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What Happened to My Customers?

(Trading Community Architecture)


Jeannie Dobney
EduSource Pty Ltd

Introduction
Oracle has been gradually introducing its Trading Community Architecture (TCA) with Release 11i. Initially, it
may have seemed as if the TCA changes were all at the Database level, however, the pace of continuing change is
currently quite rapid – and the changes are becoming more obvious to the functional user. This article provides
an overview of those changes.

Why Change the Customer Model?


Basically there are 2 change drivers:
Firstly, the world of business is changing and Oracle’s existing data model, which reflected relatively stable
corporate entities doing business with one another along “old economy lines” is no longer sufficient to capture
the complexity and fluidity of the new economy. For example the existing architecture did not model B2C
(business-to-consumer) relationships adequately.
Secondly, Oracle’s CRM Applications use “prospect” data a little differently than the core ERP Applications like
Receivables use “customer” data and so the data model had to change to incorporate these different objectives.
The changes we are currently seeing are just the beginning of the transformation. Ultimately, Oracle have
signalled that they plan to provide a single data store for suppliers, customers, internal organisations and
employee data, as well as providing the tools that a centralised “data desk” function require to maintain such a
valuable repository.
Oracle has therefore changed the underlying data structures (see Metalink Note 205013.1) but more significantly,
the conceptual framework around customer creation has now changed. The biggest impact will be for users of
the CRM Applications.

The Jargon
TCA separates the “customer” into 2 layers: Party and Account. The concept which CRP users have of a
“prospect” equates most closely to a Party. This is information which is independent of the business storing the
customer data in Oracle’s TCA. The Account aspect most closely equates to the pre-11i customer concept.
Here’s an introduction to the new terminology.
A Party is any entity with which you could potentially do business. It could be an organisation, an individual or
a relationship (like a partnership or consortium).
A Location is a point in geographical space described by a street address. In previous releases of Oracle, there
was a risk of some data redundancy if more than one customer shared the same site or location. The new
model eliminates this redundancy.
An Account represents the business (selling) relationship that a company deploying Oracle Applications has with
a party. (Thus your customers have become accounts as you migrated to 11i and your old Accounts
Receivable customer number is now the new TCA account number.). You can have more than one account
with a single party, if you need to model separate selling relationships. For example two of your lines of
business might conduct business with a party on different terms.
A Relationship between 2 parties is also treated as a party of the type relationship. Relationships can be
independent of you (the deploying company), thus you can now capture the link between a partner who sells
on your behalf and their customers, as well as relationship between your customers like “competitor of”.
A Party Site links a party with a location, indicating that party’s usage of the location.
An Account Site is a party site that is used by a customer account, for example, for billing or shipping purposes.
(Account Sites are Organisation specific in Multi-Org terms, just as Customer Sites were.)
A Contact is a person in the context of an organisation, modelled as a relationship between an organisation and a
person or between two people, (this can be either a party contact or an account contact).
A Contact Point is a means of contacting a party, for example, a phone number, e-mail address, or fax number.

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What Impact Does TCA Have?
How should you model / set up customer data now in Oracle Applications? Consider the following example.
Imagine a global customer: Acme Corporation. Your orgnaisation currently do business with their sites in
multiple Australian States as well as Singapore and New Zealand. Should you set Acme Corp up as one party
with one account and multiple sites, or one party with multiple accounts, or multiple parties?
Oracle recommend that you:
− Create one party for every business entity with which you interact distinctly. So if you wish to track business
activity separately for Acme NZ and Acme Australia they should be set up as separate parties.
− Do not use Party sites to represent the organisational hierarchy of a party. Party Relationships like
“subsidiary of” can be used to model these sorts of relationships.
− If you plan to purchase prospect data from Dun & Bradstreet (to take advantage of the new TCA feature
enabling direct loading of D&B’s database of 57 million business records), you should create one party for
each DUNS number.
At this time, you may not feel that the new features provided by Oracle’s TCA are really useful to your business,
however the significance of positioning your organisation’s IT infrastructure for future growth should not be
underestimated. This must, however, also be balanced with the limitations of Oracle’s current level of
development of TCA. For example, at the present time you cannot roll up invoicing or statements for multiple
parties linked by party relationships, and your requirement for consolidated billing may need to be considered.

Creating “Customers” in the New World


If you use the CRP applications your process flow might now be something like the following:
1. Purchase prospect data from Dun & Bradstreet
2. Load the data into your TCA repository (see TCA Third Party Data Integration User Guide). This step
has created a Party record in your data base.
3. Include the party in your marketing campaigns using the Oracle CRM Marketing Applications and
update the party record as you learn more about the prospect using the eBusiness Centre in the Oracle
Customers Online module.
4. When an order is booked against the party in Order Management, an account is created automatically in
the (Multi-Org) Organisation you are working in. (This feature is controlled by a profile option and you
can disable it if you prefer to create the account separately, however, the order cannot be processed until
an account exists).
5. Accounts Receivable can now invoice the new account in the same way you would previously have
created transactions against customers in the past.

