Directing the Flow of Invoices

May 2, 2011 by Daniel Hardt

The DSC add-on EKDS helps bring receivables management up to speed in the energy industry (image: Fotolia)

The DSC add-on EKDS for receivables management in the energy industry (image: Fotolia)

For employees of prego services GmbH – which provides management, billing, and IT services to customers in the midmarket, public sector, and energy industry – handling the receivables of utility companies used to be a tedious matter.

In the course of the legal separation of grid operations and energy sales, partners in the energy market began having to exchange a significant amount of data while adhering to precise specifications. Deregulation has also ushered in a variety of new requirements and processes in receivables management – particularly for grid operators.

Displaying account balances with SAP

This subsidiary of Pfalzwerke AG, VSE AG and Enovos AG had already been using SAP’s standard means of displaying account balances for many years. “However, we were missing a great deal of information we really rely on to communicate in the deregulated industry,” explains Ms. Segura, who works in receivables management in prego’s billing department.

External invoice numbers are one of the items the account balance display doesn’t show in its standard form. These are needed to identify individual grid customers and verify whether the payments referenced have been made or if claims registered by the supplier are justified. In such cases, prego employees used to have no choice but to search for these items based on the amounts invoiced and their due dates.

Next page: The EKDS add-on from DSC

Displaying an individual customer (screenshot: DSC GmbH)

Displaying an individual customer (screenshot: DSC GmbH)

Issuing an invoice (screenshot: DSC GmbH)

Issuing an invoice (screenshot: DSC GmbH)

The EKDS add-on from DSC

“The idea of somehow changing this situation originated from a discussion we had with a DSC consultant in late 2008,” Segura recalls. “DSC has been providing us with IT support for years and regularly sends it experts to us, so it knows exactly where our issues lie.”

In cooperation with prego, employees of DSC Unternehmensberatung und Software GmbH (link in German) drafted a concept for an add-on solution that would enhance SAP’s standard account balance display with new fields for detailed information, thus facilitating receivables management.

To tailor the solution to users’ needs, their feedback was incorporated into the development process. The pilot phase then began in early 2009 with the installation of the first version of the new EKDS add-on at prego, followed by operational testing and constant fine-tuning.

“At the time, we were mainly busy working on a major unbundling project for Pfalzwerke AG, so the account balance display was a secondary issue at first,” Segura explains. In early 2010, prego’s employees began making more intensive use of the solution, which drove its development.

By mid-2010, the solution comprised 53 new fields, which DSC then divided into three display variants designed for different purposes. Users can now view account balances from the perspective of end customers, invoice issuers, and invoice recipients, or assemble a configuration of rows that suits their particular needs.

False complaints easy to spot

The final version of the add-on was implemented in the fall of 2010. Required information on individual business transactions is now available at the push of a button, which speeds up verification. For example, users can identify the invoices for which payment advice notes already exist, items that are still open, and why a supplier has registered a claim.

The solution also clarifies whether complaints are justified by displaying individual accounts. “Having fully disentangled our receivables management thanks to the add-on, we’re working not only much faster, but better in general. We now spot every unfounded complaint and every overdue payment,” Segura reports in summary.

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