Rules related events this fall

Although I know I am late at announcing the events, here are 2 events about rules that are coming up in the next few weeks.

I will unfortunately not be able to attend and blog from those events this year (unless someone is willing to sponsor me!) but they are really interesting events to attend.
Rules Fest at http://rulesfest.org
Dates: October 11-14 2010 in San Jose
Comments: This conference is a technical oriented conference. Last year was extremely interesting and this year Jason Morris managed to have a line up of speakers including many big names in the industry such as Mark Proctor, Barbara von Halle, Larry Goldberg, Jacob Feldman, Paul Vincent and James Taylor among others. Should be an amazing conference with that line up.
Business Rules Forum at http://www.businessrulesforum.com/
Dates: October 17-21 2010 in Washington DC
Comments: This is the more known conference which this year is colocated with the Business Analysis Forum and Business Process Forum (and advertised as the Building Business Capability conference at http://www.buildingbusinesscapability.com). A very interesting conference where most vendors are present and which allows you to meet a lot of people that work in the industry.

 If you go, let me know your thoughts!

#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.

#BRF How business rules and processes fit together

This entry is part 22 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Dr. Jan Vathienen is presenting.

There is always a problem to transform business vocabulary, business rules and business processes to IT. We want to build flexible system and compliant with the rules. How do you organize processes so that they are and remain compliant.

This flexibility can be obtained by supporting all the possible changes.

There are multiple levels of compliance:

  • Be Compliant
  • Prove that you are compliant
  • Be compliant after a change
  • Remain compliant after every change
  • Prove that you remain compliant after a change

Flexibility, alignment and compliance with the business. Flexibility is offered by the SOA architecture. How do you remain compliant in rules? When rules change the process may have to change.

He then took some time to show how decision trees are not processes, and how you can improve on that and make it more flexible as a process. There are 2 types of rules in processes:

  • decision points
  • decision service

But also there are other rules (timing, access rules, audit rules, …). There are also other implicit rules that can be hidden within the process.

Business Rules are the “GPS” of the Business Process –Dr. Vathienen

He also showed a classification of rules and how these types of rules can be used to simplify a typical process diagram. He simplified the diagram so much in his example that he made the original diagram useless.

“A process diagram is nothing more than a visualisation of the rules.” –Dr. Vathienen

He proposes that it is possible to start from a couple of simple rule statements and to generate processes. So every change in the rules will allow you to re-generate processes automatically and all of this will make sure that you remain compliant as long as you rules are compliant.

Process modeling and enforcement is on a scale from static and procedural to dynamic and declarative. The reality is that we are somewhere in the middle with fixed processes but declarative rules.

He then showed that Business Process Management and Business Rules Management are actually 2 sides of the same coin:

  • Modeling
  • Enactment
  • BAM (vs Rule Activity Monitoring)
  • Execution
  • Maturity

I actually like this slide because it does show some gaps that we are not doing on the rules side that is done with Business Processes.

He linked this to an architecture for business rules, events and services.

Sandy Kemsley actually saw this presentation (or something very similar) about 2 years ago, see: http://www.column2.com/2007/10/brf-day-2-how-business-rules-redefine-business-processes-a-service-oriented-view/

My thoughts? Interesting, but seems still very academic for the time being.

—————————–

Funny Excerpt form the Q&A part:

Audience: The business rules manifesto says that rules are first class citizens, but what you are proposing here seems to indicate the the rule are King!

Dr. Vathienen: In a presentation you always have to exaggerate a little, so maybe not King, but Queen!

#BRF Standards for Business Rules

This entry is part 21 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

John Hall is talking about the state of the standards around business rules.

I had originally thought of blogging this session as I had done the others, but I think it won’t necessarily work well because of the topic.

Instead I will list the standards (and eventually add links to their respective standards) that were discussed.

