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Billing Future

In parallel with the switch to S/4 Hana, Swiss Post has implemented the mass billing solution SAP BRIM, Billing and Revenue Innovation Management, in areas with high billing volumes to prepare for the digital services market of the future.
E-3 Magazine
September 22, 2022
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

So that the bill comes off like the mail.

Swiss Post is a modern company; in addition to traditional letter and parcel delivery, numerous other services comprise the broad service portfolio with logistics, communication and mobility services as well as PostNetz and PostFinance. Autonomous delivery robots have already been tested in Zurich, and the delivery of postal items by drones has been tested in inaccessible areas such as the Alps. With the consolidation of in-house developed billing solutions to the standard billing solution SAP BRIM, the way is paved to be able to bill any type of service effectively and transparently. 

"We bring Switzerland together - every day - since 1849" is the slogan of the service company. To ensure that this continues to be the case in the future, the digital transformation project HWF, Harmonization of Value Flows, kicked off the conversion from ERP/ECC 6.0 to S/4 in 2018. In the course of its long history, Swiss Post had already reinvented and realigned itself several times. However, logistics services with letter and parcel services still account for the majority of the core business. "The changeover with our ERP to S/4 Hana, which uses the high-performance in-memory database system Hana, can hardly be compared to previous transformation processes. Several billing streams of the core area logistics services had to be brought onto the new platform in parallel under high time pressure".Markus Hägele, team leader for financial solutions at Swiss Post, explains. However, this step was more than necessary for the development of innovative, needs-oriented products and services, because digital services are increasingly being added to the physical products. 

The Logistics Services division combines all logistics services to meet the basic supply mandate. In this area alone, the diversity of business areas becomes apparent: whether courier, express parcel logistics, national and international settlement of letter and parcel shipments, goods logistics or specific industry solutions, customs clearance through to digital logistics platforms - the range of services is enormous. "There are many processes running in the background that need to be mapped in our IT and ERP"Philipp Muri, ERP Business Partner at Swiss Post, knows. 

"But what good is the best ERP software on the market if the billing and invoicing of modern, digital services in SAP SD is only possible to a limited extent, especially in the mass market?"Markus Hägele points out. In other industries such as utilities or telecommunications, this problem has been known and solved for years; with SAP BRIM, other industries can now also benefit from an integrated, powerful end-to-end offer-to-cash solution. 

SAP BRIM maps the entire offer-to-cash business process, with offer creation, billing or valuation and pricing of the services used, right through to invoicing and receivables management. 

With over 200 million parcel shipments, around 25 million small consignments imported and processed, and almost two billion letter deliveries a year, a huge amount of billing-relevant data is generated. Whether these are billed directly via the 800 or so company-operated branches or via the other access points such as the branch partner network, business customer offices, locations with in-house service and service points at third parties, it is a real challenge for billing. And by 2024, the network is set to grow again to a total of 5,000 access points.

Get out of the add-on trap

"With such masses of data, most billing systems reach their limits, processing takes too long, performance collapses." knows Markus Hägele, who as team leader for financial solutions at Swiss Post must always have an overview of value and goods flows. By the end of 2020, eleven other invoicing solutions, some of which were developed in-house and highly customized, were in use for this purpose in addition to SAP SD. "Rigid, homegrown systems like this are always a challenge"Philipp Muri points out. If, for example, a new parcel type of up to 60 kilos and priority shipping were added to the service catalog, it was always a great challenge to map this adequately in all the affected systems. "In order to be able to respond flexibly to the requirements from the business, we in IT have always had to put a lot of effort into updating the processes in all the invoicing systems that are operated, and we have had to manage quite a bit."  And because Swiss Post is an innovative company, new service offerings were constantly being added and had to be mapped immediately. IT then developed add-ons to the billing systems for the new offerings. "This then resembled more of a Sisyphean task, the complexity was hardly manageable, in addition the administrative effort increased and the maintainability of the systems required an enormous amount of manpower, not to mention the performance"Philipp Muri looks back.  

When Swiss Post started the switch to S/4 Hana a few years ago with the major project HWF, Harmonization of Value Flows, the implementation of BRIM was a sub-project of it. The goal of the program was to merge and centralize existing systems and solutions in the core area of logistics services. The top priority for HWF was to remain as close to the standard as possible, and this was also the case for the implementation of BRIM. "We see it as our duty to harmonize and standardize so that such a project does not get out of hand. Under no circumstances should previous solutions, which were usually very individually tailored to everything, simply be copied one-to-one in SAP BRIM."Markus Hägele expressly emphasizes. Not because every customization is possible should it be adopted, because ultimately this would be reflected in the IT maintenance costs. "It's also our job to convince everyone, if possible, that only the standard can be the right way forward." With BRIM, Swiss Post has found a standard solution that is part of the S/4 Enterprise Management solution and is designed for the billing and invoicing of mass data.

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