Billing Integration: Billing Identifiers


With the recent enhancement that makes it possible to relate effort classes to service offerings, a large step was taken in enabling MSPs to invoice the services they provide to their customers using 4me data.  It allows work effort, recorded in time entries, to be related to a contract with their customer: the service level agreement.  A next large step has now been taken, by enabling organizations to relate billable events in 4me directly to their invoicing tool, using billing identifiers.

Billable events in 4me can mean several things for a Managed Service Provider.  Apart from time entries related to effort classes, which are used when a contract is based on time and materials, a service provider can invoice their customers per activity (fixed price).  This is usually the case for standard service requests.  RFCs, RFIs and incidents can either be invoiced as fixed price or time and materials.  There is commonly also a monthly charge for the contract itself.

To be able to relate all these possible events to the external invoicing tool of the MSP, a ‘Financial Details’ section has been added to the service level agreement form, which is maintained by a person with the Financial Manager role of the account of the SLA.

SLA billing ids

As made clear in the example above, each SLA can have one Billing ID, which relates the SLA to a contract in the external system.  For each effort class that is defined in the related service offering, a Charge ID can be entered in the SLA.  If in that service offering one or more standard service requests are related, then these are listed under ‘Activities’.  Activity IDs can also be entered for incidents with any of the impact levels (Top, High, Medium, Low), RFCs and RFIs.  To add all these identifiers to 4me, MSPs with large numbers of customers and contracts may want to use the import/export functionality for SLAs, which has been updated to include the ‘Financial Details’ section.

The billing identifiers are visible on time entries associated with a billable SLA.  In the example below, an RFI was registered in WDC and resolved by GlobalNet, who have the ‘Financial Details’ section as shown above defined on the SLA ‘Standard (2 Mbps) WAN Connectivity for Widget Europe (Amsterdam)’.

Request billing ids

As the request of this time entry was a request for information, the Activity ID selected by 4me was the one defined for RFIs in the SLA.  In case a request is both an RFC and a standard service request, the Activity ID for the standard service request is selected.  Time entries on tasks and workflows that are related to a request which, in turn, is related to a billable SLA, also contain the billing identifiers.

To enable MSPs to use the billing data and identifiers from 4me, the Billing IDs, Charge IDs and Activity IDs are now also included in the export of time entries.  They are retrieved dynamically from the respective SLAs.  Only when a timesheet for a specific month is locked are the identifiers written to the time entries.  This is important, as MSPs usually create a pro-forma invoice that needs to be verified and possibly adjusted.  After locking the timesheet, it is then possible to update identifiers on the SLA, if necessary.  This way of working ensures that the correct IDs are included in the export of the time entries, even if these IDs are modified during the life of the contract (of the SLA).

Whether the customer is invoiced based on time and materials or fixed price for work done on a request should still be defined and taken care of in the external invoicing tool, for now.  In the next iteration of the 4me Billing Integration feature it will be made possible to define the billing method and the charges on the service offering record.