First look at JRules Scorecard Modeler

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series First Looks at JRules 7

I recently have been able to use the new add-on to JRules called Scorecard Modeler.

Unlike the name may imply, Scorecard Modeler does not help you model scorecards at all. In other words, it is not a statistical analysis tool that would be used to create scorecard models, but simply an editor that allows easy creation of scorecards within the JRules environment.

What is a scorecard? I have recently written a post title “A quick introduction to scorecards” to go over some of the details of what a scorecard is. I suggest you start there before continuing reading this post.

Scorecard modeler is simply a new editor that will be added to your list of choices for adding rules to a rule project and in some ways it looks similar to a decision table editor.

It is a Rule Studio only editor so as of this writing, there is no RTS editor available. How does it work? It simply generates the usual IRL rules (like all other editors) for deployment. I suspect that IBM will be working on an RTS editor for this, but that is only speculation at this time.

The Review

Installation

The installation of the scorecard modeler requires that you should have JRules already installed (verson 6.7.x, 7.0 or 7.1). The installation will ask you to select the directory of your existing JRules install, but otherwise it is pretty straight forward.

The Editor

Once you have installed the modeler, when you relaunch your Rule Studio, the new editor will be available to create scorecards in JRules. Some of the options will change the number of columns that need to be filled in for the scorecard but overall it is simple to understand how to fill the information in.

There are some GUI quirks in the current interface (entering negative values is quirky, moving attributes up and down, and making the scorecard properties page appear for example) but these do not prevent the scorecard from working properly and I am hoping that IBM will eventually address these minor irritants.

Some odd behaviours

Scorecard modeler has some behaviours that are not typical of the other editors in JRules. Namely, the modeler automatically creates new BOM entries in your project and it creates a variable set that is used to create variables that point to each scorecard created. Now these are odd behaviours, but are obviously required for things to work properly. Once you are familiar with those behaviours it makes troubleshooting possibly a bit easier.

These behaviours are even more prominent if you are using an architecture that uses multiple projects to hold XOM, BOM and Rules and especially if you have multiple BOM projects. The location where scorecard modeler chooses to set the variable set up and add the BOMs might not be the one you want or expect.

Another odd behaviour that is not common to the other editors is that the scorecard modeler actually allows the selection of “non verbalized” elements from the BOM. I am not sure why that is and it is contrary to the normal behaviour of all other editors in JRules so it is good to note that a user is actually able to choose from items that are not usually available as choices (until they are verbalized).

The limitations

There are limitations that are good to know about upfront.

Naming of a scorecard has more limitations than any other “rule” in JRules. Don’t use spaces, dashes or underscores in your scorecard name. I believe that this limitation is due to the automatic creation of variables (see above) and that as long as you stick to those “naming rules” you will be doing just fine.

Renaming of a scorecard is a little more work than what we might be used to. You can easily rename the scorecard, but the automatically created variable that goes with this variable is not renamed automatically. In some cases the old variable name gets deleted, but the new one does not get created. This can easily be fixed by manually creating the variable name that matches your scorecard name in the proper variable set and everything will be OK.

Documentation generated by the rule reports will not include a copy of the scorecard and there is no copy and paste to and from the scorecard modeler. So documentation will have to be created by using the age old technique of screen capture and pasting images in documents… Not ideal. I am hoping that IBM addresses this in future releases.

There are other limitations and all users should get familiar with them by reading the readme file that comes with scorecard modeler.

The issues

As of version 7.0.2 there are some issues that I have encountered in a specific environment for which IBM had to provide hot fixes for making the scorecard modeler work in that environment. Version 7.1 fixes most of these issues save 1  as far as I can tell (some attributes with a specific configuration can’t be selected at all to be part of the scorecard).

In IBM’s defence, IBM support has been extremely responsive to help resolve any of the important issues  encountered and the hot fixes provided make it possible to use the scorecard modeler.

The Documentation

The documentation provided with scorecard modeler is more of a relatively straight forward tutorial than actual documentation. Some of the features are not documented at all or so badly documented that even IBM has a hard time figuring out what they are for…

My suggestion on this is that new users should walk through the tutorials provided and then immediately try to make their own scorecards work in the modeler.

