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September 17, 2009

Business rules drag Orbitz down to Earth

Orbitz just lost its cool.

I just booked a roundtrip flight from Dallas to Atlanta. The outbound flight is at 5:30AM CDT. The return flight is at 4:05PM EDT. Each flight is about two and a half hours long.

But according the Orbitz' email confirmation:

  1. This is an overnight flight.
  2. This flight arrives two days later.
  3. This flight arrives on the previous day.
  4. This flight arrives two days prior.
  5. This flight departs from a different airport.
  6. This trip starts and ends at different airports.  (see the rest of the email text below)

WOW! There is just way too much information here to absorb. I need to take this one step at a time so it can really soak in.

First, "this is an overnight flight." Do you know if you have to pay for pillows and blankets nowadays?

Second, "this flight arrives two days later." Apollo 11 took four days to get to the moon. (July 16-19, 1969)

Third, "this flight arrives on the previous day." Now that I can believe! Believe it or not, that would be the second time this ever happened to me. Once I flew out of Tokyo at night on my birthday. I arrived in Hawaii in the morning, on my birthday. The International Date Line is cool that way. (see http://bizrules.com/resumes/rh_mobil_story.htm

Fourth, "this flight arrives two days prior." Back to the Future. Sounds like a good time to buy some stocks before takeoff.

Next, "this flight departs from a different airport." I hope they have a fast shuttle bus.

Finally, this trip starts and ends at different airports. I guess that message is OK. The main reason I booked this trip is to get from one city to another. So this message is technically correct. I've never seen this message before in Orbitz email confirmations, so this could be a new system enhancement to improve customer service: it's good to let customers know that they will land in a different place than where they took off from. That's all good. So that's not really a bug. It's more like a feature.

This automated email has 5 or 6 mistakes, depending on whether you think #6 is a bug or a feature. Actually 10 or 12 mistakes, because the messages were listed for each flight. That's not good.

Orbitz has a business rule problem. Somewhere in the system, rules are missing or they are just plane wrong. Orbitz needs to improve their business rules management system. Orbitz needs to figure out what their business rules are and what they should be. They need rules that are correct, complete, compliant, consistent, clear, and concise.

That's what Orbitz needs. And what Orbitz customers deserve.

Rolando Hernandez, CEO, www.BizRules.com


NOTE: Below is an excerpt of the Orbitz email

=================================================
Your Travel Document

Hello ROLANDO,

Thanks for traveling with Orbitz. This e-mail confirms the ticket number(s) issued for the "Atlanta <DepartureDate>" trip.

<DepartureDate>
Delta Air Lines # 1912
 
Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson ATL (ATL)
Departure (DFW): <DepartureDate>, 5:30 AM CDT (morning)
Arrival (ATL): <DepartureDate>, 8:48 AM EDT (morning)

 This is an overnight flight.

 This flight arrives two days later.

 This flight arrives on the previous day.

 This flight arrives two days prior.

 This flight departs from a different airport.

 This trip starts and ends at different airports.

<ReturnDate>
Delta Air Lines # 67
 
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson ATL (ATL) to Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW)
Departure (ATL): <ReturnDate>, 4:05 PM EDT (afternoon)
Arrival (DFW): <ReturnDate>, 5:34 PM CDT (evening)

 This is an overnight flight.

 This flight arrives two days later.

 This flight arrives on the previous day.

 This flight arrives two days prior.

 This flight departs from a different airport.

 This trip starts and ends at different airports.
=================================================

Update 1: An Orbitz customer service rep said this was due to Delta merging with Northwest. The inventory data from Delta is messed up she said. I wonder how many people received these warnings and error messages.

Update 2: A good place to go for more information on business rules management and rulebase techology is www.rulesfest.org

 

March 13, 2008

Introducing the BIZRULES® RuleMap™

Documenting business rules is a good first step on the path towards the business rules approach.

