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OPA General

Deep and meaningful. How far do your chat(-bot)s go?

In Has AI made OPA obsolete? Nope! I explained how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Oracle Policy Automation complement each other. In this post we explore this further with an overview of how integrating OPA with a chatbot that uses AI Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques can provide intuitive and rich experiences to your customers. First of all, if you haven’t already, check out Oracle Digital Assistant (formerly Oracle Intelligent Bots). Integrated with Oracle Autonomous Mobile Cloud (AMC), Oracle Digital Assistant makes it easy to set up a chat bot that can recognize customer intent - i.e. what they are trying to do – and provide a chat-based service that performs that action. For example, to automatically start a product return when a customer types in a chat phrase like “my toaster is broken”. Oracle Digital Assistant’s AI engine leverages NLP to provide the chatbot’s intent recognition and dialog handling, and to improve both of them, over time. Oracle Digital Assistant also allows custom components to be integrated into the dialog flow – and this allows OPA and AI-driven chat interactions to work together. Example Let’s take the example of a chat service that allows customers to start a new car insurance policy: A business expert uses OPA to write all the rules about car insurance eligibility and premium calculations. They also define the order in which questions (if they are relevant) should be asked. They deploy this policy model to OPA Cloud. The business analyst responsible for the chat channel creates an Oracle Digital Assistant intent for “New automobile policy”. This intent is associated with the OPA policy model, and configured to launch a custom component integration with OPA. Once this intent is live, when a customer types in a chat phrase like “I want to know how much your car insurance costs”, the Oracle Digital Assistant NLP engine matches to the “start new automobile policy” intent and launches an OPA session. Oracle Digital Assistant Dialog Flow brokers all interaction with OPA: it presents the text and questions that OPA decides are needed next onto the customer’s chat channel. As well as presenting questions like “What make is the car?”, it can also let them know how far there is to go, with text like “I just need to ask a few more questions” During this process, answers provided by the customer are submitted back to OPA, for it to decide what to say or ask next. The logic embedded within the OPA rules ensures only the necessary questions are asked, and any unnecessary questions are automatically skipped. For example, if the customer says they have not had an accident in the past 12 months, OPA would skip “I have a few extra questions about your last car insurance claim”, and the related questions. At the end of the OPA advice session, the customer is provided with a car insurance quote, and can even start the insurance policy – all without needing to engage with a live person. OPA has applied all the rules, saved all the collected data back to the customer database along with an audit trail of how the premium was calculated, and with generated documents to email to the customer as needed. Diagram of chat interaction with Oracle Digital Assistant brokering OPA sessions   During this interaction, Oracle Digital Assistant can make use of NLP to Convert terms and phrases such as “today” and “the day after tomorrow” into actual dates that are understood by OPA Launch other intents when appropriate. For example, if the customer asks “what is my current home contents policy deductible”? it can temporarily branch out to a separate dialog that answers that question, before returning to the car insurance OPA session flow. Hand off to another channel. For example, if the customer asks “can I talk to a real person”, the entire OPA session can be brought up in front of a live contact center agent, and they can help the customer finish the process that they have partially completed. What is possible today? To see an example of OPA and Oracle Digital Assistant in action together, check out the OPA Interview Bot on Facebook. Just click on Send Message, and type in “hi” to get started. There are different examples to play around with, from checking diabetes risk to exploring eligibility for government benefits, and many more. OPA interview bot uses the OPA Determinations API Interview Service to manage the OPA session state behind the scenes, while Oracle Digital Assistant provides the intent matching and ability to convert certain natural language phrases into data that OPA can understand. Note that this integration requires custom development work. It is not provided out of the box with either Oracle Policy Automation Cloud or Oracle Autonomous Mobile Cloud Enterprise. If you are interested in exploring the possibilities, contact your local Oracle sales office. Conclusion In combination with Oracle Digital Assistant’s NLP capabilities, an OPA-driven chat experience can deliver comprehensive and easily maintainable advice. Because OPA rules are written in plain language (English, French, Chinese, Spanish etc.), they are easy to share and review with other legal and policy experts, and lend themselves to easily and automatically delivering a chat style interactive experience. Oracle has plans to make it even easier to use Oracle Policy Automation to deliver comprehensive advice through chatbot experiences.   Credits: Thanks to Andrew Higginbottom for developing OPA Interview Bot. Title image: Rawpixel via Unsplash

In Has AI made OPA obsolete? Nope! I explained how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Oracle Policy Automation complement each other. In this post we explore this further with an overview of how...

OPA Releases

GA Release for OPA 18C (12.2.12)

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) team is pleased to announce that OPA Release 18C (12.2.12) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. Automate connections to other applications There are three new REST services that can be used by system integrators to completely automate the process of moving projects through the policy deployment lifecycle. These REST APIs are: Connections REST API - automates the creation and management of connections for any Policy Automation Hub environment to any application’s OPA web service connector endpoint. The connection settings configure properties such as service versions, URLs and authentication settings. CORS Whitelist REST API - automates the creation, management, and deletion of Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) whitelists, and integrating those steps with other authorization actions, if needed SSL Certificates REST API - automates the management of any custom root certificates that are needed to ensure secure connections are recognized for OPA web service connections For further details, see the REST API for Oracle Policy Automation 18C. Personalize the interview for the end user’s language A new locale function has been added which allows policy modelers to write rules and change interview behavior based on the user’s locale. This enables intuitive experiences in every language by providing images, policy material and site redirection that can be different per language. It also simplifies maintenance by having conditional logic that knows the interaction language for the user experience. In addition, language aware list sorting is now available which ensures that translated lists of values appear in alphabetical order in the end user's language. Other enhancements More to-one relationship collect control options Interview designers can now provide a filtered drop down list or text buttons to select a product, or to make a selection from any other set of related objects in the application data model. This feature is beneficial for large data sets where filtering the entities is essential for efficient data entry. OPA interview extensions can be used for more advanced configuration. Specify year ranges relative to current year Interview designers can now specify year ranges for multi-input date and datetime controls relative to the current year. Relative years are useful where the date range should be kept in synchronization with the current year and removes the need to update the control each new calendar year. A mixture of fixed and relative dates can be used. Create snapshot in command-line build tool It is now possible to build deployable snapshots using the Oracle Policy Modeling command-line build tool (OPMBuild.exe). This enables the automation of the delivery lifecycle for changing policies. PDF form field font support TrueType fonts are now supported in form fields in a PDF form template. (Previously, fonts used for form fields would only be embedded in the output PDF document if the font was a BI Publisher predefined font.) This improvement means that there will be a more consistent text appearance between the PDF form template and the generated PDF form. Separately deploy interview service from other web services There are now two separate deployment options for web services: Interview service - for deployments to the interview service, and Assess services - for deployments to all other services (assess service, batch assess service and answer service). This distinction enables the prevention of interview service deployment for projects that contain incompatible features. Note that when a site is upgraded for the 18C release, any projects that are currently deployed to web service will be deployed to both assess services and interview service. Want to start using the 18C release? Public cloud: You can upgrade your testing sites at any time via Oracle Cloud Portal Service Cloud Configuration Assistant. All sites will be automatically upgraded according to the published schedule. Private cloud (on-premises): Download from Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and Oracle® Software Delivery Cloud. Want further information? A summary presentation of the key features and benefits in this release can also be found on OTN.

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) team is pleased to announce that OPA Release 18C (12.2.12) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. Automate connections to other applications Ther...

OPA News and Announcements

OPA @ #OOW18

With Oracle OpenWorld 2018 just around the corner we thought we would let you know which sessions to check out for OPA. Both of these sessions are showcasing key OPA customers who are doing incredible things!   Oracle Policy Automation: Changing the Sales and Services Landscape [CAS2349] With the ever-evolving technology and business landscape, Westpac needed to deliver a seamless, cross-channel, consistent customer experience. Westpac faced challenges such as constantly changing legislative requirements, multiple conversation models based on customer/product/brands, tight timelines, lack of agility, and expensive roll-out. In this session learn how Oracle Policy Automation proved the needed solution that caters to complex rules, policies, and regulatory compliance requirements in real time with an intuitive user interface. These pain points were addressed by integrating Oracle Policy Automation with CRMs such as Oracle’s Siebel and PeopleSoft, and other back-end applications, consolidating conversations and making them brand agnostic.   Intelligent Cloud Applications: Cloud: CX Service, Other Cloud Platform (PaaS): Cloud Platform (PaaS) Real Customers, Real Stories: See Featured Customers Sessions By Topic: Legacy Application Upgrades and New Features Session Type: Customer Case Study Session   SPEAKERS Aaron Webb, Application Services Manager CRM, Westpac Ashish Goyal, Principal Consultant, Infosys Australia   Using Oracle Cloud Applications to Augment On-Premises Applications [CAS3942] Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) was challenged to provide knowledge and policy direction to call center agents from disparate knowledge sources. LAO needed to consolidate its know-how into a single repository and use information from Oracle’s PeopleSoft case management support guides and other platforms to automate the search for relevant knowledge. LAO chose Oracle Service Cloud and Oracle Policy Automation. This provided consistent answers and policy guidance to internal and external constituents with multichannel capabilities. Oracle Policy Automation provides the ability to standardize policy decisions and eligibility, and provide an audit trail of decisions and what-if analysis. In this session learn about the challenges and benefits of this solution.   Intelligent Cloud Applications: Cloud: CX Service, Cloud: CX Suite, On Premises: PeopleSoft, Industries: Public Sector Real Customers, Real Stories: See Featured Customers Manage Cloud Transformation: Building: Extend Data and Applications Session Type: Customer Case Study Session   SPEAKERS Karl Martineau, CIO, Legal Aid Ontario   NOTE: speakers may change   More information and registration here.  

With Oracle OpenWorld 2018 just around the corner we thought we would let you know which sessions to check out for OPA. Both of these sessions are showcasing key OPA customers who are...

OPA General

Your Customer Engagement Center Needs More Than Just Traditional CRM

Once upon a time, assisted service ruled the world. Customers with questions called the contact center where customer service representatives relied on CRM systems and personal experience to solve the customer’s problem. Oh how things have changed! Today’s customers have an unbridled desire for self-service across almost every industry. This is coupled with an increasing demand for ease. Consumers want to solve their problems by pressing a button. The challenge for an Engagement Center is that while customers want things easier, service requests are becoming more complex. Tried-and-true CRM systems, the mainstay of customer service for the past 30 years, no longer meet the needs of today’s organizations. The state-of-the-art Engagement Center is now a sophisticated network of highly complementary applications, designed to assist in answering even the most complex support request, regardless of what channel it arrives on. Agents change their role on a whim, from service agent, to sales rep, to consultant. All have the goal of delivering one consistent and unique customer experience. Once again, Oracle is a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center. For decades, Oracle’s core engagement center technology has been a mainstay of the CX software industry. However, as I mentioned before, to meet the expectations of today’s customers, organizations need more than just easy access to accurate customer records and workflows. Delivering an unforgettable customer experience that differentiates a brand requires investment beyond the fundamentals. In addition to Oracle’s Engagement Center products, our team continually invests in complementary toolsets designed to keep our customers on the bleeding edge. These investments include the development of scalable Knowledge Management Systems that provide customers and agents access to easily searchable answers. Oracle offers one-of-a-kind Smart Advice Systems, like Oracle Policy Automation, to assist in the most complex tasks. Our mobile and web self-service platform can scale to support millions of sessions per month, and our co-browse functionality is an option to deliver white-glove experiences. Finally, our solution includes industry leading tools, such as Oracle Field Service Cloud, that extend service beyond an organization’s walls directly to the customer site. Many of these offerings are critical to delivering a complete service experience in today’s digital era. Today’s empowered consumers expect that if they interact with your brand–through service, sales, marketing, commerce, or field service channels–that they will have a consistent experience. As a result, all systems throughout the customer journey must integrate seamlessly. Oracle Service Cloud is one piece of that integrated, customer experience. We hope you find Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center  enlightening. And whether you are starting on a journey to modernize your engagement center, or shoring up a well-oiled machine, keep in mind how your needs may extend beyond core CRM offerings. Oracle Service Cloud and the broader Oracle CX Suite will put these tools at your fingertips, helping you differentiate your brand with exceptional customer experiences. Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center, Michael Maoz, Brian Manusama, 16 May 2018. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Once upon a time, assisted service ruled the world. Customers with questions called the contact center where customer service representatives relied on CRM systems and personal experience to solve the...

OPA Releases

GA Release for OPA 18B (12.2.11)

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) team is pleased to announce that OPA Release 18B (12.2.11) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. Integration Cloud Service OPA assessment adapter The Integration Cloud Service OPA adapter allows Oracle Policy Automation assessments to be invoked at any point in an Integration Cloud Service (ICS) brokered process. This enables decision logic to be easily incorporated into any application workflow, while centrally maintaining the rules in a transparent, central, and auditable fashion. By using ICS ability to connect to anything, multiple applications can be loaded and saved without the need to build a custom connector. Embeddable JavaScript Models Embeddable JavaScript Models enable you to obtain a distributable JavaScript package for any deployed policy model, that combines the OPA engine with an embedded copy of the rules. Licensing is by deployment for distribution to any number of Internet of things devices, mobile app HTML pages, and more. Assessments can be performed on the device via the documented API, even without an Policy Automation Hub or internet connection. This feature provides the benefit of maintaining and deploying the same business logic across multiple online and offline assessment scenarios. It is a cost effective way of licensing for widespread distribution on Internet of things devices and for ultra-high-volume micro-calculations in browser-based interfaces. Inline Customer Portal interview widget Latest Version interviews can now be displayed inline in Customer Portal, without using an iframe, by using OPA widget version 1.3. This widget enables Customer Portal developers to control the exact look and feel of each OPA interview, without styles accidentally bleeding through from the Customer Portal style sheet. By not using an iframe, OPA interviews can also be resized to the available screen real estate. Session-based REST API licensing The Batch Assess REST API can now be called if you are licensed for Oracle RightNow Universal Policy Automation Tier 3 sessions, even if you are not also licensed for Oracle Policy Automation Enterprise Assessment API. One assessment can be passed at a time, and one session for each assessment will be billed. As each call can only consume a single assessment, you can avoid unexpected session usage. Both the SOAP APIs and REST APIs are available and billed the same way allowing you to use the API that is most convenient. Other enhancements Cookie-less interviews OPA embedded interviews no longer require browser cookies. This means that browser security settings can no longer stop interviews from working. In particular, this means that many Safari versions are fully supported that previously were not. An OPA interview from any OPA site can be embedded even when the OPA site hostname differs from the parent site. (Cross-origin resource sharing still applies.) New inline interview API version There is improved upgrade safety for embeddable interviews. The new API is OraclePolicyAutomationInterview and it uses the same methods as before (StartInterview, ResumeInterview, BatchStartOrResume). This new API version enforces all interview element styles. That is, styles won’t inherit from the parent stylesheet, and interview extensions can be used to modify interview appearance. The behavior of the OraclePolicyAutomationEmbedded API is unchanged but that API is now deprecated and developers should move to using the new OraclePolicyAutomationInterview as soon as feasible. Support for relationship control interview extensions Interview designers can now provide custom selection experiences for users to choose related items. Relationship types (OneToOne, OneToMany, ManyToOne, ManyToMany) are now available data types for interview control extensions (using the getDataType() method). The options list for relationships consists of the identifier and label of each related entity instance (returned using the getOptions() method). Want to start using the 18B release? Public cloud: You can upgrade your testing sites at any time via Oracle Cloud Portal Service Cloud Configuration Assistant. All sites will be automatically upgraded according to the published schedule. Private cloud (on-premises): Download from Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and Oracle® Software Delivery Cloud. Want further information? A summary presentation of the key features and benefits in this release can also be found on OTN.