One of the good things from the documentation point of view is that at least the API documentation is included so that if customizations are needed for reasoning strategies and things of that sort, developers will have a starting point for working on the customizations.

The Verdict

The scorecard modeler in some cases still feels like an “early version” of the software, but with IBM’s help (through support and hot fixes) the scorecard modeler ends up being a great tool to enter scorecards into JRules.

Although a bit quirky, overall I think this tool has great potential to be a great addition to JRules.

A quick introduction to scorecards

Some may ask what the relationship of scorecards to Business rules is…

Well it turns out that IBM has created an add on to add support for scorecards in JRules and that before I go on and do my review I decided it was necessary to write a post on what a scorecard is so that I don’t have to do it as part of my upcoming review… 🙂

What is a scorecard?

For those of you who don’t know what a scorecard is, it is a Risk Management tool used mostly by banks and other institutions to calculate the risk they take by selling you one of their products.

  • How risky a customer are you?
  • What are the chances that you might default on payment?
  • etc.

Based on that information, they may adapt their specific offer. For example, a good customer might get a better interest rate, a higher credit limit, etc.

It works like this (more or less):

  1. The company performs a statistical analysis on historical data that they have on all their existing customers
    • They may break the data down into smaller groups that have something in common (called segmentation) so that the resulting analysis is more precise
  2. From this analysis, they will identify characteristics (attributes or pieces of information) that are “predictive”
    • That is, the characteristics show a statistically significant relationship to past results (positive or negative)
  3. Each characteristic is then broken down into ranges of possible values
    • For example, a characteristic based on family income may be broken down into ranges as follows:
      • 1-30000
      • 30001-60000
      • 60001-90000
      • 90001-120000
      • over 120000
  4. Each range is then given a score and the attribute is also usually assigned an expected score. For example
  5. Characteristic Expected Score Range Score
    Family income 50 1-30000 10
    30001-60000 25
    60001-90000 40
    90001-120000 65
    over 120000 75
  6. This is repeated for many characteristics and combined together into a single scorecard.
  7. In addition to a score for each range, a reason code may be attached to a specific range value to provide some indication as to which attribute may have scored low (i.e. lower than the expected score).

In the end, when executing a scorecard the result will be a score calculated based on all the indivdual scores of each attribute and a list of reason codes (usually the codes associated to the attributes that score the most negative, if applicable).

This score can then be used as part of another calculation to calculate a risk rating, credit limit, interest rate, etc.

That is about it! Now you have a basic understanding of what a scorecard is. In the near future, I will post my review of the Scorecard Modeler add on for JRules.

In the meantime, if you have questions about scorecards or the post needs clarifications, feel free to comment and drop me a line!

#BRF Emerging Trends & Decisioning Panel – Follow up

This entry is part 24 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Last november I wrote many posts from the Business Rules Forum in Las Vegas, one of which was trying to capture the information from the “Emerging Trends and Decisioning Panel”. My original post can be found here: https://www.primatek.ca/blog/2009/11/05/brf-emerging-trends-decision-panel/

Well, BRCommunity has publish a full transcript of the panel which can be found at: http://www.BRCommunity.com/a2010/b547.html.

You may have to register to the web site to have access to the contents but if you are interested in this topic it is worth it.

Enjoy!

Business Rules Governance and Management – Part X – Best Practices

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Business Rules Governance and Management

This post is part of a series on Business Rules Governance and Management for which the main article can be found here.

In previous posts, I have discussed almost all the topics I wanted to cover (so far) concerning Business Rules Governance and Management. This last post will look at the challenges to expect and some best practices.

Challenges

At DIALOG08, Pierre Berlandier made a presentation on the Challenges expected when implementing Business Rules Governance and Management Processes.

Here are a few :

  1. Staffing of the various roles
    • Staffing of roles is not considered a priority initially
    • Workers are performing other tasks at the same time (multi-tasking)
    • Mitigation:
    • Have a plan with realistic resource availability
    • Have staffing specific tasks in the plan
  2. Internal politics
    • The new, closer relationship between IT and business is difficult to manage
    • Mitigation:
    • This is one of the key benefits of having appropriate governance in place
    • Need to build mutual trust by having appropriate processes in place, and having well defined roles and responsibilities
  3. Lack of BRMS experience
    • Mitigation:
    • Hire outside help and take an incremental approach
    • Train your staff

Best Practices

James Taylor wrote a blog post called “Governance Change Control And Rules” based on a presentation he saw at DIALOG09.

