Automating business rules allows you to turn business guidelines into conditional logic that eliminates human errors and improves consistency. Read some best practices for how to do that.
Ever heard the saying, “rules are meant to be broken”? Well, that may be true for some situations, but when it comes to running a business, rules are absolutely essential for success. In fact, business rules are the glue that holds a project together.
As businesses grow and operations become more complex, the need for smooth and streamlined workflows becomes critical. This calls for the automation of business rules—translating business guidelines into conditional logic to eliminate human errors and improve consistency. This article will provide best practices for assigning your business rules to automation.
Business rules are the guidelines or principles that govern the behavior and decisions of a business. They are typically used to automate decision-making processes and ensure consistency in business operations.
By using business rules, decisions can be made based on the context of the situation and the data available. This can help reduce the risk of error, improve the speed and quality of decision-making, and even reduce the need for human intervention.
Some common applications of these business rules include:
A business may have a rule that offers a discount to customers who make a certain number of purchases or reach a certain threshold of spending. This rule could be built around the percentage of the discount, products eligible for the discount and the duration of the promotion.
Rules can be applied to determine whether an application, such as a loan or credit card application, is approved or denied based on certain criteria. These criteria may include credit score, income, employment history and other relevant factors.
Businesses may have rules that govern the circumstances under which a customer’s subscription service may be suspended or terminated. These conditions may border around missed payments, violations of terms and conditions, or abusive behavior.
A business may have a rule that verifies a user’s eligibility for a product or service. This may involve checking the user’s age, residency and other important factors.
Compliance with regulations and industry standards is a common matter. For example, a financial institution may have rules that govern data privacy, security and anti-money laundering practices. This business may have processes in place to monitor compliance with these rules and take corrective action when necessary.
In addition to minimizing error and improving decision-making, business rules also provide flexibility, standardize processes and improve communication.
Flexibility allows rules to can be adjusted based on changes in the business environment, standardization ensures that all teams are following the same guidelines and that processes are consistent and repeatable, and communication ensures that everyone is on the same page, reducing confusion and improving collaboration.
According to IBM, business rules can be classified in various ways but are typically expressed using formal logic qualifiers like “IF-THEN,” “IF-ELSE,” “ONLY IF,” “WHEN,” etc. These rules fall under two main types: constraint rules and derivation rules.
The first step in assigning business rules to automation is to identify operations that require repetitive efforts. This is because automation works well for workflows that have repeatable steps with specific objectives. These types of workflows are usually highly structured and follow a well-defined process that can be easily automated.
Once you have identified a repeatable operation, the next step is to visualize and work out the needed inputs and expected output. This will help ensure that you have a clear understanding of what data sources are needed and how the automation will handle each step of the process.
After identifying the inputs and outputs, it’s important to plan out the exact sequence of steps and stakeholders involved in each process. Breaking down the process into individual steps and identifying where each rule applies will help to highlight any gaps and ensure that the rules are being applied correctly.
In the words of Jamie MacQuarrie, Founder of Appivo:
“When automating a business process, it’s important to consider the whole process and sometimes even adjacent processes. Every automated process needs an option to handle exceptions, even if that option just kicks the work into a manual workflow. Important questions to ask are: Where does the process need manual/human intervention? Does automation need to account for exceptions? How flexible does the automation need to be? Will automation create new bottlenecks?”
It’s important to understand what rules govern a particular process and how they interact with one another. This will help to tie in the needed stakeholders and showcase any exceptions or special cases that may arise.
It’s important to test and validate the rules by creating test cases that cover all possible scenarios and ensuring that the rules can handle each one correctly. You also want to involve stakeholders to ensure the rules are aligned with business goals and objectives.
It’s a great idea to monitor and maintain the automation process by regularly reviewing it to identify issues and make adjustments as necessary. This will also ensure that automation is kept up-to-date with any changes to the business or regulatory environment.
According to Dr. Mark Allen, co-founder of Progress Corticon, in this piece, embedding business rules into code is no longer the best practice.
The traditional method of implementing business rules involves embedding them into application code by developers as part of IT systems. However, this approach has limitations, as rules are often in the heads of subject matter experts, managers, analysts and executives, and they may not be documented. As a result, hard-coding business rules can be time-consuming and costly, especially when changes need to be made across multiple systems.
A BRMS changes that status quo by representing the rules in a business-friendly form as opposed to embedding them in application codes. A BRMS allows businesses to define, deploy, execute and manage business rules and automate them across various applications.
This is a better approach to manual management of business rules as it’s scalable and does not involve the intervention of technical staff to hard-code the rules into your business process (aka suitable for non-technical users)
Progress Corticon is a digital decision-making platform that helps businesses automate complex decisions without having to code.
Corticon BRMS empowers developers to manage decision logic as business rules, not programming code, and enables businesses to codelessly author complex rules, design and verify rules, test rules and deploy them flexibly to execute decisions where they are needed.
Get started here: https://www.progress.com/trial-corticon
John Iwuozor is a freelance writer for cybersecurity and B2B SaaS brands. He has written for a host of top brands, the likes of ForbesAdvisor, Technologyadvice and Tripwire, among others. He’s an avid chess player and loves exploring new domains.
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