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Business Rules - will programmers resist?

In some recent articles Stephen Swoyer at Application Development Trends suggests that programmers may not be ready for the business rules approach of empowering business users to change their own rules. In two articles, Proponents Push Business Rules, But Programmers Aren’t Buying, Yet and The Business Rules Approach—a Zero-Sum Game?, Stephen articulates both some of the benefits of business rules and some of the concerns raised by programmers.

My experience has been that many programmers do resist allowing the adoption of a business rules fearing that users will break the system, that their job will go away or just that they will lose some control.  Customer cases, however, tell a slightly different story. In general the IT folks are initially resistant but are turned around by the realization that they are no longer going to be nickled and dimed to death with small changes and that the business users are increasingly learning that you can't tinker with a system continually without consequences to things like reporting of trends. Getting freed up to work on "real" changes and interesting new things is typically a great benefit perceived by individual programmers while the IT department as a whole is able to work down its backlog by reassigning programmers who would have been doing maintenance work to new projects.

Of course this relies on having a rules technology that allows business users to use their own terms and to have a controlled environment where they can't damage the system. Setting up such a system is a core part of IT's role in implementing a business rules management system. Stephen calls this "empowerment lite." I like to think of it as a clean sand box in which the users are free to run their business.

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