Below is a list of the takeaways from the panel.

There are many things that can help improve the results of a governance implementation in a company. Some of these have been identified by different sources and are reported here to put emphasis on key items that will help implanting the governance process.

  • Executive sponsorship and active evangelism are key
  • Build expertise – centers of excellence – within the groups that are managing rules
  • Start early and iterate the process as you learn more
  • One size will not fit all – be flexible, classify different kinds of rule change and manage them differently
  • Give rule change authority to the people who are expert in the policy
  • People and process matter far more than tools

References

From http://blogs.ilog.com/events/2009/02/05/governance-change-control-and-rules/, by James Taylor

Live from DIALOG – Best Practices in Rule Governance, Blog Post by James Taylor On a Presentation By Pierre Berlandier at DIALOG08
http://jtonedm.com/2008/02/24/live-from-dialog-best-practices-in-rule-governance/

Business Rules Governance and Management – Part IX – Center of Excellence

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Business Rules Governance and Management

This post is part of a series on Business Rules Governance and Management for which the main article can be found here.

In previous posts I covered most of the main points relating to Business Rules Governance and Management.

I now want to put all of this work into context with an even bigger picture in mind.

Most of the business rules implementation will come through an initiative that is part of a project. An IT Project will look at what it needs to accomplish, do some research, decide they need a Business Rules Management System (BRMS) and implement one as part of the project.

The next phase will come when they are delivering the project and need to pass on the responsibility of the rules to operations in the organization. The need for management processes and governance is greater at that time and the work discussed as part of this series of posts is performed.

CoE-1

In the meantime, or as part of a separate project in the organization, another initiative that uses business rules is started. They had seen the success and benefits of the first business rules initiative and decided to start using the same approach. Eventually this new project will also need to instill management and governance processes.

CoE-2

As one can imagine, the evolution will probably not stop there and now is the time to think about how to take it to the next level.

Enters the Center Of Excellence (CoE). The CoE is the next step that the organization will probably have to take. The CoE’s mission should be to support any project that intends to use business rules.

The CoE should be the place where:

  • Business Rules specialists (Business and Technical) are united to support projects in a consulting role
  • Training for new people can be coordinated
  • Projects look to get additional resources for execution of the project plan
  • Best practices, Management Processes, Governance Processes are developed

I have covered some of this topic in a previous post called “BPM Center of Excellence applied to Business Rules” (https://www.primatek.ca/blog/2009/03/22/bpm-center-of-excellence/)

CoE-3

Once the Center of Excellence is in place, other projects can more easily benefit from the experiences of other projects.

CoE-4

Although the interactions are shown as “one way” in the diagram above, in real life the interactions are expected to be bidirectional.

In the next post, we will look at some of the challenges you should anticipate as well as some best practices to hopefully make your Governance and Management initiative a successful one.

Business Rules Governance and Management – Part VIII – Access Control

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Business Rules Governance and Management

This post is part of a series on Business Rules Governance and Management for which the main article can be found here.

In the previous article of the series, we discussed some of the more important management processes that are required for good business rules management. One of the topics that was touched on in previous articles relates to who can do what, when and the related approval processes.

Security and Access Control can end up playing a vital role in the management processes relating to business rules. There are many ways that your organization may need to control access and security but I will discuss 2 ways which should fit most organizations.

Controlling Access by Role

The list of roles created in previous steps, the life cycle of rules (states and transitions) and the processes might require that only people with specific roles are allowed to perform only specific operations.

For example, it might be unwise to let anyone push rules to production. Was the rule tested? Is it giving the right results?, etc. Similarly you may not want to let a Rule Administrator create or modify rules (their knowledge of the business and the rules might be insufficient).

Each organization will have different requirements for controlling these accesses. Each organisation will also have a very different environment in which these controls need to be implemented (from a technical point of view). It is therefore important that these topics be discussed so that appropriate control mechanisms can be put in place.

Controlling Access by Subject Area

In your organization there may be a need to limit access to specific Subject Areas or groups of rules or rulesets.

