Friday Jul 01, 2016

Oracle Policy Automation - Services Newsletter - Summer 2016

David Heagren | OPA Rules Consultant (Europe)

Welcome to the Oracle Consulting Summer Newsletter (2016)

Please click on the newsletter preview image below to download a pdf (full) version:

In this issue:

OPA New Features (May 2016

The new May 2016 release has some exciting new features developed from feedback and experience on previous and current projects. Find out more on page 2 of the newsletter

OPA Enablement Update

Our OPA SmartStart enablement team gives us an update of the enablement training for v12 

OPA Tips

As more and more clients move towards v12, we have highlighted a quick tip to save time and effort in rule authoring

OPA to Siebel connector

With many clients continuing to use Siebel, we look at the different connectors available to differing versions

Monday May 16, 2016

One simple tip for mobile decision making: CARE

Fiona Guy | Product Manager Oracle Policy Automation

(This blog originally appeared in the Oracle Service Cloud Product Newsletter: March 2016)

Meet Saffron, she’s a safety inspector with a large manufacturing company. It’s her job to head onto worksites to check they comply with the relevant health and safety rules. Saffron is friends with Jake, a mobile technician who provides on-site customer support.

Both are frustrated by their jobs.


Because the technology they are using is impeding their ability to deliver. For Jake, when he’s onsite with a customer it takes him a long time to identify the cause of the problem, the customer is often impatient (or worse, wants a particular answer) and he needs to make a call or go back to the office to resolve the issue. He doesn’t have the tools at hand to offer the customer a better product where one is available. Invariably, each interaction ends with an unhappy customer, and an unhappy Jake.

Saffron likes the people she meets in her inspections but is frustrated by finding when she returns to the office that she has missed collecting key information. Reporting her findings is a huge drain on her day.

With Policy Automation, life could be so much easier. Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) is an end-to-end solution for capturing, managing, and deploying policies in Oracle Service Cloud. OPA’s mobile capability allows agents in the field to:

Collect only the necessary information, and all necessary information. Policy Automation intelligently selects the next question based on previous answers, and if it already knows some information from previous interactions, it won’t bother asking it again. Quick, simple, and respectful of your staff and customer’s time.

Answer the question, correctly. Policy Automation doesn’t just direct the technician (or customer themselves) to an article and ask “does this answer your question” but actually applies the policy to the issue at hand to provide exact advice for the customer’s situation. So for Saffron, it won’t just provide guidelines on how to manage workplace safety, it will ask her for detailed information about the site (number of employees, chemicals onsite etc) and provide her with all of the checks required for the specific situation. It can also trigger intelligent suggestions to related information (advice or knowledge) and products (for customer product recommendations/upsell). Flexible updating means that the answer reflects the current state of your policy so your field agents don’t need to memorize every policy change themselves. Oh and you get reasons for the decision, great for on-site service with customers who like to know every last detail.

Resolve the issue. Policy Automation’s write once, deploy anywhere approach means you will get the same answers on your mobile device as on your back-end system. You can work without network coverage, so Jake won’t need to hang out of a customer’s window to try to get a signal. Data automatically synchs up when you’re back online and can be used with Policy Automation’s cloud and on-premise document generation capabilities to produce the reports you need. When you have finished your work in the field, you have finished your work in the office.

Evaluate the result. Decisions can be saved with an automatically generated audit report, explaining how policies were applied in each case. More than just surviving audits by showing consistently accurate decision making, this capability allows the business to proactively evaluate whether decisions are being made effectively, efficiently, change rules, and compare results. In other words, you can use Policy Automation to improve and refine your policies in future.

So what does that mean for Saffron and Jake? It means that the decisions they make are compliant, resolved as quickly as possible and leaves them and the customers feeling a whole bunch better about the interaction.

More information

For more information on enhancing your service cloud capability with Policy Automation, watch online or read up about OPA in the OPA Quick Start Guide or Oracle Technology Network.