  • BMM
  • SBVR
  • PRR
  • ODM
  • RIF
  • XBRL
  • UML
  • OSM
  • IMM

And more but it is unknown how they really fit:

  • ISO-704
  • ISO-1087
  • ORM: Object Role Modeling
  • BPEL4WS
  • CL (Common Logic)
  • OWL
  • RDF and RDFS
  • RuleML
  • JSR-94 (Purely API definitions)

The slides that do with this presentation are obviously helping a great deal in understanding the relationships between the standards.

#BRF Business Event Driven Enterprises Rule!

This entry is part 20 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Brian Dickinson of Logical Conclusions is leading this session.

He explains his own definition of events (being an author) and says that he is happy to see how many talks mention events at this conference. Being an event driven enterprise will set you apart from your competition.

An event is anything that happens beyond the are of study that requires or produces a response inside the area of study. – B. Dickinson

All systems have a stimulus-response mechanism. Events make the world go round. In one process view the world consists of a mass of things (events) happening through time. We select the ones we are interested in (sounds like patterns to me).

In the business world and event is what it wishes to respond to from the outside world. The enterprise has no control over theses external customer event, it simply responds to the arrival of the stimuli from the events.

Each external need to which we respond is called an event. An enterprise’s response to an event is a 3 tiered structure: selected events, business analysis, system design and implementation.

There has been a fragmentation of the systems at the implementation which created boundaries at the design level based on the departments, but that is not how things should. The groupings were based on skills of the people that needed the systems.

The boundaries are “historical” (he used hysterical) and using events should allow business to see through these old and outdated boundaries. Engineering the enterprise should be based on events.

Flavors of event:

  • Business Events: to which the business wishes to respond
  • Dependant Events: to which and enterprise responds to satisfy its business events
  • Regulatory Events: To which an enterprise is required to respond

System events are invented at design time. Strategic events are those that dictate the contents of the enterprise’s policy.

Gather 6 things for analysis of events

  • Source
  • Stimulus
  • Processing
  • Memory
  • Response
  • Recipient

You can get rid of “files”  if there is not “intersection” between 2 events.

Let the “data” flow through with no slow down and do your analysis to allow this. The boundaries should not slow down the processing of the events.

If it takes more than “minutes” to get through your company, he says that you are not using event driven partitioning. Don’t combine events, Don’t break events.

Very interesting talk although I wish it would have been longer because we barely skimmed the surface of his topic.

#BRF Keynote: Smarter Systems for Uncertain Times

This entry is part 19 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

James Taylor his giving the keynote this morning at the Business Rules Forum. No slides, just talk.

Why do you need a smarter system, what is a smarter system?

The pace of change is one of the drivers for creating smarter systems. Changes are so quick nowadays you need to find new ways of doing things.

The competitive environment is also a driver for smarter systems. For example the amazon infrastructure to sell used books is creating competition for the second hand book stores.

Why systems need to be smarter as opposed to smarter organizations and people?

  • Volume: Volume involved in the modern business (transactions or interactions) is so high that there is no way to do this without a system
  • Speed: The amount of data in real time is huge, so only a snapshot is usually looked at because things are happening too quickly. Need to analyze data in real time to identify patterns to respond in real time.
  • Complexity:The environment we work in is getting more complex all the time

What IS a smarter system

  • Action oriented: Not passive supporters. The system needs to enable actions to be taken (either by automating or enabling people to take action) or to make decisions.
  • Flexible (in a business sense): The fact that a business person feels that the system is flexible enough to respond quickly to their needs for change.
  • Forward looking: This links what was essentially Rules driven into Predictive Analytics to peer in the future to help flexible.
  • Learn: A good decision today might be a bad decision tomorrow. Enable you to test and learn an challenge decisions so that you can improve.

How do you get there?

  • It is an approach not a technology platform with a focus on decisions
    • Discover what the processes and decisions are
    • Create decision services. Externalize the rules (Action oriented and flexible)
    • Institute on-going decision analysis to make sure you improve over time

#BRF Semantic Business Management

This entry is part 18 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Paul Haley of Automata is leading this breakfast session.

