Just In Time Documentation

Welcome to the paperless and Agile era! Finally, we can forego the need to print files of user guide and documentations nobody read. We also get many requests on the rows and columns on the documentation that non users wanted. Do we really need to generate so much documentation from Agile project?

JIT Documents

Unlike waterfall project, agile do not advocate documentation as deliverables. Instead, documentation is part of the process and can be provided as needed. This retain timely information and just in time efforts. There are even software that auto generated code documents if commented properly. Thus, agile document if required, not must required. Of course, you must also produce documentation promptly if asked!

Why JIT?

Document is the code.

In reality, documentation is good to have and help me to reconcile the thoughts and the codes. The best documentation from a technical view is always the code. However, this approach may not fit well with many Waterfall requirements. This is where JIT comes in play. Timely, current and just in time!

More Solar Energy Testing

The search for sustainability continues with more testing of solar lights. Previously, I had tested some solar panel setup that failed to work. Not wanting to give up, I tried again, this time with solar lights. The results were not fantastic, neither they were that bad. Overall, it was a good start to attempt to harness solar energy.

Solar Lights Setup

The trial was a test of 4 solar powered lights. Location was balcony with good sunlight exposures and bedroom with poor sunlight. It was really useful because you do not require any wiring to be done. Each solar light cost around SGD$2.20 or USD$1.70. That was pretty low cost as each light comes with solar panel, an LED light and rechargeable battery.

Good and Bad

Location plays key part in effectiveness of solar lights. The solar lights placed in bedroom with poor sunlight remains unlit after a day of no sunlight exposure. On the hand, the ones at balcony remains dim and able to light up. Thus, you must place your solar lights in place where you get a constant reach of sunlight.

Overall, it is really good to see night lights in the dark balcony. The brightness of the light is dependable on the amount of sunlight exposure. This suits Singapore, as we usually get sunlight throughout the year. However, it cannot be used if you require a reliable brightness. The journey of sustainability goes on as I will try to test more sustainability options in Singapore HDB flat.

Service Level Failure

Yesterday, I faced a pink food delivery service failure in Singapore that reminded me of my satisfaction study. The food delivery service had confirmed my order at the checkout. After waiting for an hour, I checked in horror to realise the order had been cancelled. I tried in vain to connect to the service chat. A hangry me complained severely only to be told that my payment was “cash on delivery”. Of course, each reply will reveal more reasons as I provided screenshot of the order confirmation. Finally, one admitted that there was a technical issue with the payment gateway.

Be Sensitive

Service level was failed at several level for the pink “FoodP”. The most serious failure is the insensitiveness to the customer needs. In this case, the customer service was literally unreachable for this time sensitive service. The customer was only interested in getting the meal at the timing. If your service cannot be fulfilled, it is courtesy to apologise quickly, rectify and compensate for the cancellation. Imagine a family of hangry members!

Be Truthful

The aftermath of complaint management was totally chaotic. Instead of finding out the root cause of this failure, the first cause of action place the blame to the customer. If you do not have the full truth, it is better to acknowledge an error had happened than to lie to the customer. In many ways, complaints resolution are horrific and answers are “bot” like in nature.

Service level failure management is a poorly understood area in many eCommerce platform. Like what my satisfaction study mention, the satisfaction points can come from a network of partners from payment gateway, delivery and food providers. If you want to provide standard complaint answers, you might as well get a bot! If no, let your human be human and create a satisfactory complaint resolution experience.

OTM Templates Design

Templates design is a common solution in many Cloud applications. After all, why do you need to reinvent the wheel? This approach is also commonly used in OTM (Oracle Transportation Management). While there are advantages to the template, this approach also have certain drawbacks.

Template Quick Guides

The type of templates will determine how duration of your customer onboarding. You can follow these quick guides in your templates approach.

  • Keep your templates to less than 8.
  • Look to data auto assignment rules.
  • Collect enough masterdata but not too much of it.
  • Prefill templates data as much as possible.
  • Use API to automate data collection in templates.
  • Provide auto validation checks.
Things to Avoid

Templates have some drawbacks which we need to take note and mitigate.

  • Do not over invest in your templates. It is a means to an end.
  • Templates cover common scenarios. Remember to provide options to templates design.
  • If there are a constant increase of your templates, look to refactoring and harmonise your templates.

Using templates in OTM greatly speed up your customer onboarding time. However, templates are just a tool and should not complicate your OTM configuration.

OTM VPD Tips

Oracle VPD (Virtual Private Database) is a quick security policy design for the database. This is also one of the features in OTM (Oracle Transportation Management) application. The setup of VPD can be quite painful if you are new to Oracle and OTM. In OTM, this can be a great struggle as you seek to maintain the VPD configured by your predecessor.

OTM VPD Error

OTM is notoriously famous for many VPD errors when things goes wrong. Many log errors will flag as policy violations. In some cases, your OTM UI screen (User Interface) will just freeze or give a weird error if you try to edit the object. There is another instance where you find your changes cannot be committed to database.

OTM VPD Tips

These are some common VPD tips to speed up your understanding in OTM.

  • Test out your issue with or without VPD.
  • Always consider VPD as one of the possible root cause of reported issue.
  • VPD may not work well if your SQL contain too many relational tables.
  • Keep your SQL in VPD short and simple.
  • If your VPD is complex, consider ways to simplify it by using a column field on the object.
  • Do not implement VPD for the sake of VPD.

VPD in OTM is quite a pretty neat extension of Oracle database. You will usually need some advanced knowledge of SQL to maintain and decipher the VPD. As a rule of thumb, it is good practice to keep VPD simple to spare your future headaches.!