For more information on Policy Automation for mobile devices, read the OPA for Mobile Devices or OPA Mobile datasheets or watch online.

Tuesday Mar 15, 2016

OPA - Services Newsletter - Spring 2016

Welcome to the Oracle Consulting Spring Newsletter (2016)

Please click on the preview below to download a pdf (full) version:

In this issue:

Latest OPA release - Spring 2016

The new February 2016 release has some exciting new features developed from feedback and experience on previous and current projects

OPA HR Policy Automation for Employee Self Service

The latest version of the solution is now available and news on the latest implementations is provided on the front cover.

Upgrading to OPA v12

For those customers currently considering a migration from v10 to v12, we provide a package of services that will help you to migrate smoothly. Further details in the newsletter on page 2 of the newsletter.

Thursday Dec 17, 2015

Oracle Policy Automation - Services Newsletter - Winter 2015

Welcome to the Oracle Consulting Winter Newsletter (2015)

Please click on the preview below to download a pdf (full) version:

In this issue:

Go Live! Prince’s Trust

The Prince’s Trust are now live with a new OPA and Service Cloud based solution to support the development of a new web site and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.

OPA Enablement Update

Our OPA SmartStart enablement team announce a new v12 accelerator programme and provide links to our Blog site which lists all the updated courses we provide.

OPA HR Policy Automation

Our HR Self Service Accelerator is being adopted by Oracle for our own staff and also with customers.

OPA Centre of Excellence

The OPA Centre of Excellence programme is continuing to grow in membership and Matthew provides an overview of the programme and what is required to achieve recognition 

Tuesday Jun 23, 2015

OPA Enablement Programme Update

Rob Bradford | OPA Rules Consultant (Europe)

OPA version 12 has been with us for a few months now, and our products team are continuing to work hard on adding even more exciting features to future releases. As a reminder, this is the first version of OPA that combines the previously separate Cloud and On-Premise versions of the software into one product. Version 12 can be run using:

  • Oracle Service Cloud - where policy models are managed by Oracle Cloud operations
  • Private Cloud - where policy models are managed and deployed in your own estate

Whichever option you choose, you will be able to take advantage of a host of new features, including mobile application support, a re-designed authoring environment, improved control and flexibility around screen design and integrated collaboration and source control via the OPA hub.

Oracle Consulting Services provide a range of enablement courses as part of our OPA SmartSmart Services package, including a brand new OPA v12 Accelerator programme - aimed at people who are already experienced at developing rules in previous versions of the product.

OPA v12 Accelerator - NEW!

Course duration: 2 days

Suitable for rule authors who have previously taken the foundation course for OPA version 10. Covers the following topics:

  • Installing OPM version 12
  • Upgrading existing policy models
  • Navigating the new OPM user interface
  • Working with the hub
  • OPA mobile
  • Designing an interview
  • Screen styling
  • Testing in v12
  • Other new features

Our existing enablement courses have also been updated to incorporate the latest features.

OPA v12 Rule Author Foundation

Course duration: 5 days

Aimed at people who are new to OPA, or existing rule authors who want to refresh their foundation knowledge as well as learning about the new features. Includes updated content and new modules around navigating the OPM user interface, multi-author collaboration via working with the hub, improved interview design, deploying policy models to mobile applications (iOS and Android), using value lists to store reference data and some additional new built in functions.

OPA v12 Rule Author Advanced

Course duration: 5 days

This course is intended for rule authors who are already proficient in the topics covered in the foundation course, and want to take their OPA knowledge to the next level. Includes updated content around the more advanced OPA rule authoring features, such as inferred entity creation, inferred relationships, cross entity reasoning and everybody's favourite - time based reasoning (TBR).

OPA v12 with BI Publisher

Course duration: 2 days

As in previous versions, OPA v12 allows you to generate documents - now referred to as 'forms' - at the end of an interview. This course takes you through the process of creating rich, dynamic forms which can include images, tables and charts.

