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May 20, 2017

If the Terminator T-800 takes over ERP world

The other day I was watching Sundar Pichai's keynote during the I/O 2017, where he introduced Google Lens, an intelligent image computing product from Google. The first thought that came to my mind was Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 2- Judgement Day, were the T-800, a cybernetic organism from the future looks at an object and the details of the object pops up in its vision. I imagine a day, when this technology gets more mature and the VR head gears become lighter and cooler perhaps like eye glasses, and we can all be like the T-800, where we look at people and their online profile pops up. Maybe it could tell me that the tall guy in front me in the queue is my 5th grade classmate...

Then I started thinking about what this could mean in the ERP world. We already see benefits of OCR in processing invoices with zero touch, etc. Some image processors are able to automatically process applications and detect photos where the applicant's eyes are closed or identify that the photo is not as per specification. But what Google is talking about is altogether at a different level, with machine learning capabilities. Having used some of the Google API's to generate QR code and to find geocode, I expect relatively easy to learn & use APIs from them, that would abstract the underlying complexities and return the most appropriate result for our request. My thoughts on few of its applications in the near future...

 

·         Inventory Counting - Cameras can be kept along the warehouse so all items are visible. We should be able to count each item and their location in a blink.

·         Login - May be this will give us a robust facial authentication mechanism to login!

·         Attendance - Place cameras at vantage points and the in-time and out-time of employees can automatically be recorded. I don't need to keep wiping my hands because it is wet and the biometric readers think I am an alien!

·         Field Service - Camera could watch the field service technician fixing let us say an electronic equipment and replacing a circuit board. The parts used can be re-ordered and debriefing recorded automatically.

·          Expense - System already has the field service technician's task and schedule. Let us say the technician is on a two-day visit to perform a planned preventive maintenance of a rig. On showing the lunch receipt to the mobile camera, it understands it is a food receipt, it picks the date in the receipt and understands it is within the visit's date range, gets the amount and records the expenses against the task.

·         Inspection - As part of inspection during material receiving, determine if the product meets the color specifications, if there are any scratches, cracks, defects etc. and automatically receive or reject material and record it in the application.

·         Enterprise asset preventive maintenance - Today we have sensors monitoring enterprise assets and raising preventive maintenance service requests. This can become better for e.g we can have photos taken of the asset at intervals and understand changes like color of a tube, bulging of the pump, rusting of the bend and raise preventive maintenance service requests.

 

Being an Ironman fan, I love the image processor part of Jarvis and the glasses Tony Stark wears in Iron Man 3 that does image computing and also projects images. I expect that in the next few years something similar will be so commonplace that not just Mr. Stark but all of us can experience it! 

May 7, 2017

Co- existence - A Step Towards Cloud Adoption

Nowadays, with all the buzz around the word 'CLOUD', enterprises are progressively looking at possibilities of cloud adoption which principally has become an acronym for key trends like - Digitization, Modernization and Automation. While for enterprises, looking for green field implementations, it is easier to look at cloud options, embrace them and bring forth the much needed change, the real challenge is with organizations with large scale investment into existing applications which are STILL working. So, in this blog, will provide some insight into one of the most commonly used 'co- existence' approach of embracing cloud.

Continue reading " Co- existence - A Step Towards Cloud Adoption " »

April 30, 2017

Reverse Logistics For A Forward Thrust To Sustainment Quotient

One of the key technology focus areas in Green Supply Chain Management that enables an organization to transition into a sustainable organization is Supply Chain Network.  Logistics Optimization also goes hand in hand with this. It is true beyond doubt that a responsive supply chain is also a responsible supply chain, it is more environmentally and socially responsible. Not only is it plausible it is also more financially viable resulting in a higher sustainment quotient as well as higher benefit factor. Logistics Optimization and Supply Chain Network can lead to reductions in empty and circuitous miles, and also increased warehouse capacity utilization. Organizations need to look at the process and operational best practices to improve upon their sustainment quotient. The higher the quotient, the greener the supply chain and hence the greener the dividend pastures as mentioned earlier.

Continue reading " Reverse Logistics For A Forward Thrust To Sustainment Quotient " »

April 19, 2017

HCM War in Cloud-"Dynamic Automated solutions on mobility platforms (Part-II)

 

Welcome to last part of the series. In the first part we have discussed about availability of various HCM products under cloud technology and in this part we will discuss about a brief over customer expectation in terms of automation from HCM products.

HCM Products: - Automations & Mobility solutions

There are various HCM products available within cloud and each one has its pros & cons. Each product has its automation tool which makes them different from each other.

But, today's world has understood the importance of HR products and their solutions. Now, the organization's focus has shifted from budget to Automation. Their first and foremost priority is automated solutions which will reduce the future cost to the company.

Customer Expectations:-Automated HCM solutions

  • Integration with multiple applications:-While purchasing any HCM solutions among the various options available within cloud, clients now a days expect that it should support or that it can be integrated with the already existing software platforms, so as to create a bidirectional flow of necessary data from one application to another, without any additional cost of middleware or third party softwares. Automation/Integration tools should be available or can be developed within HCM application which can reduce further cost of integration.

For example -

  1. In the banking industry, there are multiple softwares used for various applications like Core banking solutions, Internet banking, lending solutions etc. There is always requirement for new user-id creation in each software where the employee's minimum basic information is required. HCM products once developed, contains all the user's personal as well as job information. So through automated batch solutions, these basic information can be shared with other applications so as to create bi-directional data flow which can automatically create user accounts in multiple applications as per the company policies.

  2. Similarly in many companies, there is a requirement that if the user is on pre-approved leave, the user account in highly confidential software's like CBS solution in banking should be blocked so that nobody can login with that person credentials who is on pre-approved leave. So as and when future dated leaves gets approved in HCM solutions, automated integration solutions with other software's can support accordingly.

