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Accelerating app creation by automating business rules

CIO Staff | June 28, 2016
Today’s competitive business environment demands that software development processes are as streamlined and automated as possible to ensure innovations are released on time.

Senior IT execs Melbourne discussing how business rules automation is reshaping their application development lifecycle.

For most organisations, the pressure to build and release new applications to the market is more intense than ever. Today's competitive business environment demands that software development processes are as streamlined and automated as possible to ensure product and service innovations are released on time.

It is therefore vital that businesses model and test the integrity of business rules to reduce application cycles and give internal and external customers - who simply don't care about backend change management processes - the products and services they need when they need them.

Senior IT execs gathered in Melbourne recently to discuss how business rules automation is reshaping their application development lifecycle to give their organisations a competitive advantage. The luncheon was sponsored by Progress.

Alex Watson, GM, IT applications at financial market intelligence and investment services firm Lonsec, says a common theme for organisations today is to provide better customer service and be more responsive to change. In response, he says, many software development teams focus on finding better ways to deliver new systems or features.

"This sometimes misses the most important point which is, 'can we find better ways to deliver existing systems or features?' he asks.

Watson points out that all business systems contain business rules that tailor the solution to the current needs of the business. Yet many organisations tend to "bake" these business rules into their systems, he says.

"What this means is that developers tend to assume that business rules are fixed and won't change and they implement these same assumptions in many different systems, modules and components.

"When these business rules change - and they can be changed by competitive pressures, opportunity, operational efficiency, regulation, and organisational restructures - it can be very time-consuming for developers to find change all of the places where they made these assumptions," he says.

"The effort required to change business rules is often viewed as BAU (business-as-usual) work, and is seen as a necessary overhead for managing a system."

Lonsec replaced a legacy system that had become overwhelmingly complex and unwieldy due to many years of baked-in business logic and assumptions, said Watson.

The key principle behind the new platform was for business rules and logic to be separated from the core software as much as possible so these rules could be defined by configuration.

This made is easier for Lonsec to review and understand business logic that was implemented, which reduced maintenance and UAT times. Many projects can also be commenced - and even delivered - when the business is still trying to finalise the correct business rules. This results in less project delays.

 

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