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Part of any process automation and management solution is having some method of defining and implementing the important (and sometimes unimportant) decision points within a given process.

Of course, in addition to defining these business rules and decision points, a business analyst or developer has to create the high-level business process flow and define how transactions and work progress from one step (or stage) to another. That’s what typical business process management (BPM) solutions are typically designed to do well—enable organizations to model and automate these high-level process flows and transitions.

However, making sure that you’ve explored the implications of capturing your business rules and decision points adequately and in a way that’s both effective and efficient is sometimes equally important.

Thus, as more and more organizations look to BPM solutions as a way to automate their business processes, as well as a way to define and manage the critical decision points within a process, understanding the relationship between business rules and BPM becomes more important.

In past few columns, we’ve looked at some of the reasons that business rules matter, including the fact that they can help combine distributed (or localized) control and optimization with centralized process management. While this can also be done (theoretically) with process models and BPM technologies, it’s often too cumbersome to distribute effectively, or requires too much user training to enable a broad number of business analysts to easily modify processes.

In addition, the more complex, dynamic, or sophisticated the business process, the more likely it will require a high number of business rules — rules that might end up being buried in the process logic or process flow unless the BPM solution offers a specific method for surfacing them separately.

Luckily, there’s help on the way. As BPM solutions continue to mature, more and more vendors have taken the step of adding in (or building on) distinct business rules capabilities, in addition to their standard process modeling and automation capabilities.

Pegasystems was one of the first BPM solutions vendors to highlight the opportunity of fusing business rules technologies with business process management. With its core strength in the financial services arena and a highly solutions-oriented approach, Pegasystems Process Commander has been a suitable choice for very large enterprises looking for a highly scalable business rules-flavored BPM solution.


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