Business rules not just for coders anymore

Christopher L. Matthieu, director eBusiness technologies at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), was looking for a way to take IT out of the process of making business rules changes to end user applications.

Why couldn’t underwriters make changes to the health insurance company’s rate compensation system without having to call in a programmer?

What Matthieu found was Centrifuge, business rules management software with patent-pending technology designed to make business rules "understandable and maintainable for the business analyst," according to the vendor, Resolution EBS, Inc.

As Matthieu explains, Centrifuge gives end users an Excel-like tool for maintaining business rules without if/then/else type programming. Using it, BCBSAZ underwriters and actuaries are "pretty much self-sufficient" when it comes to maintaining the rules for the system they use every day, he says.

BCBSAZ is also using Centrifuge for a Web portal that allows customers to make changes to their benefits online. Deployed this past August, Matthieu calls that application "an overwhelming success." Centrifuge is also being used in a group rating system at the insurance company.

Centrifuge represents a 10-year research and development effort to bring rules engine development and management into the front office, says Peter Klante, Resolution CEO. This has typically been an IT function requiring programmers to hand code the apps and any changes or updates. He says Centrifuge lets the business user or analyst, people the company labels "subject matter experts," define and maintain the business rules they work with in the applications that support their job functions.