     

  • Tools for Bulk upload & extracts: - These kind of tools are already available in various HCM solutions, but testing after upload takes times. Expectation is that- this time taken can be reduced with automated solutions other than query tools. These tools should verify at their end that the bulk data is uploaded and extracted as per the requirements.

     

  • Automatized solutions for various modules: - Here, automated tools can be used to identify issues before they arise.

  1.  Payroll & Other Modules:-Payroll is the most tedious and crucial domain of HCM applications. Automation can identify the issues which could come across once the payroll is run and processed, according to requirements and it can be sorted out without any manual intervention. Less time will be consumed for checking complete payroll. HCM automated solutions should itself authenticate the payroll results. Since all modules are, in some or another, connected to payroll, automation should be proactive in case of Core HR, absence, succession planning, talent management & all other modules. All kind of issues should be found out before any process is run and should be cleared by itself without any manual intervention.

  2. Automated solutions for Interfaces\reports:-Now a days, various BI tools and interfaces (inbound\outbound) are available with almost all HCM products which is really commendable, but these BI tools should be integrated with other existing applications within the organization .There should be two way flow which can create even financial figures\marketing charts\supply chain management etc. using HR tools. Admin can create reports without intervention of developers even at implementation stage & Automation should make it possible that these reports are flexible and can be created in any form such as presentations, RFPs etc. The dependency on vendors should reduce once implemented and front end solutions should make user's life easier & time effective which will reduce the cost for organizations as well.

  • App based HCM solution: - Since almost all applications are web based and they have the flexibility to be available on mobile, App based HCM solutions should be available at least for ESS & MSS. Notification & alerts should come once the application is downloaded on mobile/ iPad. Any reports which need to be delivered to top management can also be created at any location/time. Approvals based on mails & telephonic conversation (Concall decisions across global clients) can be stored. Any kind of rewards /re-cognition through telephone /mail can be uploaded by associate in his self-service options using the application.

  • Version upgrades & Application Migration: - Version upgrade is a tedious process. If we need to migrate from one HCM solution to another, automation should be such that it should support version upgrade in a few days instead of few months and therefore, the cost will be reduced on time & on resources. Migration between applications would not be tedious task using automation tools.

Conclusion:-HCM solutions have created a buzz for all organizations who believe that Human resources are human capital which can transform the company growth. Since, multiple applications are available within the cloud market, it will be really difficult to choose the best for all organization HR needs. Above all, organizations expect a lot more from HCM solutions which should be highly automated and compatible for all platforms including mobility solutions and there is far more to go to make any HCM application to be highly automated as per the client's needs.

Link to Part 1:- http://www.infosysblogs.com/oracle/2017/03/hcm_war_in_cloud-dynamic_autom.html

April 12, 2017

THE PROMISE OF EINSTEIN AI


Dreamforce event last year was almost all about Salesforce AI "Einstein" and its promise. The promise of AI solution that will:


• Will Reside inside the SFDC platform
• Will be able to analyze the huge quantities of data generated like, sales, emails, activity data, e-commerce, calendars, social strings, and connected devices (IoT) and
• Will Implement logics through machine learning and predictive analytics algorithms and
• Will offer crisp insights after analyzing huge data and provide recommendations and perform business functions across the SFDC platform.


For example Sales Cloud Einstein's feature of "Predictive Lead Scoring" will help sales folks to focus on the most promising leads. "Opportunity Insights" feature will suggest sales folks to set next priorities. This will also take into account the inputs of another Einstein feature "Automated Activity Capture".


Service Cloud Einstein will help optimize how calls are routed through the new feature called "Einstein Case Management". Machine Learning will enable cases  to be automatically assigned, escalated and classified once they are raised, and also automatically recommend the resolution based on historic data. It will also ensure that high priority cases are serviced quicker and assigned to the best equipped and available agent. The platform will automate much of the initial information gathering, mostly via chatbots, so that service agents are equipped with background information before the eventual customer interaction. Another value add feature of Service Cloud Einstein will be Case Closure Date Prediction. 


Similarly, Commerce Cloud Einstein promises Product Recommendations and Commerce Insights and Predicitive Sort for the best and next best product to be offered . Marketing Cloud Einstein will provide Predictive Scores and Audience Predictions to enable marketers for campaigns to be focussed and successful and deliver the best content available. Other Einstein features are summarily depicted below:
 


(From www.salesforce.com)

Though, the promise of Einstein is immense but Salesforce has taken a tactical and faster time to market approach for releasing features.  The focus is right now is on using the existing capabilities built through acquisitions like BeyondCore and existing Wave Analytics. The intent is to start building Apps using the existing capabilities and then add on later. By the end of year Salesforce will be releasing around 45 AI features across clouds.


And the results are showing. Last week Transamerica (insurance firm) announced its plans to adopt Einstein AI for transforming the way it manages the relationships with clients and households by:
• Providing Insights through sentiment analysis, competitor references by clients etc. Einstein will provide notifications to reach the customers at the best time for conversion
• Provide Relationship tools to consolidate clients and their households in one structure. It will provide functionality to Group multiple related businesses, households, trusts etc.
• Once consolidated it will map relationships and provide insights and correlations of their financial ecosystems

Further, this week Salesforce announced Service Cloud Einstein and Amazon connect integration.


Oracle also announced launch of "Adaptive Intelligent Apps" last year and due for release later this year. The key Apps and associated SaaS clouds are as follows:


• CX Cloud: Adaptive Intelligent Offers and Adaptive Intelligent Actions
• HCM Cloud: Adaptive Intelligent Candidate Experience
• SCM Cloud: Adaptive Intelligent Planning &Bidding
• ERP Cloud: Adaptive Intelligent Discounts


It will be very Interesting to see how much Oracle and Salesforce capture the promising AI space (Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicts AI market to be $153 billion by 2020). Pricing may be feature based and it will not be surprising if its priced per use (per prediction or data analysis). In my opinion quicker release, target segment focus and pricing will eventually determine who captures larger market share in this space.

