Friday, February 10, 2006

Rules 1.0

Executives used to have secretaries. Now they have Word.

Companies used to have IT/Finance modelers to do "what if" analysis. Now they have Excel.

Newspapers used to have strippers (no not that kind!) that did page layout by hand. Now they have PageMaker.

In the early days of the Web, you needed a Webmaster to create your website. Now you have FrontPage.

What's missing today in the business rules market is a tool that lets business executives write their own rules. Without IT, without programming, and maybe even without automation. Just a tool like Word (for textual rules), Excel (for decision tables), or even Visio (for decision trees) that simply lets me document "logical business rules". And then press File, Save as... "billing rules model 1.0", or "audit rules 1.0", etc. That's what I want to be able to do.

Sure, I'd like to push a button and have that logical rule model artifact go into a business rules repository. Great. If I could push another button and have my logical rule model generate code for whatever Business Rule Engine I'd like to target, now we're talking business rules.

That is the promise of business rules. I want to create a logical rule model, select my technology (i.e. HaleyRules, ILOG, PegaRULES, Versata, Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor, CA AION, Corticon, OpenRules, etc.) and then press GO. I want the tool to transform my logical business rule model into a physical business rule model. Then I want to compile and run.

That sounds farfetched, but I think it's only a year or two away. By the way, this is the same thing that database people do for a living. ERWin anyone? Create a logical database model, select your target physical databse model technology (i.e. SQLServer, DB2, INGRES, etc.), then press GO. This approach works for databases. It is inevitable that this approach will one day soon work for rulebases.

Let's start by calling the BRMS (business rule management system) a RBMS (rulebase management system) instead. Then we should call the business rules repository the rulebase. Business people will find it much easier to understand rulebases if they can compare it to the familiar database analogy.

We'll still need industrial strength rulebases like the ones I mentioned above. But we'll also need a "lite" rulebase software tool for business executives. Think Word, Excel, Visio.... or Access instead of SQLServer...

What if, or when will Microsoft or some other BRE vendor releases Rules 1.0? How about Microsoft Rules 1.0.? Maybe part of Office? What if executives finally have a tool on their desktop to write the rules? A tool that understands IF and THEN and ELSE and MUST and ONLY IF and MUST NOT etc.

I think a lot of business people have been led to believe that that's what business rules will mean to them. And their expectations are that the rule tool will be as easy to use as Excel or Word. I've noticed more and more companies approving business rule projects where the business people have the expectation that the business rules tool is something they can fire up on their PC... as easily as they do Word or Excel.

Business Rule Engine software products are clearly awesome productivity tools for programmers. But only a few of them could be considered tools for executives. We need to think of the BRE as the tool for IT developers and for rule execution, and the logical rule modeling tool I described above as the rule documentation tool for business executives.

I hope there are some companies working on this idea of a logical rules modeling tool that generates code for my BRE tool of choice.

Stay tuned... What do you think? Does Microsoft Rule? Anyone else?

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At Thursday, February 16, 2006 10:31:00 AM , KnowBody said...

Yes, KnowGravity, Inc. is working hard on this idea of a logical rules modeling tool that generates code for my BRE tool of choice. It is called KnowEnterprise and it will be available soon. As you mentioned, the Business Rules Approach is more than just executing business rules on a business rules engine. It is about managing enterprise knowledge and treating this knowledge as an important enterprise resource. This Knowledge includes subjects such as
- The enterprise's vision, its business goals, strategies and tactics
- External and internal influencers on the enterprise as well as their assessments
- Business directives, i.e. business policies and business rules resulting from strategies, tactics and assessments
- Enterprise vocabularies that serve as a common base to express structural and operative business rules
- Business processes, organization structures and collaboration models that define how the enterprise intends to achieve its vision and its goals
- IT architecture models that describe the enterprise's strategic IT infrastructure and related architecture guidelines
- Deployment processes that specify how, when and by whom business changes will be deployed onto the enterprise's IT infrastructure
- Artefacts that document the implementation knowledge that has been applied when building IT systems

KnowEnterprise is a comprehensive modelling tool that covers all subjects listed above under a common umbrella. KnowEnterprise is largely based on the following OMG specifications: "Business Motivation Model (BMM)", "Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR)", "Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)", "Business Process Definition Metamodel (BPDM)", "Organization Structure Metamodel (OSM)", and "Unified Modeling Language V2.0 (UML2)".

KnowEnterprise is based on a repository that supports
- multi-server/multi-client architectures for distributed teams
- multi-user access and locking mechanisms
- versioning and change logging
- XMI Import / Export
- automatic document generation (Word, HTML)

Further information is available at:
KnowEnterprise Fact Sheet
KnowGravity, Inc.

At Monday, March 06, 2006 8:10:00 PM , Davin said...

You should check out RuleBurst.

We already have exactly what you're describing: authoring tools in Excel, Word and Visio! Would be happy to hook up and dive into this in more detail.

At Wednesday, March 15, 2006 2:22:00 PM , Diana said...

And Haley of course has the authoring environment in which a business user or IT can capture, model, edit and test business logic - i.e. rules - using spoken English. What does this mean? When you need to make a change do it at the rule level - don't touch your application(s). What Visio, Excel, Word, Notepad, and the like does not provide is the ability to model, organize, and manage your business logic. HaleyAuthority provides this and more.
Cheers - Diana@Haley

At Thursday, May 04, 2006 7:44:00 AM , Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Wednesday, May 10, 2006 12:25:00 AM , Anonymous said...

yes the entire web was authored on frontpage, and web designers are now obsolete...

At Wednesday, June 14, 2006 1:41:00 AM , Ask Rolo said...

[Rolo here, doing some cleanup... the link below was too long and messed up page formatting. Am repasting the comment]

Anonymous said...

There's an approach that combines SBVR with rules in open vocabulary, executable English. This is described in the presentation [1]. The underlying system is live, online at the same site, with a number of examples that you can view, run and change, using a browser. You are cordially invited to write and run your own examples. Shared use is free.



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