Forecasting beyond business rules (5-15 years) these will become indistinguishable in the future. He calls this the Business Stack.

  • Model driven architecture
  • Service oriented architecture
  • Complex event processing
  • Business Process modeling
  • Business Activity Monitoring
  • Predictive analytics
  • Business Intelligence
  • Corporate performance management

A focus on semantics will drastically change the way things will be done in the future. Ontologies will become the model. We will define things in ontologies.

He mentions FOAF (Friend of a Friend) as being a standard for exchanging data.

Business rule realities

  • Derived from AI
  • Primarily based on production rules
  • Substantially forward chaining, goals rarely explicit, no automatic sub-goaling
  • No ability to solve problems or optimize solutions
  • Not enough Ai or operations research

Comment from the audience is that “Constraint Programming does allow for some of the problem resolution that this highlights as not being addressed”, Paul Haley agreed, also “Decision Management generalizes this and includes other technologies which can be used to resolved those problems and that 90% of rules are solved using sequential algorithms as opposed to Rete or others”.

Paul Haley thinks that usually Decision Management is only focused on rules that are part of decision point in a process, but that vision of rules is very limited. (paraphrased)

Paul says that rules in natural language such as “Only full page ads may run on the last page of the Times” but he thinks that computers will eventually ask the questions required to disambiguate the rule statement. He says the “logic systems” will get past this limitation.

Semantic technology (the next step):

  • Semantics – focus on meaning (not structure)
  • Resource Description Format (RDF)
    • Graphs are the universal data structure
    • Metadata is just more data in the graph
    • World-wide identification of nodes, links
  • More powerful, logical deductions
    • Description logic (OWL-DL)
    • Logic programming (Prolog)
    • Predicate calculus (first-order logic)
    • HiLog (higher-order syntax for FOL)
  • More powerful ontology (OWL)

He quickly covered PRR but thinks it has no real added value. OMG’s SBVR on the other hand is very interesting, it is a step ion the right direction but not all the way where he thinks it needs to be. He also mentioned W3C RIF.

He continued by highlighting some of the problems with BI, BOM CEP, BAM, PA, BI and CPM. Basically missing an ontology for all of this.

A Decision is a Process AND an Event. You actually need both.

Ontology needed for:

  • BPMN
  • BMM
  • Rules, Process and Motivation

Sharing ontology across the Business Stack is key.

Somewhat controversial discussion based on the discussions that took place, seems to be an “academic” approach, but still interesting to hear.

#BRF Business Rules and Business Events

This entry is part 17 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Paul Vincent is talking about how CEP can help with Business Rules.

His Disclaimer: CEP technologies work alongside other (BPM, SOA, BRE) technologies

Tibco (The Information Bus Company!) is known more for EAI, but has evolved to BPM, CEP, Predictive analytics, etc.

Paul referred to other sessions or keynotes from leading analysts from Gartner, Forrester and IDC from this conference mentioning CEP as one of the key technologies that will be used more in the future.

He did a quick review of what Ron Ross’ definition of rules, or what they can be. CEP becomes interesting for timings and triggers. Chances are it will be a combination of the different types.

Rules are defined through terms and facts, some facts may be events and the rules are enforced as events occur. We want to predict when rules will get broken. It is more important to know that your a heading to bankruptcy, not that you are bankrupt (It’s too late).

Mapping for business rules to processes and decision is easier from an event perspective. He then took some time to how how closely all of the technologies (BPM, Rules, CEP) are closely related and that processes are actually aggregating events.

CEP provides a quicker response to detect issues. It shortens the time between the business event and the action that need to be taken.

Decisions are event driven, CEP identifies patterns in real time. Decisions share data and event so why keep the data in a separate system? Before it was too complex, but now CEP allows to do that to maximize performance. “All decisions are event driven”.

He showed us an example architecture for Real-time event processing. He also presented different high level design patterns that contrast SOA and EDA. A lot of the diagrams presented these concepts and I just can’t blog that kind of information.

