For some time users of Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS) have used rule execution sequence as a means of binding together and orchestrating the rules in a set—providing a ‘top level’ view of their content. Nearly all BRMS products have enshrined this idea in the ‘ruleflow’ concept. In many of these products the creation of a ruleflow is seen as a standard step in packaging a rule set and many rule authors find it a natural activity.
We argue, using an example, that not only are flows rarely required, but that they are frequently harmful to the agility of a rule set, can introduce harmful and hard to find errors and can make rule sets difficult to understand by business users. Furthermore, users frequently misunderstand the goal of ruleflows and misuse them.
We show that there is an alternative to ruleflows that orchestrates rules (especially large rule sets) more effectively and is easier to understand—the business decision model. (more…)
Experience has shown that sets of business rules, even those administered using Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS), become very hard to manage and understand once they reach a certain level of size and complexity. Although small, very tightly focused rule sets can be effective for simple business domains, large rule sets are challenging to create and even harder to maintain. Small rule sets that become large over time (scale up) present the most difficulty. They are at risk of collapsing under the weight of their own growing complexity or becoming the sole preserve of a small number of ‘gurus’ and ‘high priests’ who alone understand them—defeating a key objective of business rules.
In a previous article, I described how to overcome the challenges of maintaining a business rules over a long period. But how can you manage the complications of rapidly growing rule sets: keeping them easy to understand, changing them safely without unintended consequences and avoiding ‘stale’ and duplicate rules? Here we show, by example, how Decision Modeling, used from the outset can address all these problems and we discuss in more detail the difference between business decisions and business rules. (more…)
In a recent article we explained why any organisation that makes business decisions needs decision management, what it is and how it helps them become more effective.
Decision Management is a means of explicitly identifying and nurturing your business’s operational decisions—much as you would any other vital business asset (like data or process)— so that you can describe, share, change manage and monitor their performance to see how they are contributing towards your enterprise goals. Decision Modeling focuses on representing decisions in a precise, standardized and transparent way.
Through Decision Modeling, businesses can:
- Build and share a robust documentation of how their business decisions work, rendering them transparent, open to wide review and revealing any hidden flaws.
- Tame complexity by decomposing complex decisions into smaller sub-decisions for scalability.
- Prepare their decisions for external (compliance) audit by ensuring their behaviour can always be explained and justified against a specification.
- Understand quickly exactly what data and business knowledge are required to support their business decisions.
- Through a thorough understanding of decision dependencies, enable effective change impact assessments and agile change cycles.
These advantages cannot be provided by existing approaches like Business Rules alone.
In addition, decision models can be made so precise that they are executable. Modeling can also be the first step in automating decisions to reduce the cost of manual processes and capturing the expertise of manual decisions to avoid losing business expertise when key members of staff leave a company.
If your business systems make manual or automated decisions that influence your operations then you should consider adopting Business Decision Modeling as a matter of priority. Companies that leave their business decisions embedded in obscure program code, ‘technical’ business rules or in the heads of staff who manage manual operations, will be outmaneuvered by competitors who practice Decision Management and Decision Modeling and will be less able to justify the behaviour of their systems to an auditor. In this article we explain why. (more…)
James Taylor, CEO of Decision Management Solutions, and I co-presented a webinar earlier this month to discuss the application of business rules and business decisions in implementing financial compliance solutions.
We agreed that regulatory compliance (e.g., Basel III, FED 5G, FATCA) is a problem well suited to a Business Rules approach. Primarily because:
- it is repeatable and tractable to automation
- it demands transparency and traceability (regulations need to be followed and be seen to be followed) which implies the rules need to be expressed in business English
- regulations change frequently and typically mandate a ‘short time to market’
- it requires a degree of rigor to cope with the complexity of regulation
- it stipulates many regional variations in business logic which need to be coordinated
However, we identified five key issues for financial compliance and discussed why business rules alone do not fully address these challenges. In summary, we feel that Business Rules alone does not resolve:
- how business metrics can be used to monitor the effectiveness of compliance rules
- ‘big picture’ impact analysis to a compliance rule set when regulations or underlying financial conditions change
- the need to consistently apply a compliance policy throughout a complex business process
- the ability to precisely define rule semantics and align them to compliance policies
- the ability to scale a rule set while maintaining coherence
Decision management can address these issues and the webinar illustrates this with a demo of a compliance decision model using DecisionsFirst Modeler. Please see the recording of the webinar at http://decisionmanagementsolutions.com/agile-and-cost-effective-financial-compliance
If anyone is using decision management (or just business rules) for financial compliance I would be most interested in your views.
The world of business rules and business rule management has grown up. Welcome to the world of business decisions—a much more compelling technique with which companies can manage their operational business policies.
Until now business decision analysis and maintenance—the means by which business logic is discovered within current business practices, mined from opaque legacy systems, represented in transparent format and managed as a business asset directly understood by business subject matter experts—has been rather vendor-specific and lacking in rigour and scalability. Many methods are available (e.g., EDM, ABRD and BRS), but all are either lacking in formal structure, subjective and/or poorly supported by tools. Developments of the past few years have changed this.
With the advent of The Decision Model (TDM) and tools (like BiZZDesign, Sapiens DECISION and OpenRules) that support it, an era of new rigour and effectiveness has dawned within enterprise decision management. TDM, a precise method and framework for expressing business decisions, has addressed many of the flaws of business rules and prompted a slow evolution from business rules to business decisions. We examine these flaws, what TDM can do for you and the promise and power of this approach. (more…)