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) team is pleased to announce that OPA Release 18B (12.2.11) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. Integration Cloud Service OPA assessment...

OPA Technical

Much ado about testing OPA interviews

OPA interviews are designed to be: Easy to develop, and Easy to maintain OPA includes built-in automated testing capabilities for ensuring your rules deliver expected results with every iteration. Nevertheless, for extra guarantees of consistent behaviour between versions, some customers choose to build automated test cases for OPA interviews. This can be particularly helpful if you have added JavaScript interview extensions or custom controls to your OPA interviews, and want to make sure the developers of those controls don’t introduce regressions in between releases. Before you go down this path, the first question you should ask yourself is: Does my team have the skills needed to do test automation? OPA includes comprehensive tools for testing the rules that sit behind an interview, and these don’t require any particular testing expertise to use. But web UI testing frameworks like Selenium require strong scripting and HTML knowledge. You should be sure you will have the ongoing skills in your team to design, develop and maintain that test suite. Most large organizations already have strong quality assurance teams in place. They are the first people you should talk to before you go any further down the path of trying to automate interview testing yourself. OK, so if you’re still reading, then either you don’t have an in-house team, or they’ve told you they are too busy and you need to work it out on your own. Keep in mind that test automation is a skill that takes time to learn properly.  There are some good tutorials on the web for Selenium, which is a tool Oracle uses for testing our products between versions. The basic steps to follow are: Define the OPA interview that you want to test Identify the test cases you want to automate Build your Selenium test cases Automate the process of deploying new OPA versions Automate the process of running the test cases against each OPA interview version This is a pretty standard approach to continuous integration and delivery. There are a few considerations to keep in mind when building Selenium test cases for OPA interviews: It will be easier to build the tests if you have something that makes it easy for the test script to identify each control on the interview screen – for example, the question text associated to the control Control on OPA interview screen: Selenium test script snippet: questionText = “What is the household’s location”; webDriver.findElement(By.xpath("//label[contains(text(), \"" + questionText + "\")]")); Similarly, if your team has designed interview extensions, you can put in custom CSS classes to make it easy for the test scripts to find them, too Interview extension JavaScript snippet: OraclePolicyAutomation.AddExtension({ style: { nextButton: { className: "custom-next-button" } } }); CSS snippet: nextButton: { className: "custom-next-button" } Selenium test script snippet: webDriver.findElement( By.className("custom-next-button")).click(); In summary – OPA interview test automation can be a useful addition to ensuring high quality advice over time when using OPA, particularly when using custom developed JavaScript interview extensions. But make sure you have the skills you need to develop and maintain them before you get started down this path.     Title photo credit: Mari Lezhava via Unsplash

OPA interviews are designed to be: Easy to develop, and Easy to maintain OPA includes built-in automated testing capabilities for ensuring your rules deliver expected results with every iteration. Neverth...

OPA General

Has AI made OPA obsolete? Nope!

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere these days. Many Oracle customers are exploring AI, and some of them ask me “If I have AI do I still need Oracle Policy Automation?” The short answer is that OPA and AI both provide enormous value to any organization, but are very different and, in some cases, complementary. Simply put: AI learns from data to create models that can decide the best action to take. AI is not about hard and fast rules. It is about recognizing and classifying patterns of input into particular types of response.   OPA makes predictable decisions based on clearly defined rules it is provided with. It will never change its decision and can always explain how each decision was reached. Let’s look at a couple of examples. If you ask a Toyota salesperson whether leather seat protectors or insurance are most likely to be purchased by someone buying a Prius, you’ll get an answer based on their own experience. An AI system can be trained using data from Toyota dealers all around the country, and can result in much more consistent upsell success. That AI system can also be updated in real time as more data comes in. While OPA can be used to define upsell rules, if you want those rules to change, you will need to change them in OPA. OPA won’t automatically learn which product combinations are most likely to lead to more sales. OPA can, however, tell you exactly what sales bonus the salesperson should get, and what insurance products the customer is eligible for, and why. Or consider HR policies your company has around study leave. You can use OPA to describe those rules and provide a self-service advice tool to all your staff to understand exactly how and why the policies apply to them. An AI system would need to be trained based on the advice given to employees in different situations, and would then need to be retrained whenever the policies change. It would only be as good as the data provided to it: if the training data contained incorrect or incomplete advice, the system would too. Choosing the Right Tool AI requires data science expertise to identify the data and machine learning techniques needed to meet a particular business challenge. To simplify things for our customers, Oracle provides Adaptive Intelligent Applications. These are pre-built for specific business needs such as responding to supply chain demand, finding best fit job candidates, and determining next best sales offers. They don’t require customers to have data science experts to create and maintain them. As the name suggests, they do a great job of using lots of data to provide high quality, adaptive decision making for specific scenarios within Oracle’s SaaS applications. By contrast, OPA is designed to be easy for non-technical business users to apply to any domain. Perhaps you need to make sure your field inspectors always follow particular steps when conducting inspections or repairs of a particular type of medical equipment.  Describe those rules in OPA’s natural-language rule format, then provide an app to your technicians that walk them through exactly the required steps every time. Examples of other questions that are a better fit for OPA than for AI include: If I am the sole wage earner in a family with 3 children, and one of them is deaf, how much money can I earn before I will no longer be eligible for the family tax benefit payment? A customer in Ireland is opening a new multi-currency bank account. What due diligence actions must I perform to comply with US and International anti-money-laundering laws? The Bluetooth connection in a customer’s car has stopped working, but it’s been out of warranty for 6 months. Will we still pay something towards the repair cost? How much tax must I pay on my salary, with deductions? These are black and white questions. For reasons of fairness and compliance, they require consistent and accurate decisions that don’t change over time unless there is a specific need to do so. OPA is really good at helping you answer them quickly and easily in your customer service and inward-facing business processes. Transparency OPA makes it easy for business analysts, lawyers, policy experts and any other subject matter experts to review, understand and update decision making rules. The end result is a transparent system that can comprehensively explain every decision that it makes, based on the inputs it was provided with. For these fixed decisions, this is crucial for auditing and compliance purposes. By contrast, the internal workings of an AI algorithm are generally opaque. Like the human brain on which they are modelled, machine learning systems can’t easily provide a human-readable explanation for why it reached the decisions it did. A particular brand of lipstick may be recommended for a shopper at checkout based on what is in their cart, but is it also because of who is in their social network, their age, or the time of year? It is likely a complex combination of all these things and more. Summary The following table summarizes the key differences between AI and OPA.   Artificial Intelligence Oracle Policy Automation Learns from data Yes No CAN Adapt in Realtime Yes No Expertise Needed to Apply to New Domains Data scientists and Domain experts Business policy experts only Pre-defined Solutions for Specific domains Yes No Transparent Logic No Yes Always Consistent No Yes Explains EVERY Decision No Yes What About Using OPA and AI Together? Hopefully, this has helped explain the key differences between AI and OPA, and why they are both useful to your business. In the next blog post in this series, we will talk more about some of the ways in which OPA and AI can complement one another. To whet your appetite, here are a few ideas: Using machine learning models to detect unusual data entry patterns in OPA interviews Embedding OPA decision making within an NLP-based virtual assistant Using AI to optimize the policies that OPA is enforcing Until next time. Davin Fifield VP Oracle Policy Automation Product Development   Next Post: Deep and Meaningful. How far do you chat(-bot)s go?    For More Information: Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps Oracle Policy Automation

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere these days. Many Oracle customers are exploring AI, and some of them ask me “If I have AI do I still need Oracle Policy Automation?” The short answer is that OPA...

OPA General

How do you codify “gut feel”?

This question was asked of me last week by Dan, one of our Account Directors. Dan is a guy who knows Oracle Policy Automation well, he’s seen how OPA allows you to take policy or legislation, turn it into readable business rules that are automatically parsed and accurately applied to a user’s circumstances. Specifically, OPA rules are typically directly attributable to the source legislation and policy.  OPA rules are typically directly attributable to the source legislation and policy But what happens when part of making that decision, perhaps a single criterion, is open to interpretation, relying on the decision makers own intuition to apply it to an individual’s circumstances? In the absence of legal or policy guidance (which are easily added into Policy Automation rules), experienced decision makers will often have an innate feeling as to whether the person does or does not satisfy a requirement. The problem is with each decision maker relying on their own perception and subconscious biases to make these judgement calls, you can get different results from different decision makers. Aside from the legal challenges this exposes you to, 41% of customers state different decision makers providing different answers is their biggest pain point when dealing with customer service centers. But how, as Dan put it, “do you codify gut feel”? The premise is simple: once decision makers have been in the job for a while, they start to see patterns in behaviour, and additional information, that helps them to better decide how a criterion should be applied. If we can somehow capture this experience in rules we can gain more consistent decision making. Let’s take an example. Many years ago I worked with a government agency who provided social services payments to people in need. Many of these payments required an applicant to be “habitually resident” in the country. There was some general guidance on how to apply this to applicants who spent the majority of their time in the country or who were serving overseas on military service, but borderline cases were typically left up to the decision maker to look at the evidence provided and make a decision. Asking a room of 8 decision makers, they were all quite comfortable that this seemingly discretionary decision was being made consistently within their department. No cause for concern here. So… I asked… How do you decide if someone is “habitually resident”? The general consensus was that it’s usually pretty obvious – they got a clear feeling of whether or not this criterion is satisfied… but how? What factors do they consider to reach this ‘feeling’? Decision maker A was the first to answer: “I just look at where they work and where their kids go to school” Decision maker B added: “I tend to look at where they have purchased property and where their mail is sent” Decision maker C added: “Yes and activity on their bank accounts is a good indicator” Decision maker D added: “We received a memo last year recommending that we consider where they and their immediate family spend most of their time”. Decision maker E added: “If they have joined clubs or other organizations that shows active community involvement, that’s a good sign” At this point there began to be a few murmurs in the room: “Surely, you have to consider where their kids go to school?” “You mean you don’t look at where they work?”, “No”. Each decision maker made the decision slightly differently As we discovered, each decision maker made that decision slightly differently, and they were not comfortable with the inconsistency of factors considered. It became clear to all of us that the same applicant could have very different outcomes depending on whose desk their application form had the fortune of landing on. A couple of hours of debate ensued. As they talked, we captured their thoughts and the level of weight to apply to each factor in OPA rules on a screen at the front of the room. By the end of the day, we had a set of rules that they were comfortable with as a starting point. They chose to leave the final decision up to the decision maker, but now they were applying due diligence by using OPA to ensure that the minimum required evidence had been considered and that each aspect of evidence had been properly weighted by the decision maker. OPA would also provide guidance on the recommended outcome where the evidence pointed overwhelmingly towards a particular result, and record where the decision maker deviated from that recommendation. Which we all had a much better ‘feeling’ about.   Want to see the end result? This post explores how to model discretion with a similar example: Allowing discretion in OPA rules.

This question was asked of me last week by Dan, one of our Account Directors. Dan is a guy who knows Oracle Policy Automation well, he’s seen how OPA allows you to take policy or legislation, turn it...

OPA News and Announcements

Reimagining what’s possible with Service

with Harriet Franklin, Senior Principal Product Manager, OPA   For those able to attend Modern Customer Experience in Chicago (April 10 -12th), we have a fantastic line-up of sessions that will highlight customers using Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) to reimagine customer, citizen and agent experiences.  Learn from customers in all industries as they share their success and talk about how they made self-service improvements, provided personalized service and answered all the difficult questions with accurate advice tailored to the individual.   This year, the sessions are:   Mr Consistency: Getting the hard stuff right across your CX stack [BRK1493] Thursday April 12, 10:45-11:30am | W192a – Level 1 West Building (McCormick Place) Speakers: Patrick Jarjoura, Deputy Head of IT, CNAF Davin Fifield, Vice President Oracle Policy Automation   You are not me: Why giving accurate advice is hard and how to make it easier [BRK 1458] Wednesday April 11, 5:15pm-6pm | W192b – Level 1 West Building (McCormick Place) Speakers: Rodel Simpauco, Sr. Manager Information Technology, Dexcom Mike Morris, Oracle Service Cloud Developer, Dexcom Davin Fifield, Vice President Oracle Policy Automation Harriet Franklin, Senior Principal Product Manager Oracle Policy Automation   Re-imagining what’s possible with Self-Service – Customer Panel [BRK1495] Wednesday April 11, 4:15pm-5pm | W190 – Level 1 West Building (McCormick Place) Speakers: Rafayel Ambartsumyan, Sr. Director of Customer Experience, Beachbody Mike Hill, Beachbody Harriet Franklin, Senior Principal Product Manager Oracle Policy Automation   We also have two pre-conference sessions where you can get hands-on learning about OPA by building your own interactive advice. These workshops are:   Hands-On Workshop Part I: Why giving advice is hard and how to make it easier [EDU1530] Tuesday, Apr 10, 09:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. | W194a - Level 1 West Building (McCormick Place) Speakers: Davin Fifield, Vice President Oracle Policy Automation Harriet Franklin, Senior Principal Product Manager Oracle Policy Automation Stephen Estes, Oracle Consultant and Oracle Policy Automation Guru   Hands-On Workshop Part II: Why giving advice is hard and how to make it easier [EDU1530] Tuesday, Apr 10, 12:00 p.m. - 01:30 p.m. | W194a - Level 1 West Building (McCormick Place) Speakers: Davin Fifield, Vice President Oracle Policy Automation Harriet Franklin, Senior Principal Product Manager Oracle Policy Automation Stephen Estes, Oracle Consultant and Oracle Policy Automation Guru   You are welcome to attend either, or both! No prior experience, or technical knowledge required.   Full session catalog and registration available here. Looking forward to seeing you there.    

with Harriet Franklin, Senior Principal Product Manager, OPA   For those able to attend Modern Customer Experience in Chicago (April 10 -12th), we have a fantastic line-up of sessions that will...

