Implementation of the Comarch BSS Suite
In 1998, dtms Deutsche Telefon- und Marketing Services GmbH was founded in Mainz, Germany, by a small group of telecommunication specialists. dtms is rooted in the world of value added services based on landline (fixed) networks. The company commenced its services on the newly liberated telecommunications market in Germany with a simple and clear message: service numbers and connected value added services.
Since the year 2000, dtms follows a special service philosophy for all corporate customers with their own call center organization: Application Service Providing (ASP) representing the realization of technical solutions on the dtms Intelligent Network platform (IN).
Through constant interchange with the customer, dtms identifies the customer’s specific needs, implements the selected approach on the IN platform and develops new product offerings, applications and improved instruments for call center management in the process. The dtms approach covers all fixed and mobile networks, as well as the internet, and therefore reaches the highest levels of independence from the effects of convergence. Today, dtms is an established provider of professional voice portals concerning the corporate customer service area in Germany, Austria (ATMS, Vienna) and the Czech Republic.
The business need
In 2001, dtms had to replace its billing systems as a result of the switch to the Euro on Jan. 1, and it took the decision to select the Comarch BSS Suite (formerly Tytan) to help it do so.
dtms was looking for a novel, sophisticated billing solution which would not only meet the requirements connected with the switch to the new European currency, but would also adhere to the growing market demand for high quality services. Furthermore, product complexity and marketing targets indicated that a flexible and powerful discounting mechanism would be an essential feature of any successful billing solution for dtms.
Intelligent Network business is characterized by advanced services, such as service numbers, conferencing amenities and payment services. These often involve more than two parties, resulting in complex methods of settlement. Similar patterns are expected in the billing of UMTS and other 3rd Generation Services. Competition on this market additionally enforces single and cross-product discounting.
The requirements stated by dtms were fairly stringent, as the new billing solution was to constitute the support for the extended supply chain with separate pricing of services for individual customers. In addition, it had to support many of the advanced Intelligent Network products (service numbers – free phones, premium rates, etc. – virtual call centers, internet payments, chat-conferencing, access control) and settlement methods (credits, pre-payments, refunds). Finally, real-time processing was required to enable automatically publishing billing data on the Web. The Comarch BSS Suite was the only billing solution capable of fulfilling all the dtms requirements.
Comarch’s solution had to coincide both with the high level of customer service and with the necessity for robust integration with the IT environment, such as the automatic real-time interface to the web-accessed self care and self provisioning system, and with interfaces to external parties, such as Regulierungsbehörde für Telekommunikation und Post and Deutsche Telekom AG.
Additionally, the implementation phase was to be finished within 6 months, including re-engineering and simplification of the existing IT environment. This posed a considerable challenge, yet it was in line with our “Product and Implementation” philosophy. Comarch began with the feasibility study.
The implementation of the Comarch BSS Suite for dtms entailed a number of benefits including:
- Flexible, powerful and rule-based discounting, enabling both single and cross-product discounting
- Seamless integration thanks to Comarch BSS Suite interfacing features
- Automation – not only billing-related processes, but also processes covering relationships with official organizations, based on a comprehensive workflow system
- Multilevel convergence – e.g. support for many advanced Intelligent Network products proving service level convergence.
We started with the most important discounting scenarios. The Comarch BSS Suite fulfilled all the demands in this field, offering cross-product, volume-based discounting patterns integrated into the rating and invoicing engine of Comarch Convergent Billing. Also, the possibility of dealer-oriented individual pricing for each service provider was vital to the implementation of a new sales strategy by dtms. The dedicated Indirect Sales module assured this functionality.
Our experience with usage data gathered during the successful implementation of the Comarch Interconnect Billing module 6 months earlier helped us to design an enhanced CDR interface with the necessary features, which dtms was unable to obtain from the existing mediation device. The Comarch billing engine was to be configured to operate near-real-time, as the switches were to deliver files every 15 minutes.
Once service completion was evident, further advantages of the Comarch BSS Suite were considered. It was soon discovered that an important area which required particular support was customer service. Due to a lack of functionality in the existing billing system, a considerable amount of small Excel/Access-based solutions were developed as a work-around. Each of these functions already existed within the Comarch BSS Suite, or could be implemented during customization. Therefore, each system was replaceable, saving maintenance costs and solving problems relating to inconsistent data. Number handling was particularly important for our customer - a service number-focused operator – and with the Comarch BSS Suite number handling module, it was possible to provide all the required functionality within the main system.
The workflow mechanism provided by the Comarch Customer Management module was designated by dtms tools for the implementation of its customer care-related business processes. The idea of structuring and unifying the work, as well as the automation and escalation features, were of particular interest for our customer. Following joint analysis, a few dozen processes were chosen for implementation. The set contained not only billing-related processes (order entry, customer actions and replies, complaints), but also processes covering relationships with official organizations (Regulierungsbehörde für Telekom-munikation und Post, Deutsche Telekom AG, Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Telefonmehrwertdienste). Additionally, some processes required bidirectional data exchange with external parties in specific formats.
Previous dtms experience with printout layout implementation placed stress on the flexibility and ease-of-use of this mechanism. With the Comarch BSS Suite, both workflow and invoice printouts benefited from RTF-fileorganized layout management. Each printout template, including invoice, was maintained in a dedicated RTF file, rendering changes of layout comparably easy, using any RTF editor, e.g. Microsoft Word.
The final point was integration. As the Comarch BSS Suite was to replace the main billing system, the ten existing interfaces were evaluated in the light of whether or not to preserve them, including the most important CDR interface for on-line electronic bill presentment. Powerful Comarch BSS Suite interface features, together with our experience in system integration, facilitated us with proposing a suitable interface for each case. We also took the opportunity to improve data flows by automating interfaces whenever possible.
The project realized for Deutsche Telefon and Marketing services has proven the Comarch BSS Suite’s capabilities in providing a demanding customer with a successful solution fulfilling complicated requirements. On this occasion, the Comarch BSS Suite has proven itself on the IN field. Mature functionality granted the possibility to implement complex settlements of advanced services of this type, while the flexibility enabled achieving the required customization and integration. The same features enabled us to succeed in large projects on other markets, including wireline and CATV.
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