For example, all users might have the right to read all the rules, but only users from the marketing and sales area can change the business rules related to marketing and sales. Or if you have multiple product lines, you may want to limit access by product line. You may even want to break it down by rulesets within an subject area. It all depends on your organizations needs, the size of the team you are dealing with, how you are organizing work related to business rules, etc.

The Business Rules Management System (BRMS) that your organization is using should hopefully provide you with the tools or components required to fulfill your security requirements.

In the next post of the series, we will go back to a higher level view and discuss the next steps for implementation of business rules governance and management.

Business Rules Governance and Management – Part VII – Management Processes

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series Business Rules Governance and Management

This post is part of a series on Business Rules Governance and Management for which the main article can be found here.

In the previous post, I discussed the rule life cycle and mentioned that it may be a good starting point for discussions on the management processes.

We can now focus our attention to the rule management processes. The following list of processes is by no means an all encompassing list, but can definitely be used to figure out what specific processes your organization needs.

  • Rule authoring process
  • Rule testing and validation process
  • Rule deployment process
  • Rule execution monitoring
  • Rule failure management process
  • Rule retirement process
  • Rule change management process

In the following paragraphs, I will try to provide a quick description and context for the process and some questions that might need to be answered and that will hopefully help guide the development of the process. Note that some of these processes can be related to the rule life cycle discussed in the previous post. The development of the life cycle may affect these processes and vice-versa.

Rule authoring process

The Rule Authoring Process is not simply focused on the task of writing the rule. The process needs to start from the Policy people that are creating a new rule, to the analysis of that rule, to the formalization of the rule and finally to the implementation (or authoring) of the rule.

Associated questions

  • Who can come up with new rules?
  • What is the scope of the new rules (number, complexity, etc.)?
  • Who is responsible for the analysis and formalization of the rule?
  • Who is responsible for the implementation of the rule?
  • Is there an approval process before each new step can start?
  • Do we need traceability of the changes?

Rule testing and validation process

The Rule testing and validation process is there to make sure that appropriate testing gets performed for the rules that have been developed.

Associated questions

  • When can testing begin?
  • What information is required prior to testing?
  • Are simulations required? (Simulating the change over a population to evaluate the effect of the changes)
  • Is there an approval process?
  • Do we need traceability of the approvals?

Rule deployment process

Based on the rule life cycle, once the rules have been tested and validated, there should be a deployment process to put these rules in production

Associated questions

  • Where do these rules need to be deployed?
  • When should the rules be deployed? (specific day, dates, times, etc.)
  • Are these rules replacing a set of existing rules?
  • Is there an approval process?

Rule execution monitoring process

After the rules have been deployed and are executing, there is usually a process for monitoring the production environment

Associated questions

  • What are the monitoring requirements immediately after deployment?
  • Are the monitoring requirements the same after one week or one month in production?
  • What are the reporting requirements? Who are the reports sent to?
  • Example requirements: Execution statistics, Performance, warnings, non critical errors, 24/7/365, etc.

Rule failure management process

This process is one of the most important processes, and is the one you don’t want to ever have to use. What happens when there is a failure?

Associated questions

  • How are we monitoring for failures?
  • Which type and urgency of the failures?
  • What is the failure recovery process for each type of failure?
  • Who needs to be notified?
  • What is the escalation process?
  • Is support from a vendor available?

Rule retirement process

A rule or a set of rules has been in production for a while. Now it is time to remove them from production.

Associated questions

  • Who can ask for removing of rules?
  • Is there an approval process?
  • How do we make sure that only the specific rules are removed?
  • Is post-retirement testing of the remaining rules required?
  • When should this take place?
  • Where should it take place?

Rule change management process

I have listed the rule change management process separately because it can become a meta-process which will actually use some of the simpler processes detailed above.

Change management needs to take into account many situations and is probably one of the processes that will require the most work. One key point to remember is that all changes are not created equal. Some changes will require a very light process to implement whereas other changes will need a much more involved process because of the type, scope or complexity of the change.

Associated questions:

  • Who can make a change request?
  • How is the scope of the change request evaluated?
  • What is the complexity of the change?
  • What are the options depending on the scope of the change?
  • What are the approval processes?
  • What is the impact of the change (impact analysis)?
  • What needs to change exactly?
  • When is the change going to take place?
  • Are other processes leveraged from this one? (authoring, etc.)

