New Billing Engine for MPS in Jim2 v3.3
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27/11/2012 9:29 AM

By Clint Good

Although relatively new to the Happen team, I had the opportunity this year, using the accumulated knowledge in the company, to work on the redesign of the Jim2 Managed Print Services (MPS) billing engine.

Happen has been listening to clients for the last few years about how the MPS billing system in Jim2 could be strengthened to deal with different billing scenarios, and reduce the amount of effort required to keep information in the system up to date.

In the upcoming
Jim2 v3.3 release, while maintaining compatibility with your existing machines and master contracts, we have added the capability for your organisation to easily migrate, either slowly or quickly, to take advantage of some of the new features available in the new MPS billing engine.

Additional billing flexibility

Set up meters with 'Standard', 'Under' and 'Over' charges – the first thing you’ll notice when setting up masters and machines that use the new billing engine is that we’ve split the meter billing into 3 sections.

'Standard' billing is what you’ve been used to: charge a client for a certain rate for each black, colour or scanned page. We’ve added two additional sections which greatly simplify the setup of common MPS billing scenarios.

The 'Unders' section specifies who will be billed the shortfall between actual and the minimum contracted volume. The 'Overs' section specifies who will be billed, and at what rate, for any copies over the minimum volume.

While simplifying the setup of most scenarios, this splitting out of the charges can also give you an effective tool to determine clients who are consistently doing over their minimum allocation. This information could be potentially used as a sales lead to upgrade the client to a higher volume contract.

Bill clients on different frequencies – the new engine allows for charges on a single machine or contract to be billed to any number of clients at different frequencies. You may charge your finance company on a monthly basis for the base charge of a contract but bill your client quarterly for any overs. This ability is core to the new billing engine for all meter types.

Tracking or 'non billable' meters – a number of Jim2 MPS sites use external financiers to fund the cost of the photocopiers and printers. In some situations the financier was billing the client directly for the rental component, but this rental amount was still a part of the contract and needed to be tracked. To achieve this in Jim2 v3.3 you can set up your machine’s meters with the rental component and mark it as 'non billable'. This information is stored in Jim2 and is available to report against, but will not actually charge the client.

Charges based on date range – we had several requests from Jim2 clients to have some meter charges only apply for certain date ranges. This may be because a particular charge doesn’t come into effect until the second year of a contract, or you may want to set up increased charges ahead of time. For example, this would allow you to plan an increase in May and know it will come into effect on 1st July. Again, an optional start and end date is core to all meter charges in the new billing engine.

'Clawback under' charges – in a perfect world, clients would send in their readings on time for all their machines, and your billing process would be straightforward. In the real world, we need to be able to bill a client their minimum charge without receiving one or more reads. Also, we can’t charge them a huge overs bill the following month when they finally catch up! The new billing engine allows you to optionally allow for any 'under' charges (which make up the shortfall to the minimum charge), to be used to offset any 'over' charges the client may get the following month. This feature can also be used for your clients who have seasonal spikes in their usage, such as schools, to help smooth out the amount billed to them each month.

Maintaining Master Contracts

Jim2 v3.3 will greatly simplify maintaining master contracts by allowing changes to the master, be it header information or meter set up, to be pushed to all child machines. At the same time we recognised that in some situations you may want to override this and have a different rate on some child machines. Jim2 handles this with ease.

While still charging and calculating profitability at the individual machine level, the new billing engine also tracks every page against the master contract so that you can determine how far through a volume based contract your client is. This also allows for calculations to be applied to the contract as a whole, regardless of how many machines have been added or removed from the contract during its lifetime.

In today’s competitive environment, some of you are offering incentives at the start of a contract, such as free pages. The new billing engine allows you to allocate these free pages to a contract and draw them down against each individual machine as they are used. If you set things up according to recommended Jim2 practices you will also be able to easily determine the outstanding liability of these free pages.

Third party PO enhancements

We listened when a number of our clients asked for additional flexibility for raising third party purchase orders when billing machine meters.

All the power of the Jim2 billing engine is also available when raising purchase orders. You can add minimums, base charges, unders and overs. We are aware that the ‘vendor’ may well be another Jim2 user servicing your contracted machines!

We’ve packed in many more features into the new billing engine, whilst trying to simplify the setup as much as possible. You may be able to use these features to structure new deals in a way that gives you a competitive edge over your rivals.

About Clint

Clint is a software developer at Happen who enjoys spending time with his family 6 nights a week. The other night is dedicated to snooker.

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