Our Commercial Director, Constantinos Peonides answers questions on ACTIS ERP’s Automated Billing Functionality.
Q: Why do we need to automate billing in this day and age?
As portfolios grow, both in size and geographical dispersity, and the market dynamics and needs are evolving, the financial management of renewable assets is getting more complex and demanding, bills and invoices being probably the best “problem” to automate…
Q: Why Automate Solar Billing?
Automating solar Billing can prove to be a great asset with regards to Accounts payable and Account’s receivables. Accounts payable because they refer to the amounts we need to pay out and accounts receivables referring to the amounts we need to receive in a timely manner to avoid cashflow and other problems.
Automating billing is a mechanical process, that is time consuming, but which entails a lot of mistakes if not done correctly. Its benefits include, but are not limited to, avoiding mistakes and delays and can use scarce resources in more value-added tasks.
Q: What are the billing capabilities of the ACTIS ERP system?
ACTIS ERP is fully customized, including billing and that is an exclusive part of the ACTIS ERP system.
Each country or state have different regulations, different ways of executing their billing and collecting data. Therefore, you need to be flexible; you must have a system that can be customized easily, even by the end user.
ACTIS ERP offers a wide range of billing functionalities. It does not have to be solely for the electricity that you are producing. In the case of asset managers providing services to third parties, that need to bill them based on the time that they spent on their portfolio, there is the time sheet functionality, through which you indicate the time that you did spend on each portfolio, associate that with the pre- agreed rate in the contract and automatically raise your invoice through ACTIS ERP. The transaction can then be synchronized with your accounting platform.
Q: And what about for O&M?
Yes, the second way that you can use the platform for billing is if you are providing operational and maintenance services. It is the same thing as with asset management services. But maybe it is not the time that you spend, but it is how many times you visit the plant for out-of-scope activities, based on your contract. Again, you need to do the billing. You can do the billing and invoicing from within the platform the same way you do if you are billing your time spent. You can then have the history of these activities and what the invoice refers to from within ACTIS ERP. All data would be registered into your account on the platform as well, which means you avoid double handling and errors.
Q: What’s the challenge with double handling? Why is that a problem?
Well, it is time consuming and it can lead to errors, when you are between something in one platform and then having to replicate that in another platform. It is not automatic, so you need to be careful, but whilst you can never avoid every minor error with ACTIS ERP you can avoid unwanted and unforced errors that would lead to discrepancies between what you wanted to charge or to bill and what you are billing.
Our clients are billing on the actual operations and the services that they are providing based on the contracts they have in place. So, they will need to dispatch people to the field, and log all the various activities and ensure that they are recovering all their costs in the billing. All of that can be done from within the platform.
if you are billing the energy that you are producing, or if you are taking subscribers, you can do that from within the platform in the same way that you would do that for services.
Q: What are most companies doing now for billing, those who do not have a similar system?
If you are invoicing clients based on the services that you are providing, an asset manager would need to tell you how much time they spent on providing the specific service or how much time they spent in the field repairing what was needed to be repaired. And then that needs to be translated into an invoice. It can be a time consuming, cumbersome process which we aim to transform through our billing functionality.
Q: What are the ACTIS ERP specific offerings for billing in merchant markets?
Where there are hourly prices, you need to associate them with the PPA and do your billing. If you automate this process, it means that the client saves a lot of time. Otherwise, you need to do this manually. What we are doing is collecting data from smart meters so that we know exactly how much was sold to the off taker, every hour, or every day, if we are talking about daily rates. And then you associate that with the hourly prices that you input from the government or from the local authorities. The system does the association automatically and then you can issue the invoice.
Q: And for Community energy circumstances?
We have many clients that are selling into community energy projects. This means that each client has different PPA agreements with the producer, meaning that they need to raise invoices at the end of the month. And this is what we are doing. We will process all that information to provide a seamless billing experience with the invoices raised in bulk. You just click a button, and the invoices are produced and sent to multiple end-recipients.
Q: And is this ACTIS ERP functionality useful to trading companies as well?
Yes, it is. We have several clients who are trading energy internationally, from various countries. For example, with all the interconnections now in Europe, you can sell energy in any country. You can produce in Greece and sell to somebody in Norway and vice versa. So, we can integrate all the transactions into one central hub for the client which can then maintain a clear oversight of what is happening in each territory. Clients in this sector can therefore seamlessly carry out their required billing from within the platform across as many countries as they require.