With all of these processes discussed and documented, we are now well on our way to have a very good environment for business rules. The next post will have a quick look at the security and audit concerns.

References

Agile Business Rules Development, ABRD v1.2, available at http://www.eclipse.org/epf/downloads/praclib/praclib_downloads.php

Deploy Business Rules Applications Successfully, Webinar, May 28 2008, Pierre Berlandier, available at: http://blogs.ilog.com/events/2008/05/28/deploy-business-rule-applications-successfully/

Business Rules Governance and management – Part VI – Rule Life Cycle

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series Business Rules Governance and Management

This post is part of a series on Business Rules Governance and Management for which the main article can be found here.

In previous posts, we have focused mainly on the topic of Governance. It is now time to start looking at the Business Rules Management aspect of things.

The Life Cycle of a Rule

Rules have a life of their own. From Birth to Death we need to have an idea of how the rule will live its life. Similarly to a person, a rule will go through many phases in its life.

Birth and Development: A human is born and from that moment on and for the years that will follow will develop in the person he will become. A rule gets created and defined.

Validation: A person will eventually go through some type of testing (either through education or simply through life) that will confirm the knowledge and skills and Make them ready for a productive working life. A rule needs to be tested and validated to confirm that it does what it is meant to do.

Working Life: A Person will usually spend a large portion of their life working doing the exact same job, at the same company (Note from the author: “Humour me!”). A rule will execute it’s work for as long as it makes sense, working night and day, relentlessly… 🙂

Retirement: At some point after a long and productive working life, a person will [choose one: be entitled, be forced] to retire from active working life and enjoy retirement. When a rule does not make sense anymore, it needs to be retired from execution.

Ok, so we now have some of the basic building blocks for our Rule Life Cycle.

As a more serious inspiration for a rule life cycle, we can look at an example Rule life cycle which is composed of the following states:

  • New: the rule is created, and can be modified by the writer
  • Ready for review: the rule writer has completed the initial work and a reviewer can now make sure that the rule is written correctly and represents the intent of the business (note: it is assumed that until the reviewer has reviewed the rule, he will work with the writer to bring the rule to the next state).
  • Reviewed: the rule has been reviewed by the reviewer is ready for the next steps
  • Ready to test: the rule is ready to test and will remain in this state during testing and until the tester either accepts or rejects the rule
  • Rejected: the rule has been tested un-successfully
  • Tested: the rule has been tested successfully
  • Ready to deploy: One last state before the rule goes into production
  • Deployed: the rule is part of a rule set deployed on production platform
  • Retired: the rule was deployed on a production platform but is no more active because it is out of date

The following diagram shows these states, the accepted transitions between states as well as which role is responsible for each transition.

RuleLifeCycle

This Rule Life Cycle may or may not actually be relevant to your specific situation, but the point remains that the management team needs to think about what makes sense to your situation. Create you own life cycle, and with the help of the management processes (see next post), set things up so that it works in your environment.

When creating your own life cycle, you may also want to consider the environment in which you are developing, testing and deploying these rules for execution. For example, if you have 3 environments (development, UAT, Production) versus 4 (development, QA, UAT, Production), the life cycle may be significantly different. You may also need to consider the types of rules that you have and might have slightly different life cycles based on the types of rules.

Note that the life cycle indicated above was mentioned for a rule, but it may very well be that this applies to a set of rules (ruleset).

The reason why we want to start discussing the rule life cycle is that at the same time it will force some preliminary discussions on the management processes which is the topic of the next post.

References

Agile Business Rules Development, ABRD v1.2, available at http://www.eclipse.org/epf/downloads/praclib/praclib_downloads.php

Business Rules Governance and Management – Part V – Roles

This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series Business Rules Governance and Management

After the “interruption” by the October Rules Fest and the Business Rules Forum, I am continuing the series on Governance and Management…

This post is part of a series on Business Rules Governance and Management for which the main article can be found here.

Roles and Responsibilities

So now we have some key players from the governance and management teams and we can start the “real” work.

