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Several years ago, business rule and business process management technologies were segregated by information architects. If and when a business rule engine was used, it was considered a “black box,” something that generated complex results required for highly variable decisions with multiple contingencies. But, thanks to the ever increasing demands of business owners for smart and more intelligent process workflow and technological advances by select vendors, this segregation is now over. Business rules are important, if not critical for a wide range of business processes, and therefore, it is now commonplace to see rules engines included in business process management systems.

What are business rules? Business rules are business policies, goals, strategies and guidelines that include declarative statements, constraints or predicated actions. The authors of business rules are typically business stakeholders. What most have now come to realize is that the full potential of productivity and the agility of business process management cannot be achieved without digitizing business rules. While much can be gained by modeling and simulating different workflows, without the dynamically executable specificity of business rules and their ability to capture goals and adapt to constantly changing business conditions and situations, the process models remain theoretical.

There are many reasons why business rules, especially declarative rules that can capture management intent, are regarded as essential for BPM . One of these reasons is the tangible ROI achieved by companies who are quickly and effectively deploying rules-driven BPM solutions. Rules-driven BPM solutions are differentiated from embedded or integrated BPM and rules, because they use one cohesive business process management system that can handle declarative rules in conjunction with procedural flow logic, enterprise integration and asynchronous event correlation.

In the rush to embrace business rules, this distinction is frequently overlooked, but it is critical to the future of BPM and to the emergence of a new kind of BPM one might call ‘SmartBPM.’ Adding to the confusion of how rules and process can and should best work together is the proliferation of a number of myths that have evolved around the “Rules and BPM” campfires. By addressing six of these myths, it is hoped that we can remember that what really matters are what the business owner has asked for: compliance, growth and productivity. The shortest path to these goals is through end-to-end automation of business processes that have at their core procedural flows and declarative business rules.


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