Confused about business rules and how they complicate supply-chain e-commerce? It should be as simple as a customer sending us a purchase order and us returning an invoice. What could be so difficult about that?
If every retailer would send and receive information governed by standardized business rules, everything would be straightforward – unfortunately this isn’t the case. Variances in the way businesses are run can be staggering. Even companies sending similar information have embedded differences. For example:
Invoices must be received within seven days of shipment.
The shipping document must be received no earlier than 48 hours before shipment.
Allowances/charges/taxes are applied at the item level.
Receive one purchase order, send one invoice.
Receive one purchase order, send a separate invoice for each store.
Usually these rules MUST be followed to a “T” in order to avoid defaults or the dreaded “compliance charge.”
To date there are more than a thousand business rules embedded into our software, ranging from logistics to packaging rules. Using a combination of Microsoft BizTalk Server, Windows Workflow Foundation, and some innovative architecture and development techniques, we’ve been able to create a dynamic solution to address the complexity of business rules, making them easy for users to understand.
When we were approached by a Canadian government agency to implement a supply-chain processing and management infrastructure, we were ready with a solution that addressed their needs. We divided the approach into both an application-to-application and a business-to-business paradigm. Then we partnered with a systems integrator (SI) who was also a Microsoft partner to implement and deploy the solution.
The SI connected the customer’s various back-end systems, while we provided the business-to-business supply chain management solution to enable their trading partners. It was a win, win, win for the three parties involved and ensured business procedures integrated best practices and operational efficiencies by using best-in-class Microsoft technologies.