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What Exactly is a Business Rules Engine?

December 5, 2022

Millions of decisions are being made every single day. The resulting information propels business operations forward and are the driving force of successful organizations. But overseeing millions of decisions is no easy task. 

A business rules engine makes it possible for organizations of any size to manage what and when decisions should be made. This alleviates manual effort and gives valuable time back to your team’s busy schedule. But what exactly is a business rules engine, and how can it help your organization perform to its fullest potential?

It all starts with a business rule – the concept of which is quite simple: “If X, then Y.”  Rules are designed for process automation, monitoring interactive forms, and strengthening security.

This can look like the examples below:  

  • A financial institution needs to verify if a borrower meets all approval requirements to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations
  • A retailer determines which customers qualify for free shipping or applicable discounts on purchases based on invoice value
  • A bank can combat fraudulent activity by triggering authentication procedures for large out-of-state credit card transactions

While a business rule defines and guides actions within an organization’s process, the business rules engine is where these rules are built, managed, and enforced. A flexible and comprehensive rules engine prepares you to make diverse, solution-driven rules in your workflow, and fast, dynamic decisions within your organization.

The Decisions business rules engine allows the freedom and flexibility to create thousands of rule styles and types. You can explore some of these common rules styles below. Example: A potential borrower goes on a financial institution’s website and fills out a loan application form

  • Statement rules
  • Truth tables
  • Matrix rules
  • Sequential rules

 

Statement Rules

A statement-based business rule answers: If X, then Y. When connected to a workflow, the outcomes of the statement can trigger specific actions. 

In this example scenario, if a borrower’s income is greater than $5,000 a month, they are automatically approved for a $100,000 loan. 

If this condition is met, the result initiates an approval email, and sends the borrower all relevant paperwork. If their income is less than $5,000 a month, they are not approved and sent a rejection.

 

Truth Tables

Truth tables combine multiple variables within one location. If we adjust the loan scenario above to include more complex requirements, a truth table can calculate for the multiple conditions:

 

Income level

Approval Status

Interest Rate

Above $5,000

Approved

Prime

Between $2,500-$5,000

Approved

Prime + %1.5

Below $2,500

Rejected

Rejected

 

A borrower with an income above $5,000 a month who requests $100,000 is automatically approved at prime. 

An income between $2,500-$4,999 a month requesting $100,000 will pay prime plus 1.5%. 

Anyone with income below $2,500 who requests $100,000 will be rejected.

 

Matrix Rules

A matrix rule considers two seemingly unrelated conditions and decides the outcome based on their intersection. 

In our loan scenario, suppose the online financial institution is registered within certain states and can only give loans to residents of Illinois and Montana. 

If a borrower meets all the criteria to receive a $100,000 loan, but they live in Texas, the loan application will be rejected. 

If they live in Illinois, but have an income less than $2,000, they will also be rejected. 

If the borrower lives in Montana and has an income greater than $5,000, the loan will be approved.

 

Sequential Rules

Sequential rules are a rule series that depend on each other. This occurs when the results of a previous set of rules lead to a new, consecutive set. 

Making a final tweak to our loan scenario: 

The online financial institution has recently been allowed to offer loans in Missouri, but only if the loan amount requested is less than $50,000. 

In this case, the first step in the process will be based on jurisdiction. 

If the person lives in Missouri, they will be directed into a separate workflow with a different set of business rules, where their income level and interest rate will be determined based on how much they have requested to borrow.

In addition to a diversity in rule type, a flexible business rules engine offers the opportunity to design business-oriented rules. These exclusive rules are built to fit specific needs instead of relying on a one-size fits most solution. The Decisions rules engine helped EKHealth transform their customer billing process, successfully automating 95% of their billing volume for clients across all 50 states. Decision’s comprehensive rules editor made it easy for EKHealth to design an adaptable billing platform, allowing the benefits of process automation without sacrificing any freedom to customize their work. 

 

Decisions makes it easier than ever to implement process automation and strengthen your competitive advantage. We help you automate the millions of small decisions in your organization, so you can finally focus on the bigger-picture. 

Are you eager to learn more about a business rules engine that can streamline your business processes and drive competitive advantage? We’d love to share –  Our team is ready to connect with you, today! 

Gordon Jones
Gordon Jones has founded and sold three companies with the last built using Decisions technology. He has also led factories and large IT implementations both in the US and in Asia, where he lived for over seven years.

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