Is Your Billing Still Wrong Despite Using a CSP Automation Platform?
by Dyfed Wallis, on 08-Apr-2020 10:28:07
Managing Microsoft billing without a dedicated automation solution isn’t easy, especially if you’re working with a growing number of customers and cloud services. You’ve got to manage manual billing reconciliation, which is time-consuming and error-prone. You also have to skip between Microsoft’s portals, supplier invoices, reconciliation files, and your ERP system to collect the data you need to get invoices out to customers accurately and on time.
But what if you do have a CSP automation platform and the numbers still aren’t adding up? Here are five questions you can work through to (1.) confirm that there is a billing automation fault, and (2.) identify where your CSP automation solution could be going wrong.
1. Do the billing totals in your CSP solution match Microsoft’s?
An easy way to test your CSP automation solution’s billing performance is to check if the total displayed on your monthly Microsoft invoice exactly matches the total cost shown for your customers in your CSP platform for the same period.
If there isn’t a match, it’s worth using the next four questions as a checklist to see what’s wrong:
2. Are all of your customers getting invoiced?
The billing totals that show in your CSP automation solution could be incorrect because one or more of your customers haven’t been synced up correctly with the Partner Center. This means that the costs that they are incurring aren’t being recorded and calculated by your CSP solution for billing. Unfortunately, not all CSP solutions make it easy to pinpoint unlinked (or ‘unsynced’) customers. Ideally, you should have a tool that allows you to identify which customers haven’t been synced properly.
3. Do your cost prices match Microsoft’s latest cost prices?
Microsoft updates its pricelists every month, and if your CSP solution is in good working order, it should be taking account of these changes so that your online service catalog shows the latest products and services and their corresponding costs. If Microsoft’s price list isn’t in sync with yours, your costs won’t match Microsoft’s, and you’re probably undercharging your customers due to undetected price increases.
4. Does your solution have a real-time two-way sync with the Partner Center?
If you have a robust CSP integration, it shouldn’t matter whether you make subscription changes in the Microsoft Partner Center or in your CSP automation solution. Both systems should be able to share data and update automatically as and when you add new subscriptions or change subscription quantities.
If your billing totals don’t match Microsoft’s, it could be because your CSP solution has a one-directional, rather than a bi-directional synchronization with the Partner Center. This means that changes made in the Partner Center aren’t being relayed to your CSP solution for onward processing. The two-way sync should also operate in close to real-time to keep your billing records up to date.
5. Is your CSP solution replicating Microsoft’s billing rules?
If your CSP automation solution has passed all of the checks so far and your billing totals still aren’t correct, you’ll need to check if your solution replicates Microsoft’s billing rules. It’s crucial that these rules are copied exactly, so that price lock-in periods, pro-rata charges, and billing periods match between systems.