The old way:
Business rules projects begin by analyzing all the business rules in a business area. A set of techniques are applied to identify common terms across the whole business and to document every rule. A big book of rules is created that defines the rules for the business, generally in a defined syntax that can’t be executed in any business rules management system. Because there’s little or no real structure to the project it defaults to a waterfall approach where all the analysis must be completed before any design or development can begin. Business rules that are derived from regulations and are largely stable month to month get analyzed the same way that marketing rules that change every day are managed.
While this approach engages the business, often focusing heavily on their terms and on making sure they can read and write the rules, this is matched by little or no engagement of IT. Collaboration is lacking and IT often ends up implementing something different in the business rules management system, eliminating any possibility of the business really owning the rules that matter – the ones actually executing day to day. Finally there is no room for analytics, despite the demonstrated value of big data analytics and their ability to improve results over human-only decision-making.
The new way:
Instead of beginning with a blanket attempt to capture every rule in some business-only format, a collaborative approach is taken from the beginning. A joint business / IT team, with analytic support, focuses on the decisions that must be made. This top-down approach allows for the identification of multiple iterations, each carving off part of the decision-making while making it clear how this fits into the overall business process and system implementation.
As each piece of the decision making is analyze and designed in turn, using an agile approach, the different types of rules involved are analyzed appropriately. Complex regulatory rules, for instance, might be analyzed using traditional rule analysis techniques. Faster moving rules might be analyzed only for structure so the rules of the day can be managed in production. Some rules may be replaced with analytic models that eliminate the need to analyze the rules at all, replacing that analysis with data mining. The right tool is applied to each part of the decision.
For those pieces of the decision that get implemented in a business rules management system the business owners are engaged directly in managing the rules for specific pieces of the decision while IT might manage others and a joint team yet others. The wide range of graphical and natural language metaphors available in a modern business rules management system are applied to each problem to maximize agility and collaboration.
Tip #2: Model decision making to structure, direct and iterate business rules development for improved IT/business collaboration and more agile development.
Don’t forget that Decision Management Solutions is exhibiting at Building Business Capability 2013. We provide a complete set of consulting, training and software support for Decision Management to position you for short- and long-term success with business rules and big data analytics. Come by our booth (P8) and meet me and our VP Consulting Gagan Saxena. For more on decision management:
- Don Perkins and Doris Kimball have a presentation on A Practical Approach Using Decision Management and Decision Modeling at The Principal Financial Group (Wednesday)
- I am speaking on lessons learned and best practices modeling decisions in aerospace, banking, insurance and healthcare (Thursday)
- There’s a panel discussion on decisions from the business perspective (Thursday)
- My book “Decision Management Systems: A Practical Guide to Using Business Rules and Predictive Analytics” will be at the bookstore and I will be signing books and answering your questions (4:20pm on Thursday)
- Learn how the new Decision Model and Notation Standard will make it easier to model decisions and share the results at the panel (Friday)