Rules and BPM

[via Sadagopan] Barry Briggs writes:

What is often missing in current business process deployments is approachability by the business user, by the one constituency that is accountable for the operation of the business. To make these sorts of changes to running business systems too frequently requires the analyst to request IT assistance code changes, regressions, and redeployments.

This problem, however, is solved by the tight integration of business rules technology with business process technology. Business rules are simple and intuitive: if platinum customer, offer 20% discount. Indeed, years of research have concluded that the if-then structure of rules is central to the cognitive structure and operation of the human brain.

This being the case, rules offer a safe business-user-focused window into the often highly technical business process. While an IT architect would shudder to think of a business analyst changing an applications security model or communications protocol, changing the value of a condition in a rule is exceptionally powerful and doesnt risk the integrity of the underlying applications. If we want to offer the discount to platinum customers today, and gold and platinum customers tomorrow, that may have interesting implications for the business, but none for the underlying applications.

Certainly, business rules engines have existed for some time, and a number of vendors sell standalone engines. However, the true value of business rules appear when the rules engine is integrated as a fundamental building block of the business process.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.