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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Business rules, events and processes

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My friend Paul Haley (now founder and president of Automata, Inc.) had an interesting post on event processing last week - CEP crossing the chasm into BPM by way of BRMS. Paul made a number of great points including that Business Process Management needs some event processing and that, typically, neither a Business Process Management System nor a Business Rules Management System are typically good at handling events. He also touched on what I consider the standard way in which these various technologies interact:

  • Events happen and are detected
  • Events are correlated to identify the fact that a more complex event, or a business event, has occurred
  • These events cause a decision to be evaluated
  • The decision may trigger other events or execute processes to respond to the event
  • The whole is recursive with events, processes and decisions all potentially triggering each other
The current breed of CEP platforms tend to mix event stream processing (the ability to effectively process events as they arrive in a never-ending stream), event correlation (using rules and analytics, like decisioning, but with built-in capabilities for time-based and other event-centric functions) and decision-making. Some, as Paul notes, go as far as to have BPM built in.
The separation, however, is important when it comes to management. I am often asked how to decide which rules go in a process rather than being separated out into a decision. The answer is that rules tied to the structure of the process should go with it, those independent of the current process implementation (business rules) should go into a business rules management system and be managed to perform business decisions. Similarly rules that are about the correlation and transformation of events should be with the event handling infrastructure while those relating to decisions should be externalized and managed.
Rules are good for many things including event processing and business processes, as are analytics, but decisions should be managed separately from events and processes.
You can see more on my thoughts in More on rules and event processing, CEP - not just rules and Decision management is critical to event driven architecture

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The trouble is that event processing rules and decision processing rules, to a large extent, overlap. Some CEP applications' event processing rules are ALL business decisions. Some are more technically oriented. What is true, is that appropriate rules should be managed by and for the business...

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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