3 Unique Roles in a Business Rules Engine Project

Roles in a Business Rules Engine Project
Project Roles and Responsibilities
In this article we will look at the special roles and responsibilities required in implementation of business rules engine(aka business rules project).

A Business Rules project will contain additional roles like Rules Architect, Rules Analyst and Rules Developer. 

A Business Rules Engine project follows the standard SDLC with some additional phases like rules harvesting. 

We will start by looking at the different roles that would be necessary in business rules project. In a typical business rules project will have a Rules Architect, Rules Analyst and Rules Developer.

The Rules Architect 

The rules architect is a person who will look after the overall solution. The rules architect in general will be responsible for the following -
Roles in a Business Rules Engine Project
  • Rules engine setup like type of repository, version control, life cycle management.
  • Responsible to identify the accurate place for the rules engine in the system.
  • Recommend what should be the best approach for integration of the rules services(deployable component of the rules engine).
  • Defined the inputs and outputs of the rules services.
  • Recommend the rules service deployment type POJO, EJB, Web Service and things like app servers. 
  • Understand the business requirements and guide the development team to implement the requirements.
  • Responsible for non functional requirements like performance, security etc.
Techno-Tip : Depending on the project complexity and skill set available you could have a Rules Architect and also have a Technical Architect.  The rules architect can work closely with the rules engine and its components. The technical architect can work with the technical aspects outside the rules engine like app servers, integration etc.

The Rules Analyst

The role of the rules analyst will be similar to a business analyst and will include  - 
  • Interface between the business users and the technical team.
  • Identify and document the business rules by following the rules harvesting process. 
  • Help the business users in defining the business rules.
  • Understand the business requirements around how the business wants to access the rules engine.
  • Understand the different features of the rules engine.
  • Help the business understand the features and limitations of the business rules engine.
  • Help the business users with user acceptance testing
  • Develop training and user guide for the business users.
Techno-Tip : The Rules Analyst can be a business analyst. It will be advantageous if the analyst knows the existing system. It is recommended that the rules analyst/business analyst has previous experience with the tool or at least business rules in general.

The Rules Developer

The rules developer will be responsible for implementing the system changes. Depending on the type of tool the actual components could vary. Broadly the developer will - 
  • Understand the business requirement and build the business rules and the interface required.
  • Optimize the rules to fit into a metaphor like decision tree, decision table etc.
  • Work with the architect and rules analyst to implement the business requirements.
  • Implement the rules service and integrate it with existing system.
  • Unit test and integration test the business rules.
Techno-Tip : The developer must have experience with the business rules engine to fully utilize the rules engine features. The rules developer may be helped by a Java or .Net developer to implement the actual the code which will integrate the rules service with the system.

Business Rules Engine : Project Roles and Responsibilities
Depending on the project, organisation, skillets available the above roles can be played interchangeable. For example, if you have senior developer who is an expert in the rules engine then the developer can play the role of architect and developer.

Also, I do not see any other roles in a normal SDLC changing. For example the Quality Assurance process will not change. Same applies to the project manager role. Although, it will be helpful if the team has business rules engine experience.

Please feel free to reach me at neel@techno-pm.com if you have questions.