Call Accounting System

A Call Accounting System is a telecommunications software or hardware application that captures, records, and costs telephone usage events. Internationally call accounting systems may be referred to as call logging systems. Call accounting systems detect outbound and inbound calls, call ring outs, call routings, abandoned calls, and other activities..

 

Common Applications of Call Accounting

Service Billing and Provisioning

Call accounting systems may provide packaging, pricing, provisioning, billing, and posting or presentment of telephone services for purposes of revenue generation. Professional services firms utilize call accounting software for account code or client based billing of their phone usage. The hospitality industry uses call accounting to resell phone services to visiting guests and groups. These call accounting systems often provide accessible application-specific rating and provisioning capabilities found generally on carrier-level operational support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS).

 

Departmental and Employee Chargeback

The original purpose of call accounting systems was within corporate entities for purposes of cost allocations within the enterprise. Enterprises use call accounting to allocate costs back to divisions, departments, and even individual employees. Such systems may also provide data directly to corporate accounting and human resource systems.

 

Cost and Revenue Optimization

Call accounting software can reconcile multiple telecom carrier's billing reports by integrating telecom invoices, wireless billing, long distance charges and calling cards into a single platform, allowing your business to use the convergent expense software to provide management reports, analytic reports, alerts and robust presentations

 

Staff Productivity

Call accounting systems provide visibility into the calling patterns and activity of employees and can be used to minimize productivity losses through non-business calling activity. They can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of revenue-generating staff and sales processes, and manage the responsiveness of customer service staff.

 

Network Optimization

Companies also use call accounting systems to determine whether their voice and data networks are being utilized efficiently, in a cost effective manner, or to capacity. Call accounting applications are used to monitor network activity and bandwidth, identify over- and under-used trunks to optimize trunking configurations, pinpoint the root cause of circuit outages, monitor call routing effectiveness, queue times, abandoned calls and other information, and report usage trends and statistics. Call accounting can help companies more efficiently allocate telecom resources and make better planning decisions affecting a telecommunications network.

 

Security and Compliance

Call accounting applications enable IT departments to shield companies from a variety of internal and external security threats by monitoring for network attacks, intrusion attempts and telecom activity that exceeds acceptable or established thresholds.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act established new or enhanced standards for financial reporting by public companies and accounting firms, obliging them to examine and revise their internal governance, accounting and reporting controls. Examples of those “internal controls” include procedures for securing, protecting and ensuring the availability of critical infrastructure (like telecommunications systems), monitoring those systems for performance issues, and preventing or quickly detecting unauthorized attempts to acquire company records or assets.

Call accounting applications help facilitate regulatory compliance by providing tools to aggregate, monitor and analyze telecommunications data in order to correctly track and report expenses. They can be used to enhance corporate accounting practices by documenting fraud-related costs to substantiate telephony-related disputes with carriers. And they can automate the monitoring of internal communications to improve visibility into sales and financial processes.

 

Forms

Call accounting capabilities can be acquired in several forms.

 

Stand-alone hardware device

Call accounting can be provided from a hardware device. Such solutions, especially ones with proprietary designed hardware buffers, have generally been static and with limited features, and are intended to support a single telephone switch. However some hardware solutions use a barebone PC or mini PC with software written to work within an operating system. These PC-based devices can support a wider range of PABXs depending on the software module written and is usually done by replacing or adding PABX specific software modules.

 

Stand-alone server software

Call accounting can be provided from a stand-alone server software product. Such solutions have more robust features and are intended to support a single or small number of phone switches and users. However these solutions also have a higher total cost of ownership by requiring management of one or several self-standing systems.

 

Centralized enterprise software

Call accounting can be provided from a hosted multi-property enterprise server solution. Such solutions provide more robust features and can support large numbers of distributed phone switches and users, all without the complexity of many distributing systems scattered across the enterprise. Enterprise call accounting systems centralize management and monitoring of call accounting across an enterprise. Such systems over an enterprise WAN, VPN, or over the public Internet, and eliminate distributed standalone distributed call accounting systems and as a result provide a lower cost of ownership and a consistent distribution of features and functions across an enterprise. Care should be taken to insure that such enterprise solutions operate from a single real-time truly multi-property data bases versus multiple duplicated/replicated copies of the software itself which mitigates the value of centralization. Hosted enterprise solutions are appropriate for anybody supporting more than one telephone PBX/PABX or anyone who seeks one central call accounting solution regardless of multiple possible PBX/PABX vendors. Given rapid changes in voice and more generally VOIP, centrally hosted solutions also make it easier to continuously adapt to changing requirements by providing one place for managing system change. Centralized call accounting solutions are easily justified if you compare it the total life cycle cost of ownership for the distributed technology.