Continue reading " " »

April 8, 2017

How 'impactful' are your Talents for future....

 

It was interesting to watch the panel discussion about 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' at WEF, Davos earlier this year. Ever since, this new phrase 'Fourth Revolution' has been making headlines across all print, visual and social media. While it may sound 'sky is falling' right now, the phrase 'digital refugee' (referring to people losing jobs due to Automation and Artificial Intelligence) is quite intriguing.

Watching and reading all this, there is a clear and alarming sense of urgency to plan and shape-up for future. Experts in Organizational Dynamics point out that this drive to transform the entire mind-set of the organization from grass root levels, could be a major change management exercise. So, the big question is how do Enterprises plan to build or shape-up their workforce for future skill needs? How do they bring down this plan to individual level and measure it to succeed ? What is the time on-hand to make this enormous shift..?

 

Today's approach is just not enough !

Clearly, today most Enterprises might be in a 'Talent Steady' state - the change in skills required to run business are more or less defined and repeatable. Today, Enterprises' track 'Talents' under the name of 'skills', 'competency' etc.. associating skill taxonomy and skill-level to these parameters. Subsequently, workforce is tagged to a defined skill set and measured for the skill-level which they demonstrate at assigned work. This is measuring 'Talent' just in one dimension - 'completeness'.

Come tomorrow, Enterprises need to plan a massive renaissance to acquire new skills. Lets call this 'Talent Shift' state - where Enterprises have to focus on rigorously de-skilling and up-skilling workforce for future while the current work is being attended to. This is more an organic change, a transformation from within. In a more metaphorical sense, in future, Enterprises need to realize that employees are no more Employees but 'Talents'. This is akin to the proverbial joke about the 'heart surgery' carried out while the 'heart' is still beating! Hence, time is of the essence in future. Measuring Talent for 'completeness' alone is not enough. Talent needs to be associated with 'Impact' going forward and the impact created by each individual's Talent needs to be measured.

Being an 'impactful' Talent is the key 

Going forward, this 'impact' needs to be measured under 'Behavioral Skills' for every individual - at onboarding and subsequent performance evaluations - as this is associated with talent behavior pattern. I call this, 'Talent Quotient', which will be a key data-metric for measurement at individual level.

Once this is done, workforce needs to be grouped under following categories:

Original Thinkers

As the name suggests, these talents are unique, path-breaking and innovative. These individuals create and co-create useful stuff for an organization - solutions, view-points and deliverables etc... In summary, they are responsible for the intellectual asset building for an Enterprise.

Catalysts

These people are the leaders and adapt to change quickly. While adapting themselves to change, they influence others, enable them and deliver results thus working as 'Catalysts'.

Followers

Obviously, this category covers the foot soldiers who 'do' things. They follow the 'Catalysts' and work under their leadership and guidance.


Lets see the distribution of this 'Talent Quotient' across various category of companies to illustrate the utility of this metric 'Talent Quotient'.

A product company, which plans to undergo a 'Talent Shift' state, needs to have 50% - 60% of Talents categorized with 'Talent Quotient' as Original Thinkers and Catalysts. This is because asset creation is an important imperative for a product company and talents have to be shaped up accordingly.

Likewise, a Company primarily running on Services side and plans for a 'Talent Shift' state, might need Talents with 35% - 40% under 'Original Thinkers and Catalysts. This is because of the adherence to processes / SOPs and the extent of leg work in a Service industry.

Similarly, we can derive more examples and data metrics for various industry segments or stream of work (Consulting, Administration, Operations etc,,). To reemphasize the hypothesis, the speed at which an Enterprise moves to future state is completely dependent on this mix. Unless, Enterprises measure 'Talent Quotient' of their workforce, the so called 'Talent Shift' is not a smooth journey.

How does this 'Talent Quotient' impact a Talent Management cycle

Enterprises need to plan carefully to manifest this metric in the current Talent Management processes.

While, the individual treatment varies from Enterprise to Enterprise based on the nature of business and philosophy of Talent Management practices, following is an illustration of how this metric 'Talent Quotient' impacts the Talent Management cycle.

Onboard

Develop

Evaluate

Reward

Retain

Impacts the skill taxonomy

Impacts the Learning Development plans of workforce

The KPI 'Talent Quotient' needs to be measured under Behavior Skills

Create different CnB packages based on the 'Talent Quotient'.

Create retention plans and clusters based on 'Talent Quotient'.

Impacts the hiring slots and budgets

Changes the Personal Development Plan of the individuals

Determine a continuous mechanism to assess this metric

Determine the Reward mechanism to reward on 'Potential' along with Reward on 'Delivered Results'.

 

 

Summary

With changing times and advent of AI & Automation at work, the future workplace is going to see lot of changes. Enterprises need to undergo a big 'Talent Shift' from their current state. They need to figure out new mechanism to identify and track 'talents' that speed up the process of this 'Talent Shift'. Tracking the 'Talent Quotient' of individuals with their workforce will help Enterprises to make this transformation much faster within. You know, Upcoming newer times need renewed approach!

April 5, 2017

Omnichannel: The new buzzword in CX

 

In the field of Customer Relationship Management, having various channels to reach out to the customer and providing a seamless CX has become more significant than ever is deciding the success of an organization. As part of the various CX projects that we do, 'Omnichannel' is becoming a buzz word and nearly everyone seems to be talking about it but majority of the folks seem to confuse between the two.

