Extend OTM VPD for Users

Oracle VPD (Virtual Private Database) is a good feature for OTM (Oracle Transportation Management to control access. However, it is still technically challenging to maintain VPD directly for users. This is why we can configure VPD to parameterise for users. This way, users can maintain access control via the screen or masterdata setup. Contact group and attribute field VPD are the most common ways to extend OTM VPD for users.

Contact Group VPD

The most common configuration of VPD setup in order release or shipment is to set the involved party. Then, you will create the same name of involved party for your contact group. Users that required access to the data will be added to this contact group. This way, you can control access without amending the VPD.

Attribute Field VPD

Another common method is to VPD to the attribute fields. The field will be a variable control to determine what can be shown to the users. This attribute can be dynamic or a masterdata setup. The usage of attribute is to speed up the VPD as it reside on the data table itself. Another key reason is that you can allow super user to inline edit attribute field to allow access.

OTM VPD are useful for access control to data. However, updating VPD directly is highly technical and cannot be maintained by users. This is why you can configure contact group or use attribute fields to dynamic control your VPD. Users also have the options to amend this fields as well.

Pay as You Use

Pay as you use will be the most common costing model as applications are moving to Cloud. This is changing the entire financial view towards applications. It is the most cost efficient and sustainable model as organisation will spend on actual consumption of IT resources. For business, this will provide better margin for their product offerings.

Why Switch?

Pay as you use allows you to leverage on costing based on actual consumptions. This helps to reduce idling time in your applications. Allocations of resources can also be sized to the seasonal period. Such model are widely used for electrical utilities or mobile usage. This concept applies to Cloud where specific data consumptions can be measured and charged accordingly. Thus, this model will impact on how organisations should pass the cost savings to consumers.

The Challenges

Although cloud providers are billing in consumptions metrics, it is not straightforward to translate these to applications usage. You will need to review your architecture framework from a costing perspective. Subsequently, this translates to a change for your existing financial view on how IT is being procured, charged and allocated.

Pay as you use model will continue to effect the changes to the financial view for IT. Business will continue to demand on how these cost savings should provide value for their product offerings. Therefore, we must design the entire product lifecycle around this costing model.

IT Outsource to Co-Sourcing

Outsourcing will be on the decline as Cloud architecture grows with adoption. Many organisations are now turning to co-sourcing model because Cloud allows you to self service very quickly with configuration. This allows you to Agile quickly and adapt to different business needs. So, how should organisation make the switch to co-sourcing?

Recalibrate your Team

The first step to co-sourcing is to recalibrate your team skillset. This means your team will need to start to utilise their technical skills. A good start is to take on some enhancements changes internally instead of outsourcing to vendors. However, there are some teammates or management who cannot make the switch to this model. You will need to make the hard choice to rotate your team for co-sourcing inclined resources.

Co-sourcing with Vendors

The next step is to leverage your vendors for co-sourcing needs. You will also need to communicate to vendors your co-sourcing objectives. Both parties must build on mutual trust and work towards open knowledge and transfer of skillset. There is a misconception that co-sourcing will lead to a decrease of business for vendors. On the contrary, business will increase as more innovations can be implemented.

IT Co-sourcing is expected to overtake or even replace existing outsource model. There are two key steps to convert your organisation to co-sourcing. First, you need to recalibrate your team to build on technical skills. Then, you must communicate to your vendors for this vision and work mutually to achieve this model.

Steady State

The steady state is an important concept for development and project planning. Agile view it differently with another backlog of change. We should learn how to manage this by considering it in our planning or development.


The development of new features are less constant than existing ones. At this stage, requirements are less clear. Bugs are common and affects the data integrity. A huge scope will require more time to be stable. One strategy is to adopt use case for quicker steady state rather than going for a full suites of product.

Achieving Stability

The priority is to achieve stability and set a baseline on which you can enhance. Some called it versioning. You can group the changes and manage stability at a steady state. You need to establish measurements for stability. Monitoring and maintenance are part of your processes to achieve stability.

A stable system is at its steady state. Data will be less likely to be affected by timing issues. You should always achieve steady state before embarking on the next change. This requires planning and understanding of the relationships of change and steady state.

Sustainable Enterprise Architecture

Sustainable enterprise architecture (EA) will help organisations achieve better sustainable development goals (SDGs). There are many ways to embrace and move towards a holistic sustainable vision. This is a summary of how we can start a sustainable EA.

Multidisciplinary Task Force

EA will be a key enabler for sustainability goals. The breadth of the goals requires multidisciplinary skillsets to setup and design the EA blueprint. Many organisational EA remains in silo and does not draw on existing SME (subject matter expert) for its development of sustainable EA.

Sustainable Framework

You can start to include sustainable framework into your existing EA. Sustainable framework requires higher data visibility of your operational flows. You can enable sustainable checkpoints to your EA. Sometimes, you may need to replace existing framework with sustainable ones for your EA.

Existing EA does not factor SDGs as part of the framework. You may require a multidisciplinary task force to evaluate and review your EA for sustainable purposes. Doing so will involve an upgrade or replacement your EA framework for a sustainable ones.

Multicloud Managment

Multicloud management is becoming a challenge when you are trying to tabulate your overall TCO (total cost of ownership). You will also require a broad set of cloud skillset across different cloud providers. Most organisations will adopt multicloud due to migration of legacy systems to cloud. Another reasons are the strengths of each cloud providers. How should you prepare towards multicloud management?

