Is There a Source Rule Repository for *Real* Business Rule Management in your Future?

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More and more corporations are realizing the benefits of separating and externalizing their business rules from code, documents and even people’s heads. Fortunately, there are business rule harvesting methods (such as KPI STEP™) and BRE technology that is in place today that assist corporations in documenting, analyzing and implementing business rules in a separate technology. One critical issue to address is where an organization will store the business rules aimed at the business audience. What tools should they use for their source rule repository?

A source rule repository “houses” the business rules and their descriptive information which traces the rules from business policy through implementation. The type of functionality and requirements that will be needed for an organization’s source rule repository are grouped according to the levels of the KPI Rule Maturity Model (KPI RMM™). This article provides the high level descriptions of a source rule repository for Level 1 through Level 3.

At RMM™ Level 0, business rules are buried everywhere; therefore, there are no source rule repository requirements at this level. At RMM™ Level 1, the business rules are documented in a simple manner and contain a business glossary of terms which are referenced in the rules. At this level, the rules may not be captured in a formal source rule repository but rather in MS Excel, MS Word or possibly applying simple extensions to a requirements or modeling tool.

At RMM™ Level 2, an organization aims to document their business rules in natural language form as well as a formal form to enable manual rule analysis for finding business logic errors and starts to re-use rules on a project-by-project basis. This is the first step towards cross-functional rule stewardship and rule sharing, but it requires a formal source rule repository rather than extensions to software. The source rule repository supports an extensive metamodel or underlying repository database. Ideally, the source rule repository at Level 2 should also support graphical capabilities for the entire rule model (such as tracing decisions in processes or use case to rule families to rule patterns to rules) with drill down capability.

At RMM™ Level 3, an organization aims to enable automated rule analysis, automated enforcement of the business rule life cycle, generation of code for target environments for business rules and authoring and testing of rules by non-technical people. The software support for this level becomes complex, the source rule repository is separate from the target BRE’s but integrated with selected ones.

There are limited choices for source rule repositories for RMM™ Level 2 and even fewer choices for RMM™ Level 3. During the Business Rules Symposium at Brainstorm’s San Francisco BPM Conference in June, KPI conducted an impromptu survey to identify from the conference attendees where they feel is the best place for source rule repository functionality. The choices for the survey were BPM products, BRE products, metadata management technologies, modeling tools, business requirement tools, all of the above and other. The results are summarized in the table below

Survey Question

: Where is the best place for the source rule repository functionality?

Type of Product Percentage of respondents that identified yes
BPM Product 9 %
BRE Product 0 %
Metadata Management Technologies 27 %
Modeling tools 9 %
Requirements Tools 18 %
All of the above 18 %
Other 18 %

In summarizing the results, the respondents would prefer that the source rule repositories be separated from BPM and BRE technologies. The highest percentage was for the source rule repository functionality to be incorporated into a metadata management technology (27%) with comments for providing capability for table driven metadata. 18% of the respondents choose “other” highlighting that an independent, separate rule repository is preferable. In addition, 18% of the respondents choose “all the above” providing product integration capability and metadata as the source rule repository.

At the conference, Barbara von Halle, Founder and CEO of KPI, stated her prediction for the source rule repository marketplace. Her prediction was:

“By this time next year, there will be several software offerings in the source rule repository marketplace which will be very well worth looking at and will significantly escalate the demand and ROI for Project-level and Enterprise-wide business rule management. Look for such products and vendors at the future Brainstorm Business Rules Symposium!”

Because of the increasing importance of this topic to organizations, KPI intends to continue this survey at all Brainstorm Business Rules Symposiums. We are hoping and expecting that Barb’s prediction for the source rule repository marketplace will be realized in the near future!


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