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Business Rule Engines

A business involves multiple functions and processes to carry out its operations. Each of these tasks involves rules, regulations, and company policies that have to be standardized and available to all stakeholders.

The documentation process of any company has specific rules that need to be communicated clearly and followed religiously. When multiple workers and teams are involved in a process, it becomes even more difficult to keep track of operations and what is required when.

To overcome these challenges, a business rules engine is the perfect solution to adopt. It executes rules and guides employees in the right direction during a confusing situation. It also ensures that process owners and workers know and follow the rules involved.

What Is a Business Rules Engine (BRE) and How Does It Work?

Business rule engine

A business rules engine is a software system and its set of rules to guide processes. It executes one or more business rules in a runtime productive environment, to automate decisions based on predefined conditions loaded into it.

The rules governing a BRE might be derived from company policy, legal regulations, or other sources that are crucial to abide by. An employee with the right authorization can customize this software, even without having any coding knowledge.

The goal of the machine is to make complex decisions that might confuse a human, by using advanced technology and computations. It saves time and reduces the error margin in an organization. The decisions of the BRE are autonomous and based on specified rules, which cannot be modified without access.

Benefits of BREs

There are various business benefits that a business rules engine offers. Unlike a workflow engine, it does not treat each instance separately and makes the process quicker by executing decisions faster.


An organization needs to be compliant with corporate laws, legal restrictions, industry norms, business policies, or whichever is applicable to the business. To ensure none of these are overlooked, an employee will have to keep track of each process and workflow.

The BRE does exactly this, without human intervention at every step. You can use it to generate audit trails, track your processes, and follow up on deadlines.

Work Quality

When manual intervention is eliminated from long and complex processes, the work quality generally improves. The error margin goes down, and employees gain the confidence of performing their jobs without worrying about additional compliance issues. This makes the overall business performance better and the turnaround time gets greatly reduced.


BREs can route tasks directly to the concerned person in the workflow. With the integration of automatic dynamic routing, you no longer need a middleman or scheduler to connect employees with pending tasks.

A business rules engine can also be connected with enterprise platforms such as ERPs and CRMs to reduce manual data entry and eliminate the scope of errors from these processes as well. This increases productivity and removes the redundant routing of work.

Types of BRE

There are three main types of BREs that dictate how a process will be carried out in an organization. They are an improvement of the templates and project boards that would earlier give a picture of the task at hand. BREs work automatedly to make the steps faster and easier, without getting stakeholders involved manually at every step.

Here are the three BRE types to know about :

1. Workflow-Based BRE

A workflow-based BRE has the features of a workflow, as the name suggests. Employees with the right privileges can build workflows to do routine tasks regularly. Some of the possible tasks in this type of BRE include sending emails, updating fields, and routing tasks to specific users.

This is the most basic form of BRE and works best in simple yes/no scenarios. Complex conditions cannot be implemented in a workflow-based BRE in a foolproof manner.


For instance, a new trainee is hired in your company and assigned an email address. You configure the workflow-based BRE to send an automatic email to the new user with a welcome kit and the list of trainings that need to be completed.

2. Coding-Based BRE

More advanced BREs contain a significant amount of coding and robotic process automation, which works by building bots and assigning a list of tasks to them. A coding-based BRE works through these bots that scroll through files, networks, and applications to comprehend the data and perform various other functions.

Building a coding-based BRE requires developers and proper deployment functions.


For instance, you run a company that works with various clients and fulfills their orders regularly. Each client has a unique order, in terms of product and quantity. A coding-based BRE will scan all orders, make commands towards fulfilling them and update the order status on a tool or dashboard automatically.

3. Logic-Based BRE

A logic-based BRE lies in the middle of the other two BRE types, in terms of complexity and technical knowledge required to operate. It relies on logic and simple mathematical formulae that employees can understand even without coding knowledge. Slightly complex workflows that can be based on logic work in these BREs.

A logic-based BRE has simple rules that allow you to automate decisions, initiate approval workflow, assign users to tasks, create data entry channels, and so on.


For instance, you have to decide whether to grant a long leave to an employee in a non-emergency situation. There are multiple factors that will go into the decision, like the employee’s productivity, a reason to take leave, the expected workload in that time period, availability of alternative resources, etc.

Making an approval decision here requires a certain level of control and sometimes even the manager’s manual approval. A logic-based BRE can sift through these conditions and direct the request the right way.

Business Rules Engine vs. Workflow Engine

A workflow engine is a time-specific process with a series of steps that completes a task or a list of tasks. It automates the workflow of a particular function and completes it within a given time frame.

For example, when you order something online, the product undergoes a series of steps before reaching you, like processing, dispatching, shipping, and being delivered. This entire workflow can be managed by a workflow engine without manual involvement.

A workflow engine lets you build visual processes without any coding knowledge. You can assign tasks, set rules, and customize the process to make it faster to schedule tasks, trigger workflows, and reduce turnaround time.

On the other hand, a business rules engine is software that applies a set of rules to complete a process. It has superior technology involved and can handle more complex processes involving multiple conditional decisions.

There are some subtle differences between a BRE and a workflow engine.

Workflow Engine Business Rules Engine
Moves a task from one phase to another until its completion Triggers a task if a set of rules and conditions are met
Can be started by an employee Is generally started automatically
Does not require coding knowledge It May require coding knowledge in some cases
Streamlines a workflow by enabling employees to make informed decisions Removes delays and errors in complex decision-making processes
Automates workflows through simple processes Automates decision-making through a complex set of rules and conditions


A business rules engine can be extremely beneficial for your business if you can recognize the requirement areas and user demands. Depending on the scope of tasks and complexity level, you can choose the ideal BRE type for your business and elevate the functioning of teams like HR, finance, sales, procurement, etc.

However, you must ensure that it is compatible with your existing systems. And most importantly, your employees must be able to understand the BRE and customize it when needed, no-code process automation tools are a great option for customizing process without coding knowledge.

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