To most of us, Omnichannel would mean providing various channels to the customer to interact with the organization. For e.g. IVR, mobile, web, Agents, physical stores, virtual stores, webmail, snailmail etc. These essentially are just channels that a company is providing for the customer and would fit the definition of 'Multi-Channel' (having multiple channels to interact with the customer) rather than Omnichannel. Without going into a textbook definition of Omnichannel, I feel it goes much beyond the channel and looks to integrate all the channels available to a consumer so that he/she can seamlessly move from one channel to another without compromising the experience or the ability.

To illustrate the ideas behind the two, consider a customer who is trying to buy a smartphone through a marketplace. Suppose he/she goes onto the marketplace website and browses through a list of smartphones, selects one, adds the selection to the cart and tries to checkout. However, at the time of checkout he wants to get warranty details of the smartphone confirmed with a call center agent. So, he dials the customer care number, authenticates himself, the CSR agent gets a pop up on his Call center application with all the customer details and the interaction can begin. But, the CSR agent does not have details of what the customer's activity was on the website since both the website and call center are operating in silos. This would be an example of Multi-channel where the customer will have to start the entire transaction again, i.e. tell the CSR about the phone he intends to buy, provide details about the phone: configuration, price etc. that he is looking for.

Now, suppose in the same transaction above, both the website and the Call center application are in sync with each other and the customer activity on the website can be tracked and fed to the CSR guy. In this case, when the customer calls, the CSR already knows that a few minutes back, the customer was on the website, trying to buy a phone with all the specifications and stopped just short of making a payment. And instead of asking the customer as to what help is required, the CSR can start with 'Sir, I see that you were trying to buy a phone, is there something related to the purchase that I can help you with'. In this scenario, the customer moved on from one channel to another seamlessly without losing the experience or the details about the transactions and was able to continue on a different channel from where he left of on the initial channel.

So, even though the words omnichannel and multichannel tend to get used interchangeably but there is a lot of difference in between the two. Also, both achieve different objectives, require different thought processes and different strategies to implement. For e.g. Multichannel strategy looks at more customer acquisition by providing various avenues for the customer to connect, Omnichannel strives to retain customers by providing a seamless experience of interaction between the customer and the product by promoting a healthy interaction between the two. To use cliché terms, one looks at customer enablement while the other targets customer delight.

One of the major factors in the environment which has changed the way customers interact with the product is the advent of Smartphones. They have enabled customers to have every information that they need at the tip of their fingers, without effort thereby nearly eliminating information asymmetry. This in turn has necessitated a change in the way companies sell products to their customers i.e. moving over from Multi channel to Omnichannel marketing. Things like 'Showrooming' and 'webrooming' have changed the way a customer shops and in turn have necessitated a change in the way a company sells its products to the consumer. Showrooming is nothing but the behavior of a shopper where he visits a physical store to check a product before making a purchase online. This is very prominent in case of personal products (shoes, clothing etc.) where a customer wants a touch and feel of the product before making a purchase decision. Companies believing in Omnichannel are tapping into this behavior to enable the customer to close the deal in the store itself or providing avenues to ensure that a customer can move over to another channel (online in this case) without any loss of experience. To illustrate, one way to do this is to provide Wi-Fi in-store and make all promotions, product details available to the customer in store, using QR codes to seamlessly direct customers from one channel to another. A mall that I frequently visit has done this beautifully by providing free Wi-Fi and pushing all the offers, promotions directly to the mall visitor's smartphone.

Webrooming is nothing but the reverse of Showrooming where a customer browses the internet before heading over to a physical store to make a purchase. Here also, Omnichannel strategy would play a key role in keeping the customer acquisition costs less and ensuring that the customer touch points through various channels enable the customer in taking decisions resulting in increase in topline for the company.

Coming to implementation and where we as SI can help our customers, the key things we should always keep in mind are the main objective/need behind a customer's push towards a multichannel or an  Omnichannel strategy, figuring out the dynamics that impact the vertical in which the customer operates, the environment and the tools available to achieve the desired outcomes.

March 29, 2017

Cross Docking - An Enabler to Quicken Turn-Around in QSR Industry

QSR Industry and the concept of quick turn around

The success of the QSR (also known as fast food industry) is driven by the timeliness with which the products are delivered, without compromising on the quality. The name itself, Quick service restaurants, suggests the fact that the delivery of products in this industry needs to be quick and the lead time involved in minimal. Organizations need to be ready to fulfill the orders in short notices which can even be a few hours. Also, given the dynamics and competition in this sector, along with the strict rules and regulations for any food products, organizations have an ever increasing pressure of quickening the delivery without any compromise in quality. Long term sustainment of growth and success are only possible if the above criteria are not neglected. Some very common QSR names like McDonalds, Starbucks etc have diligently followed these rules to become what they are today.

 

Nature of order placing in QSR industry

Most of the orders in the QSR sector which are placed to the warehouses comprise food products and preparations which are highly perishable in nature. Items like burgers, pastries, sandwiches etc which cannot be prepared and stored in the warehouse like other packaged items. These items are made to order and arrive in the warehouse only a few hours before the actual shipment needs to leave from the warehouse to fulfill the orders. Most of the QSR players have their company owned stores and hence the nature of orders is very similar for all stores. In ideal cases, these stores place their orders with the warehouse a day before the actual delivery.

The nature of the items is such that the warehouse doesn't have these items stocked in the premises beforehand and the order is passed to the manufacturing unit / supplier only after summing up the cumulative quantity of each item asked by all stores.

There are certain scenarios, especially during festive or holiday seasons when the stores place a lot of emergency orders with the warehouse where the lead time is only a few hours. These are the times when the warehouse has to ensure that there is quick turnaround of the order and needs to facilitate quick supply of the items from the vendor and then quick delivery of the same to the store.

