- Customer service provider (CSP) — Primarily
responsible for presenting invoices from all billers to the customer.
The CSP also converts invoice information into a customer-appropriate
format (see Figure 2). From the CSP interface, the
customer can make a payment, check on the status of an invoice (open/released),
and check payment releases and debits to the account.
- Consolidator — The consolidator is not visible
to the biller or customer; the BSP and CSP act as the direct interface
and integrate the customer/biller information via the consolidator.
The consolidator logs the current status of each business transaction.
Once the customer makes a payment, the consolidator sets the status
of the invoice to “completed” and closes the transaction.
The consolidator also handles communication with financial institutions,
transferring payment orders and accepting debit or credit memos.
|| The Customer’s View of Invoices with the SAP Biller Consolidator
Other business transactions in the financial
supply chain that SAP Biller Consolidator supports include issue and reversal
of an invoice, release and rejection of an invoice, individual payment,
credit memo and credit memo reversal, and dunning notice.
Integrating Your Business Partners: How It Works
You may look to incorporate the entire Biller Consolidator into your operations,
take on the CSP or BSP functions only, or use the services of an ASP.
In any case, if you are already running SAP solutions, you will benefit
from additional features available from the Biller Consolidator for more
efficient invoicing and payment.
As long as a biller is able to create
a structured XML invoice, they can access the Biller Consolidator’s
BSP and upload invoices. For billers with SAP systems, though, adding
the SAP Biller Consolidator also allows you to create an electronic invoice
using an IDoc (the INVOICE02 IDoc)4 instead.
The SAP Business Connector5 at the biller’s
site then automatically converts the IDoc into an XML IDoc format and
sends it to the BSP. The BSP contacts the Consolidator using an XML message
and checks whether the customer is connected (and known) to the system,
and which format the customer requires.
In either case, what if your customer
requires an invoice in an EDIFACT format instead of an IDoc or XML? The
BSP would convert the SAP IDoc into the EDIFACT format and forward this
file to the consolidator, all without an additional EDI sub-system.
With an SAP system on the customer side,
you can receive electronic invoices directly into your system, instead
of accessing the CSP. You simply need the SAP Business Connector to receive
invoices as XML-IDoc. The SAP Business Connector converts these XML-IDoc
invoices into the INVOICE02 IDoc. The type of invoice verification you
use will drive activities in the system, such as the approval workflow
or matching of orders and invoices.
One further benefit of the IDoc approach
is the additional data — a transaction reference number and a URL
— that comes to customers from the Consolidator system. To speed
up invoice processing and reconciliation, the transaction reference number
is a unique identifier assigned by the Biller Consolidator to each business
case, and the URL contains a link to the original invoice, stored at the
BSP. Both are automatically linked with the open item in the SAP system.
This gives the clerks handling invoice verification immediate access to
the original invoice, without scanning or re-entering invoice data.
What’s more, if you are using an
optical archive, you can receive the entire invoice as a PDF document,
store the PDF in your archive, and link directly to the open item via
the archive link — making invoice verification that much easier.
This improved exchange of information achieved by streamlining
your invoicing process has immediate impact on time, costs, and labor
expenses. It reduces the average number of days sale outstanding (DSO)
for billers, thereby improving their cash flow, and shortens the time
needed for customers to review and pay bills. Customers can integrate
invoice data with their accounts receivable system and eliminate rekeying
of information. Even non-EDI customers can exchange invoice and payment
SAP Biller Consolidator is one component
within SAP Financial Supply Chain Management (FSCM), which is a key functional
area of mySAP Financials. Other FSCM components include SAP Biller Direct,
SAP Dispute Management, SAP Credit Management, SAP In-House Cash, and
SAP Treasury and Risk Management.
For more information on the
SAP Biller Consolidator, visit www.sap.com/solutions/financials.
1. Source: Datamonitor.
2. For an
overview of options for electronic payment,
see my article “Empowering Your Customers with Electronic
Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP)” in
the October-December 2001 issue of SAP Insider
3. See the
Ovum research report, “Electronic
Bill Presentment & Payment: Creating Opportunity
4 IDocs are an SAP data container for
the exchange of data between SAP and non-SAP systems.
5 Billers and customers with an SAP
system need SAP Business Connector to integrate their applications with
Biller Consolidator. SAP Business Connector provides bi-directional synchronous
as well as asynchronous communication to and from applications in an SAP
landscape, including SAP and non-SAP components and applications, as well
as web applications.
|Jürgen Weiss is Director of Product
Management in the GBU (General Business
Unit) Financials. He has degrees in Economics
and Business Administration from the Universities
of Heidelberg and Hagen. Jürgen joined
SAP in 1997 after a previous position as
PR Manager in a large German bank. He held
various positions within the company and
joined the Financials GBU in 2000. Jürgen
is globally responsible for the Financial
Supply Chain Management applications, including
Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment,
Dispute Management, and Credit Management.
Among his tasks are the roll-in of customer
requirements and the roll-out of the solution.