But sometimes that's not enough.  Taking the next step and getting to the next level requires simulating business rules so they are easy to review and verify.

Over the past few months BIZRULES has been working on a new product that lets us do both. It's a visual tool that lets us not only draw diagrams of business rule models, it also lets us simulate the rule logic. This tool helps us speed up the rules harvesting process and improves the quality of our rulebooks.

BIZRULES® RuleMap™ is an interactive rulebook that models business rules and simulates business logic.  This logical model lets you see how your business rules really work. It lets you visualize the Reasoning Chain™ that leads to smart conclusions and right decisions.


We use this tool to document your business rules independent of any BRE - yet it can be implemented using any BRE. Again, this is a logical model of your business rules.  It can be used as the rulebook or specs for authoring the rules in any BRE.

Take a look at a sample RuleMap. And let us know what you think. Contact us for pricing or a web demo.

 

 

March 16, 2007

Best Buy, Bogus Prices: Confusion about pricing rules reveals need for business rules management

If employees don’t know, don’t understand, or don’t care what the rules are, you have a business rules problem.

If customers get different answers depending on who they talk to, you have a business rules problem.

If salespeople can decide whether to charge the right price or a bogus price, you have a business rules problem.

Best Buy, the nation's largest electronics retailer, has a business rules problem.

It's also dealing with a public relations nightmare, and an investigation by the Connecticut Attorney General's Office.

Pricing rules used by salespeople in Best Buy stores are inconsistent and contrary to Best Buy pricing policies established in the boardroom. “What we've learned very quickly is we have not been clear enough in communicating to our employees the policy, and how to execute it in our stores,” said Dawn Bryant, spokeswoman for Best Buy.

Success in the world of business depends on understanding the rules,” I said recently during a panel discussion on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

“You need to know the internal rules and policies of your business. You have to comply with the external rules and regulations that govern your business, industry, and function. Your company must ensure that rules are followed. Your company must enforce the rules. Your company must give staff tools to help them follow the rules, make legal decisions, and prevent them from making illegal decisions. Business rule management systems (BRMS) and business rule engines (BRE) help companies comply with rules and regulations like SOX.

If you don’t have a rule engine that automatically prevents employees from breaking the rules and instantly detects and prevents fraud, you’re out of the game. You’ll end up watching your stock go from $30 to $3 during lunch. You lose. You’re out of business.

Smart companies are using business rules to ensure compliance with rules, to enforce rules, to increase agility so they can change faster, to prevent business mistakes, and to reduce IT system development costs by changing rules in days not months.

Business rules technology helps business comply with rules and regulations, helps employees follow the rules, and prevents employees from breaking the rules (either accidentally or on purpose).”

Business rules management is the prescription for business rules problems. Business rules management entails everything from the business rules approach to business rules technology. 

The business rules approach helps companies transform complex policies into easy to understand business rules. What better way is there to clearly describe and communicate policies and business rules to employees?

Business rules technology helps companies execute the right business rules at the right time every time. What better technology is there to automate business rules?

What happened at Best Buy is a great example of what can go wrong when business rules are not designed and engineered properly.

Business rules are like the glue that holds together all the parts of the corporation. Business rules integrate and align all the moving parts of the corporation. With business rules management, Best Buy can ensure that rules and processes used in the stores are aligned with Best Buy pricing policies defined in the boardroom.

Without business rules management to connect the elements of the corporation, the only way to ensure the corporation works as intended is to "hope and pray," as John Zachman likes to say. With weak or wrong business rules, the corporation falls down like a house of cards.

This is why business rules management is vital to the corporation.

Business rules management is not just about documenting business rules, defining who the owners are, and deciding who is authorized to change them. It’s not just about using rule-based languages to speed up system development instead of hard-wiring rules in legacy code. It’s not just about selecting a business rules engine. It’s not just about understanding the company’s strategies, policies and business practices, and then transforming those objectives into rulebooks, descriptive business rule models, IT specifications, and finally into automated systems.

