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January 17, 2018

Untangle spaghetti Model via Order Management Cloud

There are lot of manufacturing facilities, multiple retail, different finance and procurement centres in different countries, each of these units using myriad custom applications for Supply Chain and each application talks to every application. This is the (in)famous Spaghetti model where the logic on which applications must communicate is hard coded with in each application and this is logic is not configurable. If this sounds familiar, then please read on.

During inception, the organizations chose for one or few application that suite most of their need. But as the organization expands and with mergers and acquisitions, each organization brings its own home grown application. By the time the organization is mature in expansion into a conglomerate, the IT landscape is often a spaghetti of applications.Text Box:  
Picture 1 - Current IT landscape - Spaghetti model with point to point interfaces

The resolution to this situation comes in the form of Order Management Cloud (OMC). The functionality called 'Distributed Order Orchestration' in Order management cloud helps in end to end integration between order entry and fulfilment applications. Below are few key features of OMC.

Interfacing the sales orders: The orders are captured via multiple retain channels like in-store, call centre, ecommerce web site, by engineer during after sales service, mobile application, internal ordering between different entities of the business etc. But these orders can be routed to OMC and created as a Sales order by invoking the seeded order creation web service. The incoming order payload can have different fields populated by order entry system. But as long as mandatory values are present, a sales order can be easily created.

Enriching the sales orders: The SO, so created, may need to have different warehouses where the SO is fulfilled, different booking Business unit based on the geography of the customer, different product needs to be added to the SO based on incoming attributes, can have different shipment method or priority etc. Any transformation on the SO is possible via the pre, product and post transformation rules. To the delight of the IT team, these rules can be built on a visual builder making maintainability of these rules easy

Fulfilment activities made easy: These enriched sales orders are now ready for fulfilment via OMC itself or can be interfaced to different legacy applications for different tasks. For example, manufacturing activity can be fulfilled and interfaced to MES application while a pick and ship can be routed to a WMS application. The invoicing can happen a completely different finance application. All this is possible by configuring the external routing rules and web service connectors for these application. OMC will create a payload of the SO and publish it to these connectors, record the acknowledgement and also the fulfilment of the tasks in legacy applications

Provide complete visibility to customer: As a customer may be curious to know the details of his / her order, OMC can be configured to send a status back at specific intervals. For example, when SO is created in OMC, manufacturing is complete, SO is picked, SO is shipped etc. From IT point of view, this is (again, as you guessed) configurable. The web service connector can be configured for each of the order entry application and OMC will fire the status message to these connectors

Below diagram explains the order orchestration process flow

 

Picture 2 - How Order Orchestration works in Order Management Cloud

Varied business process: The business process may include progressing the sales order via a series of automated and manual steps. For example the SO will have to be automatically reserved, while the customer service team needs to check and update the SO with the customer before the item can be shipped out. Such different processes can be configured via order orchestration in OMC. The SO will be automatically reserved while it will wait for user inputs once the call to customer is made outside the system.

Changing customer needs: In this competitive world, being flexible to changing customer needs is paramount. But at the same time be cost effective. Order management cloud provides functionalities to control the customer change, cost each change and react to each of these changes in a different way suited for the business. The change order functionality can be easily leveraged

Picture 3 - Order orchestration via Order management Cloud

Gone are those days where IT application is just as transaction recording system. IT application is one of the main enabler and enhancer for each business. Order Management, being the revenue making and customer facing module, is truly more flexible to ensure that sales team can be more agile and proactive. So untangle the spaghetti model and route all orders to OMC and dive the fulfilment via simple transformation rules.

Order Management Cloud is implemented as the order routing application in an optical retail chain, operating globally, offering optician services, along with eyeglasses, contact lenses and hearing aids. There are 8000+ stores ordering items via 15+ retail applications and these orders are fulfilled via 10+ different specialised custom applications. With volumes of order line crossing 1 million a month, there is no room for error. While the implementation is still underway, benefits are reaped already by bringing all the routing logic centrally to Order Management cloud.

 

Sathya Narayanan.S

Lead Consultant

Infosys Limited

OTM and IoT Fleet Monitoring

 

Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) is known for logistics planning and execution across supply chain. One of the major challenge for Shippers and Logistics Service Providers is track the shipment on the move and identify any disruptions during the course of transportation.

Oracle IoT Fleet Monitoring provides real time transportation visibility which will help in

  • Provides single window to view real time shipment status

  • Map view displays the exact location of vehicle which helps in deriving ETA of shipment.

  • Define geo-fencing rules for route deviations and unauthorized stops.

  • Define rules for incidents and warnings.

  • Shipments Planned in OTM can be automatically pushed to IoT Fleet Monitoring.


OTM -IoT Fleet Monitoring Integration

IoT Fleet Monitoring provides REST API's which will help in seamless integration with OTM. Based on events in OTM, shipment can be exported into IoT FM automatically. Shipment location, arrival/departure times can be published from IoT FM to OTM.

 

 

Benefits of IoT Fleet Monitoring for

3PL's

  • Notify in advance for any potential delays.

  • Integrate with 3rd party TMS solutions.

  • Reduce the time spent on track and trace.

  • Get notified on arrival/departure of shipments.

  • Integrate with TMS to have a single view.

Shippers

  • Notify in advance for any potential delays.

  • Shipments transported under specified conditions.

  • Reduce the time spent on track and trace.

  • Integrate with TMS to have a single view.

  • Get notified when shipment near consignee.

Carriers

  • Notify when driver deviates from assigned route

  • Share real time locations with customers.

  • Identify Fuel Spending patterns and the reasons for extra fuel spent.

  • Integrate with TMS to have a single view.

  • Identify vehicle issues if any.


By Ravi Kiran Gurujala, OTM CoE.


Continue reading " OTM and IoT Fleet Monitoring " »

January 7, 2018

If Blockchain can store all the Logistics' contracts...


Short-term benefits -

  1. Carriers won't need to send their rate cards to every new customer/3PL that they start doing business with. They could simply ask their potential customers to look up the rate cards in the Blockchain. Cost of service offered to similar customers with similar SKUs would give one an indicative price point to start a negotiation
  2. Proof of Concept is readily available for customers coming onboard and for new carriers interested in exploring the Blockchain
  3. AP and AR can be managed in the Blockchain where the payments could be made in a secured fashion riding atop the Blockchain's native framework
  4. Payments could be tied to milestone events such as proof of pickup and proof of delivery. This can help maintaining an audit trail and working out a ranking system to reward the carriers that have consistently Delivered-In-Full-On-Time
  5. All the periodic changes such as the fuel surcharge updates could be applied by the Blockchain service provider thereby eliminating the need for individual carriers to respond to these changes
  6. Blockchain can serve as the single source of truth to run statistical analysis such as the rate of change in the cost of a service between different carriers
  7. Carriers don't need to invest extensively in IT. There won't be a need to integrate multiple enterprise applications. Transportation management systems would only optimize shipment planning. Execution of the shipments -  receiving events for pickup/delivery, etc, -  can be tracked in the Blockchain so the data is visible to all the stakeholders. Moreover, it simplifies data aggregation with all the source systems having to send data to the Blockchain alone.

Long-term benefits -  

  1. Blockchain would lower the entry barrier to the Logistics market. Smaller players who would have been hitherto tending to specific needs of few select customers would start uploading their rates onto the Blockchain
  2. In-house logistics of discrete manufacturing units would show interest. Why not upload their rates onto the Blockchain to offer LTL services to fill the leftover space in their trucks?
  3. Established carriers would have to confront the erosion of revenues. To combat this trend, carriers would tend to negotiate lane-based commitments with their customers. Alternatively, carriers could offer value-added services such as labelling, packaging, etc.
  4. Dynamic alliances - the original carrier would outsource its shipments to secondary carriers on certain lanes in exchange for favorable lanes with ample consolidation opportunities
  5. 3PLs could mutate and fragment their services to upload the rates of warehouse infrastructure, value-adds, and transportation services separately on the Blockchain

Who would offer and maintain the Blockchain service though? Product companies like Oracle could offer Logistics Blockchain in a SaaS based model. As to supervising the contracts between multiple carriers and working out specific needs of clients, consulting partners like Infosys could do that.