OPA Modeling

Tips and Tips 4: Creating meaningful documents

This month I thought I’d focus on one of the unsung heroes of Policy Automation: Forms. Oracle Policy Automation includes a limited use licence for Oracle BI Publisher which allows you to generate some really powerful documents, called Forms, from your interactive interview for free. Choose your template Template format Forms can be authored in PDF or RTF. Typically, you would start with the format that most closely aligns with any existing business documents, however some features, such as signatures, are supported differently in RTF templates and PDF templates, so check the template editing documentation for RTF and PDF to check it’s going to cover what you need. Output format The output format (PDF, RTF, HTML, Excel or XML) is selected separately from the input format. Consider whether the document needs to be editable and any compliance requirements to guide your decision here. RTFs will also not meet tight accessibility standards if they are used to generate PDF documents. Choose your language OPA interviews can be authored in one language and displayed in any language, even allowing the end user to flip languages on a screen-by-screen basis. Similarly, forms can also be made available in multiple languages by creating a folder for each supported locale in the project’s FormTemplates folder.  Don’t forget your agents Typically when customers think of generating forms they will think of providing a pre-filled application form, return label or other document for use by the end user. What they forget is that you can also generate documents such as decision summaries, draft emails, and customer letters to attach to the customer record at the back end to speed up any later processing by in-house agents and to automatically tick off those compliance requirements. These agent documents can be generated as a result of an interactive customer interview but need never be seen by the customer themselves. Simply create the templates as usual and add them to the Submit button to generate them at the back-end rather than displaying them on screen to the interview user. PRO TIP: Use substitution in the document name to ensure the agent can quickly and easily find the document they need. SUPER-PRO TIP: When creating child entities, such as incidents, tasks or messages at the end of the interview, attach the form to the appropriate follow-up task (“send the customer a letter”) and use an entity level attribute to ensure it only attaches to the specific record requiring the document (for example, the decision letter should be attached to the task if the task = "send the customer a letter"). To test agent-only documents, click on the Details button in the Policy Modeling Debugger for any screen with the Submit (save) action to see the documents attached on submit. Where to begin Aside from the online documentation, the Healthy Eating example project supplied with Oracle Policy Modeling contains some great form templates you can use as inspiration or as a basis for your own.     Previous: Tips and Tricks 3: Using the Rule Assistant  

This month I thought I’d focus on one of the unsung heroes of Policy Automation: Forms. Oracle Policy Automation includes a limited use licence for Oracle BI Publisher which allows you to generate some...

OPA General

When is an online banking calculator not an online banking calculator?

Answer: When it poaches your customers.    I needed to know a fairly simple thing last week – if I want to borrow a little more money, or extend my existing loan, how much will my repayments be?  After a lot of searching on my bank’s website, authenticated user site and mobile app (yes, I was keen!), I gave up looking for the answer. Maybe I’m spoiled but it’s so easy to make self-service calculators these days I just assumed my bank had one. Anyway, a quick Google search did the trick and I was offered a number of online calculators by competitor banks in my region (thanks Google). Unsurprisingly, they were exactly what I wanted, calculating loan options and repayments. Of course they were also tailored to the competitor bank’s own loan products. Now I’ll admit I’m in the roughly 80% of customers who are happy with their bank. But even so, I was tempted. The calculators provided me with various loan options, interest rate options and repayment choices. If one of the competitor bank’s business experts had been using Oracle Policy Automation to create those online calculators it would have been very easy for them to also recommend a product, guide me to an agent or provide me with instant preliminary approval so I could (shock! horror!) immediately sign myself up as their customer.  Lucky for my current bank, they didn’t.                 For more information on how Oracle Policy Automation could streamline your retail banking experience see https://www.oracle.com/us/industries/insurance/opa-for-financial-services-1900948.pdf

Answer: When it poaches your customers.    I needed to know a fairly simple thing last week – if I want to borrow a little more money, or extend my existing loan, how much will my repayments be?  After...

OPA Releases

GA release of OPA 18A (12.2.10)

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) team is pleased to announce that OPA Release 18A (12.2.10) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. This release we have focused on enhancements.  The three key enhancements are: Interview modeling enhancements Populate lists from rules: Interview designers can now pull in the constant values used in the rules when creating screens. This speeds up screen authoring by alleviating the need to manually retype all of those values. Hub enhancements Be warned about use of old API versions: Warnings will now be displayed in Policy Automation Hub on deployments that have used an API in the last 30 days that is due to be deleted sometime in the next 6 months. These warnings are provided so that system integrators can plan to move to a later version before the affected service is removed. Details of when the different service versions will no longer be supported can be found in the OPA documentation.      Manage API clients programmatically: Policy Automation Hub Administrators can now automate the lifecycle of end-to-end integration credentials. The OPA Hub REST API supports the management (create, view, update and delete operations) of three user types: regular users, local API client users and IDCS API client users.   Want to start using the 18A release? Public cloud: You can upgrade your testing sites at any time via Oracle Cloud Portal Service Cloud Configuration Assistant. All sites will be automatically upgraded according to the published schedule. Private cloud (on-premises): Download from Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and Oracle® Software Delivery Cloud. The latest OPA Mobile application is available in Google Play and Apple App Store.   Want further information? A summary presentation of the key features and benefits in this release can also be found on OTN.   But wait .. there's more! We have pushed many of the key issues resolved in 18A into a maintenance release for OPA 17D (12.2.9). Public cloud: Production sites using OPA 17D will have this patch applied over the weekend of February 17-18. Private cloud (on-premises): Download from Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and Oracle® Software Delivery Cloud.

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) team is pleased to announce that OPA Release 18A (12.2.10) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. This release we have focused on enhancements. ...

OPA Technical

OPA OIC Adapter - Early Access

Please note the the OPA OIC Adapter is now public (from v18.2.3) and the custom adapter detailed below will no longer work but the public adapter should be used. The OPA Adapter requires the OIC product stream and will not work with old ICS legacy environments.   In this article we will demonstrate an early release of the Oracle Policy Automation adapter for Oracle's Integration Cloud Service, using it to integrate Service Cloud and OPA Determinations via an ICS Integration. The aim is get the OPA ICS adapter included as a standard adapter in ICS but at the moment the adapter is custom and needs to be registered.  We are aiming for April for a release where the OPA adapter is included with ICS as a standard adapter. The example uses the event of an Incident being updated in Service Cloud to trigger a call to ICS, the data from the updated Incident is then mapped into a Assess call to the Travel Compensation policy model, determining how much compensation a passenger might be eligible for due to a cancelled flight.  The amount of compensation is then used to update the Incident. Setting up the ICS Connections There are two Connections required one to Service Cloud and the other to OPA. Creating the OPA Connection First register the adapter in ICS Download the OPA ICS adapter here Goto Adapters in ICS Click Register Navigate to the downloaded jar and then click register Create a new Connection in ICS Select the Oracle Policy Automation 12.2.9 adapter In the Pop-up dialogue give the Connection a suitable name, e.g. OPA REST to gseopa00097 Click Configure Connectivity to add the Hub URL, then click Ok Click Configure Security choosing  either No Authentication or OAUTH If you choose No Authentication ensure you allow Anonymous Access in your OPA Hub If you choose OAUTH authentication add an API User e.g.ICSUser noting Client Identifier and Client Secret  ​ 6. The access token URI will be at https://server/determinations-server/batch/auth    7. Finally ensure you Test and Save to get the Connection status to 100% Note: If you use OAUTH authentication you will need to come back to Connections and click Test every 30 minutes to refresh the OAUTH token when you start testing your Integration.  This is a limitation with the custom adapter and will be resolved in the first production release. Creating the Service Cloud Connection You need to ensure that Service Cloud is set up for Event Notification Service,  this configuration was copied from an A Team Blog In order to receive event notifications the following steps have to be completed in the Rightnow Agent Desktop.  In the Agent Desktop go to Configuration -> Site Configuration-> Configuration Settings. In the Search page that comes up, in the ‘Configuration Base’ section select ‘Site’ and click Search. In the ‘Key’ field enter ‘EVENT%’ and click Search. Set the following keys: EVENT_NOTIFICATION_ENABLED – Set it to ‘Yes’ for the Site. This is the global setting that enables ENS. EVENT_NOTIFICATION_MAPI_USERNAME – Enter a valid Service Cloud username. EVENT_NOTIFICATION_MAPI_PASSWORD – Enter the corresponding password. EVENT_NOTIFICATION_MAPI_SEC_IP_RANGE – This can be used for specifying whitelisted subscriber IP Addresses. All IPs are accepted if kept blank. EVENT_NOTIFICATION_SUBSCRIBER_USERNAME– SUBSCRIBER_USERNAME should be the ICS account’s username EVENT_NOTIFICATION_SUBSCRIBER_PASSWORD –ICS password.     ​ 4 Create a new Connection in ICS      a) Call the Connection Service Cloud Incidents 5 Use the following form for the Connectivity https://rnowgse00856.rightnowdemo.com/cgi-bin/rnowgse00856.cfg/services/soap?wsdl=typed 6 Enter valid username and password 7 Save and Test   Set up the policy model  Download the attached Travel Compensation Policy Model - it has had the required public names added to allow mapping in the Integration Deploy this to your OPA Hub Login into the Hub and ensure Deployment is activated for Web Services Creating the ICS Integration Create a new Integration Choose Data Map option In the pop-up dialogue give the Integration a suitable name In the Connections search box type Service Cloud to find your previously created Connection Drag the Connection Icon over the 'Drag and Drop a Trigger' marker on the canvas In the Service Cloud Connection wizard  i) Give the endpoint a suitable name e.g. WaitForIncidentUpdate ii) Enter a suitable description e.g waits for an update of an Incident in Service Cloud iii) Click Next iv) Choose  Event Subscription v) and Incident Update   Click Next Choose Operation Type = Update Select the Incident  Business Object   Click Next and then Done Change the search in the Connection's search to OPA REST  Drag the OPA Rest * Connection on to the 'Drag and Drop an Invoke' marker on the canvas Give the Endpoint a suitable name Select Travel Compensation from the list of Policy Models    You should now see the following Integration - you will need to add mappings to complete   Adding the mappings to the Integration The most fiddly part of setting up the Integration is the mapping so I have provided the completed Integration here.  To use import and then View the Integration to be able to check the mappings. Click on the Request Mapping (the top one) underneath where it say Click Below to Create Map Click on the + icon to add a mapping (it is also possible to import more complex XSL) Click on assess > assessrequestpayload >outcomes hyperlink Enter amount_payable in the box Click Save and then Close Enter the following static mappings (Note we will come back to the mapping and map in data from the Incident later) Click on the Response Mapping (the middle one)  Click on the + icon to add a mapping Choose a suitable Text field in the Service Cloud Incident e.g. steps_to_repro, click on the text to get a detailed mapping interface and add the following mapping <xsl:value-of select = 'concat("The results returned from ICS is that the passenger is entitled to a compensation payment of £", /nssrcmpr:assessResponse/nssrcmpr:assessor.definitions.assessResponsePayload/nssrcmpr:cases/nssrcmpr:amount_payable)'>Testing the Integration - Update an Incident in Service Cloud Or for a simpler mapping drag amount_payable from the Cases Node to the field in Incident Click Close and Save Then Close and Save Mapping Publishing your Integration Now you have completed your Response Mapping you can complete your Integration and publish so you can start to test. You need to get the % to 100, the last stage is to add the Tracking information. Click on the Menu in the top right hand corner of the Integration Select Tracking Drag LookupName into the Tracking Field Add some descriptive text to the Tracking Name Then click Done Testing and Monitoring the Integration in ICS Now you have completed your Response Mapping you can complete your Integration and publish so you can start to test. First create or update a an Incident in Service Cloud to trigger the Integration In ICS goto Monitoring _ Everything so far will have been in Designer Then either choose Integrations or Errors (depending on whether you think the process failed or not Note: If you use OAUTH authentication you will need to come back to Connections and click Test every 30 minutes to refresh the OAUTH token when you start testing your Integration.  This is a limitation with the custom adapter and will be resolved in the first production release. When the Integration has successfully finished you should see a Processed Integration under Integration You can then drilldown and see in Tracking From there you click on the Integration name and see and invesigate the completed process The last step is to check back in Service Cloud and make sure that the Incident was updated Follow on tasks Improve your Integration by a mapping in data from the Service Cloud Incident Re-Test using inputed Service Cloud Data Improve the mapping out to further update the Incident      

Please note the the OPA OIC Adapter is now public (from v18.2.3) and the custom adapter detailed below will no longer work but the public adapter should be used. The OPA Adapter requires the OIC...

OPA News and Announcements

My New Year’s Resolution

Well it’s the start of a new year and I know many people are setting their goals for 2018. If your plan for the year ahead feels more professionally focused than shedding the extra Christmas blubber and limiting your cat video intake (Is that a realistic goal anyway?), aiming to become certified as an Oracle Policy Automation specialist could be for you. For those who have worked with Policy Automation for many years it can serve as another feather in your very experienced cap, and a rightful acknowledgement of what you’ve achieved. For newbies, perhaps it is a nice incentive as you make your way through Policy Automation training. For organizations it can help you get recognized as a certified Oracle Policy Automation specialist partner (also see our partner sales training). Of course, in practice, one does not simply ‘take the exam’. So how do you get certified? Step 1: Get trained Oracle University recommends that the best way to prepare for the OPA Cloud Service certification exam is to enrol in Policy Automation training. There are a few options available: Oracle University offers up a couple of classroom courses, starting at the very beginner level. Note the v10.4 course is a legacy course only – focus on v12 for the OPA Cloud Service exam. You can also view OPA training content on the Oracle Learning Subscriptions channels, providing cloud training 24/7. Follow the links to Oracle Service Cloud Learning Subscription  and search for Oracle Policy Automation. If you like to think outside the square, some of our certified partners also offer very good training courses themselves. Regardless of whether you go down this path, having a read of the OPA documentation never goes amiss and does address functionality not covered in training. Step 2: Apply what you’ve learned Nothing beats hands-on project experience to see whether you’ve got what it takes. If you are a little short of that though, have a browse through the OPA forums to see whether you can answer some of the questions posted there and have a go at building your own solutions. Once you’ve had a little practice, you’re going to need to have a good read of the OPA documentation to get across some of the more advanced aspects of the product. Pro tip: Try building some of the worked examples yourself, and then compare your answer to the one provided. Step 3: Take the exam Once you’re about ready to give it a go, the information you need is here. It includes a list of the topics covered (Pro tip: check you know these well!) and how to go about booking your test. That’s about it. Good luck and best wishes for very happy and healthy 2018, whatever you decide to do with it.  Now for one last cat video... Fiona   via GIPHY

Well it’s the start of a new year and I know many people are setting their goals for 2018. If your plan for the year ahead feels more professionally focused than shedding the extra Christmas blubber...