OPA v12 Testing

Course duration: 2 days

The OPA regression suite now uses Excel spreadsheets exclusively - allowing users to replicate test data and expected outcomes quicker and more easily than within previous versions. This course takes you through the process of creating and maintaining test scripts within v12.

OPA v12 Project Manager

Course duration: 2 days

This course provides Project Managers / Team Leaders with an opportunity to explore the leading practice methods that are used to implement OPA powered systems. Topics include resourcing considerations, estimation techniques, building a project schedule, documentation standards, case studies and tips & tricks.


Our extremely popular rule author assessments are also being refreshed, and it is now possible to take the OPA foundation or advanced rule author assessments using version 12 of the product.

Oracle Consulting Services can deliver enablement programmes either at your premises, or at any of our Oracle offices spread around the country. If required, we can tailor our courses to make them more specific to your project needs - and we can provide any equipment required (laptops with software pre-installed, iPads etc.). Do not hesitate to get in touch if you want to arrange or discuss an enablement programme, or for any further information.

Monday Jun 08, 2015

OPA for HR Self Service - White Paper

Ulrich Scheuber | OPA Solution Specialist & Matthew Bickham | OPA Consulting Practice Manager

HR policies built using Oracle Policy Automation increases and sustains Employee Experience for companies who want their HR professionals to be able to build employee Self Service capabilities

"Automation of HR/HCM policies, decisions and calculations is a key element for optimization of HCM processes and reduction of complexity plus associated operational costs” is a phrase we often hear when talking to HR Executives and specialists.

» How to adapt regulatory policies based on internal agreements?

» How to transform existing manual policies into an existing HCM solution with self service capabilities for the employees?

» How to transform existing, often custom coded HR policies into new and modern HCM solutions without repeating the problems of bespoke coding again?

» How to increase transparency, flexibility and adaptability of existing and new HR policies?

» How to reduce the costs and time to market associated with new or changed policies?

» How to manage consistency of policies across different HCM solutions?

» How to reduce overall HR related services costs in times of limited IT budget whilst increasing service quality and availability?

These are the questions HR organizations ask themselves on a regular basis

95% of organizations state that policy change remains predominantly manual
34% of organizations say inconsistent policy implementation caused poor customer satisfaction

Source: Economist Intelligent Unit Survey

HR Accelerator – The solution of choice

Oracle’s HR Accelerator is a prebuilt, easy to adapt solution for managing legal policies based on best practices. The HR Accelerator package supports the new Shared Parental Leave (SPL) regime that came into force on 1st December 2014 for the UK and will apply to babies due to be born on or after 5th April 2015. An estimated 300,000 couples in the UK will be eligible to take SPL and employers are likely to see a rapidly growing number of queries and requests. The HR Accelerator includes a SPL self-help module (built directly from legislation) to deflect complex queries away from the HR department.

The HR Accelerator includes a quick start package for implementing and adapting the prebuilt policies to specific client needs. Part of the HR accelerator package is a number of pre-agreed consulting days which a customer can use to adapt policies, branding and for enablement of the business users who wish to model and adapt their own HR policies.

Oracle Policy Automation, the underlying engine of the HR Accelerator, allows modeling, managing, testing and automation of policies without IT involvement. Policies modeled in Oracle Policy Automation are used to create guided interactive service dialogues to become part of:

» Employee facing Self Service portals

» Mobile HCM solutions

» and HR service center solutions

These same policies can also be included into Core HCM solutions, On-Premise and in the Cloud, for consistent policy execution across the enterprise.