Summary

  • Business Rules are used in CEP applications
    • Sense and respond
    • Track and trace
    • Situation awareness
  • Users should model events independently

#BRF Practioners Panel

This entry is part 16 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Miranda Shumaker, Kevin Chase, Kathy Gorman, Mukundan Agaram, Ian Cole, Emily Springer and Mark Myers.

Gladys Lam says that the panellists will introduce themselves, their companies and a couple of do’s and don’ts

Do

  • Hire and train the best BA
  • Adapt the rule methodology
  • Use a rule repository
  • Understand clearly the resource pool available for the tool you are using
  • Talk about decisions with customers, not specifically rules
  • Make sure there is a good mix of business and technical
  • Get executive buy in early on, do evangelism
  • Use external expertise
  • Have a strong support structure in place to support the BAs
  • Keep your rule writing staff together in a CoE
  • Set “Mantras”
  • Define your business language up front
  • Have transparency through the organisation

Don’t

  • Don’t let the business get to involved in the solution
  • Don’t get discouraged, it is a lot of work
  • Start with a pilot but don’t let it get too big
  • Don’t let you techies silo the tool
  • Don’t compromise, due a due diligence
  • Make sure you know which features are available to get your
  • Don’t expect instantaneous success
  • Don’t try to bite of more than you can chew
  • Don’t be afraid to make a mid course correction
  • Don’t be afraid of the word No

GL: What kind of skill sets do BA need to make rule changes, how far you took it, etc.

KC: Look for people that can solve the business problems and that have the logic. “Write those rules as if you own them because you do”.

MA: Good SMEs that can think logically.

MM: (missed the answer)

Audience: BAs belong to business or IT?

MS: BAs should be on the business side but work closely with IT. You should have a Systems Analyst.

KG: BAs are separate from both.

ES: BAs also part of a separate group.

Audience: Stewardship?

ES: Data stewardship with 4 stewards as well as a domain data stewards.

MA: (missed)

IC: Our governance came from compliance, security and these can be drivers to make the call for change.

Audience: Skillset for BAs?

ES: Bus. Architect to model the rule solution. BAs are doing to rule writing. Program office and domains that have BAs trained for rule writing. Skillset: Analytical ability, aptitude to rule writing as mentors for other BAs.

KG: Moving BAs to a Professional BA. Need to change the mindset from being a SME to BAs. Position BAs as expert on the domain.

MM: Soft side of skills. Bridging the gap between IT and the business. Soft skills are key in those people way up there with analysis.

MA: ()

KC: “Get IT out of the process” (Leverage developers on writing code and tools). Mentorships and inspections “Bring everybody up and not tear them down”.

Audience: Business Rules Management, how do you eliminate rules?

MA: Partition your rules into decisions and orchestrating can help.

MM: Rules from the business, you can’t eliminate. But if you had a poor design it might be possible to eliminate rules. Once rules externalized, it is easier to ask “why are we doing that?” and this will help you clean things up.

KC: It’s not changing policy. But refactoring the representation might be an approach to help reduce some of the rules.

Audience: What is the viability of capturing knowledge by business in natural language without involving IT?

ES: “Lobing” over the fence is not an ideal situation. We want BAs to write in natural language and that it will flow to the rule execution side.

MA: presentation yesterday about integrating RuleExpress and ILOG for some level integration. Not perfect but step in the right direction.

MM: The big bang for the buck is on the business side. It is unreasonable to think that all the rules in the system will go in the rule engine. Rules will go in different places. If an error occurs, the system has to show the natural language rule back to the user.

Audience: (missed the exact question)

MS: The technology is not there yet, but hope that there will be this integration between the business pieces and the rule engines. Common language is our small company so IT understands the business language.

Audience: What checkpoint are in place for making sure changes to rules are tracked and OK.

