Money makes the world go round. While some may take issue with this statement, it’s hard to deny that managing one’s own finances is a big part of being successful. There’s also been two new trends to observe over the past years. One, CFOs are becoming more important for sustainable business strategies; and two, IT tools for finance processes are becoming more comprehensive. SAP partner GTW’s Jasmina Cejan talks about Billing and Revenue Innovation Management (BRIM) with E-3 editor-in-chief Peter M. Färbinger.
Digital transformation kicked many trends into high gear. One of the most important yet often neglected ones is the new position of the CFO, who has been traditionally responsible for accounting, controlling and budgeting.
Jochen Schwabe from Schwabe, Ley & Greiner, a finance and treasury management consultancy, highlighted the new responsibilities of CFOs at an SAP partner event in Hamburg, Germany. Concerning e-commerce, for example, CFOs now have to ensure end-to-end processes, according to Jochen Schwabe. Or, concerning digitalization, CFOs have to be actively involved in creating and establishing new business processes.
Payments and treasury
Jochen Schwabe’s talk in Hamburg was called “The Future of Payments”. His demands for the new CFO: centralize processes, prevent fraud, expand IT know-how, actively support the core business and digitalization, and make treasury a central element of your successful, agile company. One of many SAP tools for digitalized finance management is BRIM – Billing and Revenue Innovation Management (formerly known as Hybris Billing).
SAP partner GTW is a leading provider and project manager of BRIM in German-speaking countries. Almost no other consultancy has as much comprehensive experience with billing and revenue innovation. Jasmina Cejan, Principal Consultant at GTW Management Consulting, talked to E-3 Magazine and explained the strategy behind SAP BRIM and how to leverage the tool.
The results of a study that Jochen Schwabe conducted highlighted that 93 percent of users expect the digitalization of treasury to guarantee higher process efficiency. Billing and revenue innovation is supposed to guarantee the same gains in efficiency. “Current sales models require a highly connected and up-to-date database with the possibility of effective data analysis for sales success,” explains Jasmina Cejan. “SAP BRIM fulfills these requirements in every way and enables companies to visualize the entire Offer2Cash chain in more detail than ever before.”
Customer behavior, billing and pricing
Through versatile and fast evaluation, BRIM users can factor customer behavior into their offers and pricing lists and are therefore able to provide customers with individual and flexible products. “The trend is continuously moving away from proprietary models and towards renting, leasing and subscriptions,” explains Cejan the new market trend. These new models allow customers to test products before definitively deciding, which reduces cognitive dissonance significantly. “SAP BRIM is the ideal tool for flexible product offering and pricing,” Cejan adds.
SAP BRIM revolutionizes billing. BRIM allows users to establish flexible and efficient billing processes without neglecting the integration of existing billing systems. SAP BRIM offers comprehensive functionalities spanning subscription and order billing, flexible pricing, automated and convergent invoicing, and personalized payment processing to establish digital business models and optimize new processes.
Some typical billing scenarios – which GTW has already implemented in real-life projects – show how flexible SAP BRIM really is. The component ‘Contract Accounts Payable and Receivable’ (SAP FI-CA) includes a subledger which was specifically developed for industries with a huge customer base and subsequently a lot of billing processes involving mass data processing. Therefore, SAP BRIM is ideal for industries like insurance, utilities, telecommunication, media as well as the public sector.
“Because of its high level of automation and integration, the SAP BRIM solution functions as enabler and driver for companies’ digital transformation efforts,” says Jasmina Cejan. A 360-degree view puts the customer in the center of operations and binds them to the company.
New customer-specific products can quickly be modelled in BRIM and pushed into the market which guarantees enormous competitive advantages. “Through SAP’s best-practices approach, preconfigured processes fulfill a majority of industries’ requirements,” Cejan adds. “Every customer journey should have BRIM as billing system at the helm.”
Prices, contracts and invoices
Every day, consumers are bombarded with advertisements. If a product piques their interest, they start researching the different variants before deciding on one and ordering it – online or in brick-and-mortar stores. “With the purchase, the contract is drawn up, the price is calculated, the invoice is created and posted – and this is exactly what SAP BRIM does, among many more other things,” Cejan explains.
SAP BRIM and Hybris Billing belong together. Jasmina Cejan recounts, “Hybris has been part of the SAP suite since 2013. In the past years, its name has been changed countless times. In 2015, BRIM was changed to Hybris Billing to put the customer center stage and to push BRIM onto Hana. To truly become customer centric, all solutions running under the name SAP Hybris and other acquired solutions were brought together under a new name in 2018 – and C/4 Hana was born. The ‘C’, of course, refers to the customer while the ‘4’ represents the fourth-generation CRM.
“With C/4, SAP offers customers a comprehensive frontend integrated with the powerful S/4 Hana backend to be able to cover the entire process of customer management. Because of this new direction – and because there have been some mix-ups with SAP Hybris Commerce – SAP Hybris Billing got yet again a new (old) name – SAP Billing and Revenue Innovation Management or BRIM.”
