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Book Review – Business Rule Revolution: Running Business the Right Way


Business Rule Revolution: Running Business the Right Way by Barbara Von Halle, Larry Goldberg

The book is a collection of chapters, not necessarily designed to be read in sequence. The chapters include:

  • A great summary of various rules projects surveyed by KPI showing the focus on agility, consistency, knowledge management, legacy modernization, business control (though interestingly not really on compliance). This drew a nice distinction of different kinds of rules and showed how most rules usage is project-centric but aiming higher
  • John Zachman has a chapter in which he points out that “markets of 1” means much more complexity. The rate of change and increased personalization, lead to complexity and he presents this as a compelling reason for thinking about architecture
  • Larry’s chapter maps this architectural view to rules. In general this is also a good chapter, though I am not sure about the need for a structured rule intermediary between source rules (in business language) and production rules/rule templates. I also don’t disagree with this cautions on Business Rules Management Systems but serious vendors know you need to manage and trace source rules and work with clients to do that. His graphic on kinds of rules engines is one with which I have disagreed at various events as I think it a poor classification tool but the chapter is useful anyway.
  • There is a chapter on business engineering – see this post on something Forrester call Concurrent Business Engineering – and focuses on business decisioning and the value of automating judgment. There is a role in this for analytically derived “judgment” also that is not much explored in the book.
  • There is a nice description of using a business process approach with business rules
  • One of the best chapters is a really great chapter on using business rules to improve process design (among other things) from Art Moore and Michael Beck. Great illustration of why and how a process can be simplified using business rules and some very effective discussion of the value of considering rules on a par with data and process to the benefit of all. Read this chapter!
  • There is a section on the need for consistency/completeness checking in rules, rule maintenance applications to hide complexity and query/action access to the rule repository, and a testing and simulation environment. All true.
  • The technical section has a discussion of the role of the rule architect and another on rule architecture more generally as well as a nice one on rule stewardship and governance.
  • ILOG has a nice section discussing Equifax’s use of rules in a fairly classic scenario. Equifax seems to have an impressive history of thinking and working in rules, more power to them.
  • I wrote a chapter on enterprise policy hubs for centrally managing business rules and decisions across processes and systems.
  • Barb’s section on RMM level 2 is interesting, though personally I think that some of the BRMS vendors are offering rich and extensible metadata for rules
  • Lastly Larry’s call to action is spot on – the modern world requires agility. Business rules delivers it.

“Real-world experience proves not only that business rule projects are completed faster, at less cost, and with less risk, but they continue to deliver substantial savings in time and money because rule maintenance is significantly accelerated.”