Say you’re a large, complex organization. You have many business operations, multiple divisions, distributed workforce, and a variety of decision support tools. You’d like to get away from creating new systems for updated processes and opportunities, as well as the silos those tools can accidentally create (or continue). Instead of hard-coding your business logic into your systems one at a time, business rules engines (BRE) and business rules management systems (BRMS) offer an alternative. BRE/BRMS perform this task by maintaining a separate database of rules that are called to execute by computer systems. At Building Business Capability 2016 (BBC) we learned how business analysts are a key element of a successful BRE or BRMS deployment.
- BRE/BRMS remain a great way to automate processes, increase organizational consistency, and maintain organizational integrity.
- The tenets of business analysis – stakeholder engagement, requirements elicitation, process improvement – are equally key elements in BRE/BRMS success.
- Business analysts can be the liaison between business and technical personnel when leveraging a BRM/BRMS to new functional areas, like Customer Experience or Agile.
Business Rules Engine / Business Rule Management System Highlights
Why does an organization want to deploy a BRE/BRMS? Beyond the list above, many organizations find themselves low on system engineering staff, hardware capacity, or software budget. At the same time, there are many employees who have deep expertise in the functions and processes that run the organization. Combine those things with a business analyst and you have a need for a BRE/BRMS.
A Business Analyst Connects the Business and Technical Teams
Why introduce a business analyst to a complicated BRE/BRMS project? A business analyst is the right candidate to connect your business stakeholders and the IT personnel tasked with configuring and deploying a BRE/BRMS. It is a business analysis core capability to work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to define the complex business rules that make the organization run. The business analyst (or team of business analysts) is also ideal to identify where those rules can be streamlined or improved. Once the business analyst has completed their analysis efforts, they or the team should collaborate with the technical engineers to configure, house, test, and deploy the BRE.
Taking BRE/BRMS Beyond Business Rules
A business analyst (or team of business analysts) can identify options for expanding the BRE/BRMS into somewhat non-traditional areas. At BBC, one presentation discussed using a BRE to improve the Customer Experience or CX. The business analysts leveraged the information contained in the BRE to reduce duplicate questions and ease language translations for its end users. By using the BRE to maintain the integrity of the business rules the organization, through its business analysts, increased the system credibility to its customers.
Another BBC session presented about using a BRE as a platform to introduce Agile and Scrum development practices to its organization. While that organization already had, some requirements maintained in a database, it wanted to increase functionality by deploying a BRE. Sometimes incorporating a new tool and a process simultaneously can be a recipe for disaster. However, this organization avoided that outcome by incorporating business analysts as the intermediary between the business and technical staff. Sourcing business analysts internal to the organization gave them credibility with the business owners while establishing service level agreements (SLAs) provided expectations for the development teams. The “inspect and adapt” principles of Agile and Scrum were key in iterating both groups towards success.