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. 

Peter

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