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Top 10 excuses to avoid business rules: #6 my operational system does that


6. My new operational system will do that

One of the “hardy perennials” when it comes to technology is that some new system already in the works will address the problem. In the case of decision automation this can take the form of “my new package includes that process/decision” or “my new package already has analytics in it for decision-making”. So why is this not a valid excuse?

Well firstly most packages do not, in fact, automate decisions – they automate processes and largely assume manual decision-making. Now why would you want to establish processes using the new system that involve time-consuming, costly, imprecise manual decisions? Why implement a brain-dead process? You should plan to inject decision automation now to streamline your processes, make the most of the data you have and reduce future data quality and completeness problems. Some package vendors claim to let you automate decisions but often this involves using scripting or coding and so fails the basic test of maintainability and agility that a business rules management system would pass with flying colors.

As for analytics, the problem here is one of definitions. Yes most packages will have some analytics but most of these will be reporting or descriptive. Few will be predictive and fewer still will allow you to really use these analytics effectively (by exposing them to business rules). As a result they will, at best, allow users of the system to get useful analytic information. It’s not that this is a bad thing, it’s just not decision automation. Business rules and other decision automation technologies will not let you manage your data, automate your processes or do the things your package will. Equally your package won’t let you automate decisions with precision (by embedding predictive analytics), consistency (across this package and all your other touchpoints) or agility (by making it easy to change the rules independently).

If you have a new operational system going in, now is a great time to adopt business rules and decision automation. It will mean the system is more efficient, easier to customize and more effective right from the get-go.


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  • Thomas Tileston June 22, 2012, 7:57 am

    Couldn’t agree more! Furthermore when business rules are not adequately defined from the get-go in operational systems, then over time the automated business processes within those systems will slowly become corrupt. Without well defined business rules, business users of operational systems lose sight of business rules and slowly allow ‘excetions to the rules’ to enter the system.