OPA Technical

Integrating Mobile Assessments and Incidents in Oracle Service Cloud

The information below was kindly donated by Scott Heidenreich to help with automating the creation of MobileAssessment records. See Previous Article on how to set up OPA Mobile And Service Cloud OPA Mobile and Service Cloud Synch OOTB   The integration of MobileAssessments and Incidents in Oracle Service Cloud has the benefit of allowing the mobile assessments executed for each incident to be tracked and recorded.  That way if multiple site visits are needed and the incident is updated several times by field staff, each site visit is recorded.  Some inefficiency exists in the configuration as it was installed per Oracle Documentation.  The inefficiency for the user was created because there was no easy way to copy information from the Incident record into the MobileAssessment record.  This made it necessary for the user to do double entry whenever an incident is being used in a mobile assessment. Possibly further adding to user confusion is that the MobileAssessment object uses the Object ID (incidents.i_id) to identify individual incident.  This ID is not an understood data item by the user as the Incident Reference # is what is seen on the screen and referenced by mail templates, the customer portal, etc. I first attempted to use Workspace rules, business rules, and workflow to create a MobileAssessment record and populate it with the appropriate information for an incident.  This was only partially successful. I could name the Policy Model in the Mobile Assessment using the product code and the category code and set the Status to “Open” based on it being a new record.  However, there is no ability within the three types of rules mentioned to assign the value of one object attribute to another attribute in the same or different object. (This was confirmed by Oracle) without resorting to a custom PHP process. I am trying to avoid customizing Oracle service cloud with .NET add-ins or custom processes just because it makes the upgrade path more difficult and requires specialized development expertise in .NET or PHP. I did find that because a relationship between the MobileAssessment object (child) and the Account object (parent) was created during the initial installation of the mobile functionality per Oracle documentation, that the Incident.account_id did automatically transfer to the MobileAssessment record when it was created or editied from within an incident. However, no relationship between the Incident.i_id and the MobileAssessment.objectID could be established because the MobileAssessment.objectID was a text field and the Incident.i_id was integer. So, I deleted the initial MobileAssessment.ObjectID text field and replaced it an integer version.  Then established a relationship between MobileAssessment.ObjectID (child) and Incident.i_id (parent) in association. Then it was a matter of creating a report to show the MobileAssessment information related to an Incident, and dropping it into the MobileAssessment control added to a new tab in the Incident Workspace called “Field Assignment.” Figure 1. Incident Workspace showing Field Assignment Tab   By clicking “Add New” on the Field Assignment Tab, the MobileAssessment workspace is opened and prepopulated with all but the Description information (see Figure 2). The Deployment comes from a workspace rule that uses the incident product and category. The Account name comes from the relationships between Incidents.acct_id, Account.acct_id, and MobileAssessment.Account The Status comes from a workspace rule that triggers when a new record is created. The ObjectID comes from the relationship between Incidents.i_id and MobileAssessment.ObjectID. The description could easily be prepopulated with a workspace rule if attribute values from the incident record could be referenced in a workspace rule, but they cannot.  For example, the Incident subject could be copied to the MobileAssessment Description field, but that isn’t possible without a custom process.  So for now, the agent assigning the incident to a mobile employee will need to manually copy and paste the incident subject or type something in manually.   Figure 2. Source of data for MobileAssessment record automatically populated by OSC.   Listing of steps to integrate the MobileAssessment object with the Incident Object Install the Mobile Assessment objects per Oracle OPA documentation Delete the default ObjectID field that is a text attribute and replace it with an ObjectID field that is an integer attribute. Add the Date Created and Date Last Updated fields to the Mobile Assessment table if you want to know when the assignment occurred and when it was completed. Establish an association (or aggregation) relationship between Incident.i_id (parent) and MobileAssessment.ObjectID (child) Create a report for the mobile assessment object that shows the information desired and set a filter to work on the current Incident.i_id. Add workspace rules to the MobileAssessment workspace that use incident information to populate the Deployment and Status fields in the MobileAssessment object. Add a new tab to the Incident workspace for the Mobile Assessment. Drop the MobileAssessmentView control onto the Tab Link the report created in Step 4 to the MobileAssessmentView control. Test assignment from an incident Test the OPA Model in the OPA Mobile app.

The information below was kindly donated by Scott Heidenreich to help with automating the creation of MobileAssessment records. See Previous Article on how to set up OPA Mobile And Service Cloud OPA Mob...

OPA General

Customer Highlights 2017

What a great year it’s been for so many OPA customers, and a real pleasure for us to hear firsthand the fantastic results you are achieving with Policy Automation. For those who missed it, here are some of the highlights: Modern Service Experience Awards Oracle Policy Automation’s customer showcase was just awesome, with some great speakers; Kurt Helfrich, project leader, Rockwell Automation helping their field engineers work more efficiently, and happily! Donna Neale, Director, Travelport speaking on how resolving common process requests online leads to significantly increased customer satisfaction and support agent efficiency. Jeremy Holman, Vice President, Health Resources in Action (HRIA) speaking on how a richer, guided online experience can direct end users to help specific for their needs. Colonel Tri Trinh, Project Manager, HQ RIO, United States Air Force speaking on how automating eligibility assessments can lead to faster, more accurate decisions and improve the quality of the underlying policy. Watch it here: A big congratulations to Travelport for taking out the Policy Automation Award at the Gala Night. Who will it be next year? University of Western Australia Giving students faster responses and more satisfying enrolment experience.    India First Life Showing how business agility enables faster growth and speed to market. Turning Point Saving the lives of some of the UK’s most vulnerable. Prince’s Trust Walking side by side with the youth they serve throughout their customer journey. Thank you so much for all of those who shared their stories in 2017. If you have a story to tell, we would love to hear from you and perhaps see you in Chicago as one of our award finalists at Modern Customer Experience April 2018!   Photo credit: Nicolas Tissot    

What a great year it’s been for so many OPA customers, and a real pleasure for us to hear firsthand the fantastic results you are achieving with Policy Automation. For those who missed it, here are...

OPA Modeling

Tips and Tricks 3: Using the Rule Assistant

Hi folks This month I thought I’d share with you some pro tips for using the rule assistant in MS Word. I know some people like to manually type their rules, some people like to use the rule assistant to guide them through every step of the process and some like myself sit in the middle, using it for specific tasks only (functions and attribute searching are definitely my fave!). Whatever your personal preference, hopefully the tips below will help you get a little more out of the experience. Creating rules Clicking the rule assistant in any blank space in a document will start you creating a new rule and it’s simply a matter of typing in your rule conclusion and then either pressing enter or selecting the rule type using the arrow keys. Tip: Turn on the styles area first so you can see the styles the rule assistant is using. For each condition, type the condition text and then use the up/down arrow keys to select what you want to do next (or simply type "and" or "or" and hit enter). Pressing enter immediately after the condition signals that you’re done and the rule assistant will create the rule for you. Searching for attributes and functions You can type all or part of an existing attribute to find and reuse it. This also works for attributes you’ve used previously in the document, but haven’t saved yet. Most functions are also available in the rule assistant search. Step through the function arguments by using the tab and shift+tab keys. Editing existing rules The rule assistant can also be used for editing existing rules. Click in the rule and launch the assistant to easily navigate up and down the rule using the arrow keys. Retype the text you need to replace or select from existing attributes.  The delete condition option on the toolbar is particularly helpful where you have a lot of nested levels and you don’t want to do the legwork yourself. For example, removing one condition under an ‘any’ where there are only two conditions, will also remove the ‘any’. Summary of shortcut keys Function Keyboard shortcut Move forward to next field Tab Move back to previous field Shift+Tab Move down to next conclusion Ctrl+Down arrow Move up to previous conclusion Ctrl+Up arrow Delete condition Ctrl+Shift+Delete   Did you know there are shortcut keys for the most common Policy Modeling tasks? See a list here. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks. Feel free to leave a comment if there is a topic you would like to see covered. Fiona   Previous: Tips and Tricks 2: Working with Policy Modeling Projects Next: Tips and Tricks 4: Creating meaningful documents  

Hi folks This month I thought I’d share with you some pro tips for using the rule assistant in MS Word. I know some people like to manually type their rules, some people like to use the rule assistant...

OPA Releases

GA release of OPA 17D

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) team is pleased to announce that OPA Release 17D (12.2.9) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. As usual, we have included many features and enhancements requested by customers and partners.  The three headlines features for this release are: Dynamic reference data loading: OPA now supports the loading of any additional data from Service Cloud or the connected application, even if it is unrelated to the contact, opportunity and so on for the interview. You can define conditions for which reference data items to load, using filters and rules. Data is retrieved automatically during an interview session, as soon as the specified conditions are met. Sales and Engagement Cloud interview styling: A Sales and Engagement Cloud interview theme option is now provided so that OPA interviews that are embedded in Sales and Engagement Cloud can have a consistent look and feel. The styling matches the default Sales and Engagement Cloud styling and can be easily updated as needed to match the actual Sales and Engagement Cloud theme configuration. The default styling changes the appearance of buttons, puts buttons inline with the navigation bar, moves question text beside the control, and more. Identity Cloud Service integration: The OPA Hub user life-cycle can now be centrally administered through a linked Identity Cloud Service tenancy. This provides Single Sign-On for OPA Hub users, including authoring, administration, mobile and API user roles. (Fine-grained permissions are still managed within the OPA Hub administration experience.)   Interview modeling enhancements Configure submitted form name and location: OPA has simplified the finding and identifying of generated forms in connected applications. Interview designers can now configure the generated form name and have attachments saved to any entity. For example, if multiple opportunities are created, a summary document could be generated and added to each one. Easily debug generated forms: Interview designers can now easily ensure the correct appearance and behavior of uploaded documents. The Debugger shows which forms will be attached on submit, and enables uploaded forms to be previewed directly. Round-trip test case debugging: Testers can now navigate from a test case to the Oracle Policy Modeling Debugger and back again. When launching the Debugger from a test case you can see which test case is being debugged, and while debugging you can navigate back to where a test case value is defined. Provide names for screen layout containers: To simplify the maintenance of nested interview layouts, meaningful container names can now be added to explain their purpose and how they contribute to the screen layout. Collect global/parent data on entity screens: Interview designers can now add Global (parent) entity content to entity-level screens. This could be used to collect data for global and parent entities on multiple screens, for example, so that the user could update certain data (like product choices or notes) on every screen of an interview.   Interview experience enhancements Change language during an interview: The user interface language of an interview can now be changed at any time. This is done through the inclusion of a change language button in the header or footer (or both) of the interview. This can simplify the integration of multi-language interviews into customer portals. This feature also works with interview extensions. Show icons for optional questions: When optional questions are less frequent than mandatory ones, a visual indicator of only the optional questions can be used to simplify the interview experience.   Interview integration enhancements Set attribute values in resumesession URL: You can now specify that reviews or other special behavior should be triggered when an interview is resumed. For example, if an interview is being resumed more than 14 days after it was started, you could require the interview user to reconfirm their previously provided answers. Seed entity level data via startsession URL: Using the startsession URL you can now pre-populate entity collections or provide some dynamic reference data when an interview is launched.   Hub enhancements Set default channels for any collection: Hub Administrators can now specify the default channels for any collection. This eliminates the need to manually reconfigure every new deployment to use the correct channels. There is also the option to lock the channels for existing deployments.   Rule modeling enhancements If and Default rule functions: Several new rule functions have been added that can be used to simplify rules. The new If() function enables rules that use nested conditions to be simplified by instead testing conditions without creating separate rules. This means that intermediate attributes only have to be created when they are needed. The new default functions enable policy models to be simplified where default values are required. The Default() function can be used to set an attribute value if none was provided (that is, where the value is uncertain). This can be useful in interviews where unfilled answers need to provide a default result. The DefaultWithUnknown() function can be used to set an attribute value if the value is uncertain or unknown, thereby always returning a known result. Faster migration of Word documents from 10.4: OPA 10.4 projects containing large rule documents can now be migrated to OPA version 12 quickly, enabling the migration to be repeated if necessary.   Want to start using the 17D release? Public cloud: You can upgrade your testing sites at any time via Oracle Cloud Portal Service Cloud Configuration Assistant. All sites will be automatically upgraded according to the published schedule. Private cloud (on-premises): Download from Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and Oracle® Software Delivery Cloud. The latest OPA Mobile application is available in Google Play and Apple App Store.   Want further information? A summary presentation of the key features and benefits in this release can also be found on OTN.

The Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) team is pleased to announce that OPA Release 17D (12.2.9) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. As usual, we have included many features and...

OPA News and Announcements

When Product Management and Users meet

Did you know that 99% of best new features start out as ideas from users? I might be stretching the truth a little but every year we hold a number of Focus Group events (six this year) around the world.  These events are designed to enable Oracle Policy Automation Product Management to get up close and personal with our users. They are generally low key events held at an Oracle office (unless a customer would like to host - and they do!)  What the event may lack in formality it makes up for in spades with an atmosphere that sees customers, partners and product management all openly discussing the product – a perfect environment for the exchange of future functionality, success stories and networking.  These events continue to grow in popularity each year, with year on year growth in attendees, demand to increase the number of locations and an ever increasing variety of customers and partners attending. Our events have even inspired customers to start their own regular local catch ups to share ideas, use cases and best practices. How cool is that? Why should you come to one of our focus groups? Because you get to hear from customers like Family Responsibility Office in Canada, which is now able to better service Canadian families. Or how Boxfusion were able to implement Affinity Water (UK’s largest water only supplier) in under 15 weeks and enabling them to completely remove the need to re-enter data driving significant savings. Or how RABObank are able to ensure compliance and customer integrity during customer on-boarding. Because you can give feedback directly to the people who decide what goes in to the product and when.   We feel these events are critical to continue to ensure Oracle Policy Automation delivers value to our users now and into the future. Want to know more? Then check this out - https://cx.rightnow.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/9682 or email me

Did you know that 99% of best new features start out as ideas from users? I might be stretching the truth a little but every year we hold a number of Focus Group events (six this year) around...

OPA Modeling

Tips and Tricks 2: Working with Policy Modeling Projects

Hi again folks This month I thought I’d share with you some tips and tricks for working with Oracle Policy Modeling projects. Opening is easy We all know you can open projects from the Policy Modeling Project tab but did you also know you can drag and drop a policy model directly from your file menu into Policy Modeling? Of course if you want a little inspiration for your project, use the samples – open from Project tab: Example Projects. There are a range of samples there and you can filter by industry and by features (so if you want to see some example generated documents – filter by Forms). Pro tip: There are also worked examples in the online documentation for some of the more complex topics, such as inferred entities. Sharing is caring Got a problem you want someone else to take a look at? Someone wants to reuse the cool demo you’ve created? In version 12 you have a few options for sharing your pride and joy. Working together If the person you want to share with is going to be making changes to the rules and you want to pick up their work, then the collaboration feature is the one you’re looking for. With collaboration you can work on the same project, even the same screens and pick up each other’s changes without getting in each other’s way. Make sure the person you’re sharing with has the right permissions to work on it with you. Go solo If you want to share your policy model without allowing that person to make changes to your source (maybe you don’t want Joe from marketing changing your rules) the option to use is under the Project menu -> Summary -> Share a copy of this project. Clicking this button wraps up the project without all of the Hub information and disconnects it from the version you’re working with so they can open it in their own instance of Policy Modeling and deploy it to their own Hub if needed. New releases? No worries Updating your policy model Policy Modeling will automatically update your project for you when your Hub is updated. If you have project in an older version, perhaps a project someone has shared with you, you can also update it locally without connecting it to a Hub. To do so, open the project folder in one window and the install folder of the version of policy modeling you want to update to in another window and drag the project xprj file onto the build.exe file. Policy Modeling versions If you are working on multiple projects across different Hubs, or perhaps testing out an update, you’re going to want to have multiple versions of Policy Modeling installed on your machine. The good news is that in v12 it’s fine to have several releases installed side by side. You may find it helpful to add shortcuts in your start menu to open different versions. Pro tip: You can create shortcuts to OPM in specific languages by appending the regional settings to the end of the Target setting under Properties. So, for example, to launch OPM in Russian I could use: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Oracle\Policy Modeling\Aug2017\bin\OPM.exe" --language=ru-RU   Stay tuned for more tips and tricks. Feel free to leave a comment if there is a topic you would like to see covered. Fiona   Previous:  Tips and Tricks 1: Getting started in OPA v12 Next:  Tips and Tricks 3: Using the Rule Assistant  

Hi again folks This month I thought I’d share with you some tips and tricks for working with Oracle Policy Modeling projects. Opening is easy We all know you can open projects from the Policy...

