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Are the Rules the Same for Everyone?


Written by: Carole-Ann BerliozPublished on: Oct 27, 20151 comment

DifferentIt might sound like a philosophical question, but there is a very practical aspect to it that we might not fully realize, when making decisions.

Business Rules execute consistently by nature.  We like that.  We want that.

There are exceptions though, when we would like to treat a segment of the population differently.  We would like to always apply a conservative or aggressive strategy, but we might interpret that differently in different regions of the world, or for VIPs compared to occasional shoppers.  Our decision logic is not so black & white after all.

While many organizations start with a simplistic design to address the variations between US and International, or between Gold customers and the rest, or between this and that…  This approach does not stand for long.  As soon as the number of variations grows, the duplication of business rules becomes a nightmare.

I recall a project that started with a thousand or two business rules.  They decided to simply duplicate the rules for each customer configuration in their portfolio.  Being very successful at what they do, they ended up with a lot of customer configurations.  What do I mean by a lot?  What would you say about 1.5M business rules?  That was certainly more than the team could handle.  As a result, the decision logic was behind, almost stale, as the business rules could not be modified promptly, as you would expect business rules to be.  When changing a business rule, they would have to check each and every project to verify that the change was applicable to that customer configuration.  A Hellish endeavor to say the least.

Equifax has the same challenge since they provide credit approval solutions to thousands of customers.  They would certainly need an army of consultants if they had to duplicate their decision logic across their entire portfolio!  In our presentation at BBC 2015, “Exceptions are no Exceptions”, Rex Keith (Equifax Senior Director, Product Management) and I will cover several perspectives related to the problem of exceptions, including this portfolio management challenge.  We will also suggest design solutions to each challenge.

I hope that you will be able to join us in Vegas for this presentation.

If you miss us, or if you are looking for more information on this topic, I encourage you to watch our recorded webinar, Managing Complexity in Automated Decisions.

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