Meet our experts at the Modern Supply Chain Experience 2018, January 29-31, 2018

- Kranthi Askani

 

Continue reading " If Blockchain can store all the Logistics' contracts... " »

December 30, 2017

Blockchain-based Logistics of the future...

 
Issue: Today, a supplier/3PL estimates the cost of transportation. This is followed by the carrier completing the service at which point they send the invoice with actual cost to supplier/3PL. This invoice is then reviewed, approved, and settled. This review process is often quite lengthy and could be avoided.

 
With the aid of emerging technologies: Imagine using a blockchain technology like Ethereum. The smart-contracts inherent in Ethereum can digitally validate the milestones and trigger payments. Proof of delivery is an important milestone in shipment execution. One can imagine setting up Ethereum to digitally validate the proof of delivery and even make payments right away, thereby eliminating the need for carriers to send invoices and then wait for months to get paid. Of course this is only the basic golden transaction. There could be additional charges that the carrier would have incurred which may not have been part of the original contract. This can always be rectified with an ad-hoc invoice from the carrier.

 
All the carriers could save their contracts in the blockchain itself. The supplier/3PL can get a visibility of available contracts once the shipment is planned based on the route of the shipment. The blockchain automatically triggers tenders to the best carrier and if the carrier accepts, sends it back to the supplier/3PL for approval. If rejected, blockchain iteratively awards the tender to the next best carrier. This process repeats until the tender is accepted by both parties and shipment execution begins.


Once the carrier picks up the goods, the blockchain triggers 25% payment to the carrier as configured in the milestones. Ethereum smart contracts can come handy here. The data feed itself could be received from smart locking IoT devices installed on the truck's doors.  When the supplier/3PL planner overseeing the loading process locks the truck's door with the smart lock IoT device, it prompts him for an identification. If he chooses to identify himself via the fingerprint scanner on the lock, it sends the data to blockchain. The smart contracts on the blockchain listening to the milestones oblige with the necessary advance payment which is sent to the carrier's wallet address. But this transaction stays in "pending" status. The subsequent milestones also trigger advance payments and all of them land in the carrier's wallet address with the "pending" status. Only the final proof of delivery milestone validates the advance payments and sets the status to "validated and paid."


The final proof of delivery also relies on the smart lock IoT device in case of large FTL shipments. For smaller parcel shipments, this process has to be reimagined with the familiar old-fashioned signature on a mobile screen...


Meet our experts at the Modern Supply Chain Experience 2018, January 29-31, 2018

- Kranthi Askani


October 30, 2017

Analytics and the APP!

 

Welcome Back!!! In parts 1 and 2 we started out to understand the concept of analytics and the app (or analytics on a mobile platform) and review a few case studies from different leading products - Kronos, Oracle, and SAP. In this concluding part we will look at the significance of these case studies and draw inferences as to how they impact the world of analytics...

 

Inferences:

 

We have seen 3 case studies across different verticals with varying background and use case scenarios. However all have the common feature of using an analytics tool on a mobile platform to showcase the versatility of this combination of Analytics and the App!

 

When organizations go mobile with analytics, they are able to extend the reach of information and empower people from every aspect of their business with the facts to make better, more informed decisions.

This is evident from the 2015 Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study by Dresner Advisory Services:


  • Mobile business intelligence (BI) is the third most common use case for mobile business workers, next to e-mail and contact information

  • 90% of study participants said mobile BI is important to their business

  • In a surprising find by a Dresner market survey (*) Business Intelligence is of the 3rd  highest priority in Mobile applications, ranking higher than social media and even personal banking, coming in below only email and basic phone services.

 

*SOURCE - Wisdom of Crowds ® Mobile Computing/ Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study 2015

 

Trends observed during the research on case studies indicate the growing importance of Mobile analytics in different verticals - IT being the prominent horizontal across most of the industries. Some of the reasons for this are listed below:


  • Exploding usage of 'smart' mobile devices in general - personnel, org-wide, technological leap

  • Growing use of BYOD among enterprise employees - personnel get more opportunity to tap into the client systems and data as organizations open up accesses to employees.

  • Rapid use of mobile devices for other aspects of daily life - communication, mails, social media, entertainment - to make a convenient platform for including analytics.

  • Flexibility of usage and availability on-the-go. From being a straight-line process to being agile.

  • Advanced functionality of apps and devices - inducing enhanced parts and software.

  • Technology growth to aid predictive analysis and user data customization.

 

Suggestions/Future Prep: 


  • It is seen that the concept of mobile analytics is well known but almost negligible in application. This could be leveraged further to achieve Customer Delight.

  • The analytics functionality on ERP systems remains a niche area. Consultants could be empowered with training on this module to also include the mobile apps that are usually pre-built for such applications.

  • Another option to be explored would be provision of sample tablet devices (i-pad or android) to respective practices so as to enable learning, hands on and PoC processes.

  • From the case studies and also from project experience, it is observed that even though customers may be aware of the implications of mobile analytics on their processes, a PoC is helpful in all cases to create the right focus to open up further avenues of engagement.


Conclusion:

 

The advent of the mobile platform has been another epoch making event, probably making it to the top 20 inventions/events that changed lifestyles across the world significantly. Added to this event, parallel advancements in related areas like data analysis, cloud computing, big data, to name a few have been instrumental in converging the big with the best, giving rise to a concept such as mobile analytics. Since this concept is still in its nascent stage, it provides great potential for further exploration to discover the myriad use case scenarios and adaptability, which could lead to several success stories of - Analytics and the App!


 

End of part 3...hope you found this interesting - Please do leave your valuable feedback!

Part1 :  http://www.infosysblogs.com/oracle/2017/09/analytics_and_the_app_1.html

Part2 :  http://www.infosysblogs.com/oracle/2017/10/analytics_and_the_app_2.html

 

Analytics and the APP!

 

Welcome Back!!! In part 1 we saw an example of analytics being used on a mobile platform - tablet - to realize the retail store objectives and gain advantage of real time data updates. In part 2 let us take a look at more case studies across similar leading products...

 

Case Study 2:

 

Scenario - The client is a US based fortune 500 energy and utilities company with approximately 10 million customers. Their integrated business model provides a strong foundation for success in this vertical which is experiencing dramatic changes. They strongly believe in capitalizing on emerging trends and technologies to provide insight into operations that will drive value for their end customers

 

Background - The organization uses Oracle - one of the top ERP applications for their myriad business processes. As part of this PoC the Infosys team setup custom analytics solutions for the client. Oracle's business tool OBIEE 12c is used here to showcase the length and breadth of the analytics tool available as part of the wide array of modules in Oracle.

 

Problem Statement - The client needed to do a comparative evaluation between two mobile analytics applications as part of their PoC to be reviewed by their senior management.

 

POC details - The PoC was aimed at the OBIEE module's ability to work on a mobile platform. The PoC also aimed to do a comparative demo of features between Microstrategy (another analytics tool) and Oracle tools (apps). A set of commonly identified features was expected to be compared and in most cases, the feature was available within these tools but the enablement of the feature was different between OBIEE and Microstrategy.

 

Pilot & Feedback - For the pilot, the app was shared only among the senior management in the organization. The focus group was impressed to see that OBIEE could provide the features needed and appreciated the way it is achieved in OBIEE, which was different from their current applications. Further using OBIEE on mobile presented a very unique but scalable scenario as it proved to be a seamless extension to the existing suite of oracle products and which meant lesser chance of data integrity issues. Post the successful demo, client is now evaluating an option of a complete migration to OBIEE with preference to the analytics app as it aligns successfully with their established principles.

 

Being an energy and utilities company, it is always essential for the organization to possess the latest status and forecasts in a rapidly changing environment with unpredictable trends. With the analytics tool on mobile, it has brought the leadership very close to data and trends that were hitherto not feasible. Management can now make an informed decision much faster and just as easily track the results through OBIEE. Also, the time and effort saving is huge since it allows the stakeholders to pull their own graphs and data analysis, first hand and without chances of error. As the gap between technology, user and data/solution is greatly reduced leadership is also now very keen on applying this model to other areas of analytics.

 

Case Study 3:

 

Scenario - The client is a global tool manufacturing corporation with interests in construction, heavy equipment and technological solutions. They excel through outstanding innovation, top quality, direct customer relations and effective marketing. Client also has their own production plants as well as research and development centers in Europe and Asia. They pride in integrating the interests of all their partners, customers, suppliers and employees - into their growth and sustenance strategies.