One of the first things that I suggest gets started is a list of Roles and Responsibilities. The reason for this is that with that list in mind it may get the key team members thinking about what tasks will eventually need to get done (Responsibilities) and who would have the responsibility (Role).

The list you will see below is strongly inspired by the “Agile Business Rules Development” (ABRD) Methodology (See References at the end of the post).

I suggest starting with this list, adapt it to your needs and make it fit with how you intend to work and your enterprise.

Also remember that Role does not necessarily equal a position (or a person) in the organization. A single individual may play multiple roles as part of his/her work with business rules. You can identify the people later, although it sometimes helps to match actual people’s names to the role or roles that this person would play.

Role Role-Responsibilities
Business Owner
  • Control the execution of a Line Of Business
CIO / CTOExecutive Team
  1. If driving the initiative, account for metrics and high-level KPIs
  2. If not, push for executive buy-in and high-level organizational support
  3. Use high-level support as an opportunity for improvement across silos (COE, Governance)
Project Manager
  • Manage the project
Policy Manager or Subject Matter Expert (SME)
  • Support the definition of business processes
  • Determine and manage the implementation of a business policy, generally by providing the content for the business rules that enforce the policy and the process contexts in which the rules are applied.
  • Oversee the execution of that policy via business rules applied. Such oversight includes confirming that implemented rules fully and faithfully correspond to the intended policy.
  • Review rules, rule flow
  • Review the results of testing and simulation
  • Manage business vocabulary
  • Resolve business issues relating to BR
  • Be accountable for the quality of the BR
  • Approve major changes to BR
Manager Or Rule Steward
  • Develop and maintain a comprehensive plan for the rule management group activities
  • Establish BR policies
  • Identify business sponsors for issues relating to BR
  • Develop processes for rule management and standards for rule capture and documentation
  • Ensure that repository management processes are followed
  • Ensure that enterprise rule standards are followed
  • Standard management position
Enterprise IT Architect
  • Select technologies that are in line with the enterprise architecture
  • Ensure that the vision for the enterprise architecture is considered
Rule Architect
  • Select technology to ensure performance and usability
  • Design, test, implement rules using appropriate technology (triggers, rule engine)
  • Ensure the overall deployment organization of the rules makes sense from an application segmentation perspective
  • Ensure rule execution is optimized
  • Establish traceability for rules within the technical architecture
  • Ensure rule reuse
  • Design the structure of the rule repository (defining what metadata customizations are needed and possibly implementing the structure)
  • Develop the processes developed around repository management
  • Assist evaluation of implementations with respect to the rules
  • Coordinate with application developers on system design, implementation and testing
  • Act as a liaison between business and IT
Rule Analyst
  • Assist business in identifying existing BR
  • Research the meaning and origin of BR
  • Create rule templates for rule authors to use
  • Analyze rules for completeness, correctness, optimization (from a logical, not performance, perspective)
  • Identify how rules are used in processes that implement business policies
  • Ensure the quality of the BR
  • Ensure consistent terminology is used in the BRs
  • Analyze BR to identify conflicts, redundancies
  • Ensure consistency of BR across function, geographies and systems
  • Conduct impact analysis for revising or replacing BR
  • Integrate new or revised rules into existing rule set
  • Make recommendations for BR changes based on business knowledge
  • Facilitate resolution of BR issues
  • Act as consultant for the project team
  • Act as a liaison between business and IT
Vocabulary Analyst
  • Formalize the business terms (and phrases) used in business rules; this formalization may be in a logical data model, fact model, business object model or some other format that standardizes the terms used and their definitions. ‘Terms’ include nouns, noun phrases and qualified nouns that are referenced in business rules
  • Create and manage abstract layer of the data model
Process Analyst
  • Define the overall process context for the business area/ application.
  • Work with business SMEs to understand the logical business processes and how they fit together in a logical flow (or in an implementation flow for a given application).
  • Identify where rules are needed in processes
  • Create and update process flow
Rule Author
  • Write detailed rules, following appropriate syntax and using standard vocabulary Validate rules in detail against the object model and data model
  • Perform impact analysis for potential changes to rules from technical perspective
  • Identify events where rules should fire
  • Challenge BR for ambiguity, inconsistency and conflict from a technical perspective
  • Test Rules
  • Create and update rule flow
  • Run simulations
  • Ensure rule reuse
  • Debug rule logic
  • Create and manage test cases to test the rule logic
Business Analyst
  • Understand business goals
  • Find business solutions to business problems
  • Ensure business solutions support business goals
  • Make recommendations for business change based on business knowledge
  • Conduct impact analysis of proposed business changes
  • Identify and assess business tactics and associated risks
  • Facilitate meetings to gather business requirements
  • Document “as-is” and “to be” workflows
  • Record terminology, business concepts and fact model
  • Capture and express business rules
  • Analyze BR, identifying conflicts, redundancies
  • Decompose BR to atomic level
  • Act as business team lead for the project team
  • Act as a liaison between business and IT
  • Understand business rules methodology and how to apply it
Developer
  • Develop application business logic, database access layer, GUI
  • Domain object model
  • Meet functional specs
  • Write technical rules in low level ILOG Rules Language
  • Set rule project foundations:
    • Rule project structure
    • rule set parameters
    • rule flow
    • sandbox testing in Rule Studio
    • Develop the BOM to XOM mapping
  • May have rule management requirements if rules are primarily technical rather than business-managed
UAT Tester
  • Business tester
  • Performs final testing of the application by performing relevant business scenarios to determine if the system tested will satisfy the real world business needs
  • Sign off of the rules implementation
QA engineer
  • Manage application and rule set quality
  • Develop Rule Test cases
  • Define Key Performance Indicator with the Policy manager
Rule Repository Administrator
  • Manage the different rule repository cross departments
  • Develop the standards that are required across projects
  • Manage the rule deployment and rule set quality
  • Install and configure environment
  • Deploy the application
  • Re-deploy rulesets as changes are made
  • User management (security)
IT Operations
  • Monitoring Business Rules Execution
  • Reporting statistical use of business rules
  • Making sure everything is running smoothly


