A Comprehensive Guide to Understand Business Rules Engine

business rules engine

Manual business processes are complex with several levels of requests and approvals that often lead to delays. This is a difficult situation for employees to work efficiently. Moreover, huge amounts of resources are squandered delivering zero expected results. 

The establishment of rules systematizes any setup. Just like how defined rules bring systematic functioning among employees in an organization, business processes can also be brought into a systematic framework with a business rules engine. Doing so helps improve, streamline, and optimize these processes

So, what is a rules engine and how does it assist the processes?

We are here to give you a detailed understanding of the business rules engine and the benefits it can offer you.

What is a Business Rules Engine (BRE)?

The Business Rules Engine (BRE) is a business process optimization tool that automates the decision processes with the help of predefined rules/logic. This is done to improve the efficiency of the processes and meet the set goals faster. The tool automates the decisions that carry the process forward. This rules engine becomes handy when accurate decisions have to be made especially in the case of a complex process. 

Any complex process that is part of the business operations can be automated using the business rules engine. These rules are potent enough to transform the organization’s ideas and objectives into firm, result-based actions simultaneously removing any sort of drawbacks. The business rule engine software can boost the processes, make the processes more flexible, and promote innovation and growth. 

With the increasing demand for automation in the digital transformation front, automating manual processes to save time and money has become all the more important. To reach here, businesses need to have an efficient data-generating tool using which robust decisions can be made.

Using a Business Rules Engine

Implementing business rules engines gives you a faultless and uninterrupted movement of all the processes. This application becomes the central space where all the rules are created, stored, and updated with changing needs, requirements, and regulations. Hence, automation is enhanced and this can be seen through the difference in the time that it takes to update a rule; from months to just hours.

Moreover, this also helps with regulating compliance in the organization ensuring no fines or penalties are invited. These can also streamline retail processes entailing tasks like inventory management and pricing. 

Businesses can have a better risk management ability as it helps in defining the response to certain risks or events and automating decisions accordingly. This becomes highly crucial since many outcomes are possible based on different criteria. The business rules engines can significantly reduce manual data entry and streamline repetitive tasks.

Areas Where Business Rules Engine Aids in Effective Decision-making

As rule-based decision-making is one of the major functionalities of business rules engines, the tool often takes businesses to their desired goals much faster. It is important to understand that the rules updated in the rule engine are the driving force in making the right decision for the business.

This can be used across departments as well as across industries and gain desired outcomes. Here are some examples where a business rules engine can make effective decisions fast and clear.

  • A health insurance company can leverage a business rules engine to gauge whether a potential customer meets the eligibility criteria of a certain scheme. 
  • Banks and other financial institutions can use BRE to check whether a loan abides by all guidelines, has the paperwork and regulations checked for meeting the risk factors, and also regulate and maintain compliance with changing policies.
  • In the retail sector, it has to be determined whether to offer free shipping or not. 

Know the Purpose of a Business Rule Engine

In aiding businesses in practicing a perfect decision-making process, a rule engine would ensure that the process remains consistent and abides by the business policies. The BRE software can enhance the decision-making process by generating automated responses to real situations.

Business Rules Engine (BRE) is used:

  • To create and maintain software applications like CRM and ERP.
  • To ensure compliance with regulations like ISO 27001, PCI, SOX, etc.
  • To manage the errors and exceptions in your form.
  • To enhance customer experience by offering accurate and consistent responses
  • To manage user permissions on applications
  • To conduct compliance monitoring on private data.
  • To ensure the orders are processed accurately in the inventory

Benefits of Business Rules Engines

The benefits that a business rules engine can offer an organization are immense. Major limitations that affect the flow of the process are eliminated effectively. Let us look at some of the benefits a rules engine can offer.

1. Improved Compliance

Improved compliance here means that the business does not have to ensure every process complies with the policies. The rule-based engine would do that for you. With auto-generated performance reports, it is easier for businesses to conduct audit trails and take the necessary remedies. The business operations become transparent and no deadlines are ever missed again.

