Not All Business Rules are Created Equal
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If only decision-making were that simple. Business rules (and decision) management has provided a framework for organizations to automate and optimize operational decisions. However, how you design your business rules can create more complexity (and headaches) to your organization long-term. While there is no universal “shortest” (most efficient, etc) path, we’ll discuss how exceptions should be part of your design.
Duplication in Business Rules Management
Imagine you are a California-based brick-and-mortar retailer of custom furniture that desires to expand online. You start locally, creating a set of business rules to automate order processing and fulfillment. From there, you expand to nearby states. You figure that those rules worked for California, so you duplicate them for each state, making necessary modifications (tax, etc). Soon, you expand to all 50 states, which means you have 50 sets of business rules that you have to manage, where the majority of the business rules are identical. Every time you make a change that affects all customers, such as eligibility for financing, you need to make that change 50 times.
This is an oversimplified example, but you should start to see that with duplication, the more you expand (or the more variation), the more costly it becomes to manage your business rules. In addition, with duplication, you make your business more vulnerable to errors. For most businesses, rule sets can be in the thousands, or even millions like with one of our strategic partners. Imagine managing 50 versions of that many rules!
Manage Business Rules with Exceptions
What if, instead, the furniture retailer designed their business rules with common rules and exceptions in mind? For the retailer, the common rules would be the rules that automate the general workflow for order processing, financing, and fulfillment. Variations would exist for calculating tax, shipping costs, and any state-regulated financing requirements. So, the retailer starts out with business rules for California. As the retailer expands to Nevada, the retailer creates a rule set for Nevada to cover those variations or exceptions only. This approach would be repeated as the retailer expands into other states.
While this approach may require more upfront work to anticipate what variations would exist in the future, the payoff is worth it. Even if the number of rule sets is greater than with duplication, the rule sets are much easier to manage with exceptions. Exceptions are used loosely here as the actual design may involve lookup tables or rate calculators instead of exception logic. The point is to reduce unnecessary redundancies.
The Right Technology for Efficient Management
Whether you build or buy, you should look for technology that enables you to easily manage common rules and variations. For example, Sparkling Logic’s decision management platform, SMARTS™, enables users to easily create, organize, and visualize common and exception rules through cascading decisions. SMARTS™ also provides support for both lookup and scorecard models. In addition to these capabilities, Sparkling Logic will be launching an interactive, generative AI-powered tool, AI Assistant, to make it even easier for users to manage business rules and decision logic.
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Learn more about Sparkling Logic’s SMARTS™ Business Rules and Decision Management Platform.