Business rules management is also concerned with architecting and engineering the business rules so they are integrated with the rest of the business. This helps ensure that the implemented business rules that are in actual use, whether automated or manual, align with the governing rules and strategies of the business.

What happened at Best Buy?

At first, I thought the Best Buy pricing problem was complicated and hard to explain. Then I wondered how can business rules help solve this problem? What would BIZRULES do if Best Buy came to us for help?

That’s easy. I like to draw pictures to simplify complex ideas. By removing the complexity, pictures help me make even the most complex concepts easy to understand:

BIZRULES Analysis of Best Buy Pricing Rules 

(Click to see medium or large slide)

This is an example of three business rules that were apparently in operation at Best Buy when this story broke. Of course, we really don't know the rules were, so this is just a good guess based on published news accounts of what really happened.

Along with a picture of the rules, this slide shows how the rules affect the rest of the company. It also shows how the rules satisfy business rules management objectives, and business rule engineering design objectives:

Rule #1 is a conceptual explanation of the pricing policy to honor the lowest price.

  • This rule tells us what management means and what their intentions are.

Rule #2 is a logical description of the corporate policy to honor the lowest price:

  • This business rule clearly shows alignment to corporate strategy.

  • This is the high quality rule prescribed by the pricing strategy.

  • This rule shows integration between online and retail stores.

  • This rule offers reusability – the same rule can be implemented online and in the store.

  • This rule shows transparency.

  • This rule reduces operations costs because it’s easy to follow.

  • This rule demonstrates regulatory compliance.

  • This picture is worth a thousand words.

  • This rule builds Customer Trust Management.

  • This is a “Best Buy” type of rule.

  • This rule is easy to approve, assess, test, and certify.

  • This rule improves governance and controllership.

Rule #3 is used (i.e. prescribed) by some salesman to mislead customers into paying higher prices:

  • This business rule is clearly not aligned to corporate strategy.

  • This poor quality rule is operational and being used in stores.

  • This rule shows discontinuity and inconsistency between online and retail stores.

  • This store rule cannot be reused online because it lacks transparency.

  • This rule increases operations costs because it’s hard to explain and justify.

  • This rule raises questions about regulatory compliance.

  • You need a thousand words to explain this picture.

  • This rule destroys customer confidence and trust.

  • This rule is public relations nightmare.

  • This rule may be illegal.

  • This is a “bait & switch” type of rule.

  • This rule should never have been approved.

  • This rule raises questions about whether proper rules, processes, and controls are in place.


Now that I understand what the current pricing situation at Best Buy is, it seems pretty straightforward:

  • Management intention is Rule #1. This is Best Buy’s pricing policy.
  • Marketing description is Rule #2. This is what marketing thinks is happening.
  • Sales prescription is Rule #3. This is what salespeople are actually doing.
  • IT specification is not applicable in this example because these rules have not been automated. If these rules were automated, an executable specification of the rule (i.e. pseudo code) may need to be developed for the programmer.


These four views of the business rules fit nicely into an Enterprise Rules Architecture.

The next step is to fit these rules into an enterprise architecture framework. I used John Zachman’s influential and compelling Framework for Enterprise Architecture as an example:

The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture

(Click to see medium or large slide)

Next, I overlaid Best Buy Rules #1-3 on top of Zachman’s Enterprise Architecture Framework to add more clarity to the Best Buy pricing situation:

BIZRULES Analysis of Best Buy Pricing Rules (part 2)

 (Click to see medium or large slide)

The pricing problem at Best Buy is that the business rule used by salespeople in the stores contradicts the company’s pricing policy. Clearly Rule #3 is not aligned with Rule #1 or Rule #2.
Business rules confusion is what caused the problem.

Business rules management is the solution.

