About the client
About the client
Nextgen Clearing is the leading provider of roaming services that specializes in advanced clearing and settlement solutions for telecom operators worldwide. The company optimizes complex processes of wholesale roaming, interconnect, and financial clearing, helping their clients efficiently manage financial transactions between operators.
Collaborating with global telecom operators, Nextgen has a streamlined system of tools to manage roaming business processes such as data collection, management, analysis and billing. But their legacy system lacked essential functionality – it didn’t allow generating invoices for telecom hubs.
Nextgen Clearing used to dedicate a week each month to manually create invoices and reports for billing affiliates. This laborious task not only consumed a significant amount of time but also caused a slowdown in internal processes. Recognizing the need for efficiency, the company made the decision to automate this process by integrating the necessary functionality into their system. That’s when they reached out to us – Flyaps has deep expertise in telecom and strong skills that are essential for building a solution like that. Nextgen was familiar with the quality we deliver from our previous collaboration on internal and white-label products, so they came back to us again.
To automate the creation of invoices for groups of operators, Nextgen Clearing needed to enhance their legacy system with a custom tool. As their long-term partner, Flyaps knew how to best implement it.
As Nextgen established partnerships with worldwide operators, such as MTN Group – Africa's largest mobile network operator – they had to generate invoices for groups of affiliates and cover both flows of payments, receivable and payable.
To achieve this task, Nextgen Clearing had to gather data from all affiliates, summarize them and, based on the data received, generate invoices for each operator. But their legacy system didn’t support the distributed billing functionality, so the Operations team had to generate invoices manually. Hundreds of invoices had to be generated by hand each month, taking a separate team and a week of work.
To fasten the process, Nextgen needed a solution that would facilitate and automate a strenuous process of creating invoices. Rebuilding the legacy system wasn’t an option, as it would take too much time and affect the company's workflow. So Nextgen decided to build an add-on for their legacy product. As Nextgen’s long-term partners, we’ve already delivered telecom solutions for them and were ready to take on another challenge.
The custom add-on had to solve three major challenges
With more than ten years of experience in the telecom domain, Flyaps devs are experts in building complex telecom solutions. Resolving bottlenecks of global operators, we understand the challenges telecom enterprises face, and how to overcome them. Our collaboration with Nextgen Clearing has resulted in such products as Connected Platform, Connected Platform and IoT portal. Now it was the time for the next tool – Financial Clearing Hub.
To understand the requirements for a solution Nextgen needed, we delved into their internal processes and thoroughly studied every interaction. Through brainstorming and back-and-forth communication, we found the best way to turn the idea into reality.
We kicked off the project by actively communicating with the Nextgen team to clearly understand their needs and goals. They showed us a diagram that illustrated the entire workflow we needed to automate.
Dealing with call detail records and other data in different formats was one of the biggest challenges. Some formats, like XML, were easy to handle, while others, like PDF, posed more difficulties. Our team's objective was to develop a system that could parse all types of files, generate invoices, obtain approvals, and seamlessly integrate the data back into the legacy system for reporting. To achieve this, we built unified parsers to maintain a consistent format across various providers and simplify the entire process.
Another challenge was to make sure the solution is convenient to use. Focused on a user-friendly interface, we set a goal of achieving minimum transitions between tabs to make the work process streamlined and fast.
Finally, we had to ensure a seamless integration with the legacy system. Our main goals were to achieve easy access, provide a user-friendly experience, and nail the data retrieval process.
To ensure the scalability and flexibility of the solution, we opted for microservices architecture. As for the database, we started with Oracle but soon switched to PostgreSQL which suited our platform the most. It allowed better security and helped accelerate development. To efficiently interact with the database, we chose SQLAlchemy – a Python-based SQL toolkit that provides object-oriented access to the database, allowing us to manage numerous files in one click. To deploy and manage the platform, we leveraged Docker and Kubernetes, providing scalability, portability, and efficient resource utilization in a cloud-native environment.
Our tech stack allowed us to prepare the right base for the development process, but we still had to tackle our main challenge – design a tool that would automate the strenuous multistep process of billing and at the same time be easy to use.
As the new tool was planned to be a part of Nextgen’s ecosystem, we had to make the interface correspond to the corporate design. To achieve it, we used Nextgen's design system that we previously built for their other products (IC hub, Connected platform, IoT portal). We reused the same components such as buttons, headers and menus, which allowed us to speed up the development process.
