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The Rule Maturity Model: Five Steps to an Agile Enterprise

Business rules can be used to implement competitive strategy, promote and enforce policy, and ensure compliance, but most organizations aren't even aware of the rules that are buried in code, forgotten in old documents and stuck in people's heads. The Rule Maturity Model offers a step-by-step approach to capturing, managing and mastering rules while investing appropriately for your competitive climate. So, where is your firm on the maturity scale?
Seeking the Right Level

The relationship between business and IT evolves as a firm matures from one level to the next. At higher levels of maturity, the sophistication of the methods and software lets business people do most of the rule authoring, analysis, testing, simulation and implementation. In the most recent advances of BRMS products, rule management, rule authoring and rule analysis steps can be handled to some extent by less technical business users. Another trend is the emergence of Enterprise Decision Management, which combines historical data with analytical models to predict and suggest better rules (see related Q&A interview with James Taylor, coauthor, with Neil Raden, of the new book "Smart (Enough) Systems" ).

The RMM is a tested roadmap by which organizations set realistic business rule expectations and design a practical roadmap for getting there. It keeps firms grounded in a step-by-step business rules approach, customized to target business objectives, not just technical goals. Use the RMM as a guide for matching business benefits to appropriate business rule investments, defining first steps and keeping a longer-term vision in sight.

Business in certain industries may be won or lost on the level or rule maturity. As one organization in an industry reaches a higher RMM level, it raises the bar for its competition. The right level in your industry may be a moving target. Experiment with lower levels and aim for higher ones only if and when doing so will make a significant competitive difference. The best approach is to take it one level at a time. Using the Rule Maturity Model, you can realize the vision of the Business Rules Approach, which is intended to enable business leaders to take control of the guiding levers of the enterprise, and enable technology to match the rate of business change.

Note: This article is based on an excerpt from the recent book, "The Business Rule Revolution," an anthology of business rule experiences edited by Barbara von Halle and Larry Goldberg. To learn more about the book, click here to register and gain free access to rule-related resources.

Barbara von Halle is founder and a managing partner of Knowledge Partners, International LLC (KPI). She is responsible for evolving KPI's business rules KPI STEP and its Rule Maturity Model (KPI RMM) and for ensuring their proper use across industries. She is well known for her pioneering work in the area of business rules, including writing and consulting work as early as the 1980s.