Automation of Risky Manual Billing Process


SITUATION:  A regional North American telecom carrier relied heavily on a revenue stream derived from terminating long distance calls of its wholesale customers.  Contracts with wholesalers were very complex, taking into account not only the distance of call termination, but also how rural and remote the areas of termination were.  The carrier had a goal of adding fifty to seventy wholesale customers within a year since this revenue stream had been identified as critical to the business.

The carrier had two legacy billing systems, one for wholesale customers and one for retail customers.  Their IT department lacked the subject matter expertise on the legacy systems to be able to implement complex new wholesale customers into the existing systems.  When the carrier’s billing team attempted to integrate new customers into the legacy systems – a process that took them 12 months - the resulting bills were so inaccurate that they were all discarded.

A Revenue Assurance analyst at the carrier took matters into his own hands and built a manual desktop-based billing process using Microsoft Office applications and siphoning raw traffic off the carrier’s mediation device.  Although he did a good job of creating an ad hoc solution, it was a very risky solution since he was the only person who knew how to run it, and also involved a long development window to add each customer since the process was entirely manual.  



·        Familiarity with both legacy billing systems:  CABS for wholesale and CBP for retail.

·         Ability to create repeatable, automated solutions.  


SOLUTION:  An Alliance project manager and team of developers were engaged initially to build a comprehensive and repeatable requirements template.  Next they selected two new wholesale customers and developed code that integrated with the legacy billing systems and produced accurate, automated bills.  The approach was table-driven, modular, and easy to apply to new wholesale customers as the business signed additional contracts.


RESULTS:   The initial development window using internal resources was 12 months per wholesale customer and resulted in failed code.  Alliance’s development window adding its first wholesale customers was a total of six weeks, from signed contract to billable records and including the time required to create the solution, and the code was successful.  Having laid the foundation for a repeatable process, Alliance’s second wholesale customer addition required less than four weeks.  With the addition of yet another layer of scalable, table-driven architecture, the addition of the third customer  required two weeks, and customers number four and beyond can be added in a seven-day development window.


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