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Rate Maintenance: A task simplified by OTM v6.4

Amidst a multitude of enhancements over previous versions, Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) v6.4 has caught the attention of OTM practitioners and users with its improved fleet management, rate maintenance, and mobility features. Considering the criticality of rate maintenance function and also the frequency with which OTM rates need to be updated, it won't be an exaggeration to conclude that the rate maintenance tool is poised to stand out as one of the key driving factors for OTM 6.4.

Global economy today is highly dynamic, complex, and competitive. Businesses strive hard to synchronize their offerings along the crests and troughs of the economic indices. In such an uncertain terrain, logistics service providers and carriers are left with no other option but to frequently update their service offerings with revised pricing structures. In today's world, rates and accessorials are in constant flux while service providers and transportation lanes are constantly being added or removed from supply chains. Thus, from the perspective of OTM users as well as those responsible for maintaining the IT infrastructure, these fluctuations emerge as one of the most complex, time and resource consuming activities. Let me begin by listing down the key reasons that favor this improved rate maintenance tool:

  • Conventional rate upload process in OTM is time consuming, resource intensive, and expertise requiring activity
  • OTM rate tables are highly interlinked and inter-dependent; also, as these involve a large number of related attributes, the scope for error is huge
  • Owing to volatility of market forces, there are frequent fluctuations in rates and consequent revisions to the offerings of service providers

However, before jumping to conclusions, it's important to understand the 'hows' of the conventional rate upload process. Basically, rates in OTM, be it buy or sell, are configured through either of the following methods:

  • Manual entry via user interface
  • Table-by-table upload of comma-separated values (CSV) through Business Process Automation- Integration

The manual entry method mostly involves business users and is used only for a small number of records. The CSV upload method is more popular for editing and uploading large number of records, but on the flip side, the tables have many dependencies and unless correct values are inserted, it would lead to complex errors. To illustrate this point, I would like to quote a few interrelated tables such as X-Lanes, Rate Versions, Rate Offerings, Rate Geos, and so on. Also, each of these tables consist of umpteen attributes, which correspond to a totally different set of values.

In such a situation, OTM v6.4 seems to have brought a much needed intervention in the form of its Rate Maintenance feature. However, as all good things come at a cost, this feature too requires a license for OTM Sourcing. Its user interface leverages the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), which is being used to enhance overall user experience throughout OTM.

The Rate Maintenance feature comprises of the following key processes:

  • Managing rate load definitions or defining structure of desired rates: Users begin by simply selecting a template or sample rate to define the fields they want to collect or modify. They then configure what and how they want the proposed rates spreadsheet to look like based on the available rate attributes
  • Downloading existing rates or generating spreadsheet: Depending on whether 'new rates' are to be configured or 'existing rates' need to be modified, users select either of the two available options: 'download without rates' for former and 'download with rates' for latter. Using the Rate Load definition ID and based on the selected option, users query the rates which they want to create / modify
  • Populating / editing rate data in spreadsheet: Users populate the spreadsheet with the new rates or rate updates
  • Uploading the rates spreadsheet: Once data entry is completed, the rate spreadsheet is selected to be loaded into OTM
  • Reviewing, approving, and making rates operational: Approval actions enable the user to review and approve the rate changes. An audit trail of all rate uploads and approval activity is maintained. Lastly, the user finalizes the rates making them operationally available

Thus, in this manner, users are able to easily upload and maintain rates in a logical and user-friendly way. The interface and workflow shall undoubtedly play pivotal roles in shortening the quote to contract process. In a nutshell, this Rate Maintenance feature of Transportation Sourcing v6.4 leads to improved productivity by enabling business users to manage rates without requiring technical knowhow of the OTM rate tables.

On a similar note, prior to v6.4, Infosys OTM competency too had developed a homegrown service solution in the form of a mass upload tool to facilitate such requirements.

Written by: Prayash Baruah

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