Key Benefits

Deploy and automate prebuilt HCM policies, which can be easily adapted by business users

All rules are modeled in OPA using business friendly ‘natural language’ using Microsoft Word and Excel

Rule logic, attribute naming and mapping components are designed for business rule authors to update and extend

Testers can test rules directly in OPA with no previous programming skills required

Record a complete audit trail of how decisions are reached

Available in the Cloud so no infrastructure required to set-up and run

Deploy web-based interviews directly from the modeled processes and policies

Significant cost reduction

Contacts per case drop from 3 to 1

Agent training time drops from 60 days to 5

Policy changes in days instead of months

Appeals and error rates cut in half

Pre-built legislation and Best Practices

Currently available are

Maternity pay and leave calculator

Shared Parental Leave eligibility and pay

Paternity pay and leave

Employee on-boarding

Employee off-boarding

Sick pay calculator

Career break

Voluntary redundancy calculations

Change of personal details

Change of contract details

For a full copy of the White Paper, you can download a .pdf version from here.

Wednesday Apr 29, 2015

OPA UK Cross Government Group

Matthew Bickham | OPA Implementation Manager (Europe)

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) UK Cross Government Group is celebrating its 3rd birthday this May and was formed by OPA users from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), the Home Office and the Legal Aid Agency. The group actively demonstrates the Cabinet Office wish for greater cross departmental working by facilitating strong collaboration. The departments share learning, resources, best practice methods and delivered OPA artefacts.

OPA Product Development works with the group giving them exclusive access to new features, before general release, and incorporates their feedback into the final version as well as the future product roadmap.

The group is divided into two with both meeting separately three times a year (normally in February, June and & September).

  • The OPA Rule Author group meets to share OPA rule authoring related knowledge and learning. Rulebase components are showcased, and discussions are conducted on rule modelling techniques and 'real world' problem solving.
  • The OPA Executive group meets separately and discusses topics that may relate to governance, government wide initiatives, group membership and resourcing.

Since its formation, the group has grown and forum meetings are now attended by a range of other government organisations. Events are normally held in London, but site visits have been arranged where members are given the opportunity to see new OPA systems being modelled and to meet many more members of the onsite delivery teams.

The group currently has over 100 participants and is growing every year as new departments begin their adoption of OPA. The departments share information through the use of a free secure online workspace. The workspace provides access to a range of resources including example rulebases, lessons learned documentation, forum notes, presentations, action logs and other OPA related resources that are shared.

Most member departments have also achieved OPA Centre of Excellence status. This programme is an Oracle recognition of a department capability, and to validate that leading practice standards are being followed. Within this programme, the department’s rule authors are fully enabled in OPA and provided with an industry recognized certificate that validates their skills up to an advanced level of expertise.

The next forum events will be held on 24th (Rule Author) & 25th (Executive) June 2015 in the Oracle London City Office in Moorgate. The Legal Aid Agency will be chairing this event.

Tuesday Nov 18, 2014

Oracle Policy Automation - Services Newsletter - Winter 2014

Welcome to the Oracle Consulting Services Winter newsletter (2014/15).

Please click on the preview below to download a pdf (full) version:

In this issue:

Prince’s Trust

Oracle has just started work on a new Cloud based project to support the development of a new web site and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.

OPA Training Update

Our training team has been hard at work preparing new training materials for the upcoming v12 release.

OPA Top Tips & Modelling

Sean Reardon, our longest standing OPA specialist has two sections in this months issue. Some tips on how to optimise modelling performance and how to use OPA advanced features.

OPA X-Gov Update

The OPA UK X-Gov Group is growing with new OPA CoEs announced and events being held later in the Winter.

Upgrading OPA

We have started to use the new product (internal preview release) to migrate and upgrade projects from v10 to v12. Max Hill from our team describes the steps taken so that we are ready for the big day.

Thursday Oct 10, 2013

Can OPA be used to improve draft legislation?

Fiona Guy | Product Manager Oracle Policy Automation

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting at the UK Cross Government Business Rules Group meeting on whether technology generally, and Oracle Policy Automation specifically, can help improve draft policy and legislation. I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of those thoughts here.