To put things in a more “Visual” Perspective, I also have created a graph shown below that depicts the roles mentioned above, but classified along 2 dimensions: production-management and business-technical.

The Production-Management dimension simply shows how close to management or to actual operations and production the roles are.

The Business-Technical dimension shows how technical the role is expected to be or how pure business the role is.

Once again, these are subject to interpretation (even I can’t seem to agree with myself on the exact position for each role) but it serves as a visual indicator of what kind of person should be filling-in the role in question.

Roles

Adding Skills

Once we have to Roles and Responsibilities well identified, a list of skills can be developed for each role. This list of skills can range from the technical skills required for the product to the management skills that are required by a specific role.

This list of skills can then eventually be used to build a training plan so that when specific people are associated to the roles, there is also a starting point for building a training plan to make sure the person has all the skills required to fulfill his or her role.

The table available in ABRD actually supplies a list of skills for the roles and can be used as a starting point for filling in your own list of skills.

Next, we will be looking at some of the Management pieces we need to focus on. We will start with the Rule Life Cycle.

References

Agile Business Rules Development, ABRD v1.2, available at http://www.eclipse.org/epf/downloads/praclib/praclib_downloads.php

Business Rules Forum 2008 presentation, Benefits of a Business Rule Management Tool/Repository and Not a Requirements Management Tool, by Shikha Khan, Single Family CMO Rules Management, October 29, 2008

Roles in BPM applied to Business Rules, https://www.primatek.ca/blog/2009/03/30/roles-in-bpm-applied-to-business-rules/

#BRF Emerging Trends & Decisioning Panel

This entry is part 23 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Roger Burlton, James Taylor, Sandy Kemsley and Ronald G. Ross as panellists for this session. Kristen Seer is moderating.

KS: This our chance to look forward. Introduce yourself and what are the trends you are seeing in your specialty.

RB: Ideas are revolutionary, but implementation is still evolutionary. First pattern is treatment of BP as enterprise assets. Strong trend towards governance over performance to support change. Strong drive towards frameworks.

JT: Early days for Decisions to be enterprise assets. Rules and Decisioning more and more in enterprise applications. Extend to which rules are considered more and more important by analytics. Decisions against streaming data (event processing?) is coming, but not sure.

SK: More and more collaboration between rules, analytics, processes, analytics and BI. Support for unstructured processes is becoming more visible and more important. Give people goals and give them what they need to fill those goals. Give people more flexibility in how they are solving problems.