MA: Provided search capabilities and…

KC: If the business makes changes to the rules then it is their responsibility and their accountability. The governance process will help control that. He explained the process they use in their company to help support that (including rule change reports, regressing testing, testing cycle, etc.)

Audience: (missed the question) and most of the answers… sorry.

Audience: Any one using non natural english rules (such as math)?

KC: The rules help support which components of the math calculation you are going to use (which lookup tables for examples) but you are right that some cases are like that.

MS: Some rule are like that, but try to compose them so that it is more closely related to natural language

(missed the last answer)

#BRF First hundred days of a BPM effort

This entry is part 15 of 24 in the series Business Rules Forum 2009

Jim Sinur is talking about the benefits of a BPM effort.

BPM efforts have so far a ROI of at least 20%. 84% of BPM efforts are sponsored at CxO level or higher. 60% broken even in less than 1 year. Over 2/3 had benefits over 1 million dollar (record had over 100 million dollar benefit).

The relationship between BPM and rules. To keep your processes green, you need to be able to change your rules in your BPM.

What should the first 100 days of a BPM project look like?

BPM is a journey that affects culture, skill and the way work gets done. Every organization is different and there is no silver bullet.

“Am I going to lose my job?” There is a fear that people are going to lose their job. Need to make people understand that this is going to help them do their job. People feel happier doing their job when structured processes are in place.

Key issues

  • How should users assess organizational readiness?
  • How do you initiate BPM, what does a plan for getting started look like?
  • Critical factors for long term success?

Step 1: Phases of maturity, determine where you are, understand the journey

  1. Acknowledge Operational inefficiencies
    1. Measure and monitor business activities
  2. Process aware,
    1. Model and analyse BP
    2. establish performance metrics
    3. Identify process owners and governance structure
  3. Intraprocess automation and control
    1. Directly link process model and rules to executions
    2. Compare alternatives by various optimization techniques
    3. Integrate activity based accounting with process steps
  4. Interprocess automation and control
    1. Achieve process alignment
    2. Craft process automation across the enterprise customers and trading partners
  5. Enterprise Valuation Control
    1. Achieve comprehensive BRM strategy
    2. Goal driven processes
  6. Agile Business Structure
    1. Innovate new businesses, products and services through agile business structure

Step 2a: Understand your corporate culture. BPM is a cultural change, every organization is different, get help if you don’t have the skillset to do this.

Step 2b: What is your type of enterprise personality profile

  • Cultural aggressive
  • Cultural Moderates
  • Cultural Conservatives

Step 3: Understand Roles and Skill and establish a business process competency center. Critical: Get an executive sponsor.

  • Executive Sponsor
  • Business Process Analyst
  • BP Director
  • BP Project Manager
  • SMEs
  • BP Project Team

Step 4: Executive Sponsor: Get it Right. No absentee sponsors, no iron-fisted approaches, no indecisive leadership. Need to devote the time, be a good communicator, can make decisions, well respected, able to influence and motivated to succeed.

The BPM Plan

  • Determine your BPM Objectives
    • Cost savings?
    • Speed to market?
    • Compliance?
    • Customer satisfaction?
    • Efficiency?
    • Agility?
  • Define your processes and opportunities
  • Determine you initial organizational model
    • Start somewhere, and rapidly evolve to a blended model
  • Apply a “Getting started” checklist
    • (Checklist was too long for me to write all)
  • Document and Use the BPM Strategic Plan

Critical success factors

  • Don’t make the model the primary outcome
  • Plan for a sustainable BPM Program
  • Avoid the temptation to choose the tools first, see the whole, know the right methodology
  • Carefully select the first project
  • Assign the right resources at the right time

Recommendations

  • Understand your culture, political and competitive environment
  • Tailor your approach to meet the unique needs of your organizations
  • Understand the roles and build or hire the skills needed
  • Lay out you BPM strategy and document it in BPM strategic plan
  • Use results to communicate and educate to gain adoption
  • Use BPM to help your enterprise SURVIVE