 

Pain Points: How to Reduce Turn around

Given the nature of business for the QSR Industry, the efficiency and productivity are dependent on the fact that how quickly the turnaround is done or the turn around time reduced for the orders to the stores. However much the regular picking process is expedited, there is a fair bit of delay expected in the process of picking the items from the receiving area after they have arrived and bringing them to the shipping area. This can cause delay in the delivery deadline and business can suffer. Also, there is high labor cost and transportation cost which distribution centers want to reduce especially for these items where there is no storage and items are directly sent out for shipping.

 

Recommendation: Cross Docking

An optimum solution for this type of situation can be Cross Docking. Cross docking means skipping the receiving and temporary storage part and unloading the goods directly in the cross dock area from where they are loaded into the delivery trucks. This can serve as a good opportunity in case of QSR warehouses as the items themselves don't require storage. Hence they can be sent directly to cross dock area. Also, this will help in quick turnaround of orders from supplier till the actual store and increase the supply chain velocity.


For efficient cross docking, there are a few important points which need a special mention:

·         Physical layout of the warehouse: Cross docking will not make any sense if the distance between the receiving and the shipping area is very huge. Although in most warehouses, the layout is such that the receiving and shipping are at two ends of the warehouse. But that is more suitable to industries where storage forms a major activity in the warehouse. In case of QSR sector where storage is minimal, it would be ideal to have the receiving and shipping in close proximity to facilitate easy cross docking.

·         Carrier routing information: As mentioned earlier, the nature of orders from various stores in the QSR industry is very similar to each other. More often than not, the shipments are clubbed based on the carrier's route for the various stores. If this information is available much ahead of time, the items can be bulk picked from the cross dock area and put into the respective trucks as per the routing schedule.

·         Task management can serve as an effective enabler to avoid stock out situations and facilitate cross docking. Task management when linked to employee scheduling helps optimize staff requirements, based on sales history and other factors. This could even be linked to overall employee productivity and a number of reports could be made available to determine it. RF devices when paired with a WMS could be used effectively to avoid inventory shortfall situations for a retailer. What is needed is an inventory source of record, wireless infrastructure and a WMS with a Task Management engine.

 

There are a few impediments for the cross docking process as well. These are:

·         Inventory levels in the warehouse system: One major barrier in cross dock process is that during cross docking, the items are not actually received in the WMS system of the warehouse and hence the inventory levels are not brought up to show the entry and exit of the items from the warehouse. Since the orders are sent and pick / ship documents are created a day prior to the actual transit of items, the warehouse has to find a way to capture the information of these cross dock items arriving and leaving the warehouse for auditing and tracking purpose.

 

One way of doing this is to bolt up the warehouse inventory with dummy values via receiving screens and then bring them down through the pick screens.

The other way can be to make the cross dock location a valid receiving as well as shipping location of the warehouse. So from one screen, the inventory level in the WMS can be increased by receiving items from the cross dock location and from the other screen, the inventory can be brought down by shipping them out from the same location.

·         Merging of cross dock product with products coming out of picking belts: Though most of the items from the stores would be the highly perishable, JIT items, there can be certain items which are non JIT in nature and are stored inside the warehouse. For ex: packaged foods, liquids, lids, cups etc. These are picked and shipped via the conventional picking method and are brought to the shipping area via the conveyor belts or manually. If the warehouse is doing cross dock of some items which have arrived externally from the supplier and is also picking items from the shelves for the same order, care needs to be taken to properly pack all the items of a single shipment of a store together and nothing should get missed or mixed with other orders. Also timing of the arrival of items from the two sources becomes important in a way that the shipment doesn't get delayed.

 

A New Beginning

Cross docking has still not gained its fullest popularity in the world of distribution centers and is still a vast area to explore. Cross docking can greatly reduce the turnaround time of delivery of orders and can act as a trigger to increase the velocity of the logistics system of the QSR industry. No customer likes to hear that the dish or item they have ordered from the menu has still not arrived and will be there in a few minutes. Customer delight in terms of time and taste is the key to the success of this highly competitive QSR world and can only be achieved with the combined efforts of all participants in the supply chain. Cross dock can be once such contribution from the distribution center.

Continue reading " Cross Docking - An Enabler to Quicken Turn-Around in QSR Industry " »

March 22, 2017

Oracle Financial Accounting Hub (FAH) - A True Value Enabler

For any business organizations, recording accountings for its different transactions taking place with internal or external entities is an obvious objective. It is essential to measure the overall performance of the organization, gain insight to penetrate the new markets and to control cost expenses, fulfil the statutory and regulatory reporting requirements and so on. To efficiently support all these any modern organizations need a reliable, scalable, centralized fulfilling global and local accounting requirements, quick enough to implement a change and importantly economical solution. The answer is Financial Account Hub (FAH) and embarking on it is a first step to plant a foundation for innovation. FAH is an intuitive accounting engine that consumes business transactions' attributes interfaced from legacy systems, apply the accounting rules and mapping to eventually create accounting entries. For a better reference and understanding, it is similar to Sub-Ledger Accounting (SLA). While SLA is an accounting processor for business transactions originated from different sub-ledgers like AR, FA and AP etc within Oracle ERP, FAH is to deal with transactions originated from legacy systems and interfaced to Oracle ERP. Here are the 5 key value enablers that innately help drive organizations to inject FAH in their accounting solution footprint:

 

Centralized Accounting Solution:

In a traditional approach, consider a scenario where accounting entries are created for 10 different types of business transactions in 10 different front-office systems and finally interface it to Oracle where general ledger operation is supervised. This apparently counts some of the inefficiencies like:

a) Maintaining business accounting rules in 10 different systems

b) Requiring multiple resources with different product specific skills to implement accounting solution, change and support.

c) Lack of governance and control over accounting

d) Lost opportunity of reusing different components e.g. mappings and common accounting rules.

e) Have to invest on front-office applications for something which they don't primarily mean to do.

