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There are three primary ways your business might use a business rules management system, or BRMS. Learn why you might need BRMS.
In May 2015, I was part of a Google+ Hangout hosted by Datamation discussing, “Trends and Best Practices in Business Rules Management Systems (BRMS),” that featured Progress® Corticon® as well as industry analysts and experts. In this first of a two-part series, I’d like to discuss exactly why you might need a business rules engine and provide some things to look for when considering a purchase.
BRMS are expert systems designed to manage your rules and business logic. Instead of keeping your rules—the guidelines by which you make critical business decisions—in the form of application code in software systems, you have abstracted that logic and put it into a system specifically designed for managing rules. With a BRMS, you are building, modeling and testing your rules in this separate system from start to finish. This allows you to concentrate on the differentiating features and user experiences of your applications without worrying about the logic in the code.
It is essential, when you are deciding whether to purchase a BRMS, to determine exactly why you need rules management and who will use the system. I’ve seen three major ways businesses can implement a BRMS: to keep up with the pace of change, to become more agile, and to make decisions based on Big Data.
A primary use for BRMS is in an environment where the rules are constantly changing. In businesses that are heavily regulated, such as in the financial services or insurance sectors, any regulatory change can result in months of development effort.
By adopting a BRMS, Business and IT teams can collaborate regarding business rule changes and shorten development time. Business people can be brought into the mix as they can now take on the responsibility of directly updating the business logic. This will in turn require less IT resource because your business analysts will not have to wait for development teams to update your current rules.
You also have the option to let IT teams manage your business rules by using a BRMS. This allows for faster rules changes in conjunction with business collaboration as BRMS systems allow you to check for logic completeness, conflict and circular logic.
Any new product development or changes to an existing product requires IT resources and budget. Most companies struggle with an IT shortage and lack of funding, resulting in prolonged product change delays that restrict business agility. Once resources and budget have been arranged, traditional application development and deployment can take six months or more—far too slow to process regulatory or industry changes that might change quarterly, weekly or even more often.
A BRMS system requires less IT resources by bringing business people into product development. Then you can specify, model and test your rules in the BRMS while developing the app at the same time. Now you are using the rules engine rather than having to write all of that code.
Rules never exist in silos, but are always part of a process. Any kind of decision requires data. This could be structured, unstructured, social, mobile and many more. The more data, and the more complex the data, the better it is for a rules engine to look at all of these data points and make a decision.
Using various analytics tools only gets you so far as there is still a manual process involved, where once you’ve identified trends and patterns from your big data, you still have to figure out which decisions you need to make. That’s where a BRMS can really be an advantage. Once you’ve identified the key variables to analyze, you can feed them into your BRMS engine to determine decisions based on those patterns.
In my next post, I’ll be discussing what to look for in a BRMS and key considerations when purchasing. In the meantime, if you would like to hear the full panel session, register for the replay.
Ankur Goyal is the Principal Product Manager for Progress Corticon.
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