BRIM for ERP/ECC and S/4
SAP BRIM can either be based on ERP/ECC 6.0 or S/4. The main difference is the component SAP CRM. In S/4, this component is integrated directly and is called Customer Management. Consequently, the replication of master data necessary in ECC can be avoided, no middleware required, and there’s no duplicated objects anymore.
“BRIM is not part of C/4. It belongs in the S/4 Hana realm,” explains Jasmina Cejan. “However, this doesn’t mean that BRIM cannot be integrated in the cloud. There are components available in C/4 that allow customers to leverage BRIM functionalities – like e.g. subscription billing – in the cloud, regardless of whether they have an ECC or S/4 system. C/4 can be used as an independent system with no SAP ERP backend as well.”
For long-standing SAP customers, it is therefore especially important to note that SAP BRIM is available in ERP/ECC 6.0, SAP Business Suite and S/4, on prem or in the public cloud. Furthermore, there’s also the aforementioned C/4 solution for subscription billing consisting of BRIM components.
“The added benefit in S/4 is that customer management leverages the same data model as S/4 Hana and S/4 components like pricing and billing. Consequently, there’s no need for the replication of master data, middleware or the duplication of objects. Hana database functionalities reach their full potential,” explains Principal Consultant Cejan.
The current challenge of almost all SAP customers is the business, organizational and technical transformation. In an SAP architecture, BRIM can be used more flexibly than almost any other IT tool. Furthermore, BRIM is also the perfect solution for digital transformation. “Many customers are currently struggling with transforming their company from a product-focused to a service-oriented business. Business processes, established and cultivated over decades, suddenly become obsolete, and the entire value chain changes as a result,” summarizes Jasmina Cejan.
More information and easier comparison have given customers a lot of power, meaning the competition between providers has gotten even more heated. Customers expect tailored products and pricing models, excellent customer service as well as easy and intuitive billing. Jasmina Cejan is convinced that BRIM is the ideal solution to offer pricing and billing models like pay-per-use, subscriptions, bundles and more while being able to determine pricing in real time.
BRIM helps to quickly and sustainably fulfill customer requirements as well as reduce lead time and costs. High data volumes can be processed efficiently.
In talks with E-3 Magazine, Jasmina Cejan explained that the Offer2Cash process already starts in the online shop. Most consumers come across new products on the internet and comfortably order online. Customers do not have a lot of time and want to complete things fast, regardless of whether they are purchasing something or signing up for a subscription service.
The fastest way is to decide on a product or subscription model online, enter personal data and accept the terms and conditions. Companies then draw up a new contract, create an invoice and post the order. If the customer doesn’t pay, there’s more steps involved, like reminders, debt collection, and so on. How does BRIM support this E2E process?
“BRIM supports the entire process, starting with customer and contract management, product configuration in SAP Customer Relationship Management, pricing in SAP Convergent Charging, billing of services and invoicing in SAP Convergent Invoicing and ending with debt collection management as well as traditional subledger processes in SAP FI-CA,” Cejan explains a possible business case.
BRIM use case
One last question for Jasmina Cejan: what, in her opinion, is the most convincing use case for SAP BRIM?
“There’s many interesting use cases, but the most convincing one has to be the implementation of a broker model. It involves an international online platform where developers and customers meet. The developers come from many different countries, using the online platform to sell their apps to customers just like in the Google Play Store, which offers games, apps, movies, shows, books and music for Android phones.
“SAP BRIM ensures that the invoices reach the customers, that the payments reach the developers and that the developer commission reaches the broker model’s owner. Another important aspect is tax processing, since both the developer’s and the customer’s home address have to be accounted for. If either one of them is located in the U.S. for example, then tax processing through jurisdiction code and an external tax system like Vertex are necessary.”
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SAP CI, CC and CM
SAP Convergent Invoicing (CI) consists of two components, billing and invoicing. CI is an additional component of ‘Contract Accounts Payable and Receivable’ (SAP FI-CA) and enables customers to implement complex and convergent billing and invoicing processes. CI manages billable items from SAP Convergent Charging or other systems and combines them in one invoice. Invoicing takes care of invoices from different SAP (SD Billing, CRM Billing) and non-SAP systems, creates convergent invoices and books the total amount in the subledger SAP FI-CA. Furthermore, it is possible to transfer the course of physical products from existing SAP SD orders and combine them to one invoice with services in Convergent Invoicing.
SAP Convergent Charging (CC) takes care of charging (evaluating contracting parties and charges) and rating events and consumptions, especially concerning high transaction volumes. Transactions are processed in batch or real time, single and recurring fees are calculated and orders are managed. The result are the billable items.
SAP Convergent Mediation (CM) is an independent system inside the BRIM solution for processing, normalizing and distributing transactions. The solution aggregates and consolidates raw data from networks and transforms them into usable information for CC and subsequent systems. SAP CM connects the various components and provides comprehensive functionalities ensuring that external and internal systems can communicate with each other as efficiently as possible.