2. Reduced Manual Decision Making

A multi-national research conducted by Unit4 that studied global productivity revealed that repetitive tasks cost around $5 trillion per year globally. The same report also reveals that employees spend 69 days on average on redundant tasks. This is mostly spent on making decisions manually for directing the task to the right person. With rule engine software, the employees only have to spend time on tasks that need human attention.

3. Increased Connectivity and Productivity

With a business rules engine, all the processes remain connected maintaining harmony. The basic BRE will have a powerful routing and notification system where the tasks are routed to the right employee. Hence, the need for an employee to check the flow of the process is not required anymore. The continuity of the processes is also maintained through the integration with applications like CRM and ERP which significantly reduces manual data entry.

4. Improved Quality of Work

The quality of work increases drastically as the implementation of machines reduces human involvement. There is no confusion created as a no-code rules engine defines and works on predefined steps. This also helps in negating any errors. With a definitive structure to the process, the confidence of the team improves, hence delivering high-quality work.

5. High Efficiency

The efficiency of the process elevates and offers to attain the set goals and objectives at a faster pace. The software has the potential to automate all the repetitive tasks and they do not require any human assistance. This encourages the employees to participate in tasks that demand human attention. Employing the right efforts on the right task skyrockets the efficiency of overall performance.

6. Improved Precision

With the defined set of rules, all the processes are carried out through a structured framework, that is, there is a clear plan of execution. This enhances the precision of the process. Moreover, the software ensures and verifies that every input is valid before the process starts. No data is missed or lost creating only less chance of mistakes.

7. Increased Compliance and Auditing

The business rules engine helps organizations keep track of their compliance with regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Moreover, proper auditing of the business data can also be conducted through a BRE and check the compliance. The software is advanced enough to know who does what, when, and how often they do it. Such practices will be flagged for review. This can surely help in making the right decisions.

8. Better Flexibility

The business rules engine that you choose must be flexible enough, enabling you to make necessary changes when required. This can be done without breaking anything in the application. Due to its flexibility, a change initiated from one department will not affect the rest of the organization. The introduction of new features will not alter anything else that already exists in the application.

9. Higher Productivity

Implementing a BRE system minimizes the need to rework as a result of errors. IT professionals, especially developers, can effectively work together and eliminate the possibility of inaccuracy.

10. Better Business Agility

The organization’s change management is enhanced with a strong rules engine helping them to react quicker to the changing needs and opportunities. The BRE helps in improving business agility and also makes them efficient in facing any competition in the industry. The decision-making abilities are enhanced and will be completely based on the data collected from the performance report.

11. Increased Decision Quality

Decisions are data-driven; hence it is high-quality that helps improve the processes more. The results obtained for such decisions are consistent even if it is done across several departments in the organization. Each decision is based on the rules set in the business rules engine.

12. Reduced Costs

As the business processes are automated with the wastage of resources being reduced, a significant amount of cost is reduced as well.

How a Business Rules Engine Transforms Enterprises

These are some of the ways in which a business rules engine transforms the functions of an enterprise:

  • Automating once-complex processes
  • Changing the dynamics of the processes by placing business rules in a company’s applications
  • Making data-driven decisions about customer engagement
  • Transform application development and automation from inefficiencies to efficiency 

Types of Business Rules Engine

A business rules engine can take different forms based on the requirements of the business. Organizations can go with any one or a combination of multiple ones. 

Basic Workflow-based BRE

The basic workflow-based business rules engines are tools that have workflow features within them. Leveraging these features, users can edit fields, send notifications, emails, messages, and even route tasks within the team. The point to note here is that this workflow-based BRE will only work when there is a yes or no decision-based rule on which the workflow functions. A complex workflow might not be fit for such a simple yes or no rule. 

Logic-based BRE

A logic-based rules engine will have simple logic and mathematical formulae which can be easier for the team members to work with. With logical rules and conditions, simple workflows can be generated in this rules engine. 

