It was no Aprils‘ fools joke: at April 1 the BRFplus/DSM topic day of the German SAP user group DSAG was held in St. Leon Rot. The idea for this day started on SCN. Last December I realized that I would like to get in contact with other experts in the area of business rules and blogged about this ideaDecision Management in the Enterprise – It’s Time for a Conference. The blog was read and soon we had a phone conference and asked ourselves questions about the scope: are there enough people who want to join? Perhaps it would be better to organize a joint conference about DSM and BRM/PO? My position was clear: I was convinced that many people will join and there are so many interesting stories to tell that it would be better to separate both topics which are both important. So the DSAG working group custom development in ABAP and Java decided to ask their members and many people showed interest. Finding a time slot was a challenge but luckily a topic day was cancelled and we got the time slot.
Steffen Pietsch, the leader of the working group, took over and organized an awesome day at St. Leon Rot near Walldorf. Kudos to him!
The conference started with an introduction and online demonstration of BRFplus and DSM presented by Wolfgang Schaper. We learned about the current features of DSM/BRFplus and the roadmap. Of course there was an online demonstration about the features of BRFplus of rule deployment features. Wolfgang Schaper was well prepared and answered all questions by demonstrating the features online.
After that three customers talked about their BRFplus/DSM use cases. I started with a talk about usage of BRFplus in automation of document processes: automated evaluation of scanned questionnaires contained complex information insurance claims using BRFplus. This is challenging for many reasons:
- All stakeholders have to collaborate: business process experts, SAP experts, experts from the document reading and scanning infrastructure and many more.
- At first process and quality goals have to defined and KPIs how to measure them.
- The evaluation using rule systems can become quite complex since we work on data extracted from questionnaires. In fact we have been quite successful but we can get to the point where the rule systems is nearly as good as manual processing and but manual clearing case is necessary. At this point you can get to the point the rule system creates task for the business user with concise information what to do as well as automated activities.
- This is a typical example for a rule based system. Creating those systems is quite challenging but BRFplus but has many outstanding features like extensibility and an API that help to create those solutions.
In the next customer talk Günther Scheper from Claas presented some use cases from BRFplus. It became clear that every ABAP developer can successfully use BRFplus. Furthermore it helps to make the communication between business and IT experts more efficiently. At the end of this talk was a great discussion about BRFplus design styles and idioms and even “unusal” use cases like usage BRFplus for control UI controls.
The last customer talk was really awesome. Gerhard Kregel and his team from Voestalpineshowed that the implemention of the complete knowledge of experts in steel production and logistics in DSM. They apply daily changes of the rule sets and deploy those rules together with master data(!) using DSM. Of course there is a mature governance process and they put an own UI on top of DSM and integrated a document management system for revision safe documentation of rule and rule changes. This shows that you can migrate a very mature and sophisticated framework or business rules into the SAP world by keeping most of the processes by using extensibility of BRFplus. They even did an online presentation and showed their AddOn on DSM deployed a set of rules.
In the last talk Carsten Ziegler presented a talk about methodology of successful BRFplus/DSM implementation and presented a firework a firework of best practices. This was really awesome and many people including myself took notes and now I’m adding them to our internal BRFplus development guidelines.
If you follow me on Twitter you can read some of my note of this day on my Twitter timeline.
Why was this event a success?
DSAG did a very good job in the preparation and selected really good mixture of different talks so that everyone got inspiration for his daily work. For me it was important that with voestalpine a business expert (and an only IT guys like me) did a presentation and talked about decision management. Efficient implementation of business rules means that business and IT work together successfully.
If you decide to organize a BRFplus/DSM topic day please be prepared that more people will join than you expected. We ran out of chairs twice and had to go out to get new. Decision Management is a hot topic and people want to learn about and share their experience. Moreover there was enough time for attendees to chat and to extend their business network.
What comes next?
I hope that there will be follow up DSAG meeting about DSM/BRFplus next year. I hope they will be a similar variety of customer talks. Maybe there will be even a keyword from a business person who challenges the IT crowd with his expectations concerning rules, rules technology and governance. Maybe I’ll offer a talk about rules and HANA or prediction.
Personally I’m still working on the topic of process automation using BRFplus. And if I find the time I’ll blog about my experience. I hope I can make it to SAP Inside Track Hamburg and perhaps I’ll talk about this or another BRFplus/DSM topic. I made the experience that working with ambiguous data is quite difficult and at the moment I’m working on a small (more or less mathematical) approach to this topic together with a researcher from Belfast. If this work is finished it is likely that I share my experience on SCN.
At the moment I’m thinking how DSM especially in connection with prediction and HANA expressions can be used in SAP InnoJams because I consider pushdown of business logic to HANA as very promising way of code pushdown.
But these are just the things I am thinking about. But now it’s time for others to step forward and to organize similar events in other SAP user groups. It’s like Steffen Pietsch told at the event of the event: the user groups need you and your experience.
I’m convinced that these event will be a success because business rules are mission critical, make ERP transparent and better to change and the usage can reduce development costs. As I already told you I consider HANA expressions of DSM most important.