This guide is an example only intended to demonstrate a basic billing scenario. Please consult with your Parallels Partner should you require in-depth assistance.
By this stage we hope you have followed the Bulletin Text Messaging APS Installation guide and setup resource reporting.
With Parallels Business Automation you can setup Service Plans that charge your customers fees for various scenarios and configurations. You can for example charge your customers:
Our APS Package has no bearing on how you charge your customers for the service. By aligning with the APS standard we report back resources to Parallels Automation and it is the responsibility of the service provider to configure and charge for these services.
Trials are supported within PBA and can be set up against the resources reported in the Bulletin Text Messaging APS Package. We do not change how our product is setup when the trial flag is set or unset.
The APS standard does not allow a package to query/track or manage billing relationships. Packages simply report overall usage and the Parallels Business Automation component manages that usage. The Bulletin APS package reports usage every 5 minutes (Parallels standard - configurable). Please note that because of this is it possible that a customer goes over their limit during that 5 minute interval.
Resellers are billed on combined total of messages per month used for the entire platform due to the constraints above.
Example Plan Overview
We are going to set up a very simple plan with a $10 monthly service fee and 10 included messages. Additional messages cost 1c each.
This plan will have a daily limit of 500 messages. If this limit is hit no further messages will be sent until the 24 hour usage period has lapsed.
It is possible to have multiple plans and upgrade/downgrade between the plans, this is a configuration you may wish to experiment with.
Step 1: Edit the Unit Resource Definition
Under Product Director -> Resource Manager -> Resources find 'SMS Text Messages' previously defined (these will have propagated from POA)
Edit the Resource.
Ensure to check:
Controlled by Billing System
These settings ensure that messages are counted properly and the message limits are managed inside PBA e.g. when the subscription expires.
Save the setting once completed.
Step 2: Alter The Service Template
Earlier in the setup of the Text Messaging APS Package, you will have created a Service Template in Parallels Automation, or added the resources to an existing Service Template. When you login to Parallels Business Automation you should see this service template as PA and PBA communicate with one-another and synchronise the Service Templates. You can see our example below:
By default when the Service Template is setup in Parallels Automation it is missing a key setting that will cause problems with our package. Make sure you alter this by clicking on the service template and clicking edit, then checking "destroy service on cancel" as shown below and clicking save.
Step 3: Setup A Plan Category
You need to set up a Plan Category with the tax rules in place to meet local sales regulations. This is meant to cover GST or VAT collection.
In PBA select Product Director -> Plan Manager -> Plan Categories and add a new Category. If you have tax categories setup then select according to your requirements. For the purposes of this example we will just be using the system default.
Step 4: Create A Service Plan Inside The Category
You need to create a new service plan within the plan category covered in Step 2. The service plan name is visible to the customer within their Parallels Panel purchase experience as an option. Pick the service template earlier defined. Ensure you use the correct plan category defined in Step 2. Ensure to check Publish and Attach Usage Statistics (used for resource reporting). Set the billing period to 1 - as this is a monthly plan.
In the next screen you can setup plan fees. Since we are going for a $10 monthly plan then simply enter $10 inside the recurring one month box and ensure you check the box prior to clicking next.
On the next screen - Subscription Periods - click on Setup Plan Rates as highlighted below:
Plan rates is where you can define fees for resource usage. This is one of the key screens within this tutorial.
Let's setup the 500 message limit, with a 1c per message overuse fee. Ensure to check "Measurable" for resource reporting purposes and "Charge per unit".
Make sure you select the checkbox beside the new rates otherwise it will not save your resource rate and will not warn you this is the case
Click Finish to complete the Plan setup process. You can always come back and adjust plans at a later stage.
Step 5: Adding the Plan to a Sales Category
In order for a plan to be published it must be added to a sales category. Under Product Director -> Plan Manager -> Sales Categories
Add a new Sales Category. Ensure you check 'Show in customer control panel'
Once created, click on the newly created Sales Category and navigate to Service Plans as shown below then click "Add New Plan":
Select the plan previously defined and click Add Plan(s) to Category in order to save:
At this stage you should now have a plan available for your customers to purchase.
Validating your Billing Setup
Testing a subscription as a customer
Login to the platform as a customer who has visibility of the newly created service plan and purchase the service. You may need to ensure that billable amounts in test mode are automatically approved by PBA or your subscription will require manual activation.
Upon purchasing the subscription and plan, you must logout of your Parallels Panel and login again. If this was successful you should see a resource meter counting up to the included messages within the plan. Any messages over this limit are charged at the overuse rate.
If you have multiple plans with upgrade and downgrading it is important to ensure that you verify Parallels is correctly altering the resource counters. For example, if you have a silver plan that includes 50 messages and you already have used 49 messages then upgrade to gold which has 100 messages you will want to ensure that depending on your business requirements, that the resources are correctly reset to the new limit or zero-rated.
Sending Messages as a customer
Login to the Messenger platform as a customer and send messages as a customer. These should be reported as usage within the customer's Parallels Panel.
Bulletin can organise for you to have sandboxed unbilled access during this period so that you can perform mock testing scenarios prior to deployment. Please contact your account manager to have this organised.
Testing Month End
It is possible to force Parallels Business Automation to do a billing run prior to the end period. This is very convenient for testing the setup and configuration without having to change server clocks, which can have all kinds of undesirable consequences.
Changing the billing run start time
Go to Configuration Director > Event Manager Settings > Scheduler
Select DailyBillingProcessing task
Switch to edit mode and specify desired value for the Next Execution Time parameter. All subsequent triggerrings of Daily Billing Process will be executed at the defined time.
Open Configuration Director > Event Manager Settings > Event Types
Click Trigger Event button
Billing a Specific Account
Open Operation Director > Account Manager > Customers
Choose a required account
Click Bill This Account button. In case of successfully executed operation, you will see the message: Note: Account <ID> successfully billed.
Checking If A Billing Run Is In Progress
Go to Configuration Director > Event Manager > Active Tasks
Search for the task with Event Type='DailyBillingProcessing'.
Click Verify button to ensure if Daily Billing Process is running at the moment.
Resource Reporting does not function
Message Usage Alerts
The Bulletin APS package does not issue message or plan usage alerts because as mentioned previously we are unable to access that information from within the APS standard. It is possible to setup resource limit notifications within PBA that send customer alerts when various thresholds are hit e.g. message usage. Please consult your Parallels administrator or partner for details on how to set this up.