 

Background - The client uses SAP package and tools for running their analytics platform integrating the various aspects of their business from planning to customer feedback & support. Combining areas like technology, design, real time feedback and automated order processing and metrics like quantity, geographical location, customer database, the analytics tool (SAP's BI system), provides the necessary inputs to the stakeholders to catchup on the latest available information/trend.

 

Problem Statement - The client needs an on-the-go platform to deploy their analytics solution to enable salesforce and service personnel to meet client demands as and when they arise in an automated fashion.

 

Introduction of Mobile Analytics - The organization has about two-thirds of its workforce employed directly for their customers in sales organizations and in engineering. They average about 200,000 customer contacts every day. This entails a constant need to be up to speed with the latest and greatest as regards the end customer data (or detail). A ready reckoner for this situation is the SAP mobile analytics (ROAMBI as it is known otherwise), that most employees in the organization use on a daily basis. Further, the entire solution is a cloud based model, so they have the best of both cases - cloud computing and mobile application. This has proved to be very advantageous to their on the job salesmen, technicians, customer support or even the top executives discussing an org-level strategy.


A real-life scenario involves the following situation:


  • A critical time bound customer order is not received at site on time.

  • However, the automated tracking tool, looking for the delivery report, has sensed it and raised an alert to the support center of the tools manufacturer.

  • This triggers the next set of established workflows in order to compensate for the delay in delivery.

  • Alerts sent to the nearest customer support personnel through a geo fencing feature enables the employee to locate the nearest outlet/warehouse/distribution center for the right part.

  • The support person raises a request under the right priority and is able to head over to the site to personally supervise the final delivery

All this has actually taken place on-the-go using the mobile device loaded with the BI tools and supporting applications to augment the corrective actions.


In this particular scenario, even the customer delight can be captured on the same mobile as feedback and, back at the corporate HQ, the top management will be able to gauge a real time heat map/graph showing customer satisfaction survey results that have been processed seamlessly through cloud.

 


End of part 2... in part 3 we will review the inferences and conclusion.

Part1 :  http://www.infosysblogs.com/oracle/2017/09/analytics_and_the_app_1.html

Part3 :  http://www.infosysblogs.com/oracle/2017/10/analytics_and_the_app_3.html


Continue reading " Analytics and the APP! " »

October 4, 2017

If carriers use OTM mobile...

 
Picture a carrier's user tweeting and texting, his fingers poised earnestly on his mobile, his eyes awash with colorful imagery, and his mind dizzy with an abundance of sensory stimuli.

Now imagine the same user hunched up at his desk, his shoulders drooping like the wilting branches of a neglected roadside tree, staring at his monitor, responding to tenders in OTM, his brain nearing the point of self-imposed hibernation.

Before presumptuously advocating the use of OTM mobile for everyone - in this case, the carriers - let us look at the benefits if there are any

 

1.Shuffling order movements


A carrier receives multiple shipment tenders from his manufacturing or 3PL partners. The carrier proceeds to accept some of these tenders. Once the tenders are accepted, the carrier sends his trucks to fulfill the transportation services that he has hitherto accepted. At this point, the shipment is frozen, that is to say, the shipment cannot be modified by way of adding or removing orders from it.

But of course this is far from practical. Drivers assigned to the trucks can't make any rearrangements, namely, swapping a whole order or part of an order with other drivers. Once the tenders are accepted, the process is quite rigid and inflexible. If it is the same carrier who is operating in the same lane and his fleet comprises of multiple trucks, it should be possible to rearrange, isn't it?

Consider this - Truck 'A' with shipment 'A' onboard set off to its destination. But there is a breakdown and the truck is unable to deliver the goods. The driver swishes in his pockets and pulls out of his mobile, pinches his screen to locate his truck. Now, on the map, he can see a couple of other trucks just around the corner. He extracts the equipment utilization report and finds that the other trucks are underutilized and that they can carry some of his orders, the ones that are labeled 'overnight' or 'expedited.' He quickly summons the trucks and unloads few items from his truck, scans them judiciously as he hands them over to the other drivers.

Wouldn't it be useful to be able to do achieve this in a mobile application?

To make this happen, the carrier's transportation system, OTM or otherwise, must be able to send an actual shipment XML to the source OTM instance that has the planned shipment. The planned shipment is associated with order movements via the shipment equipment. Once the actual shipment XML is received, agents can be used to identify the order movements that were offloaded from the truck that broke down in transit and remove them from the shipment equipment. Similarly, the planned shipment of the truck that carried order movements in addition to what was accepted in the tender has to be modified by adding ship units to its shipment equipment.   


 2. Carrier invoices with delta cost


Some carriers invoice their partners regularly as and when the shipments are delivered. But most carriers invoice periodically, namely, month end invoicing. Now, a lot can happen between the first and last day of a month - the sun may run out of its hydrogen atoms and the earth may be plunged into eternal darkness! There is very little that OTM can do to handle sun's demise...

But, OTM of course can be configured to handle other miserly exceptions that arise purely out of the way the logistics industry operates. For instance, by the time the carrier invoices its 3PL or manufacturing partner, the contracts would have been renegotiated or the surcharges could be updated. The way we handle these delta changes between the invoice and the matched shipment is by configuring the service provider to copy delta costs at the time of approving the invoice.

Now, let's add a bit of flavor to this. Let's say the driver is unable to take the usual route due to unforeseen accidents on that route. He takes a different route and ends up paying for driving thru multiple toll gates, and even booking for an overnight stay at a roadside inn. These additional expenses are usually 'customer recoverable' and the driver should be able to flag them on his OTM mobile application.

If the driver also decides to get his truck's headlights fixed or change the brake pedals, it is hardly a case for recovering from the customer though. 

At the end of the month, before invoice is made out to the customer, the drivers' supervisor receives a notification on his mobile while he is on the site, busy assigning shipments to this fleet. On his OTM mobile, he gets to review the additional costs incurred against each invoice, the estimated and actual invoice amounts paired for quick reading.

Other examples of these accessorial costs could be the original driver enlisting help of other truck drivers. So, for instance the truck has left location A and is on its way to location D via locations B and C. This is a multi-stop shipment. On his way, the driver is alerted on his OTM mobile of another truck driver in his vicinity who is on his way to location D, this being a direct shipment. The second driver is shipping a return delivery which happens to be completely unplanned. Owing to the nature of this return delivery, his truck now appears as a notification for other truck drivers near him on the integrated Maps application. The original driver can now choose to offload some of his orders onto the return delivery truck depending on the other truck's equipment capacity.  Now that some of the orders have been offloaded, the original truck may not need to visit few locations on his route, thereby reducing the overall cost. The original driver should be able to indicate this on his OTM mobile which must transpire as a negative cost line item of his truck's invoice. The return delivery driver may incur an additional fuel surcharge which would correspond to a new accessorial cost on his truck's invoice.

To achieve this, we would have to add invoicing functionality to OTM mobile. Picture this interface alongside the standard set of screens that we are already getting in standard OTM mobile -

Carriers can select/deselect few order movements with the click of a button and promote the changes all the way to invoices. We can trigger invoice XML from the OTM mobile once the driver makes his edits and logs a delivery event at the destination. This way the information between orders and invoices is always in sync and few invoices would fail auto-approval. Also, the invoice-generation itself will be real-time thereby eliminating manual reconciliation which is taxing and prone to errors.

In short, making carriers more inclusive in the digital transformation.

 

Engage with our experts at #OOW17 booth 1602 & learn how you can transform your #digital capabilities infy.com/2vSljwe #InfosysAtOOW


Written by: Kranthi Askani


September 7, 2017

Analytics and the APP!

Introduction:


Mobile devices have brought about a giant leap in the modern world, providing myriad combinations of services to be leveraged by users depending upon their need, or more so, creating opportunities for different needs. While stamping their presence in most avenues of daily life, there are still some areas where their application is recognized but has yet to catch up to their full potential. One such area of opportunity, especially in the world of IT, would be the use of analytics on mobile devices. The following scenarios are discussed to study this prospect in further detail.



