Westenrot and Wurttembergbische AG is a German financial services company covering insurance, home loans and savings. W&W had a set of business processes for order processing across all the products sold by the bank. These processes validated, completed and stored the order data and then generate a PDF to send to the customer/archive and update the order data in SAP. These processes also have a GUI for making changes/corrections and some admin functions. These processes handle 4 main classes of sales channel –internet, banking agent or teller, by email or letter to specialists and online banking.
Looking inside these processes there is a generic accept request/validate/store process followed by some product specific steps. Updates to SAP are handled in a batch way. For each activity either WebSphere Process Server or ILOG JRules can be used to handle the activity. JRules plays a role in validating orders, identifying product specific processing, generating PDFs and communicating with customers. The rest of the process is handled by WebSphere Process Server.
Initially the whole process was implemented in WPS but this did not allow the business users to participate in the definition of the process rules. Moving these rules out of the process and into the ILOG business rules management system allowed users to manage these rules directly. Different groups of rules were then called at the various decision points – what PDF to generate, what email to send, what product specific process to select and so on. WPS Adaptors make it easy to call the rules engine and yet still supported decoupled processes and decisions. Keeping the interfaces simple and focusing on effective decoupling is critical.
The key benefit they got was real collaboration between business and IT and allowing business users working on Rule Team Server to manage their rules. This changed the development process from one which involved business people writing instructions for IT and then go back and forth to test and deploy it (2-3 days) to one in which the business users can make their own rule changes (in decision tables) and deploy it themselves (2 hours). These changes result in faster time to market for changes to products, lower costs in business process operation and a better overview of the rules they are using. Meanwhile the IT folks can focus on programming and development activities and have more budget to spend on what they need.