It’s month close, and the employees in the Central Billing department of Deutsche Börse AG in Frankfurt have their hands full. They have to create, print, and dispatch around 12,000 invoices in total for more than 3,000 customers of the Deutsche Börse group, mainly banks, investment companies, and trading houses. At the same time, the telephone is constantly ringing: customers call with inquiries about older bills or ask to receive a cost breakdown in advance by email, so that they can include the data in the current monthly statement.
To lessen the employees’ workload and at the same time offer a better customer service, Deutsche Börse AG decided to set up a Billing Portal, which can be used to access all the group’s invoices.
In the area of customer billing, Deutsche Börse AG has been working with SAP applications such as SAP R/3, SAP Customer Relationship Management and SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) for many years. It therefore made sense to set up the new portal on the basis of SAP Biller Direct to ensure easy integration in the existing IT landscape. SAP Biller Direct is a software for electronic billing and payment, with which invoices can be presented in various digital formats on the Internet.
The project began at the start of 2006 and was implemented rapidly and smoothly. The company-specific modifications were possible within customizing, so the standard software itself did not need to be adapted. The project team added an extra column to the invoice overview to provide the customer with additional, specific information. The payment function was also deactivated, because Deutsche Börse AG does not currently want to use the option offered by SAP Biller Direct of paying invoices online.
More service for customers
May 2006 saw the launch of the pilot phase, during which the company granted selected customers access to the new portal. Their feedback was also implemented in the project, including the request to provide an option for sorting certain columns in the invoice overview. The portal has been activated for the Clearstream subsidiary since November 2006, and the rollout for the other five companies in the Deutsche Börse is currently under way.
The Billing Portal is based on SAP NetWeaver Portal, is accessed via an SSL-encrypted website, and is supported by all the usual Internet browsers. Because the portal detects the Explorer’s language selection, it automatically displays the information in the required language – a big advantage for service, particularly for the international customers of Deutsche Börse AG.
Customers log on to the website with their user ID and password and can view all current and historical invoice data and save this locally in various formats. In addition to the conventional PDF, XML format is available, which has the advantage that invoice data can be directly imported to the company’s ERP solution. As a result, it is no longer necessary to enter the data manually or digitalize hard-copy invoices, which can save a lot of time. As an additional bonus for service, customers will in future automatically receive an email when a new invoice is available for them online.
As the portal eliminates postage times, the invoices are available much earlier. As a result, the billing department does not need to enter them as accruals/deferrals in the monthly statement, and therefore saves time. In addition, a few companies use the invoice data from the Billing Portal to charge on individual items or invoice amounts to their own customers.
Lost invoices are a thing of the past
The Billing Portal also has its advantages for Deutsche Börse AG. Among other things, compared to 2006, the number of inquiries from customers fell by one third in the first half of 2007. In view of the rising figures for access to the portal, the customer expects a further reduction in inquiries. This takes the pressure off the employees in the user department, who then have more time to concentrate on issuing invoices. In addition, the portal solution reduces not only the length of time for which items are outstanding at Deutsche Börse AG, it also eliminates the risk of invoices getting lost in the mail and not reaching the intended recipient.
In a subsequent project step, Deutsche Börse AG plans to include a qualified digital signature for the invoices made available in the portal, so that they can be used effectively for sales tax/VAT. In the long term, the portal should reduce the creation and dispatch of hard-copy invoices to a minimum and thus contribute further to operating cost savings.
In future, Deutsche Börse wants to provide its customers with detailed reports on billing data from SAP BW via the portal, for example monthly overviews of invoice volumes, which simplify controlling.
Feedback from customers is positive: the additional service offered by the Billing Portal has been well received. At the same time, the company is also setting a standard with its innovative approach and use of future-oriented technologies.