Mobile Analytics dashboard (Kronos & Oracle)


Case Study 1:

Scenario - The client is a leading global sports gear and apparel manufacturer and among the first to keep up with latest trends in technology and business. Apart from adopting new technology, the organization is also keen to pilot cool initiatives and gauge customer responses towards the same.

Background - The organization uses Kronos - a leading Workforce management product to capture time and attendance and also drive forecast and schedules of its workforce. With the introduction of Kronos Tablet they have also planned for a pilot rollout to select stores. Salient modules in use on the tablet include basic employee time and attendance, scheduling and forecasting along with advanced analytics.

Problem Statement - The client needed to explore the analytics app offered by Kronos for their store managers to leverage the real time trend update functionality offered by the same.

POC details - The tablet version (iPad only) app for analytics was tested and deployed as a pilot to select doors across the US region. The app was shared with both senior management and store level users. Being a retail domain the primary metrics on the app included volume drivers such as consumer traffic, sales amounts and employee demographics like coverage, shift effectiveness, etc. Focus groups were setup with pre-built dashboards to monitor various trends and daily heads up on metrics. Dashboards had roll-up, roll down functionality, real-time update of data and trend-analysis algorithms enabled using back end ETL (Extract Transform Load) jobs. The real time metrics would be updated on a preset frequency through the day as and when a threshold data point was reached. App used on the tablet was a readily downloadable app from the Apple store, developed by Kronos and integrated with the on premise application.

Pilot & Feedback - As a pilot, the app was made available to senior management and leadership in select stores. A preview of the analytics functionality, comprising a dashboard customized to the look and feel of the retailer's other existing apps, was highly successful. The core functionality and use case scenarios were also well received. This was followed by the rollout of the real time option, which again was very successful and instantly popular.

  • At a store leadership level this provided unprecedented control and rapid decision making ability.

  • For example, if in a large store area there is a shortage of employees in a section OR if there is a dip in forecasted sales in a department then the stakeholders can immediately get to the problem zone and plan alternatives with the aid of mobile analytics.

  • Frequent back office planning meetings were eliminated.

  • With access to all the necessary inputs in the tablet and with tools like heat maps and trend-analysis charts, they are able to simulate the next available options and also validate its success criteria immediately on the shop floor.

Taking a realistic scenario, during peak hours like Thanksgiving or Christmas, these actions save tremendous amount of time, not to mention an exponential increase in productivity/flexibility during day-to-day operations.


End of part 1... in parts 2 and 3 we will see more case studies and inferences.

Part2 :  http://www.infosysblogs.com/oracle/2017/10/analytics_and_the_app_2.html

Part3 :  http://www.infosysblogs.com/oracle/2017/10/analytics_and_the_app_3.html


Continue reading " Analytics and the APP! " »

June 2, 2017

HR Analytics in Retail Industry

HR in Retail Industry
Retail industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and is evolving rapidly due to the  continuously changing market economy, digital competition, new product launches and demanding customers. With an extremely competitive scenario of market growth, workforce has become one of the key factors in the growth of any retail organization.

So, why is HR critical in Retail?
  • Service oriented and people driven industry
  • Constantly evolving and competitive growing environment
  • Large manpower employed
  • Skill set requirement varies based on the market type, it involves both skilled and unskilled manpower

HR Challenges faced by the Retail industry:
Due to the global economic changes, Retailers face competition with the new entrants from other countries in the domestic market and hence strengthening their talent portfolio is critical for success. Consequently, along with business leaders, the HR strategist role requires to forecast the industry trends to identify future business needs and build the right talent pool. 

Key HR challenges in Retail include:
(a) High turnover:
Retail industry faces a talent crisis especially at middle and senior management level. Though entry level resources are available, retaining the talented manpower for the long run becomes a challenge. 
The management needs to know the reasons of attrition and take corrective actions accordingly.

(b) Lack of skilled workforce:
An important challenge in Retail industry is getting professionally educated workforce. As there are very few courses that offer a professional degree in Retail industry, getting skilled staff is a challenge. 
Organizations need to identify training needs and accordingly plan for training and development programs to enhance the skill set.

(c) Diversity: 
Diversity in workforce is crucial as it helps a retailer connect with its market that leads to better ideas and results. Hence, HR needs to promote team building programs and initiatives to connect people to avoid conflicts, promote teamwork and collaboration among resources. 

(d) Seasonal Demand:
Retailers experience seasonal demand fluctuations and hence hire temporary staff during this period which do not have appropriate skills to serve customers. So, forecasting the resource demands and planning for training the existing resources or hiring strategy becomes critical.

(e) Employee engagement and communication
The Retail industry is distributed across sectors and locations. It is very important for management to engage and motivate the resources in distant locations and make them connected with the organizational goals and objectives. It is important for leadership to connect and engage with employees at regular intervals.

HR: Cornerstone for business growth
Human Resource Management means managing the employees of an organization. There are two aspects to it, one is revenue generation by providing efficient service and second is the cost associated to manage human resources - the primary concern for leadership is to strike a balance between the two.
Putting down a well thought strategy, predicting and forecasting the future trends and taking the right decisions. 
Correct in-depth analysis of HR data at regular interval. 
Evaluation of various aspects of HR in varied situation
Quick view and Spot on decision making

The next part will discuss the software solution that can empower Retail Industry - HR Strategists to take effective decisions for their businesses. 

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 " »

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

***Chart of Account (COA) Design Considerations***

Chart of Account (COA) structure is the heart of an ERP implementation enabling business to exercise its day to day operations. This has very influence on how an organization wants to record monetary, contingent and statistical impact of different transactions taking place across the line of businesses, report it out to external entities to fulfil regulatory and statutory requirements, leverage it internally to gain insight on performance of different departments on both top and bottom lines. In order to be able to embark efficiently on these essentially require a modern chart of account mapped to different business modalities and dimensions that does not only takes care regular requirements as said but helps facilitate automation, rein in need of creating duplicate segment value pool, one segment does not override others i.e. maintains uniqueness of purpose mapped to each segment etc. Investing enough to lay down the foundation of COA structure would be the first step to lock down a successful ERP implementation and to drive innovation for businesses throughout the life of application. Note: Combination of segments (e.g. Company, Department/Cost Centre, Account etc.) forms a Chart of Account.

There are numerous essential characteristics including, but not limited to, below 5 that must be considered while designing COA structure:

Selection of business modalities/dimensions as segments of COA:

The selection of modalities as segments is not an objective matter but a very subjective in nature. While some are mandatory one irrespective of everything and anything but some are invariably vary based on types of industries, organizations and products or services offered, geographies where businesses have its operations, internal and external reporting needs, future considerations and volume of inter or intra company transactions etc. Each one of these are key drivers to design an idealistic, futuristic and holistic chart of account. For an example, manufacturing organizations may want to consider cost type as a segment to represent say fixed and variable cost in order to better assess contribution margin at the product level. They may look at a segment exposing sales destination location of a product to clearly articulate the strategy for multi-fold growth in determined geographies. In banking industry, companies may choose to introduce reference to a relationship manager/cost centre in order to measure performance at product portfolio level. In retail industry, looking at product categories instead of individual product can be the favourable option.

One segment should not override or make other ones redundant:

This is one of the vital discussion points while designing a COA structure in any ERP systems. While a thought leadership on this can offer long term benefits to organizations in account of easier maintenance, minimal master value pool for each segment, no duplication etc. On the other hand immature decisions, however, may erode the benefits eventually. A COA structure and value set for each segment should intelligently be designed in such a way that one segment does not make other one redundant, does not enforce introduction of similar type of values for a segment and most importantly they must be structured "relative" to each other. To understand it better, let's take an example of a COA structure that has 4 segments called Company, Cost Centre/Department, Natural account and Sub-Account. There are 3 companies COMP1, COMP2 and COMP3 and each company operates with its 4 own departments as Sales, IT, Purchase and Inventory. As a strategic and sustainable approach, a) one would recommend only 4 different cost centre value sets representing each of the 4 departments. These 4 can be associated with either of the 3 companies while actual transactions are taking place. On the other side as a poor design, b) organization can undoubtedly be enforced to introduce 12 different cost centre codes representing 4 departments working for 3 different companies. It is self-evident that option "a" firstly cascades the behaviour of relativity where Cost Centre is relative to a company and thereby does not lead to a redundancy and secondly avoids creation of duplicate codes for similar type of departments. This can further be well understood with postal code numbering system where it navigates through State, District and finally City. Here City is relative to a District and a District itself relative to a State for a given country. In regards to option "b", shortcomings are clearly countable as creation of duplicate codes while departments are of similar nature for each company, can't share segment values, certain to experience huge volume of cost centre values over the period of time etc.

