If you are considering the use of any of the following business rules management systems (BRMS):
- IBM Ilog JRules
- Red Hat JBoss Rules
- Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor
- Oracle Policy Automation (i.e., Haley in Siebel, PeopleSoft, etc.)
- Oracle Business Rules (i.e., a derivative of JESS in Fusion)
you can learn a lot by carefully examining this video on decisions using scoring in Ilog. (The video is also worth considering with respect to Corticon since it authors and renders conditions, actions, and if-then rules within a table format.)
This article is a detailed walk through that stands completely independently of the video (I recommend skipping the first 50 seconds and watching for 3 minutes or so). You will find detailed commentary and insights here, sometimes fairly critical but in places complimentary. JRules is a mature and successful product. (This is not to say to a CIO that it is an appropriate or low risk alternative, however. I would hold on that assessment pending an understanding of strategy.)
The video starts by creating a decision table using this dialog:
Note that the decision reached by the resulting table is labeled but not defined, nor is the information needed to consult the table specified. As it turns out, this table will take an action rather than make a decision. As we will see it will “set the score of result to a number”. As we will also see, it references an application. Given an application, it follows references to related concepts, such as borrowers (which it errantly considers synonomous with applicants), concerning which it further pursues employment information.
Continue reading “IBM Ilog JRules for business modeling and rule authoring”
On the heels of IBM’s acquisition of Lombardi comes Progress Software’s acquisition of Savvion. The salient similarities are that IBM is adding BPM applications to its middleware stack as is Progress, at least with regard to its enterprise service bus offerings. More interesting is the relationship between Progress’ complex event processing software and Savvion’s BPM. Also of note is the vendor-provided integration of JBOSS Rules within Savvion versus the unrealized potential of IBM’s Ilog with respect to Lombardi.
We’ve written several times about the artificial distinction between CEP and BPM, their inevitable convergence, and the immature integration of business rules with business process management and event processing that inhibits knowledge-driven governance and decisioning. Continue reading “Rule and event-driven business process M&A”
For those who are interested in my former company, they are still committed to natural language business rules management technology, as shown in their most recent press release. They have also picked up on the public sector activity, especially eligibility, as discussed here.
From the release, CEO, Dominic O’Hanlon, said:
- “With our natural language rule authoring capabilities and BRMS solutions, we are uniquely positioned to make our customers more competitive and agile in a fast-paced, highly-regulated world.”
- “For the government market, Haley is a worldwide leader in using natural language technology to rapidly transform regulations, policies and rules into automated decision-making systems, to determine eligibility for government services, and in the taxation and immigration arenas.”
As discussed here, this focuses comes from Continue reading “RuleBurst re-brands as Haley Limited”
We have been teaching a computer to answer questions like, “How much did IBM’s earnings change last quarter?” It takes a fair bit of knowledge, including how to understand English, to answer this question. But teaching it what a “quarter” is brought back memories of debates with some former CMU colleagues about what units are and how to model time. Since quite a few people ask me for help with knowledge engineering and ontological matters, I thought some might be interested in parts of those debates.As you will see, a strong upper ontology of common knowledge is required to understand common business knowledge. Leveraging such an ontology is the only way to deliver business rules for under $50.
Sentences like “do something if more than a number of possibly related things have happened within a timeframe of something else happening” or “do something if nothing happens within a timeframe following something happening” are extremely common in business process management (BPM), complex event processing (CEP), and workflow. With a sense of time, a business rules management system (BRMS) can support BPM, CEP, and workflow applications almost trivially. Without a sense of time, most BRMS force users to perform computations.
For example, without a sense of time and an infrastructure that supports it, the sentence “call a customer if no response is received within 30 days of notifying the customer of a delinquency” has to be transformed into something like “if a notice is mailed on a date and the notice is a delinquency and the date of notification has a day number then compute the date for checking by adding 30 to the day number and check for a response to the delinquency notice on the date for checking”. The checking on a date for a response to a notice must also be implemented as a database (or persistent queue) of events to be polled or triggered by application code. Then a second rule is required to implement the check, as in “if checking whether a response has been received to a notice and the notice was given on a date of notice and the notice was given to a customer and there exists no record of communication with the customer since the date of notice then call the customer”. (Note that this is actually how most BRMS products would implement this. The natural language approach I prefer handles the original sentence.)
