individual-entry-BA-Blog

« Gartner Report: Insurers Should Deploy Rules Engines for Underwriting | Main | US P&C Underwriting Profitability to Dip? Sounds like a job for EDM! »

The secret of business user rule maintenance

I saw this post on rule templates over on The Road Hits The Rubber and it made me think about business users and the promise that business rules makes of allowing business users to maintain business rules. But here's the dirty little secret:

Business users don't want to "maintain rules" any more than they want to "write code"

What they want to do is run their business better. They want to:

  • Relax their underwriting policies
  • Reduce their risk exposure
  • Retain more customers even if it costs more
  • Promote slow-moving products
  • Catch a new kind of fraud
  • Enforce new regulations
  • and so on...

Now you and I may realize that these are all ways of saying they want to control how certain rules are implemented in their systems or at least in the decision services within those systems, but that's not how they think. So if you are going to get business users to maintain the rules in their systems without them feeling like you are trying to make them into programmers, what are you going to have to do?

There are going to be four key characteristics if this is going to work:

  • Rule maintenance must be presented as a business function
    • It cannot look like they are being made to maintain code
    • It cannot look like it was designed for IT people
    • It must look like they are doing what they want to do - changing the way their business runs
  • The environment for rule maintenance must be familiar
    • Browser-based
    • As intuitive as possible
    • Uses the same layout and style as other systems they use routinely
    • Uses their terminology and expectations, not the rule engine's
  • The process of rule maintenance must be integrated with other systems used by the business people
    • It should seem like a seamless process to go from a task to changing the rules
    • It should let them do rule editing when it makes sense for the user
  • The whole thing must be secure & controlled
    • Audit trails
    • Release management
    • Security to prevent unauthorized changes
    • An environment that prevents them from making errors in the editing of rules

All of this means you need templates. Only well designed templates can provide the control and security you want before non-programmers start changing a system while also allowing enough control over how the user interface looks to convince users they are just doing their job, not their IT department's.In the end it comes down to this.

No business user is going to maintain this:

public class Application {
  private Customer customers[];
  private Customer goldCustomers[];
  ...
  public void checkOrder() {
  for (int i = 0; i < numCustomers; i++) {
    Customer aCustomer = customers[i];
    if (aCustomer.checkIfGold()) {
      numGoldCustomers++;
      goldCustomers[numGoldCustomers] = aCustomer;
      if (aCustomer.getCurrentOrder().getAmount() > 100000)
        aCustomer.setSpecialDiscount (0.05);
    }
  }
}

They might maintain this:

If customer is GoldCustomer
  and Home_ Equity_Loan_Value is more than $100,000
  then college_loan_discount = 0.5%

But what they really want to do is see something like this:

College Loan Discounts
Current Discount = [0.5]%
Eligibility:
  <Gold Customer> and
  Home Equity Loan <more than> [$100,000]

Where the [numbers] are editable and the <lists> can be selected easily.

First time on the EDM blog?
Subscribe to the EDM blog feed or check out some other recent posts:

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451629b69e200d8342efd0a53ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The secret of business user rule maintenance:

» Here's a quick way to deliver business enablement from James Taylor's Decision Management
I was reading Phil's article The Difference Between IT and Business Enablement and it made me think about how to deliver business enablement whether or not you are using BPM software and whether or not you are building systems on... [Read More]

» Using decision technologies to manage application maintenance from James Taylor's Decision Management
My old colleague John Parkinson had a nice column over on CIO Insights today - "How to Manage Application Enhancements". There's some good general purpose advice about how to manage application enhancement but on the second page John touches on... [Read More]

» Pragmatic Decision Services from James Taylor's Decision Management
A recent Zapthink piece on pragmatic SOA made me think of pragmatic decision services in this context. Taking four of their pragmatic areas I had a few thoughts: Pragmatic Reuse If you are focused on pragmatic reuse you might want... [Read More]

» Business Rules and Business Process in 2007 from James Taylor's Decision Management
David Kelly had a nice article on the BPM Market in 2007 that made me think about how the business rules and business process markets might co-evolve this year. "Many organizations that purchased BPM solutions over the past few years... [Read More]

» http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/decision_management/2007/05/post.php from James Taylor's Decision Management
Michael Hugos had a nice post over on CIO magazine - Six Techniques Lie at the Heart of IT Agility It is an interesting list. I am not sure I would add to it so much as make some observations:... [Read More]

» Decision technologies and driving agility from James Taylor's Decision Management
Michael Hugos over at CIO magazine had an interesting post today - The System Builder Drives IT Agility. He makes five suggestions on which I thought I would follow-up: Understanding business operation - shared understanding presumably despite the diff... [Read More]

» Don't just move your chair from James Taylor's Decision Management
I saw this post over on Steve Jones' blog - Want to get closer to your business? Then move your chair.While I agree with his basic premise I think he stops short of what it really takes. Clearly one of... [Read More]

» Techniques for Agility from James Taylor's Decision Management
Michael Hugos had a nice post over on CIO magazine - Six Techniques Lie at the Heart of IT Agility It is an interesting list. I am not sure I would add to it so much as make some observations:... [Read More]

» Business users can (and should) maintain rules from James Taylor's Decision Management
Thanks to my friends at Yasu I just came across an interesting piece by Narayan Devanathan of Wipro for ITtoolbox - BRMS and Business Users. One of the things the paper does not discuss is how to tell that it... [Read More]

Comments

Craig Cameron

Hi there,

You have covered a few points so my response will be a bit disjointed and possibly just plain wrong.

Business owners/managers may not want to write rules or maintain rules but they do want to write and policies. In they ideally want to write english language statements such as:

if a customer is a home equity loan with a value of over $100 000 then the discount is %%50

To my knowledge there is no natual language interpreter but we are slowly (and I mean slowly) getting closer.

I think the key with business rules, or even computer systems in general is that it is really up to the user how far they can go.

I agree with your characteristics necessary and I might volunteer one more. It would be handy if the system could relay back to the user what some of the implications might be for changing a rule. Additionally if any of the rules contradict each other.

Cheers

Craig

FICO

Craig
Thanks - your point is a good one. "What-if" analysis is very important when giving the business the power to manage their own rules.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Search Site


  • dmblog.fico.com

Subscribe

  • enter your email

Upcoming Events

  • FICO Tools & Analytics User Forum 2012
    BERLIN: September 11-12, 2012 LONDON: September 18-19, 2012 Gain new insights for improving business performance through advanced analytics and decision management tools.