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Posts Tagged ‘collection of accounts

Sage Billing and Payments

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Introduction

Sage Billing and Payments is one of the three web/mobile applications that was shown as a POC (Proof of Concept) at last year’s Summit conference and then released at this year’s Summit conference. Sage Billing and Payment is strictly a Web application, and although it will run as a Web application on mobile devices, doesn’t have a mobile native component.

Sage Billing and Payments is meant to help improve the collection of Accounts Receivable. It provides a mechanism to e-mail people their invoices and then to collect their money via credit card. The application has mechanisms to customize all your client communications.

Last week we looked at Sage Mobile Service where technicians performed billable work. If they took payment by credit card, then they are paid, but if they took payment on account, then this application is to help collect that money.

Walk Through

To use this application you go to its URL in your favorite browser and sign-on with SageID. This then leads you to the following dashboard/home screen.

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This page gives you information on the invoices that need to be processed and how many people are paying their invoices.

Within the application there is a great deal of functionality around customizing your communications. There are a number of templates for invoices and receipts. You can select one of the existing ones from this page.

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If this suites your needs you can go ahead and use it and if it doesn’t then you can select it and then edit it to further customize it.

When you choose to customize it you go into a visual HTML editor where you can create an invoice to match your companies branding and communications policies.

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Once everything is setup, you can go into customers to manage contacts and manage their receivables.

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From this page you can send or print any invoice. As well as review their invoices and payment history.

From here you can also mark whether to just send invoices and payment receipts to the customer automatically (you can also do this for all the customers in settings). Generally this is much more efficient than going through all the customers and manually triggering the e-mails.

When a customer receives and invoice there is a link which will take them into their browser and go to a customized payment website where they can pay their bill instantly by credit card. Of course this site they go to is completely customizable and one is shown below.

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Why Not Do This in ERP?

To some degree you can do all this in your ERP system, so why would you want to subscribe to this Web service? Basically this service is designed to address a number of pain points people have performing this work from within their on-premise ERP system:

  • Integrating to e-mail to e-mail invoices is hard to setup and operate. In their efforts to fight spam, Microsoft has made it harder and harder for programs to send out automated e-mails. Outlook will popup a messagebox whenever any program accesses the address book or attempts to send an e-mail. Supporting all the various e-mail systems out there is hard and tends to concentrate on Exchange.
  • Performing customization to invoices and receipts in Crystal Reports is hard. Often you have to hire a Business Partner to make any changes to your custom invoices.
  • Automatically collecting payment via credit card right out of the e-mail isn’t supported.

Basically this solution is meant to make the whole process much easier and much more effective. Dealing with e-mail systems becomes our problem. The pages to edit and customize all the forms in this offering are far simpler than dealing with Crystal Reports. Then there is the integration to Sage Payment Solutions for credit card processing right out of the e-mails via a web site that we host.

Technology

This solution is hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud. It uses the Sage Data Cloud to store information and communicates back to the on-premise ERP application via a connector that is installed there. The actual web application is written in ASP.Net MVC and is deployed to Azure using PaaS Web and Worker roles. We use Telerik’s Kendo UI for our grid controls. This is a nice UI library of HTML/JavaScript controls that provide a very nice rich client user experience in the web. Another tools we find really helpful is JetBrain’s Resharper. This tool adds a lot of advanced refactoring and static code analysis functionality to Visual Studio that we missed from Eclipse. For source control management we use Git on GitHub. To perform continuous integration and to manager deployments to the various web sites (development, staging, production, etc.) we use JetBrain’s TeamCity. This is integrated to our GitHub source control repository and can build as the source code changes and continuously run automated tests. Then we can push a branch out to an Azure subscription whenever we want.

Like most web sites we have put in place the infrastructure to update the site fairly regularly so we can immediately address problems and can add features and functionality on a frequent basis.

The data is stored in a multi-tenant Azure SQL database as part of the Sage Data Cloud. This data cloud is shared by other mobile and web applications like Sage Mobile Service. This way your data isn’t duplicated to the cloud for every service you subscribe to.

The ERP connector is the same one used by Sage Mobile Service and is available currently for Sage 100 ERP and Sage 300 ERP with a version for Sage 50 ERP (Canadian and US) to follow shortly.

Summary

Sage Billing and Payments is a web application that is connected to your on-premise ERP system to help you more efficiently collect money from your customers. It relieves you of the pain of accepting payments over the phone, managing email system integrations and performing difficult Crystal customizations.