RR: Evolution over the last 12 years (of the conference) shifts “What is a Rule” to “How do we do this?”. The real challenge remains a people challenge and the ability of communication and the importance of that has. He has concerns about the people who will have to have the skills to take this forward, especially in Business Analysts.

Eric Charpentier: Convergence of Rules, Processes, CEP, Analytics, etc. Are we going to see a merge or stronger collaboration in the future?

RR: Very high probability that there will be a Process conference co-located with BRF in the future. Honestly think that we are at the stage where we need to know all the parts to the solution to business problems

RB: You can’t use a single interdisciplinary approach to solving multi faceted problems and need all the tools to solve that problem.

RR: (basically agrees with RB).

Audience: Relationship of BA.

SK: Organisations are moving people to BA positions because they were good business users, but it should go beyond that and we should see a certification for BAs to make sure that they have some of those skills required for BAs similarly to a company hiring a PM with a PMP certifications

JT: For Analytics, we see adoption only in companies with strong background in math. It is difficult to convince people of the different

RB: In Canada, there is a consultant organisation and a certification for management consultants.

RR: The most important skill is to relearn how to speak business instead of IT. It is very difficult to get people to speak “normal language”.

SK: Changing roles of the BAs because things are done differently today. Still a lot of waterfall approach and we won’t be able to build agile systems with that approach, we need to bring in agile methodologies to help.

RR: For entertainment, will disagree with SK. If you write the BR precisely enough, you have eliminated so much ambiguity that you have possibly “eliminated” testing in the traditional IT sense.

RB: The testing is built in to a very agile style, so we are doing it but in a smarter different way.

JT: Design time structures changes drastically how things are done. We need to educate the IT colleagues on what the tools surrounding DM can do.

Audience:

JT: Business people think about the impact analysis to make sure the rules are doing what they should. Testing is a very “overloaded” word.

RB: In the methodology it is called Validation, not testing.

RR: Business Rules are what the business needs, Non functional requirements are for the systems, not the business.

Audience: To what degree will the aggregation of tools will influence the methodologies and standards?

JT: Some of the BPM standards are not talking about Rules or decisions at all. But BPM vendors support them. But as people are actually doing projects they see the need for this convergence and as more projects are being done the feedback will drive this convergence even more.

RB: Standards are being developed by vendors who can afford to pay people full time, so practitioners are not involved in the development

RR: Agree with RB 110%, but don’t wait for standards.

SK: Standards are also becoming so complex and BAs just don’t get them and shouldn’t need to understand them.

RB: Some of the BPMN events are becoming so complex that it is becoming a programming language. Which is why BPMN light is there to keep things simpler.

RR: SBVR is coming, but the timeline is about 10 years from now.

RB: Congratulates RR on the Business Motivation Model.

RR: (sorry Ron, I missed your comment)

Audience: Will we see more focus on BAs as opposed to IT in the rules conference?

SK: We saw that in BPM conferences that used to have a lot more men before, but as time advances, more and more women come to these conferences because they address more and more the Business people.

RR: Given the range of problems to solve, I hope we will continue to se a good mix of business and IT people.

JT: Organisations usually send IT people to technology conference, but have a hard time sending BAs, but we need to shift that thinking so that BAs can attend.

RB: (sorry missed the answer)

RR: Any and all suggestions will be welcome to solving this issue.

SK: It’s all about the contents of the conference and how you can relate to who is presenting and what is being discussed.

Audience: Is there something we can tell the business to be a better business

RB: The business needs to be performance centric.

JT: Tell people to not be focused too much on their own vertical and that should be open to learning from other verticals because they can still relate to some of the solutions being used.

RB: A process that was developed for the hotel industry was patented and can actually be used by other franchise industries, cross industry but useful.

RR: ()

Audience: How am I going to help my employees. What are the key areas for training to be prepared?

RB: It depends on your maturity. Making sure they understand terminology the challenge and show them examples.

RR: Smart Enough Systems contains many examples that people can use to get people thinking. Same thing for Business Rules Concepts that was meant to be simple to read. “You don’t get credit for problems you solve but that others don’t perceive”. Focus on the problems that the company perceives.

End of panel.