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Enhancing Legacy Systems with business rules

Interesting piece in Insurance and Technology this week - Enhancing your legacy. Lots of good discussion about the challenges and options with legacy and then this fascinating question:

How can insurers guarantee that new systems are designed for the future?

The various people being interviewed made a number of good points which made me think about business rules in this context.

  • "Design flexibility into the system"
    This is the key benefit of using a business rules management system as part of a new system (or to modernize part of a legacy system). Using business rules, especially using templates to define classes of business rules, allows the system to evolve as regulations, best practices and policies change.
  • "Implement components that are user-configurable, requiring fewer programmers to maintain"
    Again, key benefit of business rules is the ability of business users to maintain their own rules allowing programmers to move on to new things. In my section on legacy modernization I have some stories about how to do this without replacing the whole system.
  • "After the new system is installed, changes will be needed"
    Well duh! Change-time is key and business rules are a wonderful technology for making that part of the lifecycle easier to manage, often reducing maintenance by huge percentages (75%+)
  • "Companies should be realistic and assume these systems will survive 10 or 15 years"
    So even if you don't think they will need to change quickly, they will need to change...
  • "At a minimum, the architecture should support externalized and easily accessible rules repositories, highly modular construction where services are separated and interchangeable, and enforcement of consistency across all areas interfacing with the system"
    I could not have said it better myself. See other entries on business rules and SOA.

Business rules can help you make sense of your legacy systems. Go for it.

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