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New Post 5/24/2008 5:00 AM
User is offline Nigelus
23 posts
www.altkon.com
9th Level Poster


Re: Business Rules and Business Processes 

David, I enjoyed your input together with Adrian's comments. What was your reaction to the articles on "Smart Enough Systems", do you see it as a way forward. I am really keen to get more discussion on the role and efficasy of business rules and decisioning and the positioning that is ermerging within modern day system and application design. I question whether some of the business rules systems available today actually enable agile authoring and change of rule and deicison models?

 

Nigel

 
New Post 5/24/2008 11:56 AM
User is offline David Wright
141 posts
www.iag.biz
7th Level Poster




Re: Business Rules and Business Processes 

Adrian,

You do need a business that understands that rules belong to them and not to push them back to IT.  Here are some success stories, from my article which I will forward shortly...

 

User Success Stories

The Business Rules Community now has its own dedicated conference, the International Business Rules Forum. Some of the companies that have presented their experience with Business Rules are:

The Hartford:

From 2003 to 2005, the Hartford implemented Rules-driven processing for underwriting all new and renewal insurance business. Over 2,000 rules were defined but it was discovered that about 30% of the rules previously implemented in systems could be retired. New rules were added as well, and the underlying system is now handling 100,000 plus transactions a day with sub-second response.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota:

This health insurance company first implemented a rules engine in 2002, and has seen significant ROI from the automation of claim adjudication business rules. They admit focusing too much on automation to start, without an overall Governance Structure; they now have such a structure for managing Rules, from definition to implementation, subsequent changes, and eventual retirement.

At this point, they are managing 30 to 40 rule changes per week. Changes are documented, implemented in a test Rule environment and then follow into integration testing etc., until implementation. Their cycle takes about 2.5 weeks from change approval to implementation. Four full-time Rule Analysts manage the whole process; their IT department is only involved once a year to implement the rule engine’s latest release from its vendor.

Other success stories I have seen include GE Energy, UICI/HealthMarkets, SunGard, AIG Agency Auto, Fannie Mae, Washington Mutual Bank, Experian, and Logistics Management for the US Department of Defense.


David Wright
 
New Post 5/24/2008 1:12 PM
User is offline David Wright
141 posts
www.iag.biz
7th Level Poster




Re: Business Rules and Business Processes 

Nigel, see my other post to Adrain about real use of rules engines.

I see EDM as the next step; some business people don't 'get' business rules as a concept, but everyone understands automation of decisions.


David Wright
 
New Post 5/25/2008 1:24 AM
User is offline Adrian M.
741 posts
3rd Level Poster




Re: Business Rules and Business Processes 

I did not mean to imply that identifying business rules and using rule engines doesn't provide value.  Sorry if I was not clear.

I wholeheartedly believe that rules engines are a great asset for businesses to manage their business rules especially if they provide the ability to change rules on demand and to respond fast to changes in market and business conditions.

And yes, the rules belong to the business much the same way that requirements belong to the business.  The only point I was trying to make is that no just any person on the business side can manage complex business rules.  Most business rules engines, if they are to support complex rules, employ the use of some form of scripting/rule language which allows for unambiguous representation of the business logic.  The business rules are then commands/instructions for the system.

The problem with that is that rules are, in principle, no different than code that programmers write: they can have bugs!  Therefore the management and deployment of business rules, in my opinion, should follow a similar process as code so that changes to the rules can be first tested and validated in an environment other than production.  I've heard many stories of production systems being severely impacted by "simple" business rule changes which were performed directly in the production environment.  My point was that IT organizations generally are already very familiar with this type of change management and deployment process and therefore, it is not a bad idea for the IT group to manage the rules engines.

My other point was that the folks who modify the business rules should have experience and understanding on how to specify logic rules and the domino effect that one change can have on other rules.  So, I believe that in most organizations the management of business rules should be managed by business analysts who not only work closely with the business folks but also with the IT side.

- Adrian


Adrian Marchis
Business Analyst Community Blog - Post your thoughts!
 
New Post 5/25/2008 3:16 AM
User is offline Nigelus
23 posts
www.altkon.com
9th Level Poster


Re: Business Rules and Business Processes 

Adrian thanks for your input here and you are clearly identifying all the areas where the tried and tested methodology that business takes when faced with business rules and decisioning requirements to assist with the management of complexity.

I find that a lot of talk on the forums around business rules and examples used are almost in the category of "process rules" or business rules to manage where a next step should be routed to in a process.

The ability to change rules on demand and for agility in this area is not made easy by the very issues you raise of proprietary scripting or rules language required for complex scenarios, and the costs for these skills, make it equate to code written by programmers and leave it open to "bugs" that need rigorous testing.

There are new emerging rule management systems, which cut across the traditional approach as above, and these are not getting the attention they deserve because of the entrenched approaches that the legacy rules systems have engendered in the IT and BA community. These emerging tools are bringing rule and decision model authoring right into the hands of Business Analysts and busines managers/stakeholders. They employ inbuilt test data generators and debug facilities, so that you can test as you build and end up with production ready models for deployment in days rather than months. e.g. www.qualiasystems.co.uk

As you so rightly mention though, business needs to identify their requirements for business rules and the areas of complexity they would like to address. It just feels as though this area of the whole requirements process needs modernisation to come into line with other agile methods available to analysts and consultants.

 
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