Coding-based BRE

The coding-based BRE works on complex coding and can only be used by team members with programming skills. This can be achieved using Robotic Process Automation (RPA). In RPA, bots are built and assigned to perform certain tasks that require going through files and applications. Building these bots involves a great deal of development skills. 

Script-based BRE

A script-based BRE is made functional by using a programming language to define the rules. Before deploying it, codes are written and tested. For simple logic, a script-based rules engine can do wonders, whereas, it might not be the best for a complex one. 

Declarative BRE

The declarative rules engine is best suitable for enterprises that run on complex processes. The selling point is that it does not require any user input or involvement yet has the potential to work out sophisticated workflows, logic-based decisions, and complex background calculations to run. 

Hybrid BRE

The hybrid rule engine is a combined version of the script-based and declarative rules engine. It makes working with it easier with its graphical interface. However, it also supports a coding-based business rules engine.

Core Components in a Business Rules Engine

A basic and ideal business rules engine entails numerous key components that work together and make a process function. These components make up a strong engine that would serve the purpose of navigating processes without any delays. 

1. Rule Repository

The rule repository is the area where all the business rules are stored. All these rules are organized and maintained in a structure that allows easy access to all users. The users can also modify and reuse them as well. This way all the rules can be managed easily in the huge collection.

2. Rule Editor

The rule editor is an important component that reduces the complexity of the process of creating and managing business rules. With the no-code or low-code interface, the rules can be designed with just a drag-and-drop method and do not require any coding. Therefore, even a non-technical person can participate in the rule structuring. 

3. Rule Execution Engine

The rule execution engine is the engine that evaluates and executes the defined business rules. Its functions are to look at the incoming data, match it against relevant rules from the repository, and finally execute it based on the set conditions. The efficiency of the execution determines the decision-making’s speed and accuracy.

4. Rule Inference and Chaining Mechanisms

Once the rules have been, it has to be placed in order so they can be evaluated and applied. To do this, two approaches can be used, they are, forward chaining and backward chaining. 

Forward chaining – In this approach, the chaining starts with the data available, and the rules are repeatedly applied to reach a conclusion. 

Backward chaining – In this chaining approach, the chaining starts with the concussion or goal and functions backward which will help in identifying the rules that are needed to achieve the outcome. 

All these key components work together and enable businesses to manage, evaluate, and execute any complex process seamlessly. 

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How Does a Business Rules Engine Work?

As a software system, the business rules engine has the potential to execute one or more rules. These rules do not require any codes and are simple and understandable even to a non-technical user. Let us look at how a business rules engine works.

Step 1: Gathering of Inputs

The first step in the process is to collect the data input. 

Step 2: Selection of the Rule

Based on the category of the input data provided in the second stage, the engine selects the applicable rule. These are predefined rules that are stored in the engine in a format that it could process.

Step 3: Evaluation of the Condition

The next stage is where the engine evaluates the conditions in each of the rules and cross-checks with the data that is input.

Step 4: Executing the Action

In this stage, the engine executes the action if the conditions are met with input data. 

Step 5: Generation of the Output

In the final step, the engine gives out the final result as the output.

Choosing an Ideal Business Rule Engine

One major parameter that would help you to decide is the level of business rules you want to implement that would operate your processes. Additionally, a clear understanding of the business industry, trends, and customer needs can guide you in choosing the right business rules engine for your business. Ultimately, the tool you choose has to be user-friendly and the user must be able to make necessary changes. Let us consider these three scenarios:

  1. For simple workflows – look for a tool that would offer you free workflow templates and features.
  2. For a strong degree of automated decisions, go for logic-based BREs that work on predefined rules. 
  3. For high-quality custom automation, you need developers who would manually code and carry out projects.

Here are some guidelines that can help you select the best rules engine for your organization:

  • Check whether the tool is user-friendly.
  • Look for customization features.
  • The rules engine has to be scalable 
  • The tool has to be adaptable and must be flexible enough to meet the specific requirements of the business.
  • Look for reviews on the product. The tool must be reliable and reputable.

How do Business Rules Engines Deliver Business Value?

