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Entries in Knowledge Management (1)

Sunday
Apr252010

Unpacking Decision Management: A Changing Landscape

There is an excellent recent review of knowledge management as written by Fahmi Ibrahim (here). I was struck by the parallels between KM and business rules, so I 'borrowed' his conclusions and mapped them to my understanding of the business rules industry.

Criticisms 

Key Points 

Poor Conceptual Understanding



The vast majority of the business rules literature (1)(2)(3)(4) and products are built on the assumption that business rules should be expressed as a linguistic, symbolic or interpreted evaluation of facts. However, the characteristics of this approach make it difficult to create, control and manage changes (5)(6).

 

The alternate approach views business rules as a set of sequential sequence of logic that categorize, compares, computes and controls a business decision or direction.

 

Many organizations have successfully implemented both approaches.

Lack of Common Framework



In reviewing the literature and standards, business rules and the business rules approach lacks a common framework and there is no consensus of a working definition of either. Commercial software focuses on IT infrastructure. In the OMG standard there is the semantic business rules vocabulary (SBRV). SVBR has very little to do with the needs of IT operations. Consequently, the business rules are misunderstood and underutilized, especially in rules intensive-areas such as health care, logistics, risk management and finance,

“Rebottled Old Wine‟

Many products employed expert systems that were developed over 3-decades ago to solve unrelated AI problems. Other approaches evolved from the limitations of the relational data bases (7)(8). The result is that the definition of business rules and business decisions is too narrow and will not encompass the evolving event driven infrastructures of tomorrow.

Bandwagon Effect

In the last 10 years, many companies jumped onto the rules bandwagon without understanding the meaning and implications of expert systems, fact-based modeling, or vocabulary approaches. In fact, many companies became bogged down in analysis paralysis and endless ‘death by meeting’.

Success or Failure

The business rules approach has delivered significant results but the success rate is mixed. There are many examples of organizations which have successfully implemented BRA. Yet anecdotally, we encounter initiatives will fail to have significant results. Like knowledge management, some have declared that BRA is a fad without real business benefits.

Value and Measurement

While business rules are widely recognized as a valuable metaphor for controlling business results there is little understanding of how to manage these.

I think business rules should support an expanded view of business rules in the enterprise-one that encompasses and moves beyond supporting a process decision (or endless meetings that might make that someday). New metaphors, especially events, are on the horizon. As with every method, the complexity of the situation will significantly expand. To survive, the business rules approaches should reduce complexity and increase transparency with today's model-driven approaches.