To get out of this sticky mess, Best Buy needs to:
  • establish or improve their business rules management.
  • prevent salespeople from using Rule #3 immediately
  • mandate use of Rule #2 immediately.
  • automate Rule #2 as soon as possible. Why let salespeople decide pricing at all? Let the computer figure out what the lowest price is.
  • use a business rule engine to automate this rule as quickly as possible. This rule change needs to happen overnight. But changing hard-wired rules in code takes take days or weeks. Often, companies that don’t use rule engines take months to change business rules as simple as these. This is one reason why companies buy rule engines: Changing rules in a rule engine takes minutes.
  • educate salespeople on the pricing rules. Of course, if Best Buy automated the rules using a rule engine, they wouldn’t need to train as much.
  • ensure compliance with these rules from now on.
What about the secret website?

Business rules can also help Best Buy get rid of the secret and duplicate website. It's hard enough to maintain and manage prices for thousands of products on one website, let alone two. There are costs associated with maintaining a duplicate site containing 250,000 pages; surely management and shareholders want to reduce redundant costs like these. One way is to use a business rule engine to eliminate the duplicate site and duplicate effort. Why not write a few rules to show different prices (if that really is management’s objective) depending on whether the salesman pulls up the web pages on the Internet or the "secret website" on the Intranet?

How else can business rules management and business rules technology help Best Buy? Please comment and let me know.

Rolando Hernandez

CEO & Chief Rules Architect, BIZRULES

 

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February 26, 2007

Comparing Microsoft's Business Rule Engines

Did you know that Microsoft has two rule engines?

Here is a presentation by Steven Kaufman, Principal Consultant in MCS (Microsoft Consulting Services), comparing Microsoft Workflow Rule Engine and Microsoft BizTalk Business Rule Engine.

This slide summarizes the differences pretty well:

presentation

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Continue reading "Comparing Microsoft's Business Rule Engines" »

October 19, 2006

Microsoft Rules 1.0 for MS Office

I discovered David Strommer's blog about .Net and Enterprise Architecture recently.

One post caught my eye, Microsoft Rules 1.0 for MS Office, which is about a story called Rules 1.0 that I wrote about Rulebase Management Systems. David's quote is spot on:
"One of the most difficult challenges of any application development effort is accurately capturing the business processes and rules." - - David Strommer

Well said. Thanks David.

February 10, 2006

Differences between process (BPMS) and rules (BRMS)

Interesting post by James Taylor (Fair Isaac / Enterprise Decision Management - a Weblog) about BPMS and BRMS...

"Well at a pretty basic level I think BPMS and BRMS are fundamentally different:

BPMS is about "How should it be carried out?"

  • Standardize processes
  • Facilitate collaboration and compliance
  • Workflow Definition and Management
  • Process Automation
  • Activity Monitoring and Exception Alerts
  • Process Reports
  • Integration Broker

BRMS is about "What should be done?"

  • Standardize operational decisions
  • Facilitate decision automation and maintenance
  • Centralized Business Rules Repository
  • Straight Through Processing
  • Decision Broker "
Good stuff.

My thoughts on BPMS (process) and BRMS (rules) are that you need both. You need a process management tool to manage manual processes and execute automated processes that know HOW to "do the work". You need a rule management tool to manage and execute business rules and make decisions that "decide WHAT work to do".

So in general the rules engine (BRMS) fires rules that decide what processes to run and in what order. Some processes do have simplistic rules for branching form one process to the next. That's OK, because those rules are probably system rules as opposed to business rules anyway. More complex deep rules, of course, belong in the rule engine instead of the process engine.

July 19, 2005

My Thoughts on the Business Rules Manifesto

I think I finally figured out what my contribution to the Business Rules Manifesto was...

The Business Rules Group, an independent standards group of business and IT professionals, published The Business Rules Manifesto, principles of rule independence in 2002.