OPA Technical

Adding external authorization for OPA Interviews

How to use external authentication for Oracle Policy Automation? Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) Private Cloud Edition has supported external authentication since the February 2017 release. The documented Security integration is based on SAML2.0 and the example covered is integration with Oracle Access Manager (OAM). This setup enables SSO integration of your OPA instance, but requires  setup of OAM with Identity Federation and setup of OPA with SAML SSO. Additionally, if your OPA site is running in a WLS cluster a RDBMS based security realm needs to be set up during WLS domain creation. Although this is the recommended and comprehensive security configuration for production setups, users might seek a more lightweight integration to fulfill minimal requirements of external managed identities. As those minimal security requirements, we see typically the following: »  Managing Identities externally (outside of OPA HUB) so that users can sign in with their well-known credentials following the external defined password policies »  Assigning OPA Hub Permissions to externally managed identities within OPA-Hub »  Protecting Web-Interviews to restrict access only to authenticated users belonging to a certain group »  Passing user context to OPA Interview   This article aims to describe the solution setup for a more lightweight security integration for quick startup instances. A comparison of security capabilities between the documented setup and the lightweight setup is provided in the following table: Capability Setup (Covered below) Documented setup Using external managed Identities Yes Yes User / Role assignment for OPA Hub Users Yes Yes Protect Interviews based on external Users and Roles Yes No (not documented for Private Cloud Edition) Single Sign-On (SSO) No Yes Logout Limited Yes Table 1: Comparison of Security Integration Approaches   This article covers the implementation requirements and approach for the complete lightweight setup, which might be adopted in relevant usage scenarios. Optional marked steps might be skipped if not required. All provided steps are for educational purposes. Code snippets are customizable without any support and maintenance of the author or Oracle. User may reuse and adopt them based on their own judgement and experience as part of their own implementation project. As this article explains basic concepts only to a limited extend I encourage readers to familiarize with the OPA online documentation for the respective version in use to gain a deeper understanding.   The solution steps are tested using the following product versions:   » Oracle Policy Automation Private Cloud Edition, Release May 2017 » Oracle Weblogic Server 12.2.1.2.0 » Oracle IDM Suite 11.1.2.3.0 » Oracle JDeveloper 12.2.1.2.0 Security Integration Overview In general, there is a separation of concern between Development, Integration, Deployment and Execution activities within OPA. The corresponding capabilities are modularized within OPA as depicted below 1: OPA Component overview When enabling externally managed identities for OPA we have to distinguish the interactions by the different OPA components shown in Figure 1. Enabling External Identities for Hub users Hub users can be distinguished by the roles that are predefined in OPA, which are Policy Author Deploy Admin Mobile User Hub Administrator Integration User The online product documentation provides a comprehensive configuration to enable the external authentication. The Lightweight setup is basically a subset of necessary configuration steps as following: To configure external authentication, follow these steps: 1.    Install OPA private cloud edition on a supported version of WebLogic Note: For this step it is important to choose “Custom Roles and Policies” as Security Model during deployment time of OPA in Weblogic Server. 2.    The step “Configure your identity provider to support SAML authentication” can be skipped for Lightweight setup 3.    Configure an OPA site to use external authentication 1.     The step “Configure an external security provider for WebLogic” is executed differently for the lightweight setup than described in the standard documentation. Instead of configuring a SAML 2.0 provider the lightweight setup can use either the Default Authentication Provider (using Weblogic’s embed LDAP as identity store) or a generic OID / LDAP Provider through Weblogic. 2.     The step “Protect the web application path with the Authentication provider” is skipped for the lightweight setup. 3.     The step “Restrict access to the OPA Hub authenticate path” is done as documented with relevant Group / Role Policy conditions. 4.    Enable external authentication mode for OPA Hub This step is done as documented for lightweight setup. It might be a good idea to create an user in OPA Hub (beside the existing admin user) that is managed in external identity store AND has Hub administrator Role in OPA Hub to perform later manual role assignments. 5.    Assign external users to OPA Hub roles. This step is done as documented for lightweight setup. 6.     Test your integration with Oracle Policy Modeling This step is done as documented for lightweight setup. Additionally you might want to test direct HUB access by requesting http://<server>:<port>/<deployment-name>/opa-hub which should result in a similar screen as shown in Figure 2.   2: Successful Test for external authentication in HUB Enabling External Identities for Interview users In order to restrict access to web based OPA Interviews on one hand and to provide the user context (e.g. user name) of the authenticated user to the OPA Interview on the other hand there is also a solution to this requirement. The solution is based on Oracle Access Manager and WebGates installed in the Web-Tier in front of the OPA Hub. This setup follows the recommendation to proxy all application tier requests by a WebTier (e.g. access restriction, load balancing, etc.). The building blocks of the solution are outlined in Figure 4. 4: OPA Application-Tier protected by Web-Tier with WebGate   OAM WebGate is typically a good choice to protect web resources with rule based policies in order to restrict access for external managed identities. For general concepts about OAM and WebGate and respective policy setup see the online documentation for those products. The key to the solution described here is that we need a WebGate protection policy that protects your application Tier components and adds the user name (from external identitiy store) after successful authentication to the HTTP Header. For that you define an HTTP Header variable (e.g. HTTP_username) in the protection policy. Now we need to make the OPA web interview aware of the HTTP Header variable and passing the value to an attribute within the OPA interview so that it can be consumed at any place in the interview where required. For this step, there is currently no out of the box configuration capability. But with some simple steps the integration can be done very quickly. In Figure 4 you can see the component “OPA-Mediator” in the Application Tier deployed side-by-side to OPA-Web (one OPA Hub component depicted in Figure 1). This OPA-Mediator is not part of the standard product nor does depend on internal knowledge of OPA. Therefore this component can be simply build, customized and deployed by users depending on their specific situations. OPA-Mediator can be simply implemented as a standard JSP and deployed alongside with OPA in the application tier. The following code examples are seen as a guideline how to build such kind of an OPA-Mediator for the purpose of passing external user context information to OPA Interviews. LaunchInterview.jsp <!DOCTYPE html> <%@ page contentType="text/html; charset=utf-16" %> <%!     public String user_name = null;     public String request_url = null;    public String target_url = null;    public String redirect_url = null; %>  <html>     <head>         <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-16"/>         <title>LaunchInterview</title>         <%                            if (request.getHeader("HTTP_username") != null) {                 user_name = request.getHeader("HTTP_username");                                      }             request_url = request.getRequestURI();                        target_url = request.getParameter("target");                                     if (user_name != null) {                 redirect_url = target_url +"?seedData={iv_benutzer:"+ user_name +"}";                        }             if (target_url != null && redirect_url != null) {                 out.print("<meta http-equiv=\"refresh\" content=\"0; URL="+ redirect_url +" \"/>");             }         %>     </head>     <body>        <%            if (target_url == null ) {             out.println("ERROR: No valid Interview URL provided. Please contact the Administrator.");         } else if (redirect_url == null) {             out.println("ERROR: No valid Authentication. Please contact the Administrator.");         } else {             out.println("If you do not get redirected automatically please click <a href=\""+redirect_url+"\">here</a>");                }     %>     </body> </html> Now, after deploying the OPA-Mediator with Context root /OPA_Mediator and protecting the deployment by WebGate as well you can launch an Interview by http://web-tier.server.domain.com:<port>/OPA_Mediator/LaunchInterview.jsp?target=http://web-tier.server.domain.com<port>/<opahubdeplyomentname>/web-determinations/startsession/<Interview-Name> The sample request flow is finally as following ❶ The browser (or any Application) requests the Web URL of an interview through the OPA_Mediator. Example: http://web.server.domain/OPA_Mediator/LaunchInterview.jsp?target=http://web.server.domain/web-determinations/startsession/My_Interview ❷ Web-Tier (OHS/Apache) redirects the request to application server (Weblogic) where OPA_Mediator is installed. This endpoint is protected through WebGate protection policy. Only users that are authenticated and belonging to a specific Role are allowed to access that endpoint, otherwise forbidden. In case the user is already authenticated and adhereing to the protection policy the request will be directed to OPA Interview immediately (step 5). Otherwise we continue with step 3. ❸ User is not authenticated therefore the request is intercepted by WebGate ❹ Redirect to OAM Login page for authentication ❺ After Successful authentication OPA_Mediator is executed to extract HTTP Header variable, retrieve the target URL from the request and creates a redirect URL by appending the user as URL parameter to the target URL. Finally OPA_Mediator executes a refresh with the new redirect URL. This is turn requests the original Interview URL with the user name as URL parameter. Note that the original Interview URL is also protected by a WebGate protection policy.   Steps to configure OAM WebGate Create Application Domain Protect dedicated OPA resources Configuration of Apache / OHS Web-Tier to forward requests to OPA Einfügen in mod_wl_ohs.conf: <IfModule mod_weblogic.c>    <Location /opademo>    SetHandler weblogic-handler     WebLogicCluster wlsappserver1.server.domain:9001, wlsappserver2.server.domain:9001    </Location>    <Location /OPA_Mediator>    SetHandler weblogic-handler     WebLogicCluster wlsappserver1.server.domain:9001, wlsappserver2.server.domain:9001    </Location> </IfModule> Known limitations for this setup Logging Out Logging out from the Hub requires to destroy the browser session. There is currently no Logout-URL that could destroy the browser session. Therefore the safest way to log out is to close all browser windows.   Authorization issue in OPA with external identies when using case sensitivity in user names After successful authentication against the external Identity store the username is passed to OPA. Since OPA Hub users and their role assignment have to be done within the OPA Hub as of now the user must exist within OPA Hub as well. OPA Hub forces the user name to be lower case. Even if you create a user “TOM”, OPA will create the user as “tom”. When using external authentication, and providing user names with case sensitivity such as “Tom” or “TOM” in Basic Authentication screen, OPA will not match the user and their respective roles in OPA HUB. This results in a “Forbidden” screen as shown in Figure 3. The user gets (externally) authenticated, but OPA does not match the provided user credential to the internal OPA user.   3: Authorization Error (Forbidden) An alternative for situations where the external identity store guarantees lowercase user names is, to set the Weblogic Security Provider option “Use Retrieved User Name As Principal” for the Authentication provider used for OPA. This would force to send the username in the format stored in the external identity store rather that passing the format typed during authentication. Authorization issue when using admin.sh scripts to deploy When lightweight external authentication is enabled as described above, the use of admin.sh script from command line fails to deploy artefacts with the error message shown below as HTTP 403 response.   ERROR (SOAPServiceRequestSender.java:292) - OPA-RN-4:Error while processing SOAP request: <soapenv:Envelopexmlns:soapenv="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">   <soapenv:Header>     <wsse:Securityxmlns:wsse="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/ws/2002/07/secext"> <wsse:UsernameTokenxmlns:wsu="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/ws/2002/07/utility">         <wsse:Username>deploy_user</wsse:Username>         <wsse:PasswordType="wsse:PasswordText">*******</wsse:Password>       </wsse:UsernameToken>     </wsse:Security>   </soapenv:Header>   <soapenv:Body>   <hub:AuthenticateRequestxmlns:hub="http://oracle.com/determinations/opahub/">     </hub:AuthenticateRequest>   </soapenv:Body> </soapenv:Envelope>    

How to use external authentication for Oracle Policy Automation? Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) Private Cloud Edition has supported external authentication since the February 2017 release. The...

OPA Releases

OPA Mobile and Service Cloud Synch OOTB

The release of August 2017 OPA introduced out-of-the-box integration between Oracle Policy Modeling's Mobile application (iOS and Android, available from Apple's App Store and Google Play, respectively) and Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) allowing mobile users to download their Assessments from OSvC work on a number of Assessments across one or more Deployments offline and then when they have connectivity again synchronize the completed Assessments and update OSvC.The fields and objects that are used in OSvC are mapped in and out of the OPA Interview in the same way that they are for Web Determination Interviews. This article will take you through a basic sample to get you started but if you just want to have a play scroll to the bottom where there are some details how to access a demo instance. 1)  Add the required configuration to Service Cloud  Click OPA Help for help to support this configuration. 2) Setup a mobile user in both OSvC and OPA Hub The agent name in Service Cloud must match the Policy Automation Hub username. The Hub user must have the Mobile role for the appropriate collection of deployments. 3) We are now ready to create a mobile enabled deployment that can synch data with OSvC Open OPM, create a new project and in the data tab, select Data Mapping button to connect your Policy Model  In the dialogue below tick the Contact center agents or mobile users(Account) option. (If this does not appear ensure you have a mobile user enabled on the Hub) i)  In the Input Mappings view tick next to Name.First and  Name.Last to create two new attributes. ii) In the Output Mappings view tick next to Address.City and in your Word rule document create a simple rule to populate this field, e.g.  the contact address city="Manchester" iii) Create a screen with Contact First Name and Contact Last Name so you can see the data retrieved from  OSvC and add a Submit button so that the Contact record in OSvC will have the Contact City updated iv) Now deploy the Policy Model, e.g. SimpleMobileMap to your Hub making sure you add it to a collection that the mobile user you created in step 2) has access  v) Go to the Hub and select the SimpleMobileMap deployment and tick the Mobile option 5) Next we need to create a mobile assessment record in the custom object we created in step one. Select the MobileAssessments from the navigation and create a new record as below i) Deployment, SimpleMobileMap, must match the deployment name in the OPA Hub ii) Account should be the user you created in Step 2 where the username is the same in the Hub and OSvC iii) Description is used to identify the Assessment when in OPA Mobile iv) Status should be set to Open for the Assessment to be downloaded to OPA Mobile v) ObjectID should be set to a valid ID for the mapping used in Step 4) in this case Contact vi) Save the record and then we are ready to open OPA Mobile 6) Download and install OPA Mobile from or i) First connect OPA Mobile to a Hub                                  Then login using the mobile user    Login details for the demo.oracle.com deployment are Hub:  https://gseopa00097.rightnowdemo.com/opa-hub Please email phil.whitwell@oracle.com for login details Service Cloud Agent Web URL:  https://rnowgse00856.rightnowdemo.com/AgentWeb/   This is perfect to reset some records so that you have a play Service Cloud Desktop Install: https://rnowgse00856.rightnowdemo.com/cgi-bin/rnowgse00856.cfg/php/admin/launch.php Please email phil.whitwell@oracle.com for login details 7) Play with the mobile assessments If you use a 'pull down' gesture it will refresh the list of available Assessments.   Note: If no Assessments appear try logging in to the OSvC Agent Web and resetting a few of the Mobile Assessment records to open Once you have submitted an Assessment  you will be asked 'Mark the assessment for upload?'  If you choose Yes then the Assessment will automatically be added to the Done list and will be synched back to OSvC when a refresh is triggered, either automatically or manually by the 'pull down' gesture. If you choose No then the Assessment will marked as 'Pending Submit' and you will need a 'Swipe Left' gesture to reveal the 'Mark for Upload' button. 8) Check the results in Agent Web If you login to the OSvC Agent Web and Navigate to Contacts, Search for Last Name: Sanchez  You can see as well as the City being updated to Manchester there is also a number of Attachments that have been synched back. Please play! Try using new contact ids in the Mobile Assessment table and changing the deployment to map in/out more fields, use new deployment names to leave the basic example working.   Further Reading... Integrating Mobile Assessments and Incidents in Oracle Service Cloud   OPA Mobile SDK - Get Started, add a Scheme URL to your App      

The release of August 2017 OPA introduced out-of-the-box integration between Oracle Policy Modeling's Mobile application (iOS and Android, available from Apple's App Store and Google...

