I consider rules (specifically, a BRE) to be pretty much essential as an adjunct to a BPMS these days. There’s a number of reasons for this:
– Rules are a lot more complex than you can implement in most BPMS, with the exception of rules-based systems like Pegasystems: FileNet’s expression builder, for example, is not a replacement for a BRE no matter how many times that I hear that from their product marketing group. A BRE lets a business analyst create business rules in a declarative fashion, using the language of the business.
– Rules in a BRE can be used consistently from different process flows, and also from other applications such as CRM: anywhere in the organization that needs to apply that rule can be assured of using the same rule if they’re all calling the same BRE.
– Most importantly, in my opinion, is the ability to change business rules on work in progress. If you implement a business rule in FileNet’s expression builder at a step in the process, then once a process instance is kicked off, it can’t (easily) be changed: it will execute to completion based on the workflow, and hence rule, definition at the time that it was instantiated. If you instead call a BRE at a step in the workflow, then that call isn’t made until that step is executed, so the current definition of the business rule at that time will be invoked. This, in my opinion, is one of the best reasons to get your business rules out of FileNet and into a BRE, where they belong.
I finished the conference today in a session on BPM that is much too rudimentary for me (hence why I’m blogging my thoughts on BRE), and not enough cover to dash for the door without being seen. It’s finishing up with Carl Hillier doing a demo, which is always entertaining: he showed pictures of both his baby and his Porsche.
I also found out that FileNet commissioned the Economist to do a survey on process management; I’ll have my eyes open for that.