Aberdeen just published this nice little report - Aligning IT to Business Processes: How BPM is Complementing ERP and Custom Applications (sponsored so free in return for your email address) - which makes for interesting reading in terms of how much agility is possible for those companies who rely on ERP applications. The report's focus is on using BPM software in conjunction with ERP software to better deliver agility. However, one comment struck me particularly:
"Key application parameters and rules are locked inside program source code;"
True and a great reason to externalize business rules in decision services. Not only are these decision services very agile (much more than just BPM software alone could deliver as I discussed here). Indeed the report goes on to emphasize that:
"Best in Class organizations havesoftware applications that can allow them to adapt quickly to mostcustomer requirements"
Not only are business rules-based decision services the kind of "application" that can be quickly adapted, they also allow companies to resist commoditized business processes by injecting custom decision-making into them. Air Products, a Fair Isaac customer, is an example of an ERP user who did take advantage of BPM to increase agility but who REALLY used a rules-based decision service to do so.
Remember Shai Agassi's 5% rule - only 5% of your business is really unique - and the James Taylor corollary - its mostly decisioning!