Processes · Rules

Where are the processes? Where are the rules?

To start on a business automation path, the tech team should be able understand and identify when there are business processes and rules in the scenario of the project.

Understanding the importance and the impacts of your work will make you feel excited while executing it and will inspire you to achieve distinguished results.

Developers may look at business diagrams and think: “Where would I use this?”, “I can not think of any potential use cases to test this”, “Business team did not send any diagrams, so this does not suit my current project.”. If this is the case, this means that one should read the following section to know a little bit more about processes and rules.

What is a process?

A simple definition is: Every set of tasks which drives to specific results can be considered a process.

Processes are used in all sort of different scenarios, including the outer scope of business organizations. Check this out: you spend one-third of your days executing a process – sleep. Although it becomes automatic and we do not notice, sleeping is not merely about closing the eyes and resting. Before the start and during sleep, our body executes series of voluntary and involuntary tasks.

Resultado de imagem para info box iconSleep and its disorders have several studies. Superficially speaking, in mammals, this fundamental need is composed of two major states, namely rapid eye movement (REM) and non–rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. The sleep cycle consists of the progression of these stages and the repetition of it.  

Consider John’s sleep. John’s habits are similar to several other citizens. Every day he starts by slowing down his natural rhythm at 8 PM. This action consequently slows down his heartbeat rate. The next steps he takes is to stop using his phone, start reading a book and finally to close his eyes. We can identify voluntary and involuntary actions, which could be initially represented respectively in two lanes, Voluntary Actions and, Involuntary Actions:

Sleep Process

A sequence of tasks is executed automatically, and it leads to the start of new sub-processes. John will enter different stages of sleep called NREM and REM during his sleep process execution. Both stages repeat some times during rest. With this additional information, we can increment the process design by adding stages repetition to the sleep cycle:

Sleep Process with an embedded suprocess

Finally, external factors, like alarms, can interrupt the sleep cycle and make it stop abruptly. In process definition, it is also possible to address exceptions with appropriate treatment:

Sleep Process that deals with exceptions: Wake up task will be executed if an exception happens during the sleep cycle.

The sleeping cycle was represented in a process definition to show that processes are everywhere: they are part of life and even part of the corporate world. We only need to observe, notice them. Furthermore, start exercising this during software design activities.

We have to observe processes and choose candidates that can make the organization more productive if the methods get automated. Think about this: our body is intelligent enough to execute, and continuously improve on a personal basis, the sleep process without requiring conscious effort. In an organization scope, we are capable of identifying tasks and processes to be executed more accurately and use technology to support the organization by reducing human errors and deviations from the expected execution.

Some more concepts about business processes are:

  • It can be flexible and have a dynamic plan of execution;
  • Tasks can be dynamic and created during process execution;
  • It involves human and system integration steps;
  • It can be a short or long running term;
  • It can have a dynamic human task owner or group definition;
  • It can use pre-defined business rules to determine the flow automatically;

By being able to identify processes and business rules in use cases, architects and developers will naturally get involved in business automation.

What is a business rule?

Knowing what processes are capable of, let’s now have an overview about business rules. Every corporation has information that can be automated by software. Here are some examples:

  • Hospital emergency professionals know how to categorize patients according to their symptoms;
  • A call center knows which attendants specialty should be answering to each type of request;
  • A financial loan organization has to define how much money it can borrow according to the customer profile;
  • An online store needs to determine the valid price and discounts according to seasons

These are sample sets of business rules that exist inside organizations. Some use cases require the execution of thousands of hundreds of business rules to be done in less than a second, and there are even rules that will keep changing over time.

Therefore, a traditional development cycle that requires pre-requisites definition, documenting, planning and implementation is likely to increase the percentages of bugs and take too long. Additionally, having hard-coded business rules naturally makes maintenance harder.

In contrast to this scenario, look at this example of a low-code executable business rule implementation:

Business rules in a Decision Table: This business rule defined in a decision table shows which discount should be applied to the products bought by a determined type of customer category: 0%, 10% or 25% to ordinary customers, gold, and diamond respectively. For now, keep in mind that by using business automation tools, business rules can be implemented in a graphical, auto-documented, versioned, and executable manner.

In order to determine the next steps for each scenario that you will need to go through in your business automation project, it is necessary to identify the maturity of the organization.

Let’s learn more about the maturity levels on the upcoming post.

This blog post is part of the second section of the jBPM Getting started series: Digital Transformation Journey.

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