To overcome all these, FAH is one of the best options that offers centralized accounting engine empowers organizations cultivating a strategic roadmap to consolidate the accounting solutions lying at different places to just one at enterprise level.

 

Quicker and easier implementation:

Unlike Oracle EBS 11i and prior lower versions, both Oracle EBS and Oracle ERP Cloud offer front-end configurable capabilities to mimic business accounting rules on FAH setup components to eventually derive accounting entries for interfaced business transactions. Configurations are simply divided into logical groups likes Accounting Derivation rules, Journal Line Type rules (Dr and Cr) and optionally line/header descriptions rolling up starting from transaction, application, accounting method and finally to ledger. All these are configured corresponding to its relevant entity, event type and class model. An accounting solution for an interface can be ready in one month or so. 

 

Minimize dependencies on IT teams for maintenance:

Unlike custom accounting solution, most ongoing maintenance requests like capturing additional details to the journal line description can easily be achieved without even involving developer and a code change. Consider another scenario where there is a regulatory requirement to book asset expenditure to expense account instead of asset account for certain asset categories. Unlike in traditional back-end accounting engines where a medium size IT project may require, FAH can deliver it to business as part of the BAU processes without involving IT teams and notably in a quicker, easier and cheaper manner. In this particular case, accounting derivation rule will require a change to accommodate expense account for certain asset categories.

 

Capability to handle exceptions and complex mapping/rules:

While FAH is capable of handling most of accounting requirements with out-of-the-box configurable features, it also provides a powerful custom source concept where you can code your own accounting logic and link it to a custom source available for use in FAH. Consider a scenario where you want to derive BSV (balancing segment value) of COA based on the complex mapping and exceptions, a custom source can be defined for the same linked to a custom s/w code. FAH invokes the custom source at run time while interface processing to derive the BSV based on the logic coded in the custom s/w program.

 

Cost avoidance:

With FAH is in place for interface processing, organizations can avoid multiple licensing cost by eliminating the need of licenses for all front-office applications having its own accounting engine. It naturally avoids the salary costs needing for product SMEs with different skills set related to core legacy systems.

 Thus, FAH is categorically a strategic accounting hub be it Oracle EBS or Oracle ERP Cloud that offers agility extensively enabling modern organizations gain radical benefits of faster responsiveness to the regulatory and statutory accounting requirements, cost effectiveness, and importantly consolidation of accounting solution on a single platform.

December 17, 2016

Contract manufacturing and subcontracting practices: A propellant for tomorrow's world-class organizations

The dynamics in retail and consumer packed goods (CPG) industries has touched many aspects of the supply chain, and contract manufacturing is no exception to the rule. Industry players world over have leveraged this arena to its full potential, as each player focuses on its core competencies. 
Contract manufacturing can be defined as 'outsourcing of a requirement to manufacture a particular product or component to a third party.' It enables organizations to reduce the investments in their own manufacturing capabilities, helps them focus on their core competencies while retaining a high-quality product with a reasonable price, and delivered on a flexible schedule.

Continue reading " Contract manufacturing and subcontracting practices: A propellant for tomorrow's world-class organizations " »

December 6, 2016

Oracle Fusion Opportunity to project integration


In most of the service organizations, internal resources are utilized while pursuing the proposal of customer (Opportunity) to get the new business from existing or new customer. However, the internal organization efforts are not tracked in detail level. If the organization tracks the indirect pre-sale effort / resources utilized for the opportunity, it can give more clarity on how to make use of these resources efficiently. It also helps to identify / track the indirect cost used for Opportunity. This could support organizations in budgeting and resource utilization.

Oracle Fusion Application provides integration between Oracle Sales Cloud (OSC) and Oracle Project Portfolio Management (PPM) to track and plan the indirect pursuit pre-sale cost for Opportunity also it will help to plan, budget, track and execute the delivery of opportunity once organization won the new business.

Following project types can be considered for Opportunity.

·         Pursuit project

It is an indirect project type, which tracks the pre-sale non billable pursuit cost of Opportunity, including staffing, travel, and other expense.

Project manager / opportunity owner creates corresponding pursuit project when the Opportunity gets created. He plans the budget according to the effort / resources / expenses required for the Opportunity. Opportunity owner raise the resource requirement for pursuit project which gets fulfilled by resource manager as per availability. Project team starts working on pre-sale work of Opportunity and charges the time sheet on corresponding pursuit project. All expenses are submitted on pursuit project. Every pre-sale opportunity pursuit costs like expense, procurement, and time card are collected on pursuit project. Opportunity owner / project manager executes the budget to actual cost analysis to review the project performance according to the budget and raises any change request if required.

Once the pre-sale activity of Opportunity get completed, corresponding pursuit project will get closed. So, no more cost will be charged on the project. Opportunity's pursuit budget to actual cost details provide better clarity on organization's indirect cost spending on multiple opportunities to plan it effectively for better outcome.

 

 

Pursuit Project.jpg
















 

·         Delivery project:

It is a contract project, which plans and tracks the delivery / execution of opportunity with planning, staffing, budgeting, billing, and revenue forecasting.

Once the Opportunity won, corresponding Delivery project get created. Project manager plan the project delivery with effort/resources/expenses required and prepare the budget for the Opportunity delivery. Project manager will raise the resource requirement for delivery of project which will get fulfilled by resource manager. Project team will start working on delivery and will charge the time sheet on corresponding delivery project. Any expenses occur will get submitted on project. All the delivery cost like expense, procurement, time card will get collected on delivery project and revenue will get generated accordingly with customer billing as per milestone achieved. Opportunity owner/Project Manager perform the budget to actual analysis to review the project performance as per budget and will raise any change request if any staffing or budget changes required.