I liked the idea and drafted an "article of independence" about the difference between a Business Rule and an IF-THEN Statement. I sent that in, along with other positive feedback, to Ronald G. Ross, who edited the Manifesto. When I ran into Ron later on at one of the rules conferences, he asked if I noticed how my input had made its way into the new version of the Manifesto. At first glance I couldn't tell.

But recently I looked again at Version 2 of the Manifesto and I think I found it. Now, I'm not certain, but I think that my thoughts below helped development of article 6.3:

My comments: "Business Rules derive inferences and arrive at conclusions by reasoning about facts or premises using either deduction or induction... Business rules can explain their reasoning process in order to justify their conclusions, decisions, and recommendations..."

Article 6.3 of the Business Rules Manifesto: "6.3. A business rule system must always be able to explain the reasoning by which it arrives at conclusions or takes action."

Pretty cool - - mystery solved.

The Business Rules Manifesto

The Business Rules Group, an independent standards group of business and IT professionals, published The Business Rules Manifesto, principles of rule independence.

It looks like a "Declaration of Independence for Business Rules", and it is pretty interesting reading for people interested in the rules movement. The original document is here: http://www.businessrulesgroup.org/brmanifesto.htm



The Business Rules Manifesto*

Article 1. Primary Requirements, Not Secondary

1.1. Rules are a first-class citizen of the requirements world.

1.2. Rules are essential for, and a discrete part of, business models and technology models.

Article 2. Separate From Processes, Not Contained In Them

2.1. Rules are explicit constraints on behavior and/or provide support to behavior.

2.2. Rules are not process and not procedure. They should not be contained in either of these.

2.3. Rules apply across processes and procedures. There should be one cohesive body of rules, enforced consistently across all relevant areas of business activity.

Article 3. Deliberate Knowledge, Not A By-Product

3.1. Rules build on facts, and facts build on concepts as expressed by terms.

3.2. Terms express business concepts; facts make assertions about these concepts; rules constrain and support these facts.

3.3. Rules must be explicit. No rule is ever assumed about any concept or fact.

3.4. Rules are basic to what the business knows about itself -- that is, to basic business knowledge.

3.5. Rules need to be nurtured, protected, and managed.

Article 4. Declarative, Not Procedural

4.1. Rules should be expressed declaratively in natural-language sentences for the business audience.

4.2. If something cannot be expressed, then it is not a rule.

4.3. A set of statements is declarative only if the set has no implicit sequencing.

4.4. Any statements of rules that require constructs other than terms and facts imply assumptions about a system implementation.

4.5. A rule is distinct from any enforcement defined for it. A rule and its enforcement are separate concerns.

4.6. Rules should be defined independently of responsibility for the who, where, when, or how of their enforcement.

4.7. Exceptions to rules are expressed by other rules.

Article 5. Well-Formed Expression, Not Ad Hoc

5.1. Business rules should be expressed in such a way that they can be validated for correctness by business people.

5.2. Business rules should be expressed in such a way that they can be verified against each other for consistency.

5.3. Formal logics, such as predicate logic, are fundamental to well-formed expression of rules in business terms, as well as to the technologies that implement business rules.

Article 6. Rule-Based Architecture, Not Indirect Implementation

6.1. A business rules application is intentionally built to accommodate continuous change in business rules. The platform on which the application runs should support such continuous change.

6.2. Executing rules directly -- for example in a rules engine -- is a better implementation strategy than transcribing the rules into some procedural form.

6.3. A business rule system must always be able to explain the reasoning by which it arrives at conclusions or takes action.

6.4. Rules are based on truth values. How a ruleís truth value is determined or maintained is hidden from users.

6.5. The relationship between events and rules is generally many-to-many.

Article 7. Rule-Guided Processes, Not Exception-Based Programming

7.1. Rules define the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable business activity.

7.2. Rules often require special or selective handling of detected violations. Such rule violation activity is activity like any other activity.

7.3. To ensure maximum consistency and reusability, the handling of unacceptable business activity should be separable from the handling of acceptable business activity.

