Analytics & Optimization How do I build a list of Business Rule Engine Selection Requirements?

Dec012005

One of the questions I get a lot is "how do I build a list of requirements" when selecting a business rules engine or business rules management system. These, it seems to me, fall into various categories: Rule Syntax - what basic mechanisms exist for editing rules? Business User Editing Environment - how easy is it for business users to edit rules? Decision Process Design - how can you design a multi-step decision? Performance Tuning and Debugging - what reports and tools exist? Reporting - how extensive are the reports available? Rule storage and versioning - how good is the repository infrastructure? Integration - how easily does the system integrate with the rest of your IT infrastructure? Dialog Support - how does the system integrate with user interactions? Help and Documentation - what is available? Let's consider each of those in turn: Rule Syntax Is the out of the box rule language understandable by business experts? Does the language handle procedural or technical functions without calling out? Can the...

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Analytics & Optimization Automating compliance with business rules

Dec012005

Interesting entry on SOX compliance in the "compliance pipeline" today - Prediction No. 2: Manpower Reductions.  In it Mitch says:That can only mean one thing: Companies are substituting sustainable automated processes for manual approaches to compliance management. And the good news is that such automation will also reduce the manual processes that auditors will need to perform and help drive down auditing costs as well.The automation of compliance has always been one of the key drivers for the use of business rules management systems and with good reason. Business rules allow those who understand the regulations to manage the implementation of those regulations. Business rules make it quick and easy to change how a regulation is implemented when court rulings, auditors of the government change the rules. Business rules can be easily logged as they fire, making it possible to show that every decision was compliant with those rules. Executives who must certify that the rules have been followed can actually read the rules being enforced in the...

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Analytics & Optimization Business Rules as a solution to Healthcare problems

Nov232005

This article - IT Could Help Ailing Health Care Systems - led with the statement that "Health care systems across the developed world are struggling to coordinate care and keep patients informed about what their medications do. That's the conclusion of a report released this month by the Commonwealth Fund."The United States scored markedly worse than other countries in terms of patients' access to health care, financial burdens placed on patients, errors and efficiency, but patients in all countries reported high rates of mistakes, poor care coordination, and otherwise deficient care.So why have healthcare providers not implemented systems to fix or at least improve some of these problems. Well, of course, many have tried. One of the reasons for failure is, I think, the problems caused by the usual mismatch of IT and the "business". Many projects, in all kinds of industries, suffer from this - the business understands the problem but not the technology used to try and solve it and the IT folks don't really understand the business problem. In...

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Analytics & Optimization Making the Most of SOA

Nov222005

In this Information Week article SmartAdvice: Making The Most Of SOA a number of excellent points are made. A couple reinforce the value of business rules in the context of an SOA:Emphasize coarse-grained business services: Business services contain more logic than component services, so they encapsulate more business value, are more difficult to create, and are more costly to get wrong. Engage your customers, analysts, and other stakeholders to understand their current and future requirements. Design service interfaces that facilitate reuse and extensibility. Focus on quality over quantity.I wrote about business services and rules yesterday and Thomas Erl discusses them at length in the webinar I reference. One of the core value propositions of a business rules management system is the ability to let "customers, analysts and other stakeholders" directly manage the business rules in their service. This helps eliminate mismatches between requirements and implementation.Automate as much as possible: Where possible, build services to automate manual steps...

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Analytics & Optimization Business Services, SOA and business rules

Nov212005

Thomas Erl, well known SOA author, recently presented on Business-Centric SOA: Using Service-Orientation to Express Business Logic and Rules through Services through TechTarget's network. We sponsored this as we believe that there is a great synergy between the business-centric SOA approach Thomas discusses and business rules management systems like Blaze Advisor. As the webinar intro says "One of the greatest challenges organizations are facing is how business logic and rules relate to and can be expressed through services." In the webinar Thomas goes through how to think of SOA in terms of different service layers. When you do that, it becomes clear the one value of business rules in the orchestration of services - see this note and indeed this section on this blog for more - but the other is in the construction of what Thomas calls "entity-centric" services. These services are often decision-heavy and embedding decision logic in them helps both eliminate manual reviews and enable more reuse - a service with automated decisioning can be...

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Analytics & Optimization If all business application software is the same, can business rules make you unique?

Nov172005

I subscribe to Computerwire and in today's opinion piece "Computerwire Directions" the headline is "Is All Business Applications Software the Same?". The most pertinent paragraph seemed to me to be:"However, the conclusion does highlight the dilemma facing vendors. On one hand they need to be seen to have parity with their peers with near identical functionality, and are increasingly providing pre-defined vertical functionality, pre-configured business process based on best-practice guidelines, and pre-prepared reporting, suggesting that they believe their customers have a high degree of uniformity. This begs the question that if their customers in a particular vertical sector have a high degree of commonality, why shouldn't competing business software vendors? Yet they also have to demonstrate their uniqueness, and this takes the form of different architectural approaches. Despite this, the end result is the same: these days, a move to service-oriented architecture based around processes, not transactions."It seems to me that one way...

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Analytics & Optimization webMethods Fabric and Blaze Advisor

Nov172005

Today webMethods and Fair Isaac made what I think is a great announcement - webMethods will incorporate Blaze Advisor as the embedded rules engine for future editions of webMethods Fabric™. Now Fabric is webMethods' flagship solution for SOA/business integration so why is it important that it will embed Blaze Advisor? Firstly, as you can see elsewhere on this blog, there is great synergy between SOA and business rules and between BPM and business rules. Having webMethods embed Blaze Advisor just goes to reinforce this. Several analysts have been talking about the need for platform vendors to have a decent rules offering and webMethods has picked the best. Secondly webMethods Fabric is really aimed at letting business users control processes/integration. Blaze Advisor will help extend that business user control to the business rules in the platform using its powerful template and rule maintenance capabilities. Lastly it allows companies to rapidly adopt business rules in their integration/BPM platform and then seamlessly share those rules across a universal...

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