Automation for Intra/Inter Company Transactions:

Organizations like GE who has leading business presence almost all over the world deal with huge volume of transactions b/t two or more internal business units. Transactions taking place b/t 2 business units ideally lead to inter/intra company transactions and that is where it is essential to consider a placeholder for inter/intra company segment in the COA in order to efficiently track referencing inter/intra company and enable opportunities for automation. ERPs like Oracle Application R12/Fusion Cloud offers an automation to create inter/intra company accounting entries by introducing pre-configured rules. For example, Oracle Fusion Financials automatically creates Intercompany Payable accounting entry corresponding to the Intercompany Receivable inter/intra company accounting entry by looking at the rules. Such entries have a counterparty reference in the COA code combination as in company (balancing segment) and designated inter/intra company segment.

Give meaning to each digit/character within a segment rather than just treat as code:

While a business meaning is tagged to each segment, a COA design can further be advanced by injecting an appropriate meaning to digits or characters within a segment. For example instead of just coding a company as COMP1 with no meaning to individual or set of characters, one can strongly advocate for "013060" where first 2 digits represents Country, next 2 region and last 2 State. Such logical combination may take away the need of an individual segment in a COA to signify location. This is additionally very helpful for easy reference.

Business Rules With Valid COA Code Combinations:

In regular business practice while creating different transactions, allowing only valid COA code combinations is usually the core business requirements. For example, although a COA code combination with Cash Account does not require any specific product code however the same would be needed while booking revenue. Thus, identification of such scenarios and implementing rules accordingly in the system is the key to rein in undesired code combination values.

March 3, 2017

Why a Global Trade Management system is Integral to an International Supply Chain!

 

A Multinational Organization in any country across the world needs to abide by a set of export and import control regulations that governs the movement of goods, services and technology across international borders.

These Export/Import regulations impact enterprises operating in almost all industries.

Various regulatory bodies that keeps a check on manufacturing and international movement of goods like US CBP (in case of USA), Taxation and Customs Union (in case of European Council) etc. penalize companies that violate these controls.

These penalties can be monetary or legal in nature. In certain cases even criminal proceedings can be initiated against the company.

As a result of these penalties, enterprises also face significant business loss and damage to reputation.

In any International supply chain the role of trade-compliance starts from supplier/vendor selection, when the importer must ensure that he is not dealing with any denied/blacklisted individuals or entities. Further the imports needs to abide by the trade and customs laws of the source as well as the destination country. Subsequently when the business (importer) exports its products to an overseas destination it must again ensure that the legal requirements related to country of origin/destination and various international treaties are met. Also the customs filing must be done in due course of time and the relevant transportation and regulatory documents must be produced as and when required.

Any smart business should also ensure that it is availing the benefits of the trade agreements its products falls into.

 

Various aspects of Global Trade Management

 

A.  Item Classification and contact screening

 

Each item that is exported or imported internationally must contain certain classification codes for:

 

  1. Tariff Calculation (HTS US, HTS EU etc.)

  2. Licensing purpose (ECCN US, ECCN EU etc.)

 

These codes depends on the source and destination country as well as the product attributes. E.g. any item being exported out of UK must contain HTS codes specific to UK for tariff determination, ECCN Code if it is a dual-use item, and even the HTS codes of the country to which it is being exported to.

 

Similarly every enterprise which exports or imports has to ensure that none of its international customers/suppliers fall under the denied list of people/entities as prescribed by UNO.

 

Oracle GTM, performs the item classification and also screen the contacts/orders of the business through its standard functionalities.

 

Cummins Inc., an American heavy equipment company, which operates in more than 190 countries. It has more than 600 distributor facilities and over 7,200 dealer locations across the world implemented Oracle GTM in year 2013-14. They mainly did so to classify their items (goods) and also screen their customers and suppliers against the denied party list. And here is what they have to say - "Through the use of Oracle's Global Trade Management solution, we have achieved new heights of product classification accuracy, consistency, and compliance efficiency in all Cummins locations globally."1 - Dante Monroy, Director Global Trade Operations, Cummins Inc.

 

B.  Embargo and Compliance rule screening

 

As per the UNO mandate all Multi-national enterprises across the world are required to completely refrain from doing any kind of trade with certain embargoed countries from time to time. Several countries including North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Myanmar etc. have been embargoed time and again by the UNO.

In addition to these blanket bans by the regulatory bodies there are often country-specific requirements based on the international treaties that your home country is a part of. E.g. - Any materials, equipment and technology related to nuclear science can only be trade between countries that are a part of the NSG (Nuclear suppliers group).

 

Oracle GTM configures these rules and ensures adherence to international compliance rules through its standard functionalities of 'Sanctioned territories screening' and 'Compliance rule screening'.

 

 

 

General Electric (GE) a US based multinational enterprise, implemented Oracle GTM in 2013-14 for one of their key businesses P&WE and ensured that they do trade as per the international law abiding by the International embargoes requirements and various other multi country treaties including NSG, MCTR (Missile control technology regime) , Wassenaar agreement and Australia group agreement.2

 

 

C.  License Management

 

It is often seen that certain items, before they can be exported, are required to be accompanied by regulatory licenses. It is often done to ensure that the items are only used for their intended purpose and do not end up in the wrong hands and be misused.

These licenses can be quantity or value based. Any enterprise dealing in items that needs licenses must keep a continuous track of the authorized quantity/value and keep replenishing the same with concerned regulatory authorities. Any item if exported without the required license can attract severe penalty and/or legal action by the international/local law enforcement agencies.

 

Using Oracle GTM's License management functionality one can set up and manage all licenses that are applicable to its items and can also keep a continuous track of the inventory levels of the same. Through this feature the business can also ensure that it never falls on to the wrong side of the law by non-deliberately trying to export an item without the applicable license.

 

                 

 

Cypress Semiconductor Corporation, an American semiconductor design and manufacturing company, needed to centrally manage 30,000 customers in 200 countries complying with all international and country specific regulatory environments.

 

In addition to this they also needed to ensure that few of their export controlled products specifically in countries including US, Malaysia and Japan always have the required licenses before they are exported.

 

They implemented Oracle GTM in 2015-16 to manage their global trade and as per them, using the product they could fully automate their global business and make themselves 100% trade compliant with 0% errors.3

 

 

D.  Customs Filing

 

Any enterprise exporting goods outside a country must file for customs clearance with the national customs authorities. This process has become electronic in most countries and is usually done by establishing a two-way electronic communication to transmit data related to the export items and further receive a response regarding the same.

E.g. in UK every exporter must file with CHIEF customs system, in Germany ATLAS, in Belgium - PLDA and similarly in US every exporter must perform the customs filing with the AES (Automated Export System).

 

Oracle, in 2013, got authorized by the U.S. Census Bureau (Department of Commerce) to enable its customers to perform the AES filing though its product GTM.4

Since then a lot of US based enterprises have used the product to extract the custom specific information from their existing business processes and transmit the same to the authorities to get clearance for their exports.

 

Oracle GTM simply screens the existing business processes of the customer, create customs shipments to prepare the filing data and then transmit an electronic document to the AES system. It also further receives and processes the response that it might get as an acceptance or rejection of the filing.

 

In various other countries Oracle partners with 3rd parties like Descartes to perform the customs filing.

 

 

 

 

E.  Latest developments

 

Oracle recently came up with a new feature 'Landed Cost simulator' that helps enterprises decide the most suitable vendor and the most economical sourcing scenario for their business. It also lets them know if their business is eligible for any duty benefits under any trade agreement.

E.g. - If a Canadian importer has several sourcing options for a product that it is looking to import, Oracle GTM can calculate the cost that each option will incur for the import, including the duties. Additionally if any of the vendors happens to be from a country that Canada has a trade agreement with (say Mexico/US which are a part of NAFTA) it will identify and calculate the duty benefits that the importer will be eligible to claim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global-Trade-Management is not just a regulatory but a strategic issue for any growing enterprise. If not managed systematically it can result in irreparable losses financially, legally and also on an organization's brand image.

