Kirill Rechter, CEO at LogNet Billing, provides recommendations for billing system implementations at telcos and digital service providers.
Worldwide, service providers are seeking ways to improve their billing operations, mostly driven by the need to be agile and competitive. Legacy billing systems often fail in meeting the demands arising from today’s complex digital business models. At the same time, most new billing projects focus mainly on features and functionality and not necessarily the more important business outcomes.
As telcos continue to evolve into digital service providers (DSPs), billing is viewed as a strategic priority and not just a process of calculating usage and issuing invoices. Billing systems and the operations they support within an organization must underpin diverse new service propositions and business models that service providers are increasingly relying on to expand their revenue streams and meet the constant need to offer more Cloud-based VAS services, says Kirill Rechter, CEO at LogNet Billing.
The rapid evolution of mobile networks from the voice-only 2G to the ultra-fast and data-intensive 5G has brought dramatic changes in the way services are delivered. Furthermore, telcos are increasingly turning to the Cloud as a means to increase ARPU and offer more VAS services to both enterprise and retail customers. These ever-expanding B2B2C value chains involving multiple third parties also bring challenges in terms of revenue management and partner settlement.
However, commissioning a new billing system is just the starting point. What really matters is how the new solution is implemented. Just replacing one set of functionality with another will not bring any business value or benefits to the service provider if the business processes are not analysed and improved. This is the core of a solid new billing project strategy because the alternative of a poor implementation can lead to undesirable outcomes, including project delays and limited new business value.
According to Rechter, one reason why traditional billing projects can fall short of expectations is that deploying the billing software is treated as the end-goal. “In a quest to implement more system features and functions, the true business drivers for the project get easily overlooked. To make matters worse, the implementation often just replicates the service provider’s existing business processes and migrates the data to the new system, perpetuating the inefficiencies and outmoded practices of the past,” he explains.
Rechter clearly believes an ideal billing system upgrade should go beyond just adding new features and functionality and offers a number of important recommendations.
First, service providers must view billing as a critical enabler of their business goals, not an end in itself. The best results can be achieved if service providers realize that it is their strategic objectives that are driving their billing implementation.
Next, it is important that service providers align the procurement process with their strategic objectives. Traditionally, billing procurements are found to overemphasize on systems features and functionality to differentiate between suppliers. As a result, the strategic objectives get eclipsed, leading to poor results.
Rechter also considers that project readiness is another key consideration ahead of any billing deployment or upgrade. To get the best value from the new project, service providers must explore how the latest industry-best practices can be applied to streamline their operations and improve efficiency.
Typically, every project implementation is impelled by one or more business challenges. Thus, confronting the most difficult challenge first should be the key to unlocking the maximum business value from any billing implementation, according to Rechter.
Lastly, Rechter recommends that each phase of the project be planned to deliver definitive business benefits as quickly as possible. This requires an unwavering focus on the business objectives, along with strong governance to ensure that all team efforts are directed towards the agreed goals.