OPA Releases

GA release of OPA August 2017

The Oracle Policy Automation team is pleased to announce that OPA August 2017 (12.2.8) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. Amongst the many enhancements in the August 2017 release, there are three key features worth highlighting: Checkpoints for Service Cloud agents: Policy Automation now gives Service Cloud agents the ability to save and resume interview checkpoints. Agents can resume and update partially completed interviews started by Contacts on the self-service channel, and vice versa. This provides a seamless omni-channel experience when customers call an agent for help completing an application or getting advice. Mobile assessments for Service Cloud: Mobile assessments for Service Cloud allow field agents to complete interviews on mobile devices even while offline. Interviews are designed as assessments and workflow synchronizes the data to field agents who retrieve and complete assigned assessments on their mobile devices. Data is automatically uploaded from the mobile device and synced with Service Cloud when online. Deployments REST API: The OPA Hub REST API for deployments provides a flexible mechanism to deploy, explore, activate, retrieve and update policy models on an OPA Hub programmatically. This enables administrators to both build custom web interfaces and automation scripts for policy life cycle tasks, such as promotion from test to production, and to build value-add services that inspect the contents of deployed policies, such as ensuring compliance with certain corporate standards.   Hub enhancements New Hub dashboard and user interface styles: The Hub, used for administering OPA projects online, has been given a new look and feel. A dashboard page replaces the old Welcome page and provides an overview of Hub status. There is a streamlined navigation bar that provides quick access to the main areas in which users work. Message logs are now available from the user menu. The new styling is consistent with other Oracle cloud applications. Change Hub UI language while logged in: Users can now change the language of the Policy Automation Hub user interface after they have logged into the Hub. This allows for externally authenticated users to change language. Time per screen statistic: Interview statistics in Oracle Policy Automation Hub have been enhanced to include a new chart that shows how much time users are spending on average on each interview screen. You can filter the information by customers or agents, and export the data for offline analysis. This enables interview designers to optimize the screens that are taking users the longest time. Use custom root certificates for web service connections: To simplify the development life cycle when using custom connectors, you can now use web service connections that present custom SSL certificates. For example, self-signed certificates can be used for development servers.   Policy Modeling enhancements List unused attributes in a project: It is now possible to obtain a list of unused attributes in a project. This can help find mismatches in attribute wording, for example, or simply attributes that are no longer needed and can be removed. Execute project test cases from the command line: A command-line utility is now available for running test cases (OPMRunTests.exe). This allows testers of integrated solutions to include policy model test case results and execution timing in their automated testing. The command-line tool can generate reports of the test case results in various formats (XML, HTML, JUnit) and testers can have these checked by staff that may not even have Policy Modeling. Warranty example project: A new example project, Warranty, has been added to the suite installed with Policy Modeling. This policy model is designed for online self-service use and agent call centers, and assists in logging warranty and service requests. The interview guides the user through troubleshooting and creating a service request and produces mandatory reporting documentation. Interview accessibility checks: Interview designers can now select a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) level in Policy Modeling for the interview to be validated against. These checks can aid designers in creating accessible interview experiences for users with disabilities.   Interview enhancements Remove interview checkpoints on submit to Service Cloud: Checkpoints can now be removed from Service Cloud when an interview is submitted. This means that when resuming a completed interview, instead of the final screen being displayed to the user, the interview will start afresh. (Incomplete advice resumes as normal.) This works for both agents and contacts and allows for the revisiting of advice experiences, even for new cases. Control when interviews show error event messages: The display of interview errors and warnings can now be configured on a per-screen basis to display either immediately (that is, whenever a control changes value), or on navigation away from the screen.   Want to start using the August 2017 release? Public cloud: You can upgrade your testing sites at any time via Oracle Cloud Portal Service Cloud Configuration Assistant. All sites will be automatically upgraded according to the published schedule. Private cloud (on-premises): Download from Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and Oracle® Software Delivery Cloud. The latest OPA Mobile application is available in Google Play and Apple App Store.   Want further information? A summary presentation of the key features and benefits in this release can also be found on OTN.

The Oracle Policy Automation team is pleased to announce that OPA August 2017 (12.2.8) is now available for both public and private cloud customers. Amongst the many enhancements in the August 2017...

OPA General

Faster Assessments at Lower Cost

Oracle Policy Automation is well known for providing interactive decision-making interviews. But frequently customers want to automate decisions as part of other processes, too. For example, OPA web services can calculate monthly payment amounts, and automate periodic financial account compliance checks. Recently, we made two changes to Oracle Policy Automation to make large scale automated assessments more efficient, and more economical at high volume: A new batch assess service was added for Oracle Policy Automation May 2017 Oracle now also sells the Oracle Policy Automation Enterprise Assessment API Cloud Service OPA Determinations API batch assess service The decision-making engine inside Oracle Policy Automation is seriously fast. However, the OPA answer and assess SOAP services only process one case at a time. Each assessment can include multiple decisions, for example which children in a household are eligible for a childcare rebate, and in each case, how much. But if you have millions of households to assess, this can add up to a lot of unnecessary overhead: to set up each web service call, and to wait for each response to be returned from OPA.  Figure 1 - Assess and answer service calling pattern The batch assess service provides an alternative: Pass up to thousands of cases in a single web service call Use an efficient JSON format for assessment data and decisions returned Robust error handling ensures only invalid cases are flagged as exceptions Figure 2 - Batch assess service calling pattern The chart below shows an example of throughput with the batch assess service, for different numbers of cases passed in a single batch REST API call. The batch assess service is a REST-style API, which means it is completely self-describing, and it uses JSON as the data representation format. On OPA cloud sites that have purchased OPA Enterprise Assessment API Cloud Service, policy models deployed with the "Web services" channel automatically provide the batch REST API endpoint. Enterprise Assessment API A key design goal for OPA is to make it easy to reuse OPA policy models wherever they are needed across an organization, to ensure consistent decisions are always made. And OPA customers don't only need fast batch processing, but also high volume continuous processing. For example, in an IoT scenario where a car is constantly providing diagnostic data over the Internet to your company, you might want to use OPA to decide whether to contact the customer about the vehicle's condition. In this case, there might be millions of checks per day happening that are all calling into OPA, and you want to decide what to do in realtime. So, as part of introducing cost-effective pricing for batch assessments, we decided to also support high volume continuous assessments with that same pricing model. This is where the Oracle Policy Automation Enterprise Assessment API Cloud Service comes in, which first became available in June 2017. This service is sold in bundles of 1M monthly assessments. Although purchasing OPA Enterprise Assessment API is the only way to get access to the batch assess service for an OPA site, you can consume those 1 million assessments in many ways: Pass multiple cases at a time to the batch assess service. This consumes one assessment for each case passed to the API. Pass a single case at a time to the assess or answer services. Since each API call can only process one case at a time, each such call consumes exactly one monthly assessment. You can even pass one case at a time to the batch assess service! So, you can use this API's REST-style API for your continuous processing use cases, too. If you need more than 1 million assessments per month, just buy another bundle. Tier 3 Sessions vs. Enterprise Assessment API If you're an existing OPA cloud service user, you might be wondering "what happens if I add 1M monthly assessments to my existing site?". The answer is simple: OPA sites that purchase Oracle Policy Automation Enterprise Assessment API no longer treat assess and answer service calls as Oracle RightNow Policy Automation Tier 3 Sessions. In other words, once you buy OPA Enterprise Assessment API each call to the assess and answer service is treated as one assessment, instead of as an individual tier 3 session. Keep in mind, though, that unlike tier 3 sessions, monthly assessments are not pooled from month-to-month. By the way, there are no pre-requisites for purchasing OPA Enterprise Assessment API: you can use it with or without tier 3 sessions, OPA agents, or OPA mobile. Conclusion The batch assess service available with Oracle Policy Automation May 2017 provides an efficient way to incorporate high volume decision making into your batch and continuous enterprise processes, with an efficient JSON-based API. If you are planning to make millions of OPA API calls, including to the assess and answer web services, talk to Oracle about adding Oracle Policy Automation Enterprise Assessment API to your service, since it provides a cost effective option for incorporating OPA decision making across your organization. For more information on how to get started with the batch assess service in particluar, check out the product documentation.

Oracle Policy Automation is well known for providing interactive decision-making interviews. But frequently customers want to automate decisions as part of other processes, too. For example, OPA web...

OPA General

Customers Proudly Showcase Their OPA Successes, June 2017

The OPA product management team held their first OPA Focus Group event in EMEA this year in Oracle’s central London offices. The event was extremely well attended with guests from a range of customers and partners. The event started with an OPA showcase from The Prince’s Trust. The well-known charity began its largest ever change programme (called Insight) in 2015 and Oracle applications including OPA and Service Cloud are at the heart of this programme. The Prince’s Trust makes a huge contribution to the community where over £1.4bn in value has been put back so far. This is through assisting young people either go back into education, seek work or even start new businesses themselves. Prior to the programme, the Trust had been experiencing ‘leaks’ in the customer journey (of young people stopping their search for help). While 98% of young people have access to the internet, The Trust’s website was not fully enabled to allow young people to be able to find all the services they needed or interact effectively through the digital channel. OPA quickly brought The Trust up-to-date where staff could easily check programmes that young people could be eligible for and fast track them onto those programmes following consultation. OPA has directly reduced data entry by 25% and manual forms have been reduced by 37% so far in the programme. The automation of reporting has seen significant cost savings in the Trust with an estimated £240k per year saved. Following The Prince’s Trust showcase, representatives from a UK water company showcased the delivery of another OPA and Service Cloud solution. OPA has supported the Developer Services department where members of the public, builders, housing developers or Local Authorities can raise new queries and requests ranging from pre-planning through to new connections. Previously, the process was mostly manual and paper based but the introduction of OPA brought the automation of dynamic and digital forms to replace the paper based originals. The automated forms calculate values and provide instant decision making which leads to the quicker production of quotes and other documents (through OPA with BI Publisher). The automation of the forms with OPA has vastly reduced the time taken for client’s to complete requests. OPA has directly reduced form size by 80% whilst their staff can easily see the status of all requests through Service Cloud and where deadlines are approaching to reply / return information. A further showcase was of OPA being utilized for real estate business relating to estate and building management. Digital online forms were showcased (powered by OPA) where data was collected from customers about the facilities services being provided. OPA determined scores instantly which fed back into the solution which determined the ‘Goodwill’ of a customer and their level of current loyalty. New OPA out-of-the-box features were showcased including ‘sliders’ which allowed users (especially those using tablets / mobile devices) to more easily answer questions about their satisfaction with the services provided. While OPA is continuing to keep up with the latest developments in technology the last presentation of the day showcased OPA being used to continue to bring value to older and legacy systems – here, OPA was embedded (via web services) within EBS. The remainder of the day focused on showcasing the latest OPA product features and a ‘sneak-peek’ of new features that were likely to appear in future releases. The use of OPA to power ‘Chatbots’ with Service Cloud was of particular interest where customers would be able to ask questions in a familiar ‘Chat’ environment and received personalized and tailored answers based on their personal circumstances. OPA is able to look-up live data from the customer’s accounts and answer questions such as ‘when do I need to make my next payment?’, ‘how many days of holiday do I have left this year?’, ‘how many more nights do I need to stay to reach Gold status?’. Whilst some may be cautious of Chatbots as a way to connect to our providers, the ability to use OPA to power them should mean that the Chatbots of the future should be smart, helpful and provide us all with a way to seek answers to our queries quickly and easily. It also provides businesses with a way to reduce their operating costs. The future releases of OPA also promise to include great enhancements to a number of areas including new interview themes so it is even easier to style the interviews based on the CRM in which OPA is connected to i.e. Service Cloud, Sales Cloud and in the future Engagement Cloud. Enhancements are also being planned on the ability to author rules on any device. This will be a big change for OPA where for the past 10+ years we have always authored rules in Word and Excel.  Finally the ability for dynamic data retrieval means that data can be seeded into an OPA interview at various points in the process and not just at the beginning. The UK event was another very successful event and the OPA product management team moved onward into Europe in Paris and then in Utrecht. I am sure other customer showcases in those countries provided some great inspiration to others and continues to demonstrate the flexibility and diversity of OPA use cases.

The OPA product management team held their first OPA Focus Group event in EMEA this year in Oracle’s central London offices. The event was extremely well attended with guests from a range of customers...

OPA Modeling

Tips and Tricks 1: Getting started in OPA v12

Hi everyone I’ve been talking to some folks who are keen to move from the v10 on-premise version of OPA to v12 (cloud or on-premise) and asking for a few hints around how best to work in v12. With this in mind, I thought I’d kick-off a monthly series of ‘Tips and Tricks’ on using v12 which I’m hoping you find useful.  Firstly… let’s talk about the v12 Oracle Policy Modeling (OPM) user interface. Get to know the interface The OPM interface is structured in 4 tabs. The Project tab is where you define project-level considerations and assets that apply across the policy model (eg translations). The Rules tab is where you define the logic (decisions) behind the interview. The Data tab is where you manage individual data items and mappings to other systems. The Interview tab is where you define how the interview will present to the end user. From left to right these basically take you through the flow of developing a policy model. I’m going to dive into each of these in more detail in later posts. In the meantime, here are some tips for getting to know the interface: See it in action Open an example project (Project tab | Open Example) to look at how policy models are typically structured. Once you’ve opened a sample, you can see what it would look like to an end user by hitting the “Debug” button at the top right of the interface to run the interview in the Debugger. Pro tip: Most samples are also deployed online if you want to view them in a web browser.  Links are available here. The myBenefits and Travel Compensation examples are great starting points. The Healthy Eating sample provides some really rich generated documents.      Learn The question mark in the top right corner of the interface takes you to the online documentation for the version you’re working with – use it! There’s some great information in there explaining how to do the most common tasks in OPM, and detail on migrating projects from v10 to v12 too.  Pro tip: The documentation also contains rule templates, additional example policy models and code samples to explain specific points, beyond what is shown in the Policy Modeling example projects. If you want to bookmark a link to the online documentation, use the unversioned link. That way, you’ll always be reading the latest information. If you still need help getting up to speed, check out Oracle’s Cloud Learning Solutions here. Coming up: Tips and tricks on: Using the Rule Assistant, Collaborative Policy Modeling, Working with v12 projects (including versioning!), Testing and much more. Feel free to leave a comment if there is a topic you would like to see covered. Fiona   Next:  Tips and Tricks 2: Working with Policy Modeling Projects  

Hi everyone I’ve been talking to some folks who are keen to move from the v10 on-premise version of OPA to v12 (cloud or on-premise) and asking for a few hints around how best to work in v12. With this...

