Business Problems Addressed by the Business Rule Approach
I’m frequently asked to summarize what business problems the business rule approach was created to address. Here’s my take on that critically important question.
Ad hoc Rules. Most businesses have no logical approach for defining their business rules. As a result, business workers often make up the rules as they go along. This leads to confusion, contradiction, and operational inefficiency. After-the-fact resolution of these problems wastes time and resources, and causes frustration for customers and staff alike. The larger the organization, the bigger the problem. Also, since many business rules involve monetary transactions (e.g., should a customer be given a discount, and if so, how much), it can also directly affect the bottom line.
Business Rule Solution: a structured approach to help you think through rules before the fact.
Miscommunication. Misunderstanding of key business concepts inevitably results in miscommunication. Does preferred customer discount mean the same across all departments? If not, what are the differences? What rules apply? Do these rules differ for different areas of the business? Are the rules consistent?
Business Rule Solution: a clear set of concepts on which rules can be directly based.
Inaccessible Rules. Finding out what rules apply to a given business situation often involves an open-ended search through multiple sources. It is not uncommon in the end to resort to interpreting application source code. Pursuing rules in this fashion is time-consuming, inefficient, and inaccurate.
Business Rule Solution: a means to manage business rules, providing direct accessibility.
Massive Differentiation. Many businesses seek to support highly individualized relationships with growing numbers of customers and other partners for ever more complex product/services. How can businesses massively differentiate between business parties, and at the very same time, conduct each business transaction faster, more accurately, and at ever lower cost?
Business Rule Solution: a rule-based approach featuring rapid development and deployment of rules.
Keeping Up To Speed. Rapid change, at an ever faster pace, is a fact of life. In the Internet age, implementation of changes is expected almost instantaneously. How can line workers consumed with day-to-day activity ever hope to keep up?
Business Rule Solution: real-time delivery of business logic to knowledge workers as errors actually occur, creating a seamless, never-ending, self-training environment.
Knowledge Walking Out the Door. By and large, the baby-boomers created much of the core business system capacity we see in place in larger organizations today. Much of the related knowledge still sits in their heads – and nowhere else. What will happen when they retire? On a smaller scale, vital operational knowledge walks out the door almost every day.
Business Rule Solution: a systematic way of capturing, documenting, and retaining the business rules.
Never-Ending IT Projects. Why do so many projects miss their deadlines? Delivery dates are adjusted time and time again. Primary requirements are forever changing mid-stream, causing endless rework. Some projects never deliver anything at all. Is this really simply a fact of computer-age life, or does it perhaps suggest that primary requirements are not being gathered completely and accurately before development starts?
Business Rule Solution: a means to capture true business requirements up-front, before costly rework is required.
IT Driving the Business. The capabilities of information technology (IT) have advanced explosively in the past several decades. Businesses continue to devote significant resources to exploit these new capabilities, and there is no end in sight. How does the business decide which kinds of automation are really beneficial – and which are not? How can the business be sure it will use new technology for the maximum business benefit?
Business Rule Solution: an approach enabling the business to drive development of requirements.
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