In the rules market, you now have independent rules engines, but the original rules market was driven by these very complex processes that may have thousands of rules, like commercial insurance processes. The real motivation there was to allow the rules to be externalized from the legacy applications; so that you could have the business side understand, change and address those rules. Another driver for leveraging business rules is [the need for] lifecycle management of rules, where somebody could analyze rule collisions or rule gaps. That's where the original market originated.
Now, the rules within a case construct are a little different. They don't have to be quite as holistic and comprehensive in terms of doing collision and gap analysis and lifecycle management of rules. The goals are different. The goals in cases are around needing to understand who made a decision, and when, and what they were looking at and what rules were guiding them.
ebizQ: Then what needs are driving business rules management in cases?
Le Clair: In cases, you're trying to get more control over the real decisions in an organization that are important and may have a compliance impact. It's about lifecycle, the audit trail of a case and understanding the rules that apply at a particular time.
Standardization is a real driver for case management. Even though these processes tend to be knowledge worker-centric and more ad hoc, there are structured elements, things you absolutely want your workers to do. You want them to be governed by rules for those structured processes, so rules play very strongly into that.
ebizQ: What do you see happening in case management in the next couple of years?
Le Clair: I see case as taking over a lot of use cases that are traditionally in the [enterprise content management] and BPM world, sort of cannibalizing some of the very fit-to-purpose case solutions that have been built, particularly in areas like government and in medical. The battle will be between agility, analytics and the real rules kind of environments that are inherent in these case platforms, where the domain expertise is the fit-to-purpose aspects of some of these other case solutions. You're going to see more case platforms roll out for that.
I also think the integrators and consultants are going to get case [management], that this is the way to reduce their risk and have happier customers--even though there's less custom code.
Have you added business rules to your case management initiatve? If so, ebizQ editors would like to hear about your experience. Contact Site Editor Anne Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Based near San Francisco, Jan Stafford is the executive editor for ebizQ as well as the Business Application & Architecture Media Group at ebizQ's parent company, TechTarget. Reach her at jstafford[at]techtarget.com.More by Jan Stafford
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