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A lifecycle approach towards business rules Management

A lifecycle approach towards business rules Management -...

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A Lifecycle Approach towards Business Rules Management Matthew L. Nelson, Illinois State University, [email protected] Robert L. Rariden, Illinois State University, [email protected] Ravi Sen, Texas A&M University, [email protected] Abstract Automating business rules management has provided significant benefits including greater control, improved flexibility, and the ability to rapidly deploy business rules across processes, information systems and channels (web, legacy, wireless and otherwise). These benefits, in addition to trends in service orientated architectures, web semantics, and business process management, have spawned an emerging business rules engine (BRE) market. Despite these developments, little has been published in MIS journals that examine the management of business rules management systems (BRMS) development and deployments. Making use of structuration research methods, we collect data from leading developers, end- users, researchers and thought-leaders from the industry. Data collection results revealed a business rules management lifecycle inclusive of these steps: align, capture, organize, author, distribute, test, apply, maintain. The contextual influences, actors, inputs, outputs and artifacts are identified in each step. Academic and managerial contributions, as well as recommendations for future research are provided. 1. Introduction Whether we realize it or not, we’re confronted with business rules (BR) numerous times on a daily basis. Take for example, a simple trip to the grocery store. From a competitive perspective , business rules are structured around which items are offered at a sales discount, the duration of the discount, and conditions of the discount. From a regulatory perspective , business rules require restricted consumer access to some goods, prescribe which items can (and cannot) be shelved with other goods and define the allowable shelf duration of still other goods. From an industry norm perspective , business rules are used to outline the types of certain check-out lanes, which goods are placed near exits / entrances, and return policies. From a legislative perspective , business rules dictate the appropriate sales tax rate on categories of goods, require proof of attainment of a minimum age prior to the purchase of other goods, and require a prescription from a licensed medical doctor prior to the purchase of still other goods. It’s not difficult to imagine that a single item, such as a prescription strength liquid cough syrup, may be affected by all twelve of the above rules. Grocery stores stock thousands of items, with high turnover rates, impacted by hundreds of different business rules from a variety of sources. These rules are embedded throughout the store’s point-of-sale systems, inventory systems, promotion systems, accounts payable, product placement systems and their associated business processes. This was a trip through a grocery store. When one considers the volatility to which business rules are added or changed in businesses that transcend time zones, seasons,
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