It should be a part of a company's vision and long term growth strategy and hence any enterprise with such an attitude must consider having a robust & comprehensive solution like Oracle GTM!

 

 

References

1 - http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/customers/customersearch/cummins-1-gtm-2602121.html

2 - https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/s/delivery_production/docs/fy14h1/doc1/ovcs2014-fovce.pdf

3 - http://www.oraclemsce.com/tracks/global-trade-management

4 - https://blogs.oracle.com/scm/oracle-global-trade-management-achieves-aes-certification-to-support-end-to-end-customs-filing-process 

                                                                          Written by: Ravikiran Khobragade & Mohammad Talat

Continue reading " Why a Global Trade Management system is Integral to an International Supply Chain! " »

Omni-Channel Warehouse Management using Oracle Logfire & the Infosys advantage!

 

What is an Omni-channel business?

An omni-channel business is one that provides its customers various ways of buying its products and services. The purchase can be made through an ecommerce website or by placing an order over a telephone or by simply walking into the brick-and-mortar store and picking up the product of your choice. With the increasing competition in the retail industry most enterprises across the developed and the developing world are now considering going omni-channel. It is an effective way to ensure that you don't lose out on your existing customers and that the new age tech savvy customer doesn't give you a skip.

Why visibility of inventory is important to serve customers in an omni-channel business?

When a customer decides to buy an item from your e-store/website etc he needs to know by when can he get it delivered. Also if an item is not available currently he likes to know by when it will be made available.

Often stores that have a Warehouse management system get their inventory replenished in batches. The only visibility that they have is within the store/warehouse. This often leads to a business either not having the right clarity to provide the correct timings to the customer or it providing a sizably high time. In order to be able to provide the shortest time by which the item will be made available, the business needs to have a clear visibility of the inventory lying in the store, in the DC, in the manufacturing location and also in-transit.

How can Oracle logfire prevent loss of sales and customers in an Omni-channel business?

Oracle logfire has a comprehensive approach to the warehouse management system. It keeps a track of all inbound and outbound orders destined to the DC, the stores and any other fulfilment centers in the supply chain. On the basis of this information logfire can clearly tell the business representative at the POS by when the item can be made available to him. Once the customer is apprised of the same his chances of going to a different business/store to buy the same item comes down sizably.

What kind of an End to end visibility is obtained using logfire?

1) The system captures the actual P.O.s and DC replenishment orders to get visibility into expected future shipments and the dates of arrival.

2) System also captures the inbound shipments from the suppliers that provides the inventory.

3)  The system manages the outbound transportation to the store from the DC, and also the receiving and managing of the goods in the back of the store.

4) Based on the real time data captured, the system maintains accurate inventory information pertaining to each stock-location from where fulfilment can be done. It also understands which inventory is on the way towards these locations and also when will it arrive. Hence it becomes possible for the business to tell the customer exactly about when the item will be made available to him.

Additionally like any other new age WMS, the system also manages the replenishment of inventory to the sales floor, and also the returns and reverse logistics to a store, a DC, or to the supplier.

Why Infosys is the ideal choice for an Oracle logfire powered Warehouse management system?

Being a diamond partner of oracle for cloud implementation infosys brings to the table a robust expertise of implementing all of Oracle products.

Oracle practice of Infosys comes with the capability of not just deploying a warehouse management system but also Transportation management & Trade management systems which can be exploited to make the customer's business optimized for movement of inventory and also trade-compliant in case of any international orders.

                                                                                                                           

Written by: Ravikiran Khobragade & Mohammad Talat

February 16, 2017

Oracle Service Cloud - One Product for Multiple Service Needs in Multiple Industries

'The world is becoming smaller' is the catch phrase which I get to hear nowadays pretty often. What does it mean? Of course, the world has not shrunk but the communication channels have expanded in their mode and reach thereby bringing people together and closer to give them a feel that no matter where you are, smart channels of communication will keep you connected to your family, work and needed SERVICES. In line with this boom in communication channels the expectations from the Customer Service industry has increased manifolds with the connected customer demanding service ANYWHERE and on ANY CHANNEL.

Continue reading " Oracle Service Cloud - One Product for Multiple Service Needs in Multiple Industries " »

February 10, 2017

Centralized Vs Decentralized VCP Architecture

 

One of the critical decisions that businesses considering VCP implementation have to make is to choose between the centralized and decentralized architecture of VCP. This decision is very crucial not just from the operational perspective once they have implemented, but also due to the fact that the cost of the overall project is dependent on this. For a decentralized environment, business have to invest in new infrastructure and hardware required for the new VCP instance. For smaller businesses, these costs could be higher than the overall implementation cost itself.  Through this article, I would like to discuss the pros and cons of each of those approaches and throw light on the aspects which businesses need to consider for making an informed decision.

A centralized architecture is where both the EBS and the VCP reside on the same server. In a decentralized architecture EBS and VCP reside in two different servers connected through the database links for exchange of data.

Before talking about the pros and cons of these architectures, let us understand the need for a decentralized architecture when by default we have the centralized architecture enabled.

Unlike most of the transactional systems, where the transactions are done at database level, the planning in the VCP modules happen in the application server memory. The planning engine processes are highly memory intensive and the plans require great amount of memory while the planning engines are running.

One of the most common issues encountered in ASCP (one of the important module of VCP), are the plan failures related to the application memory where the plans fail after exhausting all the dedicated/available memory.  These errors could be caused by an inappropriate setup in EBS or even by manual errors as simple as creating an internal requisition with inappropriate source. These transactional errors takes a lot of process maturity and user knowledge\training to control but still very difficult to avoid. What this means is that in case the application sizing wasn't done scientifically or in the case of above errors, the planning engine run impacts the performance of all the applications that reside on that server.

Most of the businesses going with centralized architecture face challenges during the month end\period closure activities where the finance processes (which process a huge volume of data) overlap with the planning processes

Also the amount of memory consumed depends on multiple factors such as volume of finished goods, depth of BOM, volume of transactional data , type of plans being run, amount of constraints and the list continues. In our experience we have seen businesses where the plans have a peak application memory consumption of over 64 GB. What this means is that an unscientific application sizing would not just impact planning but the activities in transactional modules in a centralized environment.

For businesses which have operations spread geographically across globe and have multiple plans catering to different geographies, it is imperative that they run those plans at different times in a day meaning the server resources need to be made available at all points in time such that the plans complete smoothly.

Having said that below are the pros and cons of the available architectures:

Centralized

Decentralized

Pros:

·     Lesser investment in infrastructure and its maintenance.

·     Simple architecture.

Pros:

 

·     Issues related to planning engine will have least impact on the transactional systems.

·    Supports different versions of EBS and VCP. EBS can be at the same or lower version than VCP.

·     VCP can be easily upgraded without any changes to EBS. VCP can be patched with a minimal impact on the EBS.

·     Ideal for implementation of multiple VCP modules.

·     Ideal for businesses with multiple plans running at different times.

·     Scaling up solution (such as adding new organizations, businesses) to the existing VCP instance is easy.

·     Ideal for businesses with multiple EBS instances which can be connected to a single VCP instance.

·     Can maintain multiple but not so powerful servers.

 

Cons:

 

·    Risk of facing issues related to memory.

·    Does not support different versions for planning and EBS.

·    Difficult to patch and upgrade. Upgrading VCP would be possible only when the entire instance is upgraded.

·     Limitation in terms of scalability of the solution.

·     Not ideal when multiple VCP modules have to be implemented.

·     Need to maintain huge and powerful servers.

 

Cons:

 

·     Higher investment in infrastructure and maintenance.

 

 

To conclude, a decentralized architecture is the most preferred and recommended architecture. Small organizations which could not afford multiple servers and the businesses with very limited and minimal planning requirements can choose OR start with a centralized implementation and move over to de-centralized architecture slowly.

 

For any inputs, clarifications and feedback, please feel free to write to me at mohan.chimakurthy@infosys.com. Our specialist team of VCP consultants will assist you in taking the right decisions at the right time.