Cross Functional Cloud Team

Cloud providers have a common dictionary and concepts. You should start to develop your resources to acquire a general cloud skillset. It is also time that you build a cross functional team for managing your cloud assets across different providers. The team must be adept to tabulate and normalise cloud consumptions across different platform. This team will also assist in best Cloud practices. However, the team is not to be a replacement of COE (Center of Excellence). Many organisations refer this team as a Digital Transformation team.

Multicloud Vision

As legacy migrate to cloud, it is estimated that your future applications should be cloud in 5 years time. Thus, it is time to formulate multicloud strategies and vision for your organisation. The vision will steer your multicloud managment into these approaches:

  • Centralised Multicloud will seek to view all your cloud usage in a single view and manage from a control tower vision.
  • Regional Multicloud approach leverage cloud providers selection and consumptions at a regional levels due to timezone and locations.
  • Applications Centric approach builds from transition of on premise application to Cloud.

Multicloud Management will be replacing traditional IT management as the migration of cloud is underway. It is time for organisations to transition your management to multicloud management instead than retaining your existing team structures around your traditional IT architecture.

Stakeholder Analysis 101

Stakeholder analysis is a step you must undertake to understand and evaluate the stakeholders for your project. This step is often neglected, skipped or taken for granted. It is easy to overlook because humans tends to make assumptions for stakeholders. I will loosely classify stakeholders into these categories. You must take note to manage and include these stakeholders from the start of project.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Stakeholders can be divided into the good, the bad and the ugly! You need to focus on gathering these good stakeholders who can play the roles well.

  • Sponsor to support and orchestra your project vision
  • Functional roles to implement your project objectives
  • Influencer to motivate and champion your project goals

Bad and ugly stakeholders are attracted to all projects. This is inevitable and steps must be taken to understand and mitigate their influence. Sometimes, decision must be made to swap these negative stakeholders out.

Required Representation

In every project, it is not surprising to see the wrong stakeholder leading the project. Halfway through the project, you realise a representative is missing for a function group. You may even notice that this repeats into the next project. Thus, it is important to start the project with the required stakeholders with a minimum of 2 representatives. Why? This is because all humans have downtime and you need backup to ensure continuity.

Stakeholder analysis is an essential steps for project success. Identifying positive stakeholders helps to drive your project goals. You must learn to analyse and downplay bad and ugly stakeholders. Lastly, you need to ensure at least 2 representation of stakeholders in your projects.

OTM FTL Rates 101

OTM FTL (Full Truckload) rates are one of the required configuration to setup for your shipment planning. You should always configure this rate model to be setup as a default rates. These are some tips that you will find useful for FTL rates setup.

A Default FTL Rate

The setup of FTL default rate will always help you in shipment planning and testing. There are times where you need to test shipments without the need of accurate rating. The basic FTL setup are usually by shipment or equipment. The key parameters to take note for equipment rate model are:

  • Weight
  • Volume
  • Hazardous
  • Lanes
  • Service Provider

Below settings can be defaulted to dummy values. If not, you can populate these fields in your rates to fine tune your ratings:

  • Service Time
  • Corporation Profile
  • Rate Distance

It is best to keep your FTL to the simplest form because it will speed up your masterdata collection.

Dummy Rate Cost

OTM will pick the lowest cost for these shipment planning. Thus, you may set a dummy high value for these rare costs. Do take note that these default are suitable for initial testing and debugging of your agents. Once you are moving to production, do deactivate these rate cost. You may also wish to retain these dummy values to allow shipment planning to proceed for no rates scenarios.

FTL rates should always be the first rate model to setup when you configure OTM for the first time. This will help you in testing and configuration for fresh OTM setup.

Configuring Software Product 101

Configuring software product is the key trend and reason of moving to Cloud. Some key characteristics of configuration approach are real time changes, hotfix and self service features. Many traditional project manager have misalignment to apply development methods for configuration model. If you are one of them and new to configuration approach, you may find these tips useful.

Digital Transform Mindset

Digital transformation is a main component for configuration model. Many will think digital transformation is about application changes. In reality, this is transformation of your mindset to a configuration approach. You should be inclined to review products that are highly flexible and configurable instead of turnkey method. This is a commonly seen in many local offices where stakeholders try to engage local solutions to solve a global problem.

Tips for Configuration Project

If you are new to configuration project, you will likely need to adapt these few tips.

  • Configuration suits Agile.
  • Cloud allows configuration at various levels like infrastructure, applications or services.
  • Train insource SME (subject matter expert).
  • Organise your teams for configuration capabilities.
  • Engage management support to adopt configuration platforms.

The constant market changes and COVID-19 is spurring the configuration market. Many resources and education stay entrenched in software development practices. It is time you switch your mindset and embrace configuration practices. This way, you can stay relevance and adaptive.

Chatbot Date NLP

Chatbot NLP have an interesting feature to interpret dates with NLP (natural language processing). In traditional applications, we need to set user preferences and identify the dates format and convert it accordingly. This is a key advantage of using AI driven Chatbot.

Why NLP Inputs?

A key issue with data input is user formatting. Date is one notorious input as shown in here for OTM. NLP is a great solution to resolve this data input. With NLP, you can key in different flavors of dates and formats like below:

  • Yesterday
  • Today
  • 2 days ago
  • 2 months ago
  • 12 Aug
  • Jun 10
A New Paradigm

It will be a matter of time before we see the input forms disappearing. This will be replaced by smart Chatbot that extract data from your responses. So, there will be increased interest in NLP development. This new paradigm is more intuitive and smart. For eCommerce, it will helps to uncover impulse purchases and unarticulated needs.

A new way of NLP data input will gain popularity as Chatbot development becomes mature. This will change the way we view UI (User Interface). Of course, the initial development will be challenging as we lack NLP developers. If this is the case, why not transition your existing UI to NLP development?