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11 July 2011

BPMS (Business Process Management Suite) vs BRE (Business Rules Engine)

This post is also available in: Spanish

Marking the opening of a new AuraPortal Training School, AuraPortal’s Vice President Pablo Trilles Farrington, gave a lecture about the synergy that is triggered when a BRE system is incorporated with a BPMS, and what constitutes the path that leads to Business Excellency through Management by Processes. Here is an extract from the lecture. 

BPMS (Business Process Management Suite) 

BPMS is the software supporting BPM. BPMS has a very practical approach, because the theoretical parts are introduced into the system during its implementation so that the system is able to optimize them, automate them (as much as possible), monitor its compliance and provide the necessary analysis for its continuous improvement.

According to most analysts, the emergence of the BPMS has probably been the most important revolution in the enterprise software sector in recent years. It is expected that in a short time ALL companies and organizations will work with BPMS to manage most of its activities.

BRE (Business Rules Engine) 

There are many business rules definitions. There is even a Manifesto (The Business Rules Manifesto) published by The Business Rules Group in over 10 languages which set the conditions to be met.

Its practical application in a Business Processes Management system (BPM) is very interesting and we can fix the definition and reach the Business Rules as follows:

  • Business Rules are the individual elements (atomics) that allow them to be defined, delimited and expressed in an intelligible way. All of them comprise the structural framework, policies, strategies and operations of a company or organization.
  • They are passive entities which contain purely declarative information and therefore they do not run anything but are available to the Processes Engines for them to proceed with their execution in the Models, following the requirements of the Rules.
  • It is true that Business Rules are always present in the performance of an organization either in a explicit way -a wages policy, working time, the discount to be applied depending on the sales conditions, etc. – or in a implicit or unspoken way -being polite with customers, the supervisor’s responsibility for its supervision, etc. – by involving people directly or indirectly. However, in the Process Management world the term Business Rules is reserved only for those rules with explicit nature and that can be, and they actually are, expressed in an understandable way, logged, tracked and modified.
  • Business Rules should be defined and remain independent from the models and Processes with which the company operates. This doesn’t mean that Business Rules have no connection with the processes, quite the contrary; they keep a close and constant relation. However, its existence and personality come from the company’s conception as an economic-social entity. Its mission is to define in a meticulous way its policies and operating modes. Business Rules are neither subject to definitions or models processes nor changes they may suffer.

It is very important for the BPMS to be independent to processes in relation to their definition and modification since they allow processes to be automatically updated with company policy changes without changing the model. It is only necessary to change the Business Rules they access.

This is the most powerful, most intuitive and easiest solution to implement. It is also the one that AuraPortal uses.


Although Processes and Rules expression seeks the same goal: to determine how an entity must operate; Rules determine how an entity in a static way must operate while Processes do it in a dynamic way

So, a BPMS and a BRE (Business Rules Engine) are not the same, but they complement each other.

Business Rules can and must be used as a general repository to store and view all its rules and general application procedures in an independent and additional way in its use in the Processes. This repository is the Business Rules Engine that has to be independent to processes.

‘That which is in a Process Class is permanent, and is supported with its model, represented by the diagram and its objects. That which is changing is supported with Business Rules. The Process consults the Rules when the Model asks for it and then applies it for the result thereof’.

Processes will consult the information contained in the Business Rules. So that those can remain virtually unchanged (except those resulting from improvements in the design) because most of the changes arise from variations in business environment (market, policies, strategy, etc.), and this remains defined in the Business Rules.

Business Rules vs Process Rules 

It is important to say that very few BPMS providers incorporate a Business Rules Engine separately from the processes. Therefore we will explain the differences between Business Rules and Processing Rules.

The first Rules are the ones that we have mentioned so far. The second Rules are those whose high configuration and management are made in the process Model and its scope and responsibility and is limited to the process configured in the Modeling process. Thus, they are not independent and therefore they cannot be used as the company general repository where one would store and consult all their general application procedures and rules as in the Business Rules case.

Each Business Rule, when expressed in a general repository, can be applied to as many diagram objects as the rule affects from all entity processes, providing coherence, consistency and control. Moreover, under a practical point of view, it provides a remarkable time and cost savings in its implementation and, especially, in day-by-day changes, thus when changing that Rule, this will be applied immediately to all the objects it affects.

So, although Business Rules are not bound to Process Management, they improve them enormously with clear benefits.

An example of Process Rule:

An example of Business Rule: