Smart consumption billing with EXAD 2.0: data administration and device management through to billing – with plausibility checking, integration and mobile networking
What is EXAD 2.0?
The tool allows properties to be billed in accordance with the German ordinance on the consumption-based billing of heating and hot water costs and VDI 2077. In addition, it provides a function for allocating the costs incurred in the provision of drinking water. The information used comes from SAP® and other third-party systems through import and integration processes or can be entered in the field using the easysquare mobile apps. Moreover, for each type of property, there is a billing-oriented template for entering the necessary information. This specially adapted interface allows users to work efficiently. In addition, assistants automate crucial processes in the manual maintenance of master data and transaction data.
How does EXAD 2.0 work?
Managing master data and transaction data
All master data and transaction data relevant for billing purposes can be managed and maintained in the module. This includes elements such as properties, rental objects, tenants, supply units, user groups, devices, readings, cost rates and fuel rates. The templates are directly aligned with the billing process and offer an optimum workflow. One aspect on which EXAD 2.0 focuses is the automated provision of data from the field. This is based on mobile entry on site and the connection of wireless reading devices. In addition to processing and preparing such data, the solution also allows third-party systems to be connected via a web service and file-based interfaces.
Exchanging data with external applications
So that a property can be billed in EXAD 2.0 in parallel to processing data in third-party systems, the solution supports data exchange via the standardised exchange format defined by the Cooperative for Heat and Water Costs Distribution (ARGE, Arbeitsgemeinschaft Heiz- und Wasserkostenverteilung e.V.) – main versions 2 and 3. We are following new features with great interest and will extend the solution accordingly.
Figure 1: Overview of property details including the status of the settlement period.
Entering data and switching devices on the move
EXAD 2.0 digitises all mobile processes relating to consumption costs. This minimises the until now enormous organisational effort of entering data or switching devices. The task of entering data for the heating and consumption costs statement is time-consuming and therefore constitutes a high cost factor. Around 25-30% of attempts to access rental areas are unsuccessful, while records drawn up by hand and in Excel spreadsheets are prone to error, preventing a reliable business process from end to end. EXAD 2.0 provides the ideal solution to this with the mobile entry of device data, including integration into the housing company’s ERP system. It is fast, efficient and seamless. Service providers and the engineers replacing devices can also be coordinated digitally. The feedback to the company is therefore provided straight after mobile order processing on site, with no loss of information.
Pipe heat correction
In addition to numerous special procedures for automating the billing process, including intelligent replacement value creation and separate billing, the process for pipe heat correction is also designed in an efficient and intuitive manner. For each billed user group for a property, the procedure for taking account of the pipe heat emission can be applied. This is based on the latest version of VDI 2077 Sheet 3.5 dated May 2018. To apply this procedure, it is simply necessary to select before billing a property whether the pipe heat correction is to be used. The subsequent calculation of the pipe heat correction takes place automatically as part of the billing process. Here, the solution draws on all necessary test criteria to decide on the execution of the procedure.
Figure 2: Filtering and processing billing-relevant data for each rental object
Figure 3: Overview of the settlement periods for a property
Checking for errors and plausibility
To support the workflow and ensure that a user is working correctly, the solution provides the option of checking master data and transaction data for errors. Various test criteria, all of them proven in practice, have been defined for this purpose. If error checking is run, all errors that might prevent the property from being billed are presented in a clear manner on a screen. The errors are shown in a table, allowing them to be filtered based on the degree of error, the error code or the content of the error message, and the user is guided to the corresponding processing screen. In addition, plausibility problems are also listed in the error check. For example, the solution may point out a major deviation in a rental object's consumption compared to the previous year.
Once the master data and transaction data for a property have been maintained and successfully verified with an error check, the cost statement can be created. Once triggered by the user, this process requires no further action. Together with the cost statement, the solution also directly generates the statement letters, which can be accessed in PDF format. Every cost statement can be corrected and re-executed. In addition, past cost statements can be repeated, even if a new settlement period is already being processed for the property. The integration of the billing results into the utilities statement can be automated using interfaces to the ERP system. We achieve a particularly high degree of integration with SAP®. Here, based on exchanging the E record, it is also possible to connect the modular utility statement letter in PROMOS.GT.
Consumption billing using the end-to-end digital process of EXAD 2.0 provides unbeatable added value for professional real estate management in terms of efficiency, cost savings and time savings. What’s more, it offers a scalable and modular solution for independent billing.
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