Once the delivery of opportunity get completed, the corresponding delivery project will get closed, so no more cost/revenue/billing get charged/generated on project. Delivery projects budget to actual analysis provide better clarity on cost & revenue details of opportunity to track project performance to plan it effectively for better outcome.

 

Delivery Project.jpg
















 

The pursuit cost of all opportunities collected through pursuit project can be redistributed on multiple delivery projects at organization level.

Summary:

Opportunity to project integration provides more clarity on Opportunity's pursuit and delivery activity. Pursuit project helps to plan the pursuit of opportunity in a better way with available resources and cost budgets. It also provides clarity on actual cost-budget, resource availability, and other details for pursuit activity performance evaluation at organization level for better decision making.

Delivery project serves to execute the delivery of opportunity in better way with in details planning including staffing with cost and revenue budget. It helps to track the real-time progress, which helps to take key decision for opportunity delivery. The project also provides clarity on actual cost and revenue to budget for reviewing financial performance of delivery project.

Opportunity to project integration helps to track the pursuit and delivery activity of Opportunity at granular level with better control.

 

 

                                                

September 8, 2016

Internet of Things (IoT) in field service management (FSM)

In today's competitive world, real-time data and innovative service methods are vital for field service enterprises to ensure customer delight, increase revenues, and expand profit margins.

The IoT explained

The Internet of Things (IoT) allows machines to communicate with each other (M2M communication). It is built using a combination of networks that comprise of data-gathering sensors, devices, big data, analytics, and cloud computing, which communicate via secured and encrypted channels. Connected devices enable efficient predictive maintenance by constantly providing information on a machine's performance, environmental conditions, and the possibility of failures. IoT can connect machines on the field in order to record incidents in real-time into a semi-intelligent 'Gen-X' FSM system.

Integrating IoT with FSM software applications

Field service organizations always strive to consistently provide the best service experience to their customers, by ensuring immediate repair and maintenance of their equipment and machinery. By collecting data about the machine's health and performance from IoT sensors, organizations can leverage predictive and preventive field service to minimize device downtime.


Three primary traditional FSM challenges

Here are three primary issues that challenge the current reactive scenarios:

    Field technicians execute the job and fix the equipment after the issue is reported. However, the delay can impact business continuity, which in turn affects the operating profit margins


    Adding more field technicians and service trucks to the field comes at a cost and sometimes the increased capacity remains under-used


    Assigning more work to existing field teams can have a negative impact on SLAs and first-time fix rates. Even worse, it can increase the cost of travel and overtime

Essentials of a new-age FSM solution

A field service management system that integrates device sensor data, technicians, customers, and technology is the key to address these issues. It should function in a predictive and preventive mode with the following features:

    The FSM process, which includes issue identification, communication, incident creation, scheduling, and assignment can be automated, thereby ensuring zero disruption in machinery operations and no or negligible downtime. This not only increases productivity, but also expands operating profit margins

 

    Most FSM products can also automate incident creation, scheduling, assignment, and invoicing processes. Using IoT, we can predict upcoming issues based on sensors data analysis and auto-creation of incidents based on preset threshold rules

The workflow of a FSM system with IoT integration

Here is an outline of the flow of incidents in a typical IoT-enabled FSM system:

1.   Data from the equipment's sensors is collected and transmitted, using secured and encrypted channels, to a big data storage


2.   Big data management and analytics is used to parse and analyze for refined sensors data


3.   The IoT command console is configured with predefined threshold rules to identify errors and monitor the device's health and performance


4.   Incidents are auto-created in the FSM system whenever errors are detected


5.   Auto-scheduling, routing, and dispatching of field service technicians against the incidents is done based on customer entitlements, location, product, skills required for the job, technician's availability, parts availability, etc. via the FSM system


6.   A field technician performs the job at the customer's site; records the effort, parts used, travel time, and any expenses incurred; and then bills the customer


Workflow of Field Service Management application using IoT.

Six Solution benefits



Wind turbines: A case in point of how IoT integrates with FS systems

Failures in wind turbines interrupt power generation leading to lower productivity and higher system downtime, which result in varying energy production and higher operating costs. To maintain profit margins, higher efficiency and uptime are required.

Near-real-time analytics provides data so that FS teams can react faster and address the issues before they become mission critical, thus reducing impact and avoiding downtime.

The wind turbine's sensors collect real-time data that is analyzed and through which, auto incidents are created, service scheduled, and an agent assigned to fix the issues. Wind turbine sensors are also used to continuously collect operating temperature, rotor acceleration, wind speed and direction, and blade vibrations - all of which can be used to optimize the turbine's performance, increase its productivity, and execute predictive maintenance to ensure reduced downtime.


*** Authors: Haresh Sreenivasa and R.N.Sarath Babu **


Continue reading " Internet of Things (IoT) in field service management (FSM) " »

January 21, 2016

Supply Constraint Impacting Customer Order Promising in Outsourced Manufacturing

Continuing from my previous blog, upon delving deeper into the supply constraint aspect, we come upon certain aspects of the high tech industry that prima face indicate to concerns regarding lag or mismatch of information, genuine loss of data (systemic and manual) which I will touch upon briefly.