Love Hate Macro

Anyway who have done macro will usually love to hate it! Macro can literally be a product of legacy achievement with headache and a consolation to excel users. Yes, this is how frustrating Macro can be. Are you someone who is trying to eliminate Excel macro?

Macro Standpoint

Macro is like a nowwhere application that is not data friendly. If you ever tried watching PiP (Picture-in-picture), you will know how macro will feel within Excel. I usually like to relate macro to RPA where we are trying to automate the wrong part of the processes with users reluctance to exit Excel. With the move of Microsoft to Cloud, macro will face a timely death in the next 5 years or so.

Macro Ocean to River

Sadly, I am a creator of macro but not a supporter of it. Building a macro is like trying to get the ocean into a river. Excel allows users flexibility to create different worksheets, rows and columns. Data is free flow and macro is trying to make sense of this ocean and empty it into a river. This is a total nightmare to your support team.

Moving forward, do reduce the reliance of macro as a low cost way of data input. Will the move to Cloud will present a shift to “Cloud macro”? Many upgrades and cloud migration are already putting a strain to these change to the macro. Where you will stand?

Cloud Dollars and Sense

Budgeting is an key aspect for many traditional IT projects. You often need to ballpark the budget estimation from previous experiences. The tricky part comes when you are doing Digital Transformation project for Cloud. How do you make dollars and sense out of something that have not been done before?

Metering

If you are moving to Cloud, it makes sense to starting metering your transactions. Think of it like your electrical bills, where your are being charged at kilowatts per hours. Metering makes it easier to convert to Cloud credits when you are planning your budgeting. The good part with Cloud is that you can adjust or stretch your credits with different Cloud features.

Running Cost

Running cost for Cloud will deviate quite a bit from your existing on premise application. This is because Cloud have factor running cost into its metrics as compared to your on premise cost. If you want to compare the running cost of on premise application, you will need to include support cost, upgrades, manpower or downtime.

Preparation for Cloud move will have to start as soon as possible. If you are still pondering over the move and trying to make sense of the dollars. You can consider to meter your existing on premise applications and sum up your running costs. This will help greatly in your comparison to Cloud costing.

I want a Change Agent

Digital Transformation, system upgrades or migration challenge is not technology but human behaviour. One of the least articulated role is the Change Agent. It is common to see incorrect stakeholders being assigned to these projects. Often, they are not decision makers, high resistance to change and most ignorant of the changes required. Their usual behavioural approach is “No change”. This is where the Change Agent steps in.

What is the truth, but a lie agreed upon.

Friedrich Nietzsche

By default, majority of humans are not receptive to changes. When existing processes and mindset remains entrenched, user resistance will be at its highest. This is often detrimental for new system introduction. Change management is often ignored due to existing users or teams which are not well adept to introducing changes. Thus, Change Agent will play an important role to guide these users into the new system. This role focus to identify changes and related user resistances. They also helps to manage and soothes users concerns.

The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.

Charles Kettering

Change Agent usually effect changes by influence and inspiration. This is in contrast to direct authoritative methods by traditional management. They usually have deep understanding of the change impact on users. Change Agent can be someone from with good communication and understanding of negotiation and persuasive skills. So, it will be a good success factor to include a Change Agent in your Digital Transformation or upgrades projects.

Cloud or Later

Many applications have been shifting from on premise to cloud. There are many debates to whether your application should shift or not. A fact that exist is that all products will be on cloud for the next five years by 2026. This means you shall start preparations for your applications to be deployed to cloud. What does this mean to product owner?

Photo by Ethan Kwok
Cloud Architecture

The anticipated shift to Cloud will create a major change to your product architecture. This will pose a huge risk to your application when you have to move to Cloud. Another change impact is your customisation that is done to your application. In Cloud, the level of customisation is usually restricted to REST or API calls.

Ways to Cloud Safely

Rather than a Big Bang approach, you can consider to transform your customisation into cloud first. Another approach is adopt new add-ons on cloud instead of deploying them on premise. Digital Transformation of legacy applications or customisations are tedious and time consuming. Do consider building your insource cloud capabilities in preparation of your “D-Day” to Cloud. Agile is a must because Cloud will throw up surprise in your shift.

The shift to Cloud is inevitable for many. Debates will only determine if it is now or later. Rewards will goes to those who are well prepared and self reliance on their Cloud capabilities.

Alternate TMS Transport Mode

The transport mode for TMS (Transportation Management System) is getting diversified due to demand of delivery services from the COVID-19 pandemic. Beside the usual truck, vessel or rail, you will see specialised last mile TMS delivery mode like motorbikes bicycles, or even walking. How do you cater to this alternate transport mode?

Extension or Transform

A way to relook into these alternate transport model is to extension or transform your business model. Extension is a classic method that involves leveraging existing product platform by upgrading and tweaking existing model. The pros are lower cost and lesser change impact. However, you will be constraint by your existing TMS technological landscape. The trending way in 2020s is digital transformation of your TMS. This involves relook of your TMS platform in the face of pandemic with these transport mode.

Masterdata Impact

The organisation business model will change to cater to these transportation services. One of the major change is masterdata setup. The default product model will be different from the conventional setup. Can you apply the same masterdata method for the new transport mode? The answer will be yes and no. Yes, some of masterdata model can be applicable with standard capacity like your truck or rating model of parcel with weight or trips. A major no will be related to the relevance of some masterdata type like location. Location becomes more transaction based at address level more than a masterdata.

COVID-19 pandemic creates new opportunities for digital transformation for TMS with alternate transport modes. Contactless deliveries are driving the logistics and TMS vibrantly. We will expect to see more changes in TMS.