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Our company have a been embarking on modernizing our IT Systems. There is good deal of progress so far however there are practices i just don't think are not using modern approach. One example is we have an application where their is a rule engine and from time to time the rule changes.

The rule engine works by processing an excel spreadsheet where there are columns defined as to how a specific logic will work. The business owners are usually the one who defines these rules and they gave us the final sheet to be uploaded into the system. There was a small process change back then where our senior management gave them the right to upload the sheets themselves so they won't rely on us to upload it for them.

I've seen this kind of process on many of our systems and it worked well but can't help thinking that this is not really a modern approach to doing things. I spoke to my boss about this and gave him my ideas (see below) but dismissed the idea saying there is no need to change existing process because its working.

My idea is to build another web page on the admin panel for business owners to make changes to these rules on the page itself. The page will have an interface where they can define the new rules and save it (persist in DB). They will also have an option to export the rules to excel or csv file from the admin page itself.

I see the following benefit in using my approach below:

  • Business owners can change the rules on the admin panel and it will be timestamped and changes are logged in DB
  • Business owners and managers can view the recent rules applied to the engine
  • Centralized interface where only approved users are able to update the rules whereas previous approach doesn't log everytime a rule is modified

Really appreciate if I could get feedback from the community what they think about my approach. Thanks

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  • You need to consult your users and stakeholders on matters like this. You're talking about an overhaul to the way the users of the system interact with it, and potentially proposing changing something that they may feel doesn't need to change. You say that the current system works well, so what benefits will the company gain by changing it? i.e. how will it help the business? For example, will there be efficiency savings? Will it reduce some risks to the business? will it help the business scale up? Jul 29 '17 at 11:18
  • "not really a modern approach" will likely not convince management to invest in replacing a system which apparently works fine. You need to point out business-level advantages in replacing the system.
    – JacquesB
    Jul 29 '17 at 11:20
  • "Not really a modern approach" is not a good enough reason to make the change. The benefits of making the change have to exceed the costs. Find out if your approach will save time and money, and sell that (if you can). Jul 29 '17 at 16:06
  • Thanks guys for your ideas, actually i didn't wen't to my boss and told him that what they are doing is not a modern approach. But I told them about the benefits of changing the current process.
    – dimas
    Jul 30 '17 at 13:20
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You will want to identify the pain points in — or around (e.g. before or after) — the current process.

The goal is to eliminate unnecessary human effort, drudgery, coordination, to improve turn around times and quality/reliability/security.

For example, something that is not automated but often repeated consumes human resources (who most likely perceive this activity as drudgery), as well as being error prone.

Does uploading the rules require coordination among multiple business people (e.g. to collect or assemble the rules)?

Has there ever been an issue where wrong rules were uploaded?

Would being able to manage the rules another way result in more business agility, e.g. quicker roll out of campaigns?

If you can't find any pain points...


The idea of logging changes seems sensible to me, of course; however, it needs to mitigate a pain point.


I'm not sure but it seems like you're suggesting moving away from spreadsheets. If you are inventing a new Domain Specific Language, that could involve more effort than first evident.

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  • thanks for your input really appreciate it. You hit the mark on quicker roll out of campaigns and issue of wrong rules uploaded into the system. Although it was quickly fixed. The wrong rule was uploaded because there is no versioning on the excel files they upload and other users have different copy of the excel on their workspace.
    – dimas
    Jul 30 '17 at 13:27

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