OPA Technical

Combining Siebel IP 2016 and native OPA 12.x Interviews + Answer Service

Whitepaper on combining Siebel IP 2016 and native OPA 12.x Interviews Resources ZIP file to support Whitepaper   Purpose The attached whitepaper is a guide for Siebel customers that wish to take advantage of OPA 12.x functionality that is not supported by the Siebel Open UI OPA Interview Applet provided with Siebel IP2016. It provides detailed instructions for how to extend the Siebel IP2016 OPA integration to support native OPA interviews, with support for all the latest control styles, dynamic screen rendering, document attachments and checkpoints. Included as an appendix is an example of how to integrate the OPA Answer Service. The whitepaper and resource bundle links are at the top of this post. Executive Overview The attached whitepaper describes a low risk approach for Oracle customers to adopt the latest versions of Siebel and Oracle Policy Automation, while also taking advantage of all the latest OPA interview features. To use Oracle Policy Automation versions up to 10.4.x with Siebel CRM, Oracle provides a product called Oracle Policy Automation Connector for Siebel. This connector supports the native OPA advice experiences called interviews that load and save data from Siebel, and making decisions in Siebel workflows with calls to OPA Determinations API Assess web service. For Oracle Policy Automation 12 and later, the integration between Siebel and OPA moved into the core Siebel product, and no separate OPA connector is needed. Siebel IP2014 released the first integration to OPA version 12, and with the release of Siebel IP2016 both interviews and web service integration with OPA v12 are supported. An OpenUI OPA Interview Applet is provided, which renders OPA interviews as Siebel OpenUI controls. Custom configuration of an OPA interview is required before it can be used with this applet, and only some OPA interview features are supported. This whitepaper explains in detail how to extend the functionality of the Siebel IP2016 OPA integration to support native OPA interviews in a similar fashion to OPA Connector for Siebel 10.4, but with full compatibility with OPA 12.x. In particular, it explains how to add support to Siebel for the standard OPA 12 web service connector operations Load, Submit, GetCheckpoint and SetCheckpoint. The referenced .zip file includes workflows, integration objects and other Siebel repository objects that extend the functionality of the Siebel IP2016 OPA integration. These changes can be maintained during subsequent Siebel upgrades. Introduction When is the Siebel Open UI OPA Interview Applet not enough? The Open UI OPA Applet currently supports a subset of OPA interview features. Unlike native OPA interviews, it cannot use OPA rules to dynamically change the appearance of a screen as data is entered on that screen, nor support control types such as sliders, image buttons and signatures. It also does not currently support checkpoints that allow saving and resuming OPA interviews, nor file attachments for uploaded documents or generated forms. In general, the Open UI OPA Applet only adds support for certain missing OPA interview features in each Siebel innovation pack release. By contrast, implementing native OPA interviews allows for immediate and complete adoption of all new OPA front-end functionality as it is released, without any custom screen configuration to support the Siebel Open UI OPA Applet. The tables below compare native OPA interviews with the Siebel IP2016 Open UI OPA applet.   Siebel Open UI OPA Applet Native OPA Interviews 100% Open UI Compatibility Yes No Siebel industry examples Yes No No Siebel customization Yes No Fully supported by Oracle Support Yes No* All OPA controls supported No Yes Dynamic screen behavior No Yes Attachments, signatures and custom controls No Yes Checkpoints No Yes Standard OPA screen authoring No Yes Simple upgrade from OPA 10.4 No Yes *All standard Siebel and OPA functionality is fully supported. The recommended customizations outlined in this whitepaper must be supported by in-house Siebel developers, Oracle Consulting Services or Siebel-certified partners. The purpose of this whitepaper is to eliminate most of the risk of adopting native OPA interviews with Siebel IP2016 and later, by providing the community with clear steps that can be followed by any qualified Siebel personnel. The recommended path outlined is supported with current and later versions of Siebel and Oracle Policy Automation.

Whitepaper on combining Siebel IP 2016 and native OPA 12.x Interviews Resources ZIP file to support Whitepaper   Purpose The attached whitepaper is a guide for Siebel customers that wish to take advantage...

OPA General

One simple tip for mobile decision making: CARE

(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. Why? 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.

(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...

OPA General

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. Assessments 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.

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...

OPA General

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.

Ulrich Scheuber | OPA Solution Specialist & Matthew Bickham | OPA Consulting Practice Manager   HR policies built using Oracle Policy Automation increases andsustains Employee Experience for companies...

OPA General

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). TheOPA 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. TheOPA 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.  

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...

OPA Modeling

Upgrading to Oracle Policy Modeling Version 12

Max Hill | OPA Rules Consultant (Europe) Version 12 of Oracle Policy Automation is now upon us and our customers are asking us about upgrading their existing rulebases to the latest version. In this Blog, we will be introducing some of the new OPA features and considerations for upgrading before you do so. At Oracle, we have conducted a number of upgrades already and more than happy to support you in your process so you can conduct the upgrade efficiently and make the very best of all the new features.  First off, let's look at some of the new features of version 12:         Before you can upgrade to Version 12 you should: Check for mathematic operators in attribute text. OPM 12 recognises “/, -, +, *, )” next to a space automatically and will assign attributes containing these symbols as multiple separate variables attributes and not single attributes.   If there are a large number of attributes containing mathematic operators then notepad++ or word macros can be used to find and replace all of these on mass. However care must be taken when using these functions, especially with Office 2007 as word documents are stored as binary files which may contain the text string you wish to replace in the file code, replacing this will corrupt the document (Notepad++). Before Running the Migration Wizard: Verify that your document will build correctly without errors and ensure you have closed Word, Excel and all other versions of OPM and that none of these have processes running in the background. These may interfere with the migration process. Opening Project & Running the Migration Wizard: In the Project tab select “Open Project” and browse to the relevant rulebase (.xprj) file. Once you have opened this the migration assistant will begin. During this process do not open any other versions of Oracle Policy Modeling, use word or excel. Outlook may also cause issues if it is running a word editor in the background. Migration should take approximately 5-10 minutes (depending upon rulebase size). Click “Continue” once Migration is complete.   Once Migration is Complete: You may have to reassign attribute types that could not be determined automatically. This can be done by checking attribute types against the old rulebase.   You may also have to reassign entity relationships that were determined incorrectly by V12 which are usually the result of ambiguous attribute text. In some instances spaces may need to be put into calculations otherwise they will not be recognized as such, this is a new requirement in version 12.  Other things to looks out for are mathematic operators next to each other in Boolean attributes will cause attribute to be assigned as a variable e.g. “()/”. Errors may also arise around incorrect parsing of Booleans (can appear as multiply proven attributes). If miscellaneous errors from migration appear, take a screenshot and contact your manager or the development team.  Once Migration is Complete:   Finally, once you have fixed all errors in the Data and Rules tabs you can address the Interview errors. Many of these will result from the new way in which V12 manages screen visibility OOTB and no longer includes flows or screen attributes. Screen errors will also arise around entity relationships that were determined incorrectly by V12, verify the correct entities using previous version.   Once you have verified that the rulebase procedure and rule dependencies are the same as in the previous version (before upgrade), the upgrade process is complete. If you have any queries about upgrading OPA to version 12 then please contact us!   We have OPA enablement courses available in the following: OPA Rule Author Foundation for Version 12 (5d) OPA Rule Author Advanced for Version 12 (5d) OPA with BI Publisher (2d) OPA Testing Tools & Methods (2d) OPA Project Leader (2d) OPA Technical (2d)          

Max Hill | OPA Rules Consultant (Europe) Version 12 of Oracle Policy Automation is now upon us and our customers are asking us about upgrading their existing rulebases to the latest version. In this...

OPA Modeling

Rule loops in OPA rules

As any experienced rule author will know, OPA automatically runs through a series of logic checks each time a policy model is built. One of these checks is for self-referential rules, or to put it another way rules that are proven by themselves – the logical loop check. In rare situations, usually when writing complex rules involving time based reasoning or multiple entity instances, it may be necessary to implement a controlled logic looping situation. First introduced in OPA version 10.2, rule loops allow you to overcome the problem of rules which loop back to different instances in the same entity by defining a rule as an allowable loop, allowing the rules to validate past the logical loop check. Loops using entity instances The following fictitious example shows an example of a 'valid' rules loop using different entity instances. The source material states: "a person can be a UK passport holder if they meet the qualifying criteria, or if any of their parents are eligible for a UK passport." The rules highlighted in the red boxes below cause a logical loop upon build, however in this case the logic is correct.     To implement a rule loop in OPM, first highlight the rule. Then use the Rule Properties Editor (ALT + P) in the Word toolbar, and tick the Rule Loop checkbox:     The policy model now passes validation, and is logically sound. In the following interview, Tom has been identified as Sarah's parent. Tom has been in the UK for 30 years with no criminal record, therefore qualifies. Even though Sarah does not qualify on her own accord due to the length of time spent in the UK, the fact that she has a qualifying parent means she also qualifies.   The decision report within Oracle Web Determinations shows that Sarah qualifies on the basis of her parent, Tom:   You may have realised that the way these rules have been written, even if Tom was not suitable, he may himself have a parent who qualifies - which would make Tom, and therefore Sarah eligible. Following this sequence through, it would mean anyone with a qualifying ancestor would automatically be eligible themselves. In this example we can assume this is the intended behaviour - but it is essential to consider where the loop could, and should end. This is sometimes referred to as identifying the exit condition.   Loops using temporal reasoning   Loops can also relate to an attribute's value at different points in time, rather than different entity instances. Consider the following logic:   "An applicant will be treated as qualifying for the benefit continuously if they have been out of the country for less than 7 days, and at the time they left the country, they qualified for the benefit" Again, we are looking at a different instance (this time on the temporal timeline) of the attribute, but OPA will identify 'the applicant qualifies for the benefit' as a loop. Specifying the attribute as a rule loop, using the method shown above can allow the rules author to overcome this.     Consider the following worked example: John's benefit period runs from 1 Jan to 31 Jan 2014 (all dates inclusive). He satisfied the income criteria to qualify for the benefit throughout the month, apart from one period between 18 Jan and 20 Jan, where his income was too high. John was out of the country from 6 Jan to 16 Jan - a total of 11 days. As he continued to meet the income criteria, and qualified for the benefit the day before he left, he was entitled continuously for the first 7 days of his absence. On 13 Jan, John had been out the country for more than 7 days, so became ineligible. When John returned to the country on 16 Jan, he became eligible again - until 18 Jan when he did not satisfy the income criteria. On 19 Jan, John left the country again until 23 Jan. Although the absence was less than 7 days, and he met the income criteria from 20 Jan, he was ineligible throughout the entire absence because he was not eligible the day before he left. When he returned to the UK on 23 Jan, he became eligible again. In total, he was eligible for the benefit for 23 days out of the 31 day period.   Final points Careful consideration should be given before implementing rule loops, as incorrect use can result in rules that can never be proven. If you are not sure, ask an OCS consultant. The logical loop check is there for a reason! You should only use this feature if you are sure there is an exit condition. If the loop is not controlled, then the OPA rules engine will keep going around and around until it eventually stops with an error. It is very important that the rules are tested thoroughly to avoid any unexpected behaviour. If the loop encompasses multiple rules, each individual rule must be configured separately. This blog is brought to you by Oracle Consulting Services. Further details about OPA enablement, coaching and mentoring services can be obtained by contacting the author.

As any experienced rule author will know, OPA automatically runs through a series of logic checks each time a policy model is built. One of these checks is for self-referential rules, or to put...

OPA Modeling

Allowing Discretion in OPA Rules

The purpose of a policy model is to make decisions on your behalf, often applying complex sets of rules. A lot of work goes into automating the decision making process so that every decision is fair, consistent and traceable. So why on earth would you want to allow a ‘human’ to over-ride this decision? There are times when some human involvement is desirable because to automate all aspects of the process may not be practical - a policy model can only make a decision if it has all the rules it needs. Examples where some discretion might be required include: medical diagnosis, staff promotion, bonus payment, application for a grant and travel approval. Allowing discretion in rules must be carefully thought through. A policy model should always be allowed to arrive at a decision itself where it is possible for it to do so. If permitted, the rules must be modelled to clearly state discretion has been applied, and the decision report as a consequence must reflect this. The following fictitious example provides a simple illustration of how two areas of the rules have been constructed to allow the user (a Deciding Officer) to over-ride the automated decision. A policy model has been authored to determine whether an applicant has a Centre of Interest in Atlantis based on a number of criteria. A decision can also be based on answers provided by a Deciding Officer. A positive decision will impact an applicant’s ability to receive certain government related payment credits. Rules to provide discretion have been modelled in Sections 1 and 3 as highlighted by the red boxes. If the applicant’s family members are not located in Atlantis, the Deciding Officer is provided with the option to over-ride the decision. The Deciding Officer is also able to over-ride the overall decision at the end of the assessment using a similar procedure. If the system determines that the applicant’s Centre of Interest is not in Atlantis, then it is possible to over-ride this and add other factors which might be important to the determination. It is possible to limit the ability to over-ride and use discretion on the rule decision to a limited number of end-users (i.e. Senior Deciding Officers). In this example however, all users are provided with this opportunity. Any reasons for granting discretion must be entered by the Deciding Officer during the assessment, and these are saved as part of the interview. The journey for the user commences with the Summary Screen, which provides an introduction and a link to start the assessment: Personal details are entered on the next screen and then the user is presented with a series of questions based on the rules to determine the applicant’s Centre of Interest: If the user answers ‘no’ to the question relating to the close family members, the policy model contains rules to allow for discretion at this point. The Deciding Officer is provided with an option to state whether other factors should be taken into account: The Deciding Officer is required to enter other factors which they believe should be taken into account for this assessment in a free-text format:   The policy model checks the reasons have been entered, but does not investigate whether specific factors are relevant or valid. Rules can be created to allow the user to select from pre-defined lists of options prior to this to categorise the discretion more tightly. In this example the discretion is more open.The Summary Screen is displayed and the determination is presented: Whilst the decision is positive for the applicant, the Deciding Officer is reminded that discretion has been applied. Selecting the ‘Why’ link displays the decision report, which shows the decision was made with discretion applied by the Deciding Officer: A record of the reason for discretion is then stored within the session case file, that is then saved and stored in the host application.If the policy model determines that an applicant does not have a Centre of Interest in Atlantis, the rules will provide an option for the Deciding Officer to use discretion and over-ride this decision as well: In summary, the ability to over-ride a policy model decision should be treated with care. In some circumstances, factors may impact a decision where it is not feasible to model them in rules.In all cases, allowing the policy model to automate the decision making process should be considered by default. This Blog is brought to you by Oracle Consulting Services. Further details about OPA enablement, coaching and mentoring services can be obtained by contacting the author.      

The purpose of a policy model is to make decisions on your behalf, often applying complex sets of rules. A lot of work goes into automating the decision making process so that every decision is fair,...