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 1, 2016

Are you availing the benefits of international trade agreements?

The total volume of international merchandise trade in the year 2015 across the world stood at US$32.2 trillion with US$15.9 trillion of exports and US$16.3 trillion of imports.The same figures for international trade in services stood at US$4.7 trillion and US$4.6 trillion, respectively. As per a recent McKinsey report, the total volume of international trade is expected to rise to US$70 trillion by the end of 2025.

We are in the times of rapid globalization, and almost all developed and developing economies of the world are promoting international trade for a host of economical and geopolitical reasons. As of today two of the world's largest proposed trade agreements -- The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) are being negotiated.

Some robust trade agreements like The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and such are already in place for a number of years. Still, a large number of exporters and importers across the world fail to avail the benefits of these treaties.

What is a trade agreement?

A trade agreement is a treaty between individual or groups of countries through which they aim to boost exchange of products and services. This is usually done by offering rebates in duties and/or simplifying business procedures for each other. For example, if a buyer, based in the US, imports an electric boiler made in China, it will attract a duty of 3.3 percent. However, if the same buyer imports the same product with its origin in Canada (made in Canada), it will be duty-free, since Canada and the USA are part of a trade agreement called NAFTA.

Another noteworthy point is, if the US buyer imports goods from China that have their origin in Canada, they will still be eligible for the duty rebate as per NAFTA since most trade agreements tie the duty benefits to the country of origin. Country of origin is usually the country where the goods have been manufactured or where a sizeable value addition has been done to the goods.

How does a trade agreement help?

If an enterprise gets insights into the applicable trade agreements while buying goods, then it can avail the duty benefits that its products are eligible for. A rebate or a removal of duty will directly cut down its overall expenditure and, hence, will enhance the overall competitiveness of the enterprise. To avail the benefits of a trade agreement, the business needs to provide certain documents like the country of origin certificate, etc.

Do exporters / importers avail the benefits of the trade agreements?

A recent study conducted by leading consulting company KPMG, revealed that only 41 percent of the enterprises in the US avail the benefits of all trade agreements that apply to them. The figure stands at 19 percent for India. The same study suggests that 79 percent of the enterprises in the US believe that a lack of awareness and the complexity in the regulatory documentation are the primary reasons due to which they miss out on the benefits from trade agreements.

How can Oracle GTM help avail the benefits and make organizations more competitive?

Oracle Global Trade Management (GTM) can easily identify the applicable trade agreements and generate the documents required to avail benefits. The following lists the key features of Oracle GTM:

Identifying the applicable trade agreement: Oracle GTM with its out-of-box (OOB) feature of Landed Cost Management can let any enterprise know about applicable trade agreements and their benefits. All it takes is entering the classification code of the product along with the source and destination country. With this much information, the enterprise will be made aware of the applicable trade agreement and the duty benefits tied to it.

Generating the documents required for availing the duty benefit: Once the applicable trade agreements are found, the required documents can be generated out of GTM using the feature of document generation. These documents can be further submitted to the customs authorities to avail the monetary benefits directly.

Please meet us at the Infosys Booth during the OTM SIG APAC 2016 Conference (Singapore) and we shall be delighted to showcase our GTM solutions. 

*Date Source - World Bank - https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres16_e/pr768_e.htm

Written by: Mohammad Haider Talat and Ravikiran Narayan Khobragade

Intrinsic trade compliance issues with SMEs

We often hear about the trade compliance issues with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) more frequently as compared to the larger organizations. Small companies are impounded with many challenges attributed to their limited trade management staff and tight budgets. In spite of their small size, there is no exemption from compliance requirement for these SMEs. The cost of non-compliance for these enterprises is very high since it may result in loss of privilege to export or import, financial loss, and disruption in the supply chain.

Challenges

Some basic challenges that these enterprises face are of the following nature:

·         Lack of know-how in trade compliance due to lack of experience

·         Failure to ramp up for the export compliance requirements of highly regulated products when they expand their product lines from products of low regulatory controls

·         Absence of senior trade compliance leadership

·         Not being aware of export / import procedures

·         Lack of trade compliance charter and in-house training program

·         Untimely fulfillment of trade documentation

·         Dependence on third-party vendors such as freight forwarders and customs brokers for trade compliance-related activities

Mitigation

To mitigate these teething or persistent trade compliance issues, these enterprises need a simple but comprehensive in-house program that ensures the following:

Hiring an experienced trade professional to design, plan, and implement a trade compliance program from a domestic or international trade perspective

1)      Concisely written trade compliance policies and periodic reviews that enable the staff to understand about the day-to-day compliance activities and take the best decision when faced with difficult situations

2)      Product classification and the applicable regulations knowledge, including duty deferment / subsidies and trade agreement benefits

3)      Government authorizations / permits requirement for export / import of products and their maintenance to reap the short / long term benefits

4)      Periodic audits and refresher training programs

5)      Informed pricing and investment decisions for sourcing the product considering regulatory requirement and free trade agreement benefits or duty reduction program evaluation

6)      Appropriate monitoring and enforcing of compliance program

7)       Preparation of systematic trade compliance mechanism to overcome trade challenges by implementing a global trade management system as per the available and allocated budget

How Oracle GTM can help SMEs to become trade compliant?

In the newer world of cloud-based compliance, systems may offer a solution that fits these SMEs needs, but the foremost and important thing is to get senior management to understand the importance of a trade compliance management program. The manageable fee structure of cloud software allows small and medium companies to make smaller upfront investments (such as license fee, annual maintenance fees, hardware procurement, etc.) and avail all the benefits of the software. These cloud implementations are usually faster than the on-premise ones. Oracle Global Trade Management (GTM) cloud-based software addresses almost all trade compliance related needs of an SME at an affordable cost.

Using Oracle GTM's cloud-based application will lead to a trade-compliant atmosphere within the company for less than a few hundred dollars a month. Cloud-deployed Oracle GTM is a multi-tenant version of the on-premise Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) where Oracle hosts the software and handles all the routine maintenance and upgrades of the system giving ample return on investment (ROI) against total cost of ownership (TCO) without any security concerns.

To know more on GTM Solutions, please meet us at the Infosys Booth during the OTM SIG APAC 2016 Conference (Singapore) and our experts shall be delighted to explain the details.

Written by: Ravikiran Narayan Khobragade and Mohammad Haider Talat

EU's proposal to modernize its dual-use regulation and its impact on various industries

The European Union (EU) controls the export, transit, and brokering of dual-use items within its territory and jurisdiction of its 28 member states*. It considers this control as an important instrument in contributing toward global peace and security.

What are dual-use items?

In simple words, a dual-use item is referred to as a good, software, or technology meant to be used by the civilian population for legitimate purposes; but can also be misused for terror attacks, international crimes, human rights violation, or the development of weapons of mass destruction.

For example, a substance that reacts chemically to release vast amounts of energy can be used in a regular college chemistry lab for educating students. At the same time, it can be possibly used in an explosive or a missile warhead. Here is another example: An electric motor that is used for generating electricity for domestic households can also be used in an armored military vehicle like a battle tank.  

According to the available statistics, export of controlled dual-use items from EU was around EUR59 billion, in 2014 alone, which is approximately 3.4 percent of the total EU exports.

How is the export in dual-use items controlled?

Through EU Regulation (EC) No 428/2009, a common EU list of dual-use items is in place and it is binding on all member countries of the EU to control the items in the list. The member countries usually place a license requirement on any enterprise involved in international trade of these items.

What is the proposal to modernize the existing dual-use regulation?

In September 2016, EU presented a proposal for a regulation to modernize EU dual-use control. The proposal aims at modifying or rather expanding the current list of items to adjust for the technological and scientific developments that the world has witnessed in the recent past.  

The main agenda of the proposal is to prevent human rights violations associated with certain cyber surveillance technologies. It is believed that if such technology is exported and falls into the wrong hands, then it could be used by repressive and authoritarian regimes to spy and intercept international communication which can pose a serious security risk to various nations and their citizens.

Which industries will be impacted and require a centralized trade management system to comply?

If this proposal is approved and enter into force, EU companies trading in cyber surveillance technologies will be required to obtain an export license and follow new procedural requirements.

Under such circumstances, it will be imperative for all those enterprises which export any of the following products to manage their trade through a robust centralized system.