At the same time, we also did a redesign of the Nextgen legacy system. Using the design guide, we slightly modernized the system, unifying interfaces and improving the general usability. As a result, the Nextgen team can work effortlessly – the design is generally the same among different products and is easily recognizable even if the user enters a specific application for the first time.
To make Financial Clearing Hub easy to use, we also implemented dashboards that display all the essential information on one screen at a time, excluding unnecessary transitions between tabs.
The dashboard allows users to see the list of operators and time periods. For users to easily navigate through, we added slots of different colors that indicate the status of an invoice – new, in progress or completed. Presenting all the essential data in an easy-to-digest form, the dashboard also enables users to implement changes effortlessly.
To simplify the work with numerous files, we added bulk actions such as generating reports, sending approved invoices and invoice downloading. Fastening the workflow, bulk actions allow completing complex operations in just one click.
To make the use of the tool as convenient as possible, we also implemented responsive design for mobile and tablet. Despite the challenges of displaying tables, we achieved a pleasant look on every device, so that the app can be used even on the go.
The main challenge that our product needed to solve was invoice generation based on the data received. To automate the process, we decided to implement parsing – extracting essential data and transforming it into text symbols would eliminate the need to do it manually.
And this is when we faced a major problem. As Nextgen’s client, MTN Group, partners with numerous operators that use different service providers, their invoices vary greatly in terms of format, which meant we couldn’t parse them all at once. To solve this problem, we decided to implement unified parsing. Each service provider has a certain format for their invoices, so we divided all the operators that collaborate with MTN Group by their providers and created a separate parsing for each of them. Leveraging unified parsing, we assured effective data extraction and solved the problem of different invoice formats.
As the optimal way to manage files was found, we started implementing it. First of all, we needed to manage two flows of payments with a single tool – receivable for the money owed to a telecom operator and payable for the money owed by a telecom operator to its suppliers. For receivable flow, all the invoices are typically done in the same format – XML. But in the case of payable flow, the common format is PDF, which is the hardest to parse. Having a complex structure with various elements such as text, images, tables, fonts, formatting, and embedded objects, PDFs pose a problem for parsing, often resulting in garbled or incorrectly interpreted text.
To ensure correct data extraction, we leveraged PDFMiner – a Python library that allows extracting text, images, and metadata from PDF documents, transforming the data into text symbols. Facilitating document processing, PDFMiner functionality allowed us to get correct results which are essential for invoice generation.
Leveraging unified parsing and an advanced tool for data extraction, we achieved correct results and automated the complicated process of data comparison and telecom hubs billing. What used to take an entire week and a team of several people can now be automated with ease.
After building the interface and functionality, we needed to implement the last thing – smooth integration with a legacy system that would ensure streamlined workflow among different applications.
As a new tool was added to the Nextgen ecosystem, we had to make sure that entering the system would be simple for the company’s employees. To provide easy and secure access, we implemented single sign-on through OKTA – a cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) platform. Using the same credentials as for a legacy system, the Nextgen team can easily access the add-on.
Focusing on solving user problems, we created a tool that automated invoice generation and became an integral part of the existing ecosystem. Modern design combined with advanced tech allowed us to transform the tedious task of manually comparing the data and creating invoices for numerous affiliates.
With Financial Clearing hub, the Nextgen team received an advanced platform for settling financial flows with telecom hubs. Eliminating the possibility of human error, the solution is able to extract and summarize the essential data so the Operations team could generate invoices for Nextgen's clients within an hour instead of a week. Designed to match the corporate style, FC hub was seamlessly integrated into the system of existing products and greatly facilitated the work of the Operations team.
The tool we built excluded the need to manually analyze 600+ files each month. By automatically generating invoices, all the operations that required a week and a team of five people can be done in an hour.
With intuitive dashboards and responsive design, FC hub transformed the process of working with invoices. Designed to cover all users needs, the platform enables the completion of complex actions in one click.
An irreplaceable tool for managing financial operations with telecom hubs, the solution is designed to fit the future. As Nextgen's client base increases, they can easily scale and expand the system.
We collaborated with Flyaps on developing an invoicing and clearing solution for hubs. Our experience working with their team was pleasant. They were extremely professional and easy to work with. They had a flexible approach to work, offered good solutions and demonstrated effective communication skills.
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