Business Rules Management: Implementation and Evaluation
Howe School of Technology Management Stevens Institute of Technology Working Paper No. 2012
54 Pages Posted: 30 May 2012
Date Written: May 26, 2012
The increasing complexity of information processing places severe constraints on the ability of organizations to respond to the demand for more customized products and services. This situation is exacerbated by regulatory burdens and the accelerating speed at which business is conducted. While new technologies such as web-based services offer faster and more agile development, they do not address the complications arising from thousands of ever-changing business requirements. The business rules management (BRM) approach, separating the business logic from executable code, seeks to address this problem. Despite a large and growing literature, there have been few, if any, in-depth research studies aimed at understanding fundamental questions concerning BRM implementation, cost and benefits, and whether or not the business rules are understandable by end users. To address this situation, we conducted an in-depth case study of the implementation and use of an innovative database-oriented Business Process Rules Engine (BPRE) for claim handling in a large insurance organization. Our design and development encompassed all aspects of the BPRE including a rule repository implemented in a relational database, interactive interfaces for business users, an interface to the underlying workflow management system, and an auxiliary workflow system for managing and maintaining the integrity of the business rules. To ensure efficient performance in a database environment we designed and tested a new database rule-matching algorithm as an alternative to the popular Rete algorithm that is used in most research and commercial rules engines. The research followed a design science approach encompassing artifact design, construction, and evaluation. Performance tests during the implementation of the system and subsequent implementation experience, allayed initial fears that a database solution would prove too slow for a demanding production environment. The evaluation phase employed two complementary approaches. First, an objective analysis revealed that the BPRE implementation produced real economic benefits. Second, pre-and post-implementation user surveys helped uncover the business values underlying user acceptance of the BPRE and, most importantly, showed that business users with minimal training could understand, develop and maintain rules in the rules base.
Keywords: Business Rules, Rule-matching, Design Science, Claim Processing
JEL Classification: L23, C93, G22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation