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Correlated BPM Offerings Help Improve Agility

Editor’s note: This is the second article in a two-part series on business process management on the System z platform.

Implementing a business process management (BPM) solution on the System z platform delivers countless advantages to organizations, as explained in the first part of this series. But that’s only the beginning of the BPM story. Gaining the optimal benefits requires operational decision management (ODM) capabilities, business activity monitoring and more.

ODM enables organizations to automate decisions through a business rule management system (BRMS) and identify opportunities and mitigate risks by spotting business event patterns among disparate events from many sources.

Making Business Rules Accessible

A BRMS can direct automated decisions at specific points in the process. In many cases, a BRMS is exposed to BPM through Web services invoked by the process in order to make a decision that directly influences how the business operates. It’s not just a technology to do simple routing of rules inside a business process, but is used to automate complex, highly variable decisions that take place at different points in a process, as well as in other systems that might not be involved in orchestrated processes.

Without a BRMS, rules are hidden in COBOL code and databases—and end up being costly to change. Essentially, changes are subject to the same lifecycle as the application code itself. With potentially undocumented rules, there’s no version control and changes aren’t auditable. At the same time, the business lacks the ability to:

  • Clearly view rules
  • Change or review any rules that are only accessible by IT
  • Reuse rules
  • Test or simulate changes

With a BRMS, however, automated decisions are visible, changeable and reviewable by business users—whenever the needs of the business dictate. Rules are expressed and documented in business terms and localized language to bridge the business-IT gap. Rules are managed with collaborative Web tools. Version and change control are provided as well as security and auditability.

A central repository enables consistent enforcement and reuse of proven rules across all applications via multiple deployment options. This allows the rules to be deployed close to the core applications and needed data—collocation of rules, applications and data means better performance. Organizations can then define and execute specific decision points in processes and applications, in order to automate and improve decisions throughout them.

An expert regarding BPM on System z, Jeff Reser recently retired from his position as software product manager for BPM, SOA and WebSphere Marketing in the IBM Software Group.

Julie Reese is the product marketing manager for WebSphere Operational Decision Management for z/OS.

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