OPA Technical

Ten Minute Tutorial: XDS Logger Plugin for Determinations Server (JDeveloper)

Andrew Higginbottom | Policy Automation Technical Zealot Welcome to another TMT. This time we will create a plugin for Oracle Determinations Server to log incoming SOAP requests in the Oracle Policy Automation XDS (eXplicit Data Set) format - not to be confused with XSD. You can take this and load it into the Oracle Policy Modeling debugger to track down issues with specific SOAP requests. DISCLAIMER: This might take you longer than 10 minutes, depending on how fast you can click and how fast your PC is! Last time we used Eclipse but this time we will be using JDeveloper to build and test the plugin. Again there are some prerequisites: Oracle JDeveloper (I used 11.1.2.4.0) Oracle Policy Automation Runtime Components for Java (I used v10.4.4.21.0) SoapUI (I used 4.6.4) Once downloaded, install JDeveloper, extract the OPA Runtime Components to a convenient location and install SoapUI. Now we begin. Start JDeveloper and accept the "Studio Developer (All Features)" role. Select Application > New... from the main menu to create a new application workspace. Give the application a name "ODSXDSPlugin" Accept the default Project1 and Finish. Having set up the Application, we now import the Determinations Server WAR file. File > Import... from the main menu, then select > WAR File. Call the project "determinations server". At the next step Browse... to the location where you extracted the OPA Runtime and select /determinations-server/determinations-server.war. Right-click determinations-server project, New..., General > Java Class. Enter Name "XDSLogger", Package "com.opablog.aeh". Add the "OnBeforeThinkEventHandler" interface. This event is fired for every request, after the request has been parsed into the session but before the rules are executed. This time I've provided the code to copy and paste in, replacing the entire contents of the new XDSLogger.java file: package com.opablog.aeh; import com.oracle.determinations.engine.SessionUtils; import com.oracle.determinations.server.assess.extensions.AssessPlugin; import com.oracle.determinations.server.assess.extensions.AssessPluginRegisterArgs; import com.oracle.determinations.server.assess.extensions.events.OnBeforeThinkEvent; import com.oracle.determinations.server.assess.extensions.events.OnBeforeThinkEventHandler; import java.io.IOException; import java.io.StringWriter; import org.apache.log4j.Logger; public class XDSLogger implements OnBeforeThinkEventHandler {     private Logger log = Logger.getLogger(this.getClass());     public XDSLogger() {         super();     }     @Override     public void handleEvent(Object object, OnBeforeThinkEvent onBeforeThinkEvent) {         try {             StringWriter w = new StringWriter();             SessionUtils.exportSession(onBeforeThinkEvent.getSession(), w);             log.debug(w.toString());         } catch (IOException e) {             log.error(e);         }     }     @Override     public AssessPlugin getInstance(AssessPluginRegisterArgs assessPluginRegisterArgs) {         return this;     } } Edit Application Sources/config/application.properties to configure ODS to load the plugin by updating the plugin.libraries parameter to "plugin.libraries=com.opablog.aeh.XDSLogger" Edit Application Sources/log4j.xml to increase the logging level by setting <level value="DEBUG"/> under the <root> element. Don't do this in production! Copy in the PocketMoneyComputation.zip rulebase from the \examples\rulebases\compiled folder in your expanded OPA runtime location. Use Windows Explorer to copy the file into your JDeveloper project. For me the destination folder is located at C:\JDeveloper\mywork\ODSXDSPlugin\determinations-server\src\rulebases. Now we can deploy the plugin to our local server. Select Run > Start Server Instance (IntegratedWebLogicServer) from the main menu and enter credentials of your choice to use for server setup. Wait for domain to build and server to start up. Once completed you should see "IntegratedWebLogicServer started." in the Log window. Now we can deploy our Determinations Server with XDS logger plugin. Right-click the determinations-server project and Deploy > "determinations-server...". Select "Deploy to Application Server", click Next, then IntegratedWebLogicServer, then Finish. Ignore any warnings logged during startup - they are only there because we turned the logging up to DEBUG. In the deployment tab you should see that deployment has finished and you are given the URL in the Deployment - Log window. Finally we can test our plugin by sending a request using SoapUI. Open the URL in your favourite browser and you will see the familiar page listing the OPA services available. Grab the full URL to the specific Assess service WSDL. Start SoapUI and select File > New SOAP Project from the main menu. Give the project a name and paste the WSDL URL for Initial WSDL. Make sure Create Requests is checked. Open Request1 under the Assess node and paste the following minimal SOAP message to replace the default content: <soapenv:Envelope xmlns:soapenv="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/" xmlns:typ="http://oracle.com/determinations/server/10.4/PocketMoneyComputation/assess/types">    <soapenv:Header/>    <soapenv:Body>       <typ:assess-request>          <typ:global-instance>             <!--You may enter the following 6 items in any order-->             <!--Optional:-->             <typ:base_rate>                <typ:number-val>2.50</typ:number-val>             </typ:base_rate>             <typ:person_name>                <!--You have a CHOICE of the next 3 items at this level-->                <typ:text-val>Parent</typ:text-val>             </typ:person_name>             <typ:total_money outcome-style="decision-report"/>             <typ:list-child>                <typ:child id="1">                   <typ:child_name>                      <typ:text-val>Bobby</typ:text-val>                   </typ:child_name>                   <typ:child_age>                      <typ:number-val>7</typ:number-val>                   </typ:child_age>                   <typ:child_money outcome-style="value-only"/>                </typ:child>                <typ:child id="2">                   <typ:child_name>                      <typ:text-val>Betty</typ:text-val>                   </typ:child_name>                   <typ:child_age>                      <typ:number-val>9</typ:number-val>                   </typ:child_age>                   <typ:child_money outcome-style="value-only"/>                </typ:child>             </typ:list-child>          </typ:global-instance>       </typ:assess-request>    </soapenv:Body> </soapenv:Envelope> Press "play" (the green arrow pointing to the right) to submit Request1. You should see a response that looks similar to the request, but with calculated values returned along with the inputs used. In addition to processing the Assess request as normal, our new Determinations Server plugin has logged the inputs to the application log in the OPA XDS format. You can now copy this XML into a text file and load it up in OPM to debug! There are obvious improvements that could be made to this, such as logging each request to its own file, but I will leave those as an exercise for the reader. This is supposed to be a TMT after all!      

Andrew Higginbottom | Policy Automation Technical ZealotWelcome to another TMT. This time we will create a plugin for Oracle Determinations Server to log incoming SOAP requests in the Oracle Policy...

OPA General

Building an Oracle Policy Automation Center of Excellence

Introduction We all know Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) enables business experts to be able to create sophisticated rulebase applications directly without the need to have a background or qualification in software development. The diagram below provides an overview of the steps that are normally conducted to build an OPA rulebase:   Business rule authors are critical to every project and to wrap them into a structure, I always encourage customers to establish a Center of Excellence (CoE) where talent, skills, processes and disciplines are centrally governed within a business. Whilst business experts may not initially have the skills to build software, the CoE approach provides everything needed to grow capability and confidence in authoring rules and systems that significantly outweighs any nervousness that may have existed at the outset. This is very important because initially not all organizations are ready to take the leap of faith needed for business experts to play a more development role. For those that do, there are significant rewards. Just some quotes from our CoEs: “OPA is the most innovative technology on our estate” “OPA has paid for itself 7 times over and that is just with our first project!” “OPA is a game changer. We would never have been able to achieve what we have done using any other method or technology”   OPA Projects Any project is often born through a business need to build a system to meet a brand-new requirement. In terms of OPA this will mean that a project will include a requirement for a system to automatically make a complex decision on behalf of the organization using rules and building a customer experience friendly interview that will include assessment screens, smooth screen-flow, data validation, look-ups (of known data) and documented outputs of the rulebase determinations that are made. Projects are normally resourced to meet the needs of the project and formed based on the availability of key people, timelines to deliver and scope of the project work. Given these variables, a lot is left to chance and luck. Rulebase resources may require initial training but there is a tension to deliver in an agile way and this needs the team to be properly trained, experienced and ready to start creating rulebase components from day one. Forming a brand new project team for every project is very difficult given issues with availability of key experts. A much better approach is to build a Center of Excellence that maintains skills and grows capability so that with every new project the team grows in strength. The Benefits An OPA CoE addresses start-up issues because every project is safely delivered within a structure that already has the capability and skills to deliver a project from the beginning. It will contain a pool of resources at various skills levels. Senior members of the team will evolve through experience and lead areas of work including rules architecture, test management, project management and technical architecture. The CoE is special in that it is business centric but includes IT team members who must connect and manage the integration between OPA and other systems. This enables the business authors to remain focused on delivering projects using their skills to the full. So why is an OPA Center of Excellence any different to any other CoE? The key difference is that the CoE is business focused with more Subject Matter Experts involved more directly with building and testing rulebase components than ever before. This is not only limited to rule authoring. Those involved in testing utilize tools within OPA itself (regression tester, what-if analysis, test coverage reporting etc) to verify rules directly, safely navigating rules and components at a read-only level. Powerful test suites are developed by business experts directly into a rulebase and each key outcome is tested against manually created expected outcomes. The business expert has responsibility for this work and has proven to significantly reduce the time to develop and test solutions, not leaving all the testing effort until the end. In addition, our customers report that defect-free systems are commonplace with OPA after initial implementation because the experts in that area of the business were more intimately involved in the authoring and testing process throughout. Due to OPA’s unique natural language capability, rules are easily read and understood by testers and other members of the team and this is one of the key factors in its success. Becoming an OPA CoE There is a process to becoming an OPA CoE. Oracle has assisted many organizations build their structure and capability which establishes a robust model for the successful delivery of projects that utilizes OPA in the future. To start, a Center of Excellence requires management and governance to control, direct and prioritize the work that is conducted. For most, this is led by a business manager with skills to manage resources across projects and business areas. Next, there is organization and structure to the Center of Excellence. For the resource teams, training and a qualification in OPA is achieved to an advanced level to ensure that the team members are fully skilled to successfully deliver projects with the product. A skills matrix is formed and a detailed record is kept of the skills attained as the experience of each member of the team grows. A CoE will also want to be known within the business and a communication plan is created to inform internal and external stakeholders about its purpose and vision. Other criteria exist to achieve recognition and includes adherence to best practices design standards, rule authoring guidelines and the control of rules within a configuration management system. For all OPA CoEs there is now access to an exclusive online Oracle work-group that allows for greater sharing of knowledge, promotes decision of OPA related topics and provides valuable information about forthcoming events. Summary The OPA CoE approach has provided many OPA customers with a valuable structure and focus that has truly maximized the use of the technology and has built a strong team around it. ‘Growing your own’ OPA capability is part of the whole ethos behind the application and true value has been achieved when our customers have taken this best practice approach.   Please get in touch if you would like to find out more.     Title photo: Jeremy Thomas

Introduction We all know Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) enables business experts to be able to create sophisticated rulebase applications directly without the need to have a background or qualification...

OPA Technical

Ten Minute Tutorial: Web Determinations Plugin (Java in Eclipse)

Andrew Higginbottom | Policy Automation Technical Zealot Welcome to this TMT, today I will show you how to create a Web Determinations plugin. Plugins provide a mechanism to alter the default behavior throughout the Oracle Policy Automation web applications. You can use plugins to change the way pages and controls are rendered, the way sessions are loaded and saved, where rulebases are loaded from, and the way many other aspects of the applications work. Plugins are developed as Java or .NET classes and packaged and deployed as JARs or DLLs. In this tutorial we will start from a completely empty workspace and have an event handler plugin up and running in under 10 minutes. Before we get started there are two prerequisites to download: Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers (I used Kepler SR1) Oracle Policy Automation runtime components for Java (I used v10.4.4.21.0) Expand the downloads to a convenient location and launch eclipse.exe within the eclipse folder. Create a workspace folder (or accept the default) to hold the eclipse project files and continue to the eclipse IDE. Close the Welcome tab to see the normal eclipse view. Now we are ready to import the out of the box Web Determinations application via the menu. File > Import, choose Web > WAR file. On the next screen Browse... to the location where you expanded the OPA runtime download, and navigate to \web-determinations\web-determinations.war. Leave the rest of the field defaults and click Finish. Once the project has finished importing we are ready to develop our plugin. The first step is to add our plugin class. Right-click the Java Resources > src folder then New > Class. Enter your desired package name and class name (you will need these later) and use the Add... button to add the interface OnSessionCreatedEventHandler to the class definition. Click Finish to, well, finish. Within the generated class we will make a few small changes to register the plugin correctly and print a message to System.out every time a session is created. We need to change line 12 to "return this;" and on line 17 we use a basic println to write something to the output. Go on, type it, it's only one line - but please don't do this in production code! Now we are finished with building the plugin, we just need to configure Web Determinations to load it. For development we edit the src/configuration/application.properties file to specify the plugin's class name but you can also bundle your plugin into a JAR which will be loaded automatically from the plugins folder. Add the fully qualified name of your plugin class to the "plugin.libraries=" line:   We now copy a rulebase into the src/rulebases folder so we can actually start a session. When a single rulebase is present in the rulebases folder a new session will automatically be launched in that rulebase when the user hits the base URL. Copy in the HealthyEating.zip rulebase from the \examples\rulebases\compiled folder in your expanded OPA runtime location. You can do this by copying from Windows Explorer and pasting via the context menu in eclipse. Now we are ready to test our new plugin within a Web Deteminations session. We can Run the web-determinations project on the J2EE Preview Server provided in eclipse. Select the project root folder (web-determinations) and from the main menu use Run > Run, then Run on Server. On the next screen select Basic > J2EE Preview and click Finish. Once the server starts up you should see the summary screen and in the Console window your message printed from the handleEvent method of your class! This is a very simple example, intended to show how to set up a development environment and develop your first Web Determinations plugin. There a many more things you could do within this event, such as loading some reference data, creating entity instances and so on. There are also many more event handlers you can implement and other types of plugins for changing the default Web Determinations behaviors, such as Data Adaptors, List Providers and Custom Screen/Control Providers. Check out the Extensions topic in the Oracle Policy Automation 10.4.4 Developer's Guide, starting from the Documentation page on OTN. Check back soon for a Determinations Server plugin tutorial!  

Andrew Higginbottom | Policy Automation Technical Zealot Welcome to this TMT, today I will show you how to create a Web Determinations plugin. Plugins provide a mechanism to alter the default behavior...

OPA General

Can OPA be used to improve draft legislation?

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.  

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...

OPA Modeling

Using a Soft Enter to Make Calculation Rules More Readable

As calculation rules get longer they become more difficult to read. Consider the two example rules below. The rule below is short, has few inputs, and thus is very easy to read: The rule below is longer, has far more inputs, and is a little more difficult to read: You can make a long calculation rule easier to read by using a 'soft enter' (Shift+Enter). A 'regular enter', i.e. just hitting the enter key, inserts a hard enter which moves the remaining content to a new line and also indicates a new paragraph. This means that all formatting associated with a new paragraph will apply. From an OPM rule perspective it means the remaining content would become detached from the start of the rule, and the rule would be broken. A soft enter moves the remaining content to a new line, but it does not indicate a new paragraph. This means you can make the rule appear like the example below, without the rule being broken. In the example above, a soft enter was inserted between each item in the calculation, making it much easier to read. Below is a screenshot of the same rule with the formatting marks displayed. Notice that the only paragraph mark (  ) appears at the very end of the rule, whereas the other lines end in a soft enter (  ).  

As calculation rules get longer they become more difficult to read. Consider the two example rules below. The rule below is short, has few inputs, and thus is very easy to read: The rule below is...

OPA General

Oracle Policy Automation Personalizes the Customer Experience

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

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...

Oracle

Integrated Cloud Applications & Platform Services