Project Billing for Customer Projects in SAP S/4HANA Cloud
Relevant for public edition of SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2308.
Invoicing plays a critical role for companies in the consulting industry. Therefore, Project Billing in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, is a key capability in the professional services scenario. The following article provides more details on the motivation and the included functionalities.
Why Project Billing in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Public Edition?
The former resource-related billing in SAP S/4HANA Cloud has been in place for several years, so it was necessary not only to address feedback from customers and partners, but also to solve fundamental requirements in a holistic manner. For example, the underlying source selection and material determination in the DIP profile was not open to customer customization for several reasons. This limited the number of activity types and sales/billing materials that could be used in the professional services scenario to the pre-delivered ones T001-T020, U001-U010 and E001-E040.
To overcome this problem and other restrictions, a completely new architecture for the billing preparation process was built. The main benefits of this Project Billing solution are:
- Increased usability by using the latest SAP Fiori elements. This makes it possible to use centrally provided functions such as sorting, grouping, and filtering or the use of different variants in viewing the provided data.
- Prior preparation of billing data using a push principle. When a posting in ACDOCA/Universal Journal is recognized as billing relevant, it is pushed directly to the new billing tables, which also has the added benefit of improving performance.
- Addition of several new features as compared to the previous solution. These include not only the ability to add additional activity types and billing materials through a flexible material determination configuration, but also generic access to Project Billing based on authorizations and enhanced reporting on billing data.
Delivery and localization
The delivery of the Project Billing functionality is enabled by scope item 4E9 “Project Billing – Project-Based Services”. This solution process is relevant for all standard countries and regions. Further information can be found on the Process Navigator (SAP Best Practices for SAP S/4HANA Cloud).
As of the release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2108, scope item 4E9 is delivered as a standard scope item, which means that it is activated by default in all new customer systems. For existing brownfield landscapes, customers must specifically request its activation. The old billing solution (Business Catalog SAP_PSP_BC_PRJ_BILLING_PC with the applications Release Billing Proposals, Edit Billing Request and Release Billing Requests) is therfore deprecated as of 2108. Please see Note 3072179. The deletion of the deprecated Business Catalog is currently planned for release 2408. Starting from SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2111, the Project Billing solution is the default solution for the billing preparation process in the professional services scenario. Since both solutions can coexist without impacting the existing billing process, customers can migrate to the Project Billing solution in a phased approach. This means that customer projects using the old solution can exist next to other ones with new solution, but there is no possibility to change running projects from one solution to the other. There is also an accelerator in place that can be used to extract project plan data in the format of the data migration template and that eases migration efforts.
Overview on the main application Manage Project Billing
The main application of our Project Billing is the successor of the Release Billing Proposals app called Manage Project Billing. This app gives an overview on different billing data and is the central place for the billing preparation before the SD billing process itself starts. All four contract types (Time and Expenses, Fixed Price, Periodic Service and Usage Based) are supported. Additionally, the prepayments on account (for Time and Expenses billing elements) and down payment (for Time and Expenses and Fixed Price billing elements) can be processed.
Fig 1 – Manage Project Billing Overview Page
During preparation of a bill for a “Time and Expense” or “Usage Based” billing element, one or more postings can be fully or partially written off or postponed to the next billing cycle. Technically, these actions are saved in an own object called “Project Billing Request”. Compared to the old billing solution, this allowed the introduction of certain functionalities (e.g. integration to the central approval framework, accessibility to historic data). Additionally, it is possible to bring back formerly written off items, which means a restoration of written-off items that were part of Billing Document Requests created earlier (see SAP Help Portal).
On top of that, a billing specialist or billing team member can add, edit and delete additional items in the project billing request. This helps the users to create additional revenue from heaven or discount. Further details can be found in the documentation on the SAP Help Portal.
Fig 2 – Prepare Billing screen
Once the Project Billing Request is submitted and the approval workflow is not in place, a Billing Document Request is created. In the next step, the Billing Document can be created directly or the Preliminary Billing Document can be used to make further changes to the invoice. There are standard applications for billing clerks to manage Preliminary Billing Documents, or alternatively, the “Manage Preliminary Billing Document – Services” application, which is tailored to the needs of a billing specialist.
Fig 3 – Business process flow for billing
Approval workflow for project billing requests
Configuration experts have the possibility to enable and configure different workflow scenarios for project billing requests with the application “Manage Workflow for Project Billing Requests”. If such an approval workflow is in place, the end-to-end process stops after the submission of a project billing request and no follow-on documents can be created. Only once the project billing request is approved, the billing document request is created automatically. If the project billing request is rejected, the included items get reinstated and they are again available for billing in the Manage Project Billing application.
The automatic creation of a billing document request after approval is e.g. not possible if there is a price change between submission and approval of the project billing request. Administrators can track such errors in the app “Flexible Workflow Administration” with the Scenario ID WS01800259. Additionally, the project billing specialist or billing team member can use the Manage Project Billing Requests app (see next chapter) to easily filter project billing requests with approval status “Released” but lifecycle status “In Process”. To resolve such a scenario, the repricing job that is explained further below can be used to re-trigger the approval workflow.
The approver can view basic billing data during the approval process in the My Inbox, such as customer, project or aggregated cost and revenue information. If needed, she or he can also navigate from the project billing request number to its details to check written-off and postponed items. The display of this project billing request is also explained in the next chapter. To inform the project billing specialist on the approver’s decision, a notification is sent to the workflow initiator in case of approval, rejection and successful billing document creation.