1. Improving the Structure and Accuracy of the Draft Itself

Logical and Structural Coherence

The process of transforming natural language text into OPA’s constrained rule format involves understanding the logical structure of the material you are working with, identifying the conclusions and conditions of each rule, and how each of these link to other sections of the policy material. In doing so, the process naturally highlights any logical and structural errors and ambiguities which may not be immediately apparent to the reader. From my experience, even well written policy and legislation usually contains a logical error or ambiguity that requires clarification from a policy expert every 2-5 pages.

In the early days of modeling rules, we started keeping a list of errors we found, and ended up with ~30 common legislative errors uncovered by modeling legislation in this format. For example, if a section mixes and/or logic, links to another section that no longer exists, or contains a loop between sections, OPA will immediately identify this on modeling, and in many cases insist that the error be corrected before continuing.

Many people don’t realize that the structure and principles behind modeling rules in OPA were developed in consultation with a senior legislative drafter to help avoid many of these logical errors. It was important to the development team, that by allowing the rules to be modeled in a natural language format (Microsoft Word and Excel), we did not also encourage the rule modeler to create rules that failed to deliver clear and correct outcomes. In other words, the design of OPA’s constrained rule format is specifically aimed at identifying and avoiding logical and structural errors or uncertainty.

Policy Effect

Once rules have been modeled in OPA, there are a few techniques for identifying whether the draft policy or legislation achieves the desired policy outcome.

The OPA Debugger allows you to run through a single scenario to see which questions are asked, and how the outcome is determined for a single user. I’ve found that simply running through an OPA interview quickly identifies information that is poorly worded, unreasonable to collect from the target audience, or is simply too onerous as a whole. An OPA interview is also useful to assess whether the policy calculates the desired outcome for any given scenario. The decision report is automatically generated to show the reasons for the decision, so errors can be directly traced back to the exact section of draft policy or legislation.

The Coverage tools (version 10.x) allow you to check that your test cases execute every rule in the policy model. This is particularly useful for checking that every section of your policy or legislation has substantive effect. For example, I’ve seen draft legislation which categorized claimants in order to apply one of several formulas for calculating compensation, but one of the categories was worded so broadly that another category would never be applied.

The What-If Analysis (version 10.x) and Excel Testing (cloud) features allow the policy modeler to create a series of test cases to see the effect of the rules on various scenarios. The data is entered into Excel, and the values automatically calculated by OPA appear in Excel column(s), allowing the tester to use Excel’s charting, highlighting and sorting capabilities to identify and analyze the effect of the policy on a range of scenarios, including highlighting unusual outcomes/payments.

2. Improvement Through Internal Consultation/Review

While these techniques can provide some insight into the quality of the draft itself, they are limited in their ability to assess the overall policy impact on the draft’s target audience. The announcement earlier this year of Oracle In-Memory Policy Analytics, signals a significant leap in capability. The key difference here is twofold:

1 - The analysis applies to real-world data, so you can see the actual effect and budget outcomes of the draft policy. For example, you could identify that changes to a disability care scheme would cost the government an additional $1.1 million but disproportionally impact families in a particular region.

2 – The dashboard interface allows people unfamiliar with OPA to analyze and tweak the policy to compare policy options without changing the rules. Policy experts, management, committees etc within an organization could use the dashboard interface to produce charts comparing policy options using real data and real legislative rules, without installing or modeling in OPA themselves.

The experts within your own organization are often the key brains that identify when the policy is likely to go awry. I’ve demoed a prototype to a few organizations and the feedback I’ve received is that it has great potential to improve both the quality of review and speed of the internal review process itself.

3. Improvement Through Public Consultation

Numerous studies have looked at whether public consultation can contribute to the quality of draft legislation in a meaningful way. Some countries (eg Canada, UK, US, Australia and New Zealand) have actively involved citizen participation in reviewing draft policy and legislation, with varying success. With OPA, governments now have the option to quickly and accurately expose the legislation as an interactive questionnaire, allowing citizens or targeted interest groups to assess their own scenarios against the draft legislation and leave their comments on the outcome and experience. The average citizen may not have the time or inclination to read though dense legislation to determine how the changes will affect their circumstances, but I believe many would have the curiosity to answer a few questions to see how they are likely to be affected by a legislative change. An OPA interview can therefore serve to inform as well as elicit public feedback on the draft policy itself.

