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When should I consider using a Business Rules Management System (BRMS)?

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You’ve done your research, you have a good idea of what business rules are, what a BRMS is, and the various features and capabilities that seem applicable to the solutions you’re responsible for. You have a handle on the “What”, the next big question is “When”. When is using a BRMS for a particular project or within your organization, generally, appropriate? The correct answer is “Always”, right?

Let’s face it, even if the answer was always, that’s not going to end that conversation. On the contrary, it will likely lead to many more (and in some cases unnecessary) conversations and the realization that some projects and organizations benefit more than others from the use of business rules.

The Litmus Test

If you answer yes to any of the following for your organization or project then a BRMS should be seriously considered for your organization or project. This is not an all-inclusive list, and some items could be further broken down, but, generally, this will help identify when further evaluation is warranted.

Do you operate in a heavily regulated industry or environment?

  • Need to prove following current regulations
  • Need to regularly implement new and changed regulations
  • Need internal legal to “sign-off” on implementation

Do you operate in a litigious environment?

  • Need to justify decisions
  • Need to prove how decisions were made
  • Need to keep history of decisions bound to the context used to make the decision

Do you operate in a volatile environment?

  • Volatility is subjective. For some it’s hourly/daily and for others its yearly
  • Need to turn around business logic changes more often than core application changes
  • Need to react quickly to rapidly changing conditions to maintain: competitive advantage, regulatory compliance, internal compliance

Are your business policies, business logic complex?

  • Need to support geographic or other demographic specific variants of a policy
  • Need to support global and individual entity exceptions to policies, business logic
  • Need to support a large number of policies that may or may not be applicable for any given decision
  • Note: if anyone in your organization ever says your rules are too complex to use a rules engine, your organization will greatly benefit from implementing a rules engine…

Is there value to, or a requirement for business users to more directly manage decision logic?

  • Free IT from application maintenance and focus on strategic initiatives
  • Empower the business to be more responsive and creative in responding to business change
  • Improve IT and business collaboration through a more tightly bound set of capabilities and methodologies


Not quite, but admittedly I make it difficult to say no. Am I saying that every organization, regardless of size and industry, and every project, regardless of function and scope, should use a BRMS? No. What I am saying, is that a careful and objective inspection may reveal more possibilities than you originally considered.

I believe business rules technologies are underutilized, even by organizations that use them “extensively”. Look at the larger set of requirements, look to the future.

( Learn more about Our Proven methodologies for successful Operational Decision Management engagements )

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