Even though the problem is well-known, service companies are still processing their workflow, e.g. quotes, orders and invoices, using different applications and storage solutions despite the increasingly complex demands placed on them. “In order to evaluate processes end-to-end and raise invoices, heterogeneous system landscapes must first be linked manually”, explains Lutz Lambrecht, divisional manager for SAP consulting at TDS AG, when describing the shortcomings. However, a change in attitude has now taken place and many companies have identified their service processes as critical success factors. This change in attitude is vital for optimizing these processes and to ensure that companies remain successful and competitive in the future. “Providers of IT, insurance and building services, and service companies in the mechanical engineering and plant construction industries are under considerable cost pressure. They have to be able to raise invoices for their projects and services quickly, transparently and with minimum outlay”, continues Lutz Lambrecht. Here, for system technology reasons alone, service providers quickly reach their limits when it comes to raising invoices and evaluating their processes from start to finish. “Small and midsize service providers”, continues Lambrecht, “therefore need IT solutions such as the qualified mySAP All-in-One solution myTDS.Service which map their process chains from the quote to the invoice and, among other things, enable automatic billing of services.”
Documents at the press of a button
Service providers use the myTDS.Service industry solution, which is based on the current SAP 4.6C release, to monitor and manage the entire process from the quote and order to recording the work done and issuing invoices. The entire process is managed end-to-end in SAP R/3. According to the Neckarsulm-based SAP Business Partner, the industry solution is primarily based on the three basic processes “billing on work done”, “fixed-price billing” and “material-based service processing with service jobs”. In addition to this, various functions can be performed within these processes in myTDS.Service. For example, work done can be recorded and billed using the time sheet (CATS). The same applies to one-off jobs or periodic work such as maintenance and leasing. Lambrecht explains the advantages of the industry solution using the example of “billing on work done”. This means that staff can now use the CATS time sheet to enter their time directly into the SAP system and no longer need to maintain the data using customized templates such as Word or Excel. Depending on the work load, CATS automatically suggests an assignment between the member of staff and the project so that the member of staff can only post the work he/she has actually done. This also makes entry simpler. External consulting services are mapped using the MM module (service orders) and also posted using CATS. Additional information fields are used, for example, to maintain and evaluate identity numbers for call center activities or for evaluating consulting services. The dynamic post processor (DPP) also simplifies billing for different groups of employees, since an invoice based on work done is automatically produced by means of an appropriate assignment.
However, if a service provider bills at a fixed price then, according to TDS, this is done using the relevant data in the corresponding sales order or sales contract. In the invoice plan (payment plan), the system automatically creates sub-positions such as requests for downpayments, partial invoices and final invoices with reference to the project structure element number in the project. Work can be recorded directly either via the Internet or intranet. According to the Neckarsulm-based SAP Business Partner, the ease with which the solution can be integrated means that data inconsistency and data redundancy are prevented and existing interfaces with sub-systems can be dispensed with. Contract documents, time sheets and accounting documents are available at the press of a button and there is no need to waste time looking for them. The myTDS.Service industry solution also lists jobs clearly and ensures that all the work done is billed. This significantly reduces the organizational outlay for the controlling department, adds Lutz Lambrecht.
“One problem”, admits Lutz Lambrecht, “was delivering an overview of all the documents, work and services resulting during a service project, from the order being placed to the invoice being issued. These are sometimes kept in completely different file formats.” According to Lambrecht, the efficient management of documents and their history is a particularly critical success factor in the case of the paper-intensive processes used by service companies. The solution eventually arrived at by TDS was the DocuLink document management solution offered by the SAP Global Software Partner IXOS. This solution depicts all the documents resulting from a project in a variety of formats (PDF, Word and Excel files) in a structured manner and thereby maps the entire process chain from the quote to the invoice. The basis for structuring an overview in DocuLink can be freely defined. The only thing that is defaulted is the customer number.
“IXOS, a long-standing partner of TDS, also played a key role in developing the industry solution, since the myTDS.Service for service providers grew out of integrating the IXOS DocuLink product within the framework of implementing the SAP modules Project System (PS), Sales (SD) and CATS at IXOS”, explains Lambrecht. When studying the processes, the experts at TDS discovered that performance data recorded in a sub-system was transferred into the SAP system via an interface. This data had to re-evaluated in separate reports. “The end result was that an invoice could only be generated from a manually created job”, recalls Thorsten Fassnacht, Professional Service Manager at IXOS. “We wanted to replace this complicated arrangement with largely automated processes”, continues Fassnacht. The aim was not only to maintain all data in SAP in the future, but also to raise invoices automatically for work carried out. The Munich-based software company was thereby able to reduce the time required for the monthly accounting process for outward invoices from between approximately ten and twelve days to between four and five days, “a significant improvement which also reduces costs”, states Thorsten Fassnacht. As a result, Fassnacht comes to the conclusion that “documents, whether they be scanned documents, e-mails, Office documents, generated invoices or anything else, remain pivotal to our processes. We placed particular emphasis on this when developing our solution. Advisers, managers and back office staff have quick and easy access to all documents in the process.” Working together with experts from IXOS, this resulted in the creation of myTDS.Service, the first document-centric solution package for service providers.
Good balance of price and performance
The preconfigured and qualified mySAP All-in-One solution myTDS.Service is specially designed for the requirements of small and midsize service providers. TDS illustrates this by citing the hardware requirements for 80 users and includes a model calculation based on this. In terms of hardware equipment, all that is required is three CPUs, 4 GByte RAM and 70 GByte net disk space when using a free SAP database. Windows 2003 is installed as the operating system. According to the model calculation (80 users) by the Neckarsulm-based IT company, standard implementation costs around Euro 410,000. The calculation is based on an implementation period of between three and five months, 150 man-days and a team of three advisers in total. TDS estimates the costs of consulting services at Euro 192,000 and the SAP and IXOS DocuLink licenses are costed at approximately Euro 217,000. The price includes constructing the template, linking to an IST web server and two days of training for key users. SAP licenses can also be leased from TDS and customized settings are available for an extra charge. “In view of the performance and functionality of our solution, this is a very attractive price”, concludes Lambrecht.