Article 8. For the Sake of the Business, Not Technology

8.1. Rules are about business practice and guidance; therefore, rules are motivated by business goals and objectives and are shaped by various influences.

8.2. Rules always cost the business something.

8.3. The cost of rule enforcement must be balanced against business risks, and against business opportunities that might otherwise be lost.

8.4. More rules is not better. Usually fewer good rules is better.

8.5. An effective system can be based on a small number of rules. Additional, more discriminating rules can be subsequently added, so that over time the system becomes smarter.

Article 9. Of, By, and For Business People, Not IT People

9.1. Rules should arise from knowledgeable business people.

9.2. Business people should have tools available to help them formulate, validate, and manage rules.

9.3. Business people should have tools available to help them verify business rules against each other for consistency.

Article 10. Managing Business Logic, Not Hardware/Software Platforms

10.1. Business rules are a vital business asset.

10.2. In the long run, rules are more important to the business than hardware/software platforms.

10.3. Business rules should be organized and stored in such a way that they can be readily redeployed to new hardware/software platforms.

10.4. Rules, and the ability to change them effectively, are fundamental to improving business adaptability.

*Version 2.0, November 1, 2003. Edited by Ronald G. Ross.

Copyright, 2004. Business Rules Group.

Permission is granted for unlimited reproduction and distribution of this document under the following conditions: (a) The copyright and this permission notice are clearly included. (b) The work is clearly credited to the Business Rules Group. (c) No part of the document, including title, content, copyright, and permission notice, is altered, abridged, or extended in any manner.



Note: The original document is here: http://www.businessrulesgroup.org/brmanifesto.htm

July 02, 2005

Quotes by Jim Sinur, VP, Gartner, Inc.

Jim Sinur is Vice President and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner Research

Jim knows more about business rules than anyone I know. His observations on trends and the state of the market are usually "spot on" must-reads for anyone interested in the business rules movement. Here are some articles he wrote or was quoted in:



Taking Rule Technologies for a Test Drive Gartner Research Note, Dec. 15, 2004. "Businesses have only scratched the surface, so far. Rule technology presents a huge opportunity going forward."

Business Rules, OK? February 2004 cbronline.com / ilog.com Rules add to IT flexibility, says Gartner - Analyst stresses growing importance of 'untrendy' rules-based engines. by Miya Knights, vnunet.com 23 Jun 2004 "Rules engines will become more important as companies look to make their IT systems more flexible, according to analyst Gartner. Jim Sinur, senior research director at Gartner, told delegates at last week's European Business Rules Conference in Amsterdam that, while rules might not be considered "trendy", their importance is growing..."

Sidebar: Advise or Control, MAY 23, 2005 (COMPUTERWORLD)

  • "About 50% of business rules engines are used in an advisory role: 'Should I do this or that?' The other 50% are used in business processes," he says.
  • According to Sinur, there are three categories of rules systems: 1. Simple rules externalization... 2. Inference engine.... 3. Behavioral learning......"

How Business Rules help Business Improve Productivity - Nov. 20, 2003, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, SFTA Meeting with FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle

Starting Over With BPM. Michael Hammer, August Scheer and analysts weigh in on the state of business process management, May 29, 2003

The irresistible lure of BPM, Infoconomy.com

Gartner's Jim Sinur says there are 11 core reasons why organisations should consider BPM:

  1. To build new business processes faster
  2. Improve understanding of current business processes
  3. Reduce friction during mergers
  4. More easily accommodate business process outsourcing (BPO)
  5. Better implement new software
  6. Consolidate parallel business processes
  7. Automate more of the management of human activities
  8. Better manage supply chains, particularly where a process joins with another organisation
  9. Optimise processes through process modelling
  10. Analyse the effect of corporate governance legislation before new business processes are implemented
  11. Create models to examine the potential effect of opportunistic or threatening scenarios



THE BIG IDEA, SHRINK-WRAPPED - Adjusting BPM to suit middle market companies made it easier to implement for all companies. Treasuryandrisk.com, February 2005



Gartner on the BPM Market. by Jim Sinur, Gartner, Inc. www.gartner.com



A Better Way To Manage Rules - Automated, centralized control eases management effortBy Tony Kontzer InformationWeek , April 29, 2002



If you see Jim in print, send me the link and I will be glad to update this page.