  • Keeps up with industry updates
  • Enhances overall efficiency and productivity
  • Ensures compliance with policies and regulations
  • Boosts customer services
  • Encourages new revenue streams

Challenges a Business Rules Engine can Face

Even though the rules engine can offer numerous benefits, it also pokes you with some challenges because of which some businesses tend to stall. 

Increased complexity in rule management

Complex rules can be difficult to manage and debug. This might often tend to be more challenging and demands to have high-level testing.

Scalability and Performance

Management of a huge pile of rules and chunks of data can sometimes undermine the performance of the rules engine. This will lead to often requiring optimization of the process for improving scalability.

Compatibility Challenges

Integration of this tool into the existing external applications can be complex and might require data to flow seamlessly.

Potential for Conflicting Rules

If the rules are not designed or structured correctly, there could be cases of overlaps or conflicting rules that might not let the condition be fulfilled.

A Steep Learning Curve for Non-technical Users

If the rules engine works on code, the non-coders will have to learn to use certain codes to make the workflow function. 

Amplified Dependency on Vendor Support

When businesses incorporate a rules engine, they tend to be reliant on vendors for support and any updates.

Continuous Rule Validation

The rules have to be tested and validated on a regular basis which is crucial in the execution.

Cflow’s Sound Business Rules Engine

Cflow is a powerful and the best rule engine that businesses from any industry can use as a one-stop solution. All inefficiencies within the complex processes are streamlined and transformed into efficiency. As a no-code workflow platform, it offers varied features like workflow templates, document management, API integration and significantly reducing functioning on papers, emails, spreadsheets, etc.

The tool is powerful enough to be able to cast a wide net and cater to all business areas like Human Resources, sales, marketing, finance and accounting, IT, procurement, and many more. Cflow is the best business rules engine that will effortlessly widen the scope of your business. 

Key Features Cflow offers are-

Rules Engine

Cflow’s robust rules engine empowers users to set up easy and simple workflows with just a click with easy input of rules. This improves the pace of the process and the time taken for approval of requests. The rules engine offers an effective form builder, customization, and easy configuration of workflows. 

Form Builder

With rich workflow form-building features, users can build just with a simple drag-and-drop action. 

Customizations

From the rules, and workflows, to workflow templates, anything and everything can be customized based on the business’s requirements. 

OCR Extraction

Any data can be extracted from multiple sources using the platform’s OCR feature. 

Kanban

Manage and prioritize all the tasks effectively with the new Kanban feature.

Routing and Notification

Automated notifications and task routing can be achieved successfully. 

Reports and Analytics

With this platform, users can acquire robust and detailed reports and analytics on everything related to the process workflow, and help you make informed decisions.

Final Words

It is now evident that a business rules engine is an effective way to optimize your business operations. Removing the limitations in the process becomes extremely crucial when it tampers with its performance and productivity. The rules engine can elevate the user experience in designing and structuring a process and avoid any loopholes that could drag down its efficiency. With zero to limited coding, these rules engines can help you design any complex workflow with ease. 

Cflow provides a rules engine capable enough of catering to small, medium, and large enterprises that operate on sophisticated business operations. The platform offers customization that enables businesses to have advanced control over their processes. To take a closer look at what Cflow could offer, sign up now!

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FAQs

1. How does a Business Rules Engine enhance decision-making?

The decision-making process is taken over and automated by the business rules engine. This is done by employing predefined logic to data that is processed. This improves the speed of the process and significantly reduces the risk of human errors.

2. What are some of the benefits offered by a Business Rules Engine?

The following are some of the benefits:

  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Effective management of business rules
  • Improves transparency in decision-making
  • Reduction in time-to-market

3. What are some of the challenges in implementing a Business Rules Engine? 

The following are some of the challenges:

  • Managing and debugging complex rules
  • Compatibility with existing applications
  • A learning curve for non-technical users
  • Conflict between rules

4. Can Business Rules Engines easily integrate with an existing system?

Yes, integration is a basic and important feature of a business rules engine. It can connect with any database, CRM, and even ERP systems.

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