  1.         Computer and network surveillance related products
  2.         Spyware manufacturing products
  3.         Information extraction software

The proposal also talks about a catch-all mechanism that allows member states to ask any exporter to apply for an export license because of human rights considerations.

This 'catch-all' clause is in contrast to the current provision according to which only the states are authorized to monitor the export. Hence, any exporter might be asked to procure a license before exporting the goods that are similar to any other goods existing in the dual-use list. Under such a circumstance, identifying and assigning the license and keeping a trail of the same manually will be an extremely challenging task for enterprises.

How can Oracle Global Trade Management help?

With its out-of-the-box (OOB) feature for license management, an enterprise can easily configure a number of licenses based on quantity or value. These licenses can be automatically assigned to the export orders involving the affected goods and makes the process hassle-free.

Further, once the quota or the value of any of the licenses reaches a critical level, the system can notify the business and the business can further apply for new / additional licenses with the relevant government authorities.

In addition, all scenarios that require any kind of export / import control measures can be modeled in the system and the entire process of screening, rescreening, and releasing sales orders can be made automatic using another OOB feature of trade compliance management.

Please meet us at the Infosys Booth during the OTM SIG APAC 2016 Conference (Singapore) and we shall be delighted to showcase our GTM solutions.  

*28 member states since no formal process of UK to exit from the EU has started as on today.

Written by: Mohammad Haider Talat and Ravikiran Narayan Khobragade

November 29, 2016

Minimizing multi-tier transportation costs with smart network routing

Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) is designed to support both shippers and logistics service providers (LSPs). In fact, OTM can be configured to manage all transportation activities in the global supply chain. It integrates transportation planning and execution, freight payment, and business process automation through a single application across all modes of transportation -- road, air, ocean, and rail shipments.

OTM's integrated option--Oracle Transportation Operational Planning--supports all transportation operations, including inbound, outbound, simple point-to-point, complex multi-modal, multi-leg, and cross-docking. It also enables us to validate a shipment through an optimized route.

Network routing is an additional enhancement in OTM version 6.3 through which the shipping cost can be reduced. It also maximizes consolidation opportunities by routing orders from different origins to destinations through a network. Network routing is a new approach to model multi-tier transportation networks. The network routing logic of OTM is a solution for different multi-leg journey problems.

When is network routing recommended?

A network is a combination of locations that represents possible routes for order transportation from a source to destination. Network routing allows multiple cross-dock facilities and also consolidation of orders when appropriate. The flow of orders through a particular network can be determined by many factors like cost of the route, time constraint of an order, equipment constraints if any, and consolidation opportunities available. Network routing can be the best solution when:

  •        The order which is being transported from a source to a destination, may require multiple shipments through intermediate locations
  •         Different choices for intermediate locations are available between a source and destination
  •         Decisions related to routing are taken at the time of planning
  •         Order volumes can impact the routing choice

In network routing the orders flow from a source to a destination via cross docks. Every region will have a representative location. Itineraries and rates need to be created for each leg in a network. An itinerary can have multiple legs and each leg can form a network. When there is a network on the itinerary leg, the network leg substitutes for the itinerary leg.

Let's take an example of orders flowing from one source region to destination via cross dock,

Source region

Xdock

Destination region

Gujarat

Nagpur

Hyderabad

Karnataka

Rajasthan

Indore

 

Within the source region, multiple locations have to be created and each location should be a part of a network leg for the network routing to work efficiently. The routing should be decided based on cost effectiveness, route availability that accounts for order routing constraints, and time constraints on orders if any. Each location will have either ship-from / ship-to / cross-dock roles.

Let's see the locations within the regions and how the network legs are formed. In the below table we can see different regions and the locations from those source / destination regions which are acting as Ship from / ship to or xdock roles and how the network will be designed.

Region ID

Location ID

Roles

Gujarat

Anand

Ship from / ship to

Surat

Ship from / ship to

Ahmedabad

Ship from / ship to, x dock

Rajasthan

Udaipur

Ship from / ship to

Bikaner

Ship from / ship to

Jaipur

Ship from / ship to, x dock

 

Nagpur

X dock

 

Indore

X dock

 

Hyderabad

X dock

Karnataka

Mysore

Ship from / ship to

Hubli

Ship from / ship to

Bengaluru

Ship from / ship to, x dock

 

The orders and their transportation legs would be similar to the below:

Order 1

From manufacturer in Anand to consumer in Mysore

Order 2

From factory in Surat to showroom in Hubli

Order 3

From warehouse in Ahmedabad to retailer in Bengaluru

Order 4

From manufacturer in Udaipur to consumer in Bengaluru

Order 5

From factory in Bikaner to showroom in Mysore

Order 6

From warehouse in Jaipur to retailer in Bengaluru

 

Thus, in the above flow of orders from source to destination region, Oracle's network routing can dynamically make an intelligent decision on when it is ideal to go directly from Ahmedabad to Bengaluru and when it should be routed via cross-dock. If a freight is already scheduled via cross-dock and to the same destination, then it would be a free ride in that case.

Let me elaborate this with the following examples:

  •      There are three orders--one is from Anand to Mysore, another from Surat to Hubli, and a third one from Ahmedabad to Bengaluru. These orders can be transported in the same route through cross- dock and the locations can be added to a single region as an efficient way of transportation planning
  •      Thus, Anand, Surat, and Ahmedabad will be configured as locations under the region of Gujarat with Ahmedabad as the cross-dock for the source location (Gujarat). And Mysore, Hubli, and Bengaluru will be under the region of Karnataka with Bengaluru as the cross-dock location for the destination (Karnataka). Similarly, for the order which should be transported from Udaipur, Bikaner and Jaipur will be the locations configured under Rajasthan region
  •       Now, for the order to flow from Gujarat to Karnataka and from Rajasthan to Karnataka; Nagpur, Indore, and Hyderabad will be taken as the three cross-dock locations
  •     So, if the itinerary leg links to a network, then OTM will use the network which has been configured for bulk planning, provided the appropriate planning parameter has also been configured

The network routing feature in OTM has many more features, which makes it the ideal option to model multiple pathways in a very simple manner. This modeling of routing also provides greater flexibility in the approach and design of networks. By making simple changes in the design of the network, any variations in operation can be accommodated as well. Thus, network routing is set to offer huge optimization benefits in OTM's routing process.

To know more, please attend our session on Network Routing at OTM SIG 2016 APAC Conference (Singapore) and we will be overwhelmed to take you through our solutions.

                                                    Written by: Julie Jose

November 10, 2016

Supply chain visibility

OTM
Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) has provided companies the flexibility to manage all transportation related activities across supply chains on one platform. Apart from minimizing costs, optimizing service levels and providing flexible models of business process automation within their logistics networks, OTM also helps organizations in mapping their highly complex business requirements from logistics domain.

What is supply chain visibility (SCV) and what role does it play in OTM?
Supply chain visibility (SCV) is the ability of parts, components, or products in transit to be tracked from the manufacturer to their final destination. SCV's major focus is to improve and strengthen the supply chain by making data readily available to all investors - including the customer - and enabling transparency and a greater understanding of product movement and overall performance. SCV monitors and controls logistics processes more effectively by reducing inventory levels with real-time monitoring of inventory and management capabilities.

Key elements of SCV
Production
Supply
Inventory
Transportation

Production: Strategic decisions regarding production focus on customer preferences as well as demand in the market. They also analyze the type and quantity of products to be manufactured and the parts or components that should be produced, and whether they should be produced at a particular plant or outsourced to a capable supplier. They must also keep in mind production quality and the capacity of the goods to be produced that will ultimately have to meet the expectations of the customer and the market. 

Supply: An organization must select a supplier that provides the best raw materials at the best possible price. Organizations should also determine what goods their facility / facilities are able to produce both economically and efficiently so that they can maintain the availability of stocks whenever required in order to support the smooth functioning of the supply chain.
Inventory: Strategic decisions in this area always focus on inventory, particularly stock-in-hand. In SCV, this aspect is a very critical issue and determining the optimal level of stock at each location is vital in ensuring customer satisfaction as demand fluctuates.

Transportation: OTM is the world's leading transport management tool providing planning and execution solution for shippers and third-party logistics providers. A single application integrates and