Hitachi Solutions helps its clients with comprehensive and continuous services ranging from private cloud, multicloud to cloud native solution. One of the services the company offers is the cloud billing solution through which clients can pay their AWS bills through invoices in the local currency instead of credit cards in US dollars. The clients also get to enjoy discounts due to the large volumes of cloud procured by Hitachi Solutions. As a result, Hitachi Solutions saw a growth in the number of clients that evidently led to an increase in the amount of time and cost required to manage the cloud billing process. Precious time of highly talented cloud engineers was being used for manual invoice processing and verification of minute cost calculation.
“Every month, we manage to create the invoices by committing one to two talented individuals for two to three business days. But it became clear to us that we would have to increase headcount or have the team work longer hours to cater to the increasing number of clients in a rapidly growing market,” said Naoki Akagi from the Business Platform Services Headquarters at Hitachi Solutions.
“It turned out to be a top-priority issue to improve the operational efficiency and procurement costs on our cloud billing solution. Before, our engineers had to repeatedly log into and out of each AWS console of many accounts to retrieve the PDF invoices which were then shared with the sales team as evidence. Subsequently, the data were copied into a CSV file where a series of complex calculations ran for cost aggregation and allocation. After the sales team confirmed the output, they proceeded to issue and send out the invoices to their respective clients,” recalls Naoki.
The billing team shared their challenge to a department within Hitachi Solutions that is tasked with researching emerging solutions outside the organization. Upon searching for optimal solutions to solve the problem, a few solutions providers were shortlisted, one of which was Alphaus.
Hitachi Solutions signed up for the one and a half month trial to verify whether the process could be automated and produce accurate calculations as expected.
“As soon as we saw no problems during the verification process, we presented it to management for approval. The major deciding factors were that the tasks could be automated, errors significantly minimized, and cloud cost reduced, all while the solution was able to handle detailed accounting processing and additional billing items. This would become a big advantage for us and a huge motivator for the team as they strive to provide the best service to their customers,” says Naoki.
Why Alphaus Cloud
The support provided by Alphaus team during the verification process was substantial. “Invoices reflect many things – business customs, tax, currency and so on, thus they differ country by country. That’s why we chose a non-US born solution for our process after trying out the other services from the shortlist we received. Alphaus understood the specifications unique to the local market, and we were also satisfied with the business and technical support from the customer success representatives who were well-acquainted in cloud billing,” confesses Naoki.
Hitachi Solutions also realized Alphaus’ capabilities to update its product based on customers’ voices. “We had an opportunity to share our business needs and suggestions with the Alphaus team for expected modifications and new features during the trial period. In the following few weeks, we saw our business needs had been met with the product updates,” says Naoki.
With Alphaus Cloud
Hitachi Solutions’ team has seen a significant reduction of 50% in the amount of time spent for billing operations, with the help of an automated system. Previously, the team had to assign engineers and account executives to crosscheck for mistakes to prevent any error in the billing process which has zero tolerance for failure, but now they can focus on more productive jobs. Besides, the automated process enabled the team to have a centralized and clear view over the invoices they issued to clients. The former billing process managed on Excel spreadsheets highly relied on black-boxed knowledge limited to the person in charge which often required additional explanations. Pulling it out of the box, the team no longer requires extensive communication between the sales and accounting departments.
Lastly, the team is now free from the complicated calculations it used to execute and no longer has to worry about when to procure discounted purchase options. Instead, it has been able to save its procurement costs by leveraging Reserved Instances (RIs) and Savings Plans (SPs).
“Going forward, we would like to maximize the benefit of purchasing RIs and SPs to reduce costs further so that we can continue to convert value to our customers,” says Naoki.