The discussion here reflects the general structure and content that a usable ontology for business process management requires. Most users of business rules management tools will find the need to understand and engineer this discussion in their tool of choice. As my Haley Systems customers know, much of this is reflected in Authority’s built-in ontology and English vocabulary, but quite a few of the points discussed here reflect improvements, especially concerning the confusion between units and amounts.
As you will see the discussion takes careful thinking. Some readers may find it onerous. If at any time you have had enough (or if you simply cannot take anymore!), please skip to the end and decide whether to fill in the conclusions by revisiting the body.
Continue reading “Understanding events and processes takes time”
A manager of an enterprise architecture group recently asked me how to train business analysts to elicit or harvest rules effectively. We talked for a bit about the similarities in skills between rules and requirements and agreed that analysts will fail to understand rules as they fail to understand requirements.
For example, just substitute rules in the historical distribution of requirements failures:
- 34% Incorrect requirements
- 24% Inadequate requirements
- 22% Ambiguous requirements
- 9% Inconsistent requirements
- 4% Poor scoping of requirements
- 4% Transcription errors in requirements
- 3% New or changing requirements
Continue reading “Elicitation and Management of Rules, Requirements and Decisions”
I am working on some tutorial material for business analysts tasked with eliciting and harvesting rules using some commercial business rules management systems (BRMS). The knowledgeable consumers of this material intuitively agree that capturing business rules should be performed by business analysts who also capture requirements. They understand that the clarity of rules is just as critical to successful application of BRMS as the clarity of requirements is to “whirlpool” development. But they are frustrated by the distinct training for requirements versus rules. They believe, and I agree, that unification of requirements and rules management is needed.
Consider these words from Forrester:
One might argue that Word documents, email, phone calls, and stakeholder meetings alone are adequate for managing rules. In fact, that is the methodology currently used for most projects in a large number of IT shops. However, this informal, ad hoc approach doesn’t ensure rigorous rules definition that is communicated and understood by all parties. More importantly, it doesn’t lend itself to managing the inevitable rules changes that will occur throughout the life of the project. The goal must be to embrace and manage change, not to prevent it. 
But note that Forrester used the word “requirements” everywhere I used “rules” above!
Continue reading “When Rules Meet Requirements”
Some recent correspondence with clients and prospective adopters of business rules technology indicates interested mainstream has become increasing concerned and confused by consolidation in the business rules market.
On the analyst front, they read advice such as the following from Gartner:
As Gartner has stated, the BRE market is a volatile technology sector, and market trends point to increased consolidation. In recent research, we stated that some consolidation will come from rules-to-rules acquisitions. Recent examples of this include Trilogy/Versata buying Gensym and now, RuleBurst purchasing Haley Systems.
Another form this consolidation will take is application vendors or business process management suite vendors buying much-needed rule technology, as seen in SAP’s recently announced intention to purchase Yasu Technologies. In either case, rule technology will persist, but the vendors selling the technology will often be different.
I agree with Gartner, enterprise app and BPM vendors desperately need rules technology. I also agree with the following analysis from Forrester:
SAP’s decision to purchase Hyderabad, India-based Yasu Technologies greatly improves its business rules management capabilities. Other large vendors would be wise to follow SAP’s lead in the business rules market. If you look at the big vendors, they’re all going to need this technology. SAP’s competitors are going to have to step up to these requirements also.
It’s encouraging that SAP bought Business Objects and is now buying Yasu. We’re seeing requirements to link business rules and business intelligence or analytics. SAP has told us they have seen these requests, and we’re encouraged that SAP is now acting.”
Unfortunately, Gartner’s concluding advice could have been more constructive:
Prospective BRE customers: Buyer beware – the rule engine market is a volatile sector. Choose your vendors carefully and be prepared to see more BRE acquisitions.
Continue reading “Business Rules Market Maturity”