Day 3 – Tuesday October 28, 2008
Ronald Ross gave a keynote "From Here to Agility" today. He began by reminding the audience that BPM (Business Process Management) continues to be very important when businesses want to re-engineer processes for more efficiency and value, but that it is really decisioning that gives each business their competitive edge. When he discussed decisioning he is really talking about a superset of business rules – those rules that are really strategic and rules that need to change often.
This comment seemed to be echoed by many presentations during the day. Most of the presenters when discussing business rules were referring how companies make decisions, the process they use to decide, the criteria used and how fast they can make decisions really gives the company the most edge. Processes are more static. As we teach about essential processes (what are the essential activities that need to be performed irrespective of how these activities will be enabled by any technology): the essential steps of a process will not change – how we implement them will change. He takes that even further to say that even processes that are implemented do not change that often except for the decisions we make during those processes. Those decisions are much more dynamic and change frequently as the landscape changes based on the economy, competitors, new customers, and the types of products and services sold. What he and many in the conference echoed is that anything that changes often like decisions need to be pulled out of the process into a rule. Every body knows in large businesses that it often takes IT several months to incorporate changes into a system. With today's rules-based engines (RBEs) a business person or any qualified product specialist like the business analyst can author, test, and implement a decision in a few days instead of months. This allows companies to be more agile.
My takeaway was that analysts need to consider with each requirement they capture if the content will change often over time. If it may, then it probably needs to be pulled out into a rule repository, segregated from the process model or even the data model and later put into a Rules engine (if it will be automated) where it can be managed and changed much faster.