Is a Decision-Based Approach Sufficient for Business Rules?
Consider the following example.
Behavioral Rule: A student with a failing grade must not be an active member of a sports team.
This business rule:
Instead, the business rule is meant to be enforced continuously – for example, if a student who is already active on some sports team should let his or her grades fall. What’s the business decision for when a student’s grades fall and they should be taken off a team? Be real, there’s no good answer to that question.
This example is no outlier. Businesses have 1,000s of behavioral rules like this.
Let’s be clear – I believe a business-decision-based approach is very powerful for decision rules. I have written much about that. And I don’t disagree that many business-rule projects have floundered due to lack of pragmatic organizing principles (e.g., “decisions”).
But if you take a decision approach to behavioral business rules, either it will prove woefully incomplete with respect to integrity, or you’ll quickly start to drown in (system-level) decisions.
In my opinion, an application that has to be designed and to operate to treat violations of behavioral rules as just more decisions is not a smart enough system.
The detection of violation events for behavioral rules can be, and should be, completely under the covers (identified, detected and supported by a platform). Otherwise the solution won’t scale. And there will be so many decision dependencies it will steal from the very real value of a business-decision-based approach.
This frankly is a sign of immaturity … or lack of imaginative leadership … or IT bias … or whatever … in some parts of the decision-model community. The detection of a violation of a behavioral rule is an event, not a decision. A business decision is a business decision; a system decision is … well … why even go there?!
P.S. There are 3 specific examples and more complete discussion about this topic on http://goo.gl/NCnLi.
- Is not about selecting the most appropriate sports team for a student – i.e., not about the decision, Which sport team is best for a student?.
- Does not apply only at a single point of determination – e.g., when a student joins a team.
Tags: behavioral rules, business rules vs system rules, decision models, decision rules, decision rules vs. behavioral rules, decisions, events
Ronald G. Ross
Ron Ross, Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rules Solutions, LLC, is internationally acknowledged as the “father of business rules.” Recognizing early on the importance of independently managed business rules for business operations and architecture, he has pioneered innovative techniques and standards since the mid-1980s. He wrote the industry’s first book on business rules in 1994.