Red Man Technologies has become the first business integrator in South Africa to use the business rules management system (BRMS), Visual Rules, from German business rules specialist, Innovations Softwaretechnologie GmbH, to reduce the time needed by organisations to convert business logic into software rules.
Visual Rules is the only BRMS to provide intuitive graphical representation of the key points in business processes at which rules are needed and then allow business executives to make the necessary alterations to the rules to suit changes in business logic.
"The problem with most other BMRS systems is that they require software developers to interpret in code the business logic set out in text by business executives," says Red Man software development specialist, Travis Bulford. "But software developers are usually not business thinkers and so a gap develops between the result the business wants and what the developers enable the software to do.
"With Visual Rules, the business person is able to make changes directly on the graphical representation and the system automatically generates the relevant source code. So the need to involve IT people is significantly reduced. That speeds time to benefit - which means that businesses can be much more agile, adapting to market needs pretty much on the fly.
"Also, when rules are defined in text it is very difficult to track what other rules they are linked to and may affect. With Visual Rules, you can see graphically - and model - what the interconnections are, enabling you to make much more intelligent decisions about the changes you do or do not impose on the business."
Other advantages include the fact that concept efforts are reduced because of earlier transition to modelling during the specification process, supported with a testing rich feature set and can be automated, quality assurance work is reduced because of standardised code generation and tool support, and documentation is, largely, generated automatically.
"Making Visual Rules part of our methodology and services is consistent with Red Man's overall objective of making our customers more agile," Bulford says. "That means using technology in ways that help them implement their strategies faster so that market opportunities have not disappeared by the time they have been able to execute application or business process changes.
"Visual Rules enables that because you are not having to develop software. You are writing new rules on existing solutions and, as a result, able to deliver new behaviour."
Although an organisation can learn very quickly how to use and take ownership of Visual Rules, Bulford says it is not plug-and-play. "Knowing how to use Visual Rules is very different from knowing why you want to use it.
"That is where Red Man comes in. From experience, we know where in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, for instance, the software makes decisions. We also know how to work with those key points so that the organisation achieves the business outcomes it wants. We are therefore able to implement Visual Rules to best effect, train users to optimise it, and then, having empowered the organisation, step away."
Bulford explains that Visual Rules is an ideal tool for effectively and efficiently delivering on an organisation's intellectual property (IP), thereby helping the organisation differentiate itself in the market.
"The business flow in an organisation changes very seldom. If someone applies for a home loan the process stays the same but individual decisions about, for example, how to rate the risk of making the loan or how to map the person's details against a decision matrix can - and often do - change.
"How a financial institution makes those changes constitutes its IP - and the ability to quickly turn it into profit rests, in this IT-dominated world, on software like Visual Rules."