June 10, 2005

Top 10 Reasons Why We Should Not Manage Business Rules or use Business Rule Engines

Here is a list of what I call "the usual suspects" - - These are the quotes that you will hear many IT People say when someone proposes the idea of using a rule engine instead of hard-coding or hard-wiring rules.

The Proposer sees the rule engine as a way to increase IT productivity, improve time to market, and reduce IT costs.

The "Old IT" People see the rule engine as a threat because it means they won't have to write as much code. Less code to write means less money to make.

The "New IT" People see the rule engine as an opportunity because it means they won't have to write as much code. This will give them more time to do more higher value-added work.

So listen up next time someone suggests using a rule engine in your company: See if you can tell from the response and feedback who gets the "New IT" of the 21st Century, and who is still stuck in the "Old IT" of the 20th Century?

10. "This is different." - - I agree, yes, traditional procedural applications are quite different from declarative rule-based applications

9. "This is not how we build traditional procedural-IT systems around here."

8. "This is not the way we hard-code or "hard-wire" our rules in our systems."

7. "If we use a rule engine, we may not need as many IT business analysts." - - This is a fact. Subject Matter Experts and other Business People may indeed be able to author the rules themselves, without IT Business Analysts

6. "And if we really learn how use this rule engine well, we may not need as many IT Programmers either..." - - This is a fact

7. It's not object oriented." - - This is wrong on multiple levels. First of all, object oriented programming systems evolved from A.I. and expert systems research labs. The earliest inference engines and expert systems were actually among the first (if not the first) computer programs that were truly object oriented. Remember SmallTalk?

6. "The inference engine will be too slow." - - This is wrong. This statement may be made by somebody who has experience working on expert system projects back in 1985. Everything was slow back then. Inferencing is a lot like thinking - It's hard work! Remember, PC's were running at 10 or 20 MHz back then. Inference engines run fine on my 3 GHZ PC in 2005.

5. "It'll never work." - - Some people just don't get it. They cannot deal with change. Lots of very smart people say things like that, and they turn out to be dead wrong. See Famous Quotes

4. "We tried that years ago, but it was too slow." - - See #6

3. "This rule engine adds one more layer for our programs to deal with." - - Technically, you may be right. However, did you stop to consider how many layers of legacy rule code you will be able to get rid of once the way you throw out all the spaghetti-code rules logic and put the rules in a rulebase (aka rule engine) instead? Getting rid of all that "hard-wiring" is probably going to eliminate about 23.5 layers of junk. So, yes, I agree with you on this one: Using the rule engine will add "one more layer". Let's call it the "business logic layer" or the "knowledge layer"

2. "Our rules are too complex for a rule engine." - - Every time I hear this claim, my jaw drops, then I go speechless. After a few seconds, I will explain the fact that the more complex your business rules are, the more you need a rule engine. This is usually the right moment to bring up the RETE algorithm and discuss how it scales and handles more rules without degrading.

1. "We'll just write our own rule engine." - - This is usually the last gasp. Once all the claims above are debated and proven false, this is the one that seems to come up last. At this point, even the IT People realize the way to go is a rule engine. But the first thought is "He's right, we need one... We need a rule engine... We need to build a rule engine." Right.... Let's see. How about a database analogy? What you are saying is that you should build your own rule engine, the same way that you should build your own relational database management system instead of buying Oracle or SQL Server or DB2. OK. I see your point....

Well, if you're that smart, you may be better off writing your own programming language as well. VB is too slow. And Java just adds one more layer.

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