Generic information on business workflows in SAP S/4HANA Cloud can be found on the SAP Help Portal. Specific information on the workflow for project billing requests can be found on the SAP Help Portal, too.
Fig 4 – Approval screen for a project billing request in the My Inbox
Application to manage project billing requests
In contrast to the legacy project billing solution, which did not allow to access released billing proposals from the past, the Project Billing offers the possibility to display submitted project billing requests. The application “Manage Project Billing – Project Billing Request” lists permanent project billing requests, which means that these requests were already submitted from the main Manage Project Billing application.
To access a project billing request in this new application “Manage Project Billing – Project Billing Request”, the business partner of the logged in user needs to be part of any header role in the corresponding customer project. So, if the user is maintained as project manager or any other standard or custom role of a customer project, she or he would see all project billing requests that were created for this specific project.
The main purpose of this application is not only to track the lifecycle and approval status of historical project billing requests, or the decision note entered by the approver during approval/rejection, but also to look at the details of these project billing requests. The UI of a project billing request has the same look and feel as the billing preparation screen with the difference that certain actions are certainly not allowed anymore. The buttons for editing, deleting, and submitting the project billing request as well as for write-off, postponement and date deferral are not visible. Instead, the project billing request can be rejected, or the follow-on billing document request can be triggered. The former is needed to withdraw a project billing request from the approval workflow, the latter is needed in case the automatic billing document request creation failed.
Further details can be found in the documentation on the SAP Help Portal.
Fig 5 – Application to manage project billing requests
Configuration possibilities for flexible material determination in Project Billing
As mentioned above, a central capability of our Project Billing is the possibility to configure a flexible material determination. The new Self Service Configuration User Interface (SSCUI) includes a configuration step for making settings related to maintaining the Project Billing Profile in the “Manage Your Solution” app. That way a configuration expert can define which billing materials are determined for incoming costs or quantities on certain activity types or materials. There is no default content or demo data provided in newly provisioned quality or productive tenants, which means that this configuration needs to be added in a one-time activity.
Fig 6: SSCUI for flexible material determination
To give an example, the below table shows how activity type T001 (Junior Consultant) is mapped to billing material T001 (Junior Consultant) in a Time and Expense scenario. The Project Billing profile CMPRJBL001 as well as the cost element group YBPS_BILL (YBPS_UBBT in Usage Based scenario) are fixed. The first line covers the scenario in which the activity type is available from the posting. The second one relates to the contingent worker scenario, for which only the material is given.
|PB Profile||Line||Mat. dir.||Qty/Costs||Material||Field Name||Set Name||Value|
|CMPRJBL001||1||Transfer Costs and Quantity||T001||GLACCOUNT||YBPS_T000|
|CMPRJBL001||2||Transfer Costs and Quantity||T001||GLACCOUNT||YBPS_T000|
Application jobs for automation and repricing
The first application job that is offered in Project Billing is called “Schedule Project Billing Preparation”. It allows customers to automate their billing processes through automatic creation of Billing Document Requests for different billing methods. The process definition can be narrowed based on different criteria. Further details can be found in the documentation on the SAP Help Portal.
The second application job is “Schedule Repricing for Projects”. Due to the architectural change explained above (push instead of pull principle) and the fact that repricing is not run each time the “Manage Project Billing” app is used, the billing data needs to be updated when there is a change of the sales rate or material configuration. Compared to the old DIP run, this application job can be scheduled at the customer’s own discretion. Further details can be found in the documentation on the SAP Help Portal.
Access and usage of Project Billing
Scope item 4E9 does not only include the business role template “Billing Specialist – Projects” and various business catalogs, but also a switch on the information tab of the Plan Customer Projects app. Starting from SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2111 release, the default setting of this flag “Use Project Billing (New)” will be set to Yes which means that the Project Billing solution will be the default solution. If the old billing solution is still needed, the flag can be changed manually. The BAdI “Custom Checks on Project Save” (Business Context: Engagement Project) can be used to ensure that either the legacy solution or Project Billing is used for all newly created customer projects.
The flag can be changed for single projects as long as the project is in planning stage. Once the project stage is set to Contract Preparation, this decision can no longer be changed. Additionally, the flag can be removed from the UI using the key user functionality for adapting UIs.
In a long-term meaning after the deletion of the old resource-related billing process mentioned above, this Project Billing switch will be deprecated and not shown anymore.
Fig 7: Flag in Plan Customer Projects application
There are in principle two ways how billing elements in the “Manage Project Billing” app are shown. The first one is based on the authorizations maintained on the business role, which means that for example a central billing team can be allowed access to all billing elements in one or more specific profit centers or cost centers. The second one is based on assignments in the project or rather sales order. This access is designed on the billing item level: If a user is assigned in any partner function on sales order item level, the according billing element would be shown. If the assignment is on sales order header or accordingly project level, all billing elements for that project would be accessible. The filter that uses this logic in the “Manage Project Billing” app is My Billing Elements. More information can be found in Note 2971025.
For more information on the Project Billing solution in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, check out the following links:
- Solution process 4E9 on the Process Navigator
- Documentation on the SAP Help Portal
- Future planned enhancements on the SAP Road Map Explorer
- Ease migration efforts using this accelerator and Part 1 and Part 2 blogs on customer projects migration
- CDS Views for Project Billing on the SAP Help Portal
- API for Project Billing Request on the API Business Hub and on SAP Help Portal (new with SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2302)