 

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Call accounting software functionality can be accessed as an online software service. Software services are typically hosted by the software vendor themselves. SaaS providers often include optional levels of systems monitoring, management, and analysis services atop the call accounting software itself. SaaS solutions (also sometimes called managed service solutions or application service provider (ASP) solutions) generally provide greater operational simplicity while actually providing more software capability and greater return on investment. Like the hosted enterprise call accounting solutions, managed service providers eliminate distributed call accounting systems and with them the related management and attention required to keep multiple distributed systems operating, refreshed, and current. Like enterprise call accounting software above, SaaS is easily justified if you compare it to the total lifecycle cost of ownership for the distributed technology.

 

Web services

The more recent approach to call accounting when using VOIP-enabled phone portals and devices is to embed call accounting information into telephony devices as part of a service-oriented architecture (SOA). This is not to be confused with embedding an entire call accounting software package into a voice solution but instead as embedding integration to a centrally hosted call accounting web service with your overall telephone solution. Web services is generally a very inexpensive way to get customized access to sophisticated call accounting features and eliminate the need to manage technology to get that capability.

 

Trends In Call Accounting

Integrated Call Accounting and Management Services

Call accounting systems are increasingly augmented with telemanagement/telemanager services. Call accounting data often requires expert analysis from which to leverage its value. Meanwhile, the telecommunications world continues to evolve rapidly making retention of up-to-date core competency more difficult. Call accounting system owners therefore often engage telecommunications management (often called telemanager or telemanagement) services to operate and optimize their call accounting technology. Such subscription services can transcend any one specific call accounting technology and can actually unify reporting and management across many technologies. When engaging telecommunications assistance take care to assess the telemanager's tool set as this is a primary driver of the cost effective value they can create for you.

 

Integrating voice and broadband internet accounting into one accounting platform

With the convergence of voice and data the leading call accounting systems are also providing billing, provisioning, and accounting for broadband internet services. Solutions for such systems may be called "communications accounting systems". Like call accounting systems they may be distributed or centralized systems.

 

Centrally Hosted Call Accounting

Voice is increasingly managed at an enterprise level - above any one PBX or communications server. Also many PBX technologies can manage multiple points of presence across an enterprise. As a result centrally hosted enterprise call accounting systems are displacing distributed standalone premise-based call accounting systems. Application service providers (ASP's) can also provide call accounting as an internet based service, usually bundled with related telecommunications services. See also Software as a Service (SaaS) above.

 

How Call Accounting Systems Work

Generally, call accounting systems collect data from a key system, a PBX, iPBX, or Voice over IP (VOIP) gateway generated by service activity on all or selected phone extensions or devices. The system attaches costs and possibly revenues to that activity. Call accounting systems in the United States and its territories must cost and surcharge phone activity using metered rates structured round the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). More sophisticated call accounting systems will actually provision services on the PBX's and communications servers. Traditional PBX's send calling activity information out of a serial port or via a proprietary TCP/IP network service. The call accounting system has a capturing module or a capturing hardware device that is then able to store the data and feed data to and from the rating engine. More recent iPBX's provide access to information by retaining it in online data bases for extraction by external systems. The voice related data collected usually includes calling party, date, time, duration, destination party and authorization or account code. This data is sometimes called Call Detail Recording (CDR) or Station Message Detail Recording (SMDR).

 

Call Accounting In Hospitality

Hotels make more sophisticated use of call accounting systems than many corporate entities. First, hotels require realtime processing from their call accounting systems. Also, while corporate call accounting systems largely provide departmental chargeback, call accounting systems in hospitality provide more sophisticated chargeback and markup algorithms for revenue based resale of phone services to targeted visitors, staff, partners, and guests. Also, the hospitality industry frequently leverages centralized enterprise call accounting and fully managed call accounting services as hoteliers often lack on-property staff that can operate on-premise systems and seek simplicity and bottom line cost savings. TSPS was an early method of providing such service.

Traditionally, hotel chains and management companies have suggested that properties keep their call accounting systems up-to-date and accurate. They have done this for four main reasons: (1) to recover the cost of long-distance calls, (2) to properly allocate, account for, and charge customers for their phone usage, (3) to generate revenue through the resale of phone calls, and (4) to track phone calls made to and from their property for marketing, planning and other purposes. However, given the low cost of telecommunications capacity available to the hoteliers today, the low phone usage rates in hotels, and the limited qualified staff available within individual hotel properties, such activity is increasingly problematic. Call accounting is therefore increasingly bundled within more comprehensive telemanager services provided to the hotel by third parties or by the hotel's corporate staff. Such services manage the more complete financial aspect of telecommunications usage and facilities.

 

This article is about Call Accounting System (Hệ Thống Tính Cước Cuộc Gọi), Call Accounting Software (Phần Mềm Tính Cước), Pbx Billing Software (Phần Mềm Tính Cước Tổng Đài Nội Bộ), Pbx Billing System (Hệ Thống Tính Cước Tổng Đài Nội Bộ).