.

With customers increasingly demanding a personalised service, many businesses are finding that a rigid approach to billing is no longer good enough. Tailor-made packages and usage-based pricing are often a much better fit for customer expectations than ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ bundles.

Between 2021 and 2022, the global subscription market grew from $72 billion to $120 billion. It’s part of a wider trend of businesses taking a long hard look at pricing and distribution before tweaking – and in many cases, overhauling – their model. The end result can often be a complex web of tiers, personalised price plans, subscription options, and add-ons.

All of this has a direct impact on accounts receivable. Whenever pricing policies are altered to make the customer experience more personalised, rarely do those changes make the model simpler! Invariably, the list of variables by which you engage financially with customers will be extended substantially.

The end result is that you find yourself operating in the realms of complex billing. This is where invoices are no longer dependent solely on volume or time. Rather, billing takes into account a wide range of parameters, which could include bespoke contractual agreements, customer type, size and location, preferred payment method, loyalty discounts, and special plans (to name just a few).

Complex billing challenges

When it comes to administration and management, complex billing can give rise to the following issues:

In a simpler world, drawing up an invoice meant checking the volume and matching it against a set price list.

Once you are in complex billing territory, there is a much wider range of variables to take into account. What category does this customer belong to? What does the contract say? What optional extras or discounts are relevant? What special terms have been agreed at different stages of the customer journey?

The answers to these questions may not all be in one location. Depending on your tech stack, key information could be scattered across various CRM and finance systems, contract repositories, pricing documents, spreadsheets – and even email threads lurking in account handlers’ inboxes.

Against this backdrop, the billing process involves the collection and consolidation of data from disparate areas of the business from multiple systems and in multiple formats. It’s a recipe for error – and for a drawn-out process.

Difficulties with complex billing are often compounded in the case of transactions with an international element. Along with all the data-gathering issues detailed above, you can also find yourself dealing with complications over region-specific pricing policies and currency conversions. This may be in addition to VAT, invoice formatting and other regulations that can vary per product, per customer, per company, and per country.

The business risks associated with sub-optimal billing processes are pretty obvious. If those processes are prone to error, this increases the likelihood of customer queries, lengthening the time-to-payment – with knock-on implications for cash flow, and possibly also revenue leakage.

Does this enterprise client’s 5% volume discount apply before or after the loyalty bonus? Should I treat this element as part of the package or as an optional extra? If billing is a manual process with lots of variables to consider, it can increase the chances of finance team members or branch offices adopting their own interpretation of the rules.

The emergence of an inconsistent billing process is a further risk that should not be overlooked. If your customer’s accounts payable team notices that bills vary from quarter to quarter – depending on whoever happened to be responsible for calculating it – then an erosion of trust is inevitable.

A company’s billing process tends not to be simple one day and then complex the next. More typically, it grows in complexity as go-to-market and pricing strategies evolve. Consequently, the workflows linked to billing – e.g., the systems you need to access to gain relevant information, pricing data to consult, and the signoffs to seek – can also evolve over time.

One problem here is the risk of a single point of failure, e.g., the existence of just one person in your team who understands the Excel formula used to apply a certain billing rule in the right way.

Another problem relates to the onboarding of new people. Longstanding team members will have absorbed your various process changes organically over time. For new recruits, however, it’s a case of getting them familiarised with what may be a complicated and counter-intuitive series of tasks. Training in this area can be a complex process in itself.

What is MBilling?

MBilling is Millennium Consulting’s powerful and flexible billing solution, designed to address exactly the kind of issues detailed above for companies with complex needs, or who need to generate high volumes of invoices.

The solution is underpinned by ICORP, a leader in order-to-cash technology, designed to be customised to precisely meet your billing requirements – however complex your operating model.

Seamless integration is a key feature of the solution. It is built to work with Unit4 Financials by Coda, both on-premise and in the cloud. It offers frictionless integration with whatever ERP system you use, external applications and databases – including Microsoft Excel and email solutions.

How does MBilling work?

With MBilling, you can finally replace those error-prone and resource-intensive workflows for the collection of the data from disparate sources necessary to generate invoices.

The ICORP algorithms under the bonnet of MBilling are data miners par excellence. The system will automatically identify and lift all relevant data – including, for instance, email attachments – and apply them to your system as structured data. The process is quick, accurate and error-proof.

Through its calculation engine, MBilling can calculate the pricing for your billing, taking into account all relevant variables (e.g., tax, product, customer characteristics, etc) according to rules defined by you. The process is fully automated but also allows you to set whatever validation steps you wish to apply. The system can also deal with automated intercompany bookings – with a useful function dedicated to royalty rights. (It is also possible to turn MBilling around, for instance, artists and producers could use the system to send a payment run.

Once the system has completed the complex billing calculation, the bill can be generated automatically.

If you want it to, MBilling can take all the invoices for one specific party and consolidate them in one large invoice. The frequency at which it generates invoices and all the rules behind it are completely configurable by you. It can do one-to-one invoicing if you want to. It can deal with multi-language invoicing – it will recognise the individual recipient and compile it accordingly. The solution can handle reverse billing and invoicing, repeat billing and invitation to invoice. All with validation and approval where desired.

You can also configure your solution to automatically forward invoices to relevant internal parties for approval.

You can configure rules for invoices to be printed, emailed internally or externally, or integrated according to whatever policies you have in place.

Relevant information will be posted automatically to Unit4 Financials, including intercompany processing where relevant. This full Unit4 Financials integration applies whether you are on the cloud, SaaS, VM, or on-premise.

The ICORP Intelligence Monitoring Tool is hardwired into the MBilling solution. This ensures full data alignment so that when a bill is issued, the transaction is fed through immediately to your master data, so you always have access to a real-time picture of business performance and financial health.

What next?

By implementing MBilling, Unit4 Financials users can always be confident that invoices are accurate and submitted in a timely manner – no matter how complex your operating model is. To find out more, download our factsheet or submit your details and one of our MBilling experts will be in touch.

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