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Business Rules and Metadata

Alan Lewis writes a blog and works at eBay. Some time ago he posted a note about Blaze Advisor 6.0 and pointed out the value of the metadata extension feature. This made me think about the value of metadata in a business rules setting.

So why is it important to be able to extend the metadata for business rules artifacts? Well I think there are a couple of reasons.

  1. Business rules can be derived from all sorts of things - government regulations, internal policies, rules of thumb, data and so on. Every company stores and categorizes these rule sources differently. Being able to extend the metadata of business rules to link them to these different rule sources is key to maintainability, a top priority for picking business rules management solutions in the first place.
  2. Most business rules implementation are focused at least in part on time to change or respond - business agility. Typically, however, the business does not know that an implementation-level business rule has to change but that a policy has changed or a regulation has changed. Impact analysis must then be done to decide which rules artifacts should be changed. Extensible metadata makes this possible.
  3. Businesses have their own release management and authorization schemes. As business rules, or at least set of business rules, are fairly "atomic" they can and should be managed. If everyone's is different then no technology vendor can meet everyone's need unless they offer something extensible. This lets each company manage their own status flags how they like while still supporting the kinds of analysis needed.
  4. Business rules tend to be a little "orthogonal" to some development artifacts like objects. Extensible metadata can allow IT departments, and their business users, to keep track of how business rules mesh with other artifacts beyond the basic which rules access what.

So for lots of reasons I, like Alan, really like the extensible metadata feature and expect it rapidly to become a "must have" feature of business rules management solutions.

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