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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Business Rules and Business Services

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I was reading the end of Zygmunt Jackowski's article Bridging the IT-Business Gap With BPM and SOA (Part IV) and really liked the way he differentiated between Business Services and Component Services (and IT operations like CRUD methods etc). When I talk about how business rules, and other decisioning technologies can be applied, it is this top level of Business Services where the greatest value can be achieved. This is not to say that using business rules to code component services cannot be valuable - it can - but the real value of business rules comes in how it helps you develop business services.

 He uses the example of Processing Visas and it seems to me that with in this process there is a key decision-making business service - "Approve/Decline Visa". Indeed whenever I see a description of the kinds of activities or services that are being assembled into a composite application or process, there is at least one business service that can best be described as a "decision service". These kinds of services, that take critical business decisions within a process, are ideal for automation using business rules.

So how can you tell that a service is ideal for automation using business rules. Well there are perhaps four classic reasons:

  • The service requires lots of "rules" to be considered for each decision.
    Managing large numbers of rules in code is typically very difficult but a business rules management system handles this much better.
  • The service has very complex, inter-dependent rules.
    Inferencing business rules engine, those that can use an algorithm to establish which rules to evaluate and those that have powerful syntax constructs can really take the sting out of developing this kind of service.
  • The service changes all the time.
    Constant maintenance of code to respond to changing promotions, regulations, competitors pricing etc is costly and time consuming. Using business rules to automate these kinds of services can dramatically decrease the cost of ownership for these services both by making it easier for non-technical folks to make controlled changes and by making it easier to change rules on the fly without destabilizing the service.
  • The service has rules that require business expertise to understand.
    If the rules in a service are hard to understand without a strong background in the business context then it will be hard for programmers to code them correctly. Empowering the business experts to interact more directly the service by automating it in business rules can eliminate or at least dramatically reduce these issues.

Decision Services are easy to find in most processes and thinking of these business services this way will make it easier to develop and maintain them and much more possible to engage the business in their development.

James Taylor blogs about decision-management technologies such as predictive analytics and business rules, discussing how they deliver agility, improve business processes and bring intelligent automation to SOA.

James Taylor

James Taylor blogs on decision management for ebizQ, and is an independent consultant on decision management, predictive analytics, business rules, and related topics.

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