Final Thoughts

So can OPA help improve draft legislation? Absolutely. It’s not going to tell you that your draft is a masterpiece or award you a gold star for effort, it’s not even going to look for every error you could possibly introduce, but it is another tool in your armory for improving the policy and laws that govern determinations, and therefore to ultimately improve your overall customer experience.

Fiona Guy is an expert in advanced Oracle Policy Automation rule design and implementation topics. She has been working with the OPA product line for over 10 years, as a lead consultant and now a product manager in the OPA development team. She is also a non-practising lawyer and lectures in Legislative Drafting and Technology at the Australian National University.

Wednesday Sep 25, 2013

Oracle Policy Automation Personalizes the Customer Experience

Peter Still | Executive Director, Policy Management and Strategic Decisioning, Oracle

Earlier this year, Oracle announced that Oracle Policy Automation is now available as a Cloud Service. This was an important announcement—partly because it means that OPA is now readily available to a much wider range of organizations, with SaaS flexibility and with Oracle providing the required IT infrastructure—but more importantly because it enables a shift in the way large organizations write their Customer Experience strategies.

Customer Experience has become a high priority area as both public sector organizations and private companies work hard to empower citizens and customers—by alerting them to relevant programs, services or products; by enabling 24/7/365 self-service; and by offering citizens and customers the ability to switch between difference service channels, including call center, web and in-person interactions. Often Customer Experience discussions focus on the cost and resource load of handling a single interaction. For example, some organizations measure the cost of handling a call center inquiry in the range $10–30 per call, so they will focus on offering online knowledge portals to customers, and encouraging lower-cost modes of interaction such as online text-based chat or service requests.

Oracle supports just such a multi-channel service model, and we do so with full support for both SaaS (Oracle RightNow Cloud Service) and on-premises (Oracle Siebel) options—both with productized Oracle Policy Automation available.

But Oracle Policy Automation allows us to take the discussion a step further. Oracle Policy Automation offers a powerful, cost-effective and rapidly deployable way for organizations to personalize citizen and customer interactions. Personalization is an important step in delivering a next-generation Customer Experience solution. It can help organizations to respond to calls quickly, and to enable self-service.

But even more than that, Oracle Policy Automation also plays an important role in driving accuracy and consistency. Citizens, customers—even customer service representatives—can find it difficult to answer complex questions about unusual circumstances, but Oracle Policy Automation can deliver specific, generated advice that is tailored to an inquirer’s situation. This is an important step beyond presenting generalized information to citizens and customers and asking them to interpret it. As a result, Oracle Policy Automation can enhance a Customer Experience strategy by driving higher levels of citizen and customer satisfaction, while also reducing repeat contacts from citizens or customers who may otherwise have received inconsistent advice.

Oracle Policy Automation has long offered both public and private sector organizations the ability to transform complex legislation, regulations and policy into an executable format—made available as online wizards that only ask relevant questions and explain the advice they generate; or integrated with other applications to automate all manner of complex determinations and calculations. The Oracle Policy Automation Cloud Service makes this approach more readily available to a wider range of organizations, and it includes productized integration with a leading Customer Experience Platform, the Oracle RightNow Cloud Service. Oracle also continues to support OPA integration with the Siebel platform for on-premises deployments.

We have been very pleased at the level of interest that the new Oracle Policy Cloud Service is generating, including a recent report, “Oracle offers Change “On the Fly” for Human Services Policies” by Adelaide O’Brien of IDC Government Insights. We’re looking forward to discussing this new solution with you at this week's Oracle OpenWorld conference, and at numerous other conferences and events. 



Welcome to the OPA blog where Oracle's Policy Automation experts share their views on everything OPA.


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