2010-1Q: BILLING: Import Billing Feature - Batch uploading of Subscription Records into SIMPLer

A new Import Billing Feature feature has been added to the SIMPLer platform. This feature will allow an operator to upload external subscriber billing information into SIMPLer which has been generated on another system. A typical example is where an Operator has outsourced some services to a third party (e.g. VoIP service), but they would like to have the ability to charge for these services on a unified invoice that is generated within SIMPLer. Subscribers who have been assigned products of the "IMPORT" type will have the ability to be charged on their subsequent invoices based on the records that are imported into SIMPLer.

In summary, this feature gives the Operator the ability to upload a Common-separated values (CSV) spreadsheet with the amounts to be charged and the associated SIMPLer customer and these charges will then appear on the subscribers next invoice under the corresponding 'Import' PRODUCT Description.

STEP 1: Setup PRODUCTS of Type "Import"

The first step that is required in order to use the Import Billing Feature, is to define an 'Import' type product under the 'PRODUCTS' TAB - see Fig 1a below.

Fig 1a - "PRODUCTS" TAB showing example of "Product Type = IMPORT"

When defining the product, the operator should set "Product Type" to "Import" for the external products that will be imported. As the imported values may not be the actual final amount charged to the subscriber, the operator has the ability to define an import formula. The default import formula is set to %%IMPORTVALUE%% which means that whatever was imported will be treated as a final amount charged. However, the operator can define any type of formula. For example, to charge only 10% of the imported value the operator might use the formula: %%IMPORTVALUE%% / 10.

Should the Operator wish to have a minimum charge associated with the product, then there is the ability to define a "Price". For example, in Fig 1b below,

- the Subscriber will be charged $10 (before taxes) should the IMPORTVALUE be "0"

- the Subscriber will be charged $11 (before taxes) should the IMPORTVALUE be "6"

Note: Price is a minimum price so if calculated price after applying the formula is higher than the "Price" then the formula value is used otherwise the "Price" value is used.

Fig 1b - "PRODUCT" Record

STEP 2: Assign PRODUCT of Type "Import" to Subscriber's Record

The import product(s) have to be assigned as a subscription to subscriber accounts. If the product is not assigned then any records for that customer in the CSV file will be ignored.

STEP 3: Importing/Uploading of External Billing Records csv file

On a periodic basis, the operator would upload a csv file to SIMPLer containing external billing information pertaining to specified subscribers. The import can be performed from the "Invoices" TAB via the 'Import Flexible Product Subscription' link.

Fig 3a - "Invoices" TAB showing option to Import External Billing Records

It's important to note, that the two first columns of the CSV file to be imported should contain:

    1. Customer's Invoicing ID

    2. Value to be Imported

Any further columns will not be used by the import procedure. While importing the file, the operator has the ability to specify a particular product to which the imported data file applies. By default the amount will be used in calculations associated with all 'import' products that are associated with the subscribers. However, there is the ability to confine the calculations to a specific "import" product if an operator has multiple third party services. For example, the Operator may have one import that pertains to VoIP billing and another that pertains to Hosting services. If that were the case the operator would need to upload separate CSV files for each product.

Fig 3b - Import / Upload CSV File

STEP 4: Verifying Import

After the file is uploaded, the values will automatically be included under each associated subscriber account for the next invoice generated. Note that the process only applies to 'Recursive' invoices. The operator can verify the values imported by clicking on the yellow "P" icon. Each imported entry can be deleted, provided it has not already been used in the generation of invoices. See Fig 4b for examples of imported details.

Fig 4a - Import / Upload CSV File after the import

Fig 4b - Detailed Imported Values

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