But We Don’t Use CRM…


If you do not use CRM, you need to be aware of how the model is changing but your data entry procedures will
not change significantly. Here’s how the process might work at your site:
1. When you navigate to the customer entry window, you will be prompted to first search for your
customer. This search must be performed before entering any information about either a new or an
existing customer (unless you override the default setting of the profile option HZ: Bypass Find/Enter
Window). . The search helps you to avoid entering a duplicate customer and reflects a new focus on data
quality within TCA. Oracle provide new Data Quality Management (DQM) tools to support this. It is
important when you search that you select the correct value in the Customer Type drop down box: either
person or organisation.
2. If your search returns existing customer accounts, they will be displayed as shown below:

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Notice that in this instance there are multiple accounts sites for one account associated with the Business
World Party.
To modify one of these records, select the row displaying it and then click OK
To create a new Account for an existing Party, select the row displaying the Party and click New
3. If no accounts match your search, you will be prompted to create a new Account:

4. Ensure that the Customer Type field has defaulted correctly, (if not search again with the correct
customer type.) This is important because you cannot change Customer Type from the customer entry
window.

Enter the customer name. You can also name this Account differently if you need to create multiple
accounts for a single customer to distinguish them for some internal purpose.
If you have automatic customer numbering, the customer / account number will be allocated when you
save your record.
If you have not set the Generate Party Number profile option to Yes, you must also enter an organization
/ party number. If you are migrating from earlier versions of Oracle Apps and not using CRM, consider
setting this profile option to Yes to allow party records to be created transparently in the background.
5. Enter your customer address and other information as you normally would.
6. If you get an error message when you save , check that the profile option OSM: Use Customer Keys is
set to No.

To access the other features now available with TCA, select the Trading Community Manager Responsibility
(typically allocated to your Data Desk / Master Data function):

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New Utilities and Functionality
Oracle have also provided a new set of utilities and tools:
Third Party Data Integration capabilities
Includes batch loading and control functionality.
Data Quality Management (DQM)
Powerful search and duplicate identification functionality.
Data Sharing and Security (DSS)
Used to manage who can create, modify, and delete information about TCA data model entities
across the applications in the Oracle E-Business Suite.
Oracle Customers Online (OCO)
Web-based module that provides a centralised view of the customer.
The eBusiness Centre
Form-based centralised view of customer data.
TCA Application Programming Interface
An alternative to the customer interface for loading customer data.
Jessica Witt’s paper referenced below covers most of these topics in detail. Scott Fitzgerald’s paper referenced
below deals in depth with the eBusiness centre. Please refer to them for further information on these topics.

Conclusion
This brief introduction outlines some of the changes you will experience creating customer records in Oracle 11i
Accounts Receivable.

About the Author


Jeannie Dobney can be contacted by email at jdobney@edusource.com.au. EduSource is an independent
provider of technical and Applications training in Oracle software at very competitive prices.

Further Reading:
Oracle Customer Management Tools, Witt, J. from OAUG Conference Paper Database
(This excellent paper shows the use of the new TCA tools in creating and maintaining Party records and
relationships).
“The Good, Bad, and Ugly”, Understand your Customer with the eBusiness Center, Fitzgerald, Scott from
OAUG Conference Paper Database
(This excellent paper shows the use of the eBusiness Centre.)
The Customer is King, Somogyi, G. et al from OAUG Conference Paper Database

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Oracle Trading Community Best Practices, An Oracle White Paper (from Metalink)
This is an older White Paper but is a ‘must read’ if you are re-implementing and want to design your
customer masters optimally.
Metalink Note :205013.1 – covers the changes to the Database tables which support TCA.
MetaLink (Note ID 237909.1 – About Oracle Trading Community Architecture
(because the TCA functionality is changing so rapidly at the moment, this frequently updated document
is a good resource).

Oracle Documentation
The scope of this suite of documentation should give some indication of the scope of change:
TCA Administration User Guide
Use this user guide to learn how to set up and administer relationships, classifications, Data Quality
Management, Third Party Data Integration, and Data Sharing and Security.
TCA Third Party Data Integration User Guide
User this user guide to learn how to manage and acquire third party information in the TCA Registry. The
user guide describes acquiring third party data from D&B.
TCA Relationship Manager User Guide
Use this user guide to learn how to manage relationships among existing parties in the TCA Registry. You
can view, create, and edit relationships, as well as view hierarchical relationships in a structural hierarchy.
TCA Data Quality Management User Guide
Use this user guide to learn how to set up Data Quality Management for powerful search, match, and
duplicate identification functionality that Oracle applications can implement and leverage. The Oracle
Trading Community Architecture Data Quality Management User Guide describes how to set up and use
transformation functions and match rules to identify possible duplicate parties.
TCA Party Merge User Guide
Use this user guide to learn how to merge parties and their related entities in the TCA registry. The Oracle
Trading Community Architecture Party Merge User Guide describes how to set up and process party merge
batches as well as how to identify merge errors.
TCA API User Notes
Use these technical user notes to learn how to access the public TCA application programming interfaces
(APIs). For each API, these user notes provide a description of the API, the PL/SQL procedure, and the Java
method, as well as a table of the parameter descriptions and validations.
Oracle Customers Online Implementation Guide
Use this user guide to learn how to implement Oracle Customers Online (OCO), which solves the 3 C's of
customer data management: 1) consolidation, 2) cleanliness, and 3) completeness. From OCO, you can
access the Administration features.

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