Business Rules : 5 reasons to use a Business Rules Management System

Business Rules Management System
Like any system a Business Rules engine or BRMS (Business Rules Management System) is meant to provide benefit.  A business rules engine can be very beneficial if used to address the right issues. If you are trying to find out if your organisation needs a rules engine then continue reading.






A Business Rules Engine (or BRE or Business Rules Management Systems or BRMS) is a system which is used to maintain business rules of any organisation. Business Rules can be the policies or the rules that you use in your systems.  

What you call business rules is dependent on your organisation - for example in case of claim adjudication the business rules can be the validations and in case of a underwriting system the polices you have can be business rules.

Lets look at when a organisation should consider using a business rules management system.

# 1 : Business Rules or Policies are implemented manually

If you have a lot of complex rules or polices which are implemented manually then you should be looking at storing the rules in a separate system and automating them. If you have dozens of business rules in excel spreadsheet then maintenance of those sheets could become a nightmare. 

Your first priority should be to automate your rules. With manual implementation there is always a chance that there will be mistakes made.

# 2: Business Rules are embedded into complex systems or code

Even if you have your rules automated often with large systems there is a possibility that you may bury the business rules deep into code or system logic. So, even though you may automate the system you will never get control of the business rules. Maintenance also becomes a nightmare as rules are spread across the system and even making a small change becomes a difficult task.

Not only do you lose track of your business rules you will also be dependent on IT to tell you  how the system behaves.Even if the rules are documented there is always a chance of error as the documentation from code to business logic can be misinterpreted by the IT. Embedding the business rules deep into system logic does not allow reuse of the rules in a different application.



# 3: Business users need more control and visibility of the business rules

Even if you automate and document the business rules you will still have a dependency on developers or IT to provide you with the latest business rules. If system changes happen often the documentation could get out of sync easily. 

Business departments have always wanted to be able to manage their business rules. A BRMS is built exactly for the same reason. Most of the business rules engine allow the rules to be written in English like syntax which makes rules writing very easy. The tools also have web based access which allow business users to easily access and change rules. 

For example Blaze Advisor has a template framework and RMA(Rules Maintenance Application) which make user experience very easy. Blaze Advisor also has SRL (Structured Rules Language) which allow rules to be written in English  like syntax.

# 4 : You need to Reuse business rules

This  is one of the most significant benefits of using a Business Rules Engine. Since all your business rules are defined within a single rules engine and stored in a single source it can be reused for any other system or project. So, even if the surrounding systems change the business rules engine will can be left untouched.

Most of the tools allow the rules engine(or run time) to be deployed in industry standard platforms like Java(POJO or Web Service) or Net and are called Rules Services.  The rules services can be used by any application which can invoke the rules engine via its published interface.  This is very useful if the surrounding systems are being changed or decommissioned. The business rules engine can be left in place to be used by the new system.

# 5 : Using industry standard metaphors or decision entities 

Most of the business rules engine have industry standard decision entities like score card, decision matrix or table which are already built-in. The built-in entities allow the business rules to be setup very quickly.

The metaphors are generally very intuitive and can be easily understood by business users. Many times the business rules in the legacy systems are documented using industry standard metaphors.

Some of the tools have automated validation and reporting features which can be used by business to validate business rules. For example the rules engine could point if there are duplicate rules.

Other reasons to use Business Rules Engine

1. Business Rules Engine mostly allow hot deployments which means you do not need to bring your       systems down.

2. The rules engine can be used to simulate rules engine with the need of testing the whole system.

3. The business rules can be exported and stored as backup.Many tools allow exporting as PDF or           HTML.

4. The rules engine will be maintained by a separate team so it allows segregation of duties.

5. If the Business Rules Engine is part of a product suite then it can be easily integrated with other           products in that suite.

6. Implementing or deploying changes to  rules is much easier as the change will be limited to only to     rules and the overhead of rules deployment is much less compared to deployment of larger system       components.


If you have any queries please contact me on neel@techno-pm.com.  While having a BRMS is a good idea there are some common pitfalls for BRMS solutions not working.  Please see Why Business Rules Engine Projects Fail if you need more details. 


Swapnil Wale

Written by

Swapnil Wale is an IT Professional based in Sydney, Australia with over 10 years of experience in technology and project management. He is a passionate blogger and focuses on project management and BRMS articles.

 

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