1) Due to the inherent structure of an outsourced high tech environment, there is no single source of truth (SSOT) for supply data. Each partner/vendor maintains his supply information in different ways. Horizons may vary. Some maintain gross values while others go with Net. Some get hourly updates from suppliers while others may work on the daily model. Consumption patterns may reflect differently. Given these disparities, it is evident that there will always be discrepancies between the actual supply and what is reflected in the system of OEM

2) Down the supply chain, the allocation of these supplies to different classes of customers leads to allocation issues. Some customers cannot be made to wait. Systemic segregation rules may not always allocate enough for such contingencies. In other cases, we are left with excess supply for priority customers while lower priority customers are made to wait. Maintaining a fine balance between customer satisfaction and idle inventory becomes more art but science is quite applicable to an extent.

3) ECO transitions affect supply picture across the supply chain. Variants of a component which can be practically used as alternates but maintained differently lead to a skewed picture around the time frame of transition. Systems may not be able to identify the interchangeable nature of components leading to a higher promise date for the customer while the technician on the shop floor knows he has enough to fulfill the demand on time. 

4) When any out of system corrections happen to get around the systemic issues, it further aggravates the problem of supply accuracy. For this reason, it becomes imperative to build systemic checks to ensure any system reflects the ground reality accurately.

Join our session "Reliable and Accurate Customer Promising" to understand how a major High-tech OEM deals with such issues with a combination of process constraints to rein in time lag variations to keep it consistent for all partners (by means of EDI cut off timings) and systemic interventions to combine supplies for different versions of components for planning purposes. In addition, consistent monitoring and manual corrections are done to keep the supply picture as current as possible.


January 14, 2016

Integrated Supply Chain with Contract Manufacturer

In today's competitive world, Manufacturing Organizations subcontract many of their key processes to gain competitive advantage in operational efficiency, operating cost, capital expenditure and several other benefits. Comparatively, manufacturing organizations need a tighter bond with its outsourcing partner(s) at various stages of its manufacturing cycle. Today's supply chain processes demand an end-to-end integrated & interactive view to enhance collaboration with subcontracting business partners. Current outside processing functionality is rather insufficient to solution this gap.
Oracle's Outside Processing Functionality is not sufficient enough for end-to-end system driven transactions and visibility with varied business processes and complex subcontracting supply chain. Then you have Oracle Outsourced Manufacturing - a complete integrated supply chain module. It is integrated to core manufacturing, planning and distribution modules, it provides the required visibility, traceability and scalability to implement many variants of subcontracting processes.

Overview of the Outsourced Manufacturing Transactions:


Integrated Planning and Execution:


Contact

In case you have additional questions or need more detailed discussions, please drop me a note @ Saroja_Nayak@infosys.com

Connect with Infosys

Infosys is a gold sponsor this year at Modern Supply Chain Event. You can listen to Infosys clients discuss industry leading best practices in the manufacturing track panel discussions. Discuss with our thought leaders on how Infosys can help you realize measureable business value from your supply chain management investments.
Join us at booth #410 to learn about our cutting-edge offerings and supply chain management solutions.

Importance of Accurate Customer Order Promising in Outsourced Manufacturing

Driven by strategic importance and strength of internal capability, industry leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) often outsource sourcing, manufacturing and logistics functions to partners but retain supply chain planning and scheduling/ATP largely in-house. While outsourcing confers sharper focus and reduced costs in general, outsourced Supply Chain Planning has many high-impact risks for OEMs like

•    Loss of competitive advantage
•    Reduced quality of planning output
•    Coordination and synchronization miss
•    Limited supply chain flexibility
•    Slower responsiveness to customers

With in-house planning, the Available to Promise (ATP) response cannot be made instant but at best with a lag due to the fact that there would always be a difference in supply statement in the system when compared to partner sites. Companies especially in High-Tech industries who have Build to Stock, Build to Order and Configure to Order products often promise their customer within the target lead time goal across different product families. With lighter configuration, shorter lead time, high volume and perishable demand, planners and backlog management functions are under tremendous pressure to promise customers within the goal to meet revenue targets. With companies scheduling orders too conservatively or incorrectly and later having to re-schedule to be able to ship within the goal would impact following performance metrics

1.    Scheduling against target lead time: Ability to provide a promise date to the customer with in the lead time goal from the order entry date
2.    Scheduling touches: Backlog management activities to pull-in or push-out dates from initial scheduling
3.    Customer satisfaction: Customer dissatisfaction due to inability to provide accurate initial promise date



Impact to performance metrics has a direct bearing on the business not limited to:

1.    Customer dissatisfaction : Multiple touches and repeated date changes develop nervousness and loss of trust in customer
2.    Unpredictable sales revenue: As promising dates extend beyond the goal, revenue targets get impacted and increases backlog management activities.  
3.    Excess inventory in channels: As supply planning is based on the revenue targets, excess inventory lies in the channels as the scheduling attainment rate is lower than anticipated
4.    Increased number of touches: As companies try to improve revenue targets by pulling in the orders, it increases the touches
5.    Increased support cost: OEMs have to pay additional charges to Manufacturing Partners, B2B partners for change in assembly and shipping completion date

There are many reasons why companies in outsourced manufacturing find it challenging to attain high promising accuracy and it can broadly be classified into three

1.    Supply Constraint: Inaccurate supply picture, B2B delays, incorrect allocations, supply lost between engineering transitions etc.
2.    Lead time Constraint: Conservative transit lead time across geographies, incorrect application of holidays, and extended lead time on components etc.
3.    Configurations: Incorrect lead time, calendar, sourcing rule and other item related attribute set-up's


 

In my next blog, I'll explain how these causes impact scheduling performance and what approach one should take to address it. Please join the session "Reliable and Accurate Customer Promising" session at 4:30 PM on 1/26 in Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference at San Jose to learn how a leading High-Tech complex OEM improved its scheduling performance from 55 to 80%


http://www.oraclemsce.com/solution/supply-chain-planning  (Executive Ballroom 210 CG)

January 14, 2015

Hyperion Data Integration Tools - A Comparison