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The first session I attended at the June 25th SAP Inside Track Newtown Square was Peter McNulty’s Building Agile Business Processes with Business Rules.  Click here to watch the recording.  I highly recommend it.

Peter discusses when to use and what are business rules?  Business rules are a set of decisions/calculation mechanisms applied to a business process.

Rules to apply this to would be:
1) calculation rules
2) validation rules
3) decision rules

Peter provided the example of creating a bid, sending to the supplier, receiving, evaluating and awarding the bid.  Peter said this would be for knowledge workers – rules are in the minds of people – this was conventional method 1.

Conventional rule #2 is rules are in Excel, but the problem is that it is not tied to a business process.  Convention method #3 is rules are hard coded to programs, but this is not “agile”.

Why Business Rules Management (BRM)? 

It should be easy to make changes.  The domain expert models the rules, and then follow the cycle of refining, automating and managing the rules.

BRM has Rules Composer, Rules Management, and a Rules Engine that follows the Rete algorithm (homework: find out about Rete Rule).

It integrates to the Composition Environment

First you look at If-Then-Else; next decision tables.  In CE 7.2 you can visually model in Rules flow.

Peter asked if anyone in the room is using NetWeaver BPM; no one was.  The value proposition is that SAP delivers best practices.

BRM is included in BPM

Who maintains? 

BRM – the rules manager.  Rules are separated from the program logic, making it more “agile”.   You do not need to go to the Developer for this. 

Two use cases for BRM: rules modeling, expose as a web service, and embed into BPM process.

Peter provided a demo of creating rules from scratch.  Peter explained that this was “agile” as it was tied to a business process. 

BRM is on the Java stack of the Composition Environment
Peter Presenting

Photo: Peter McNulty presenting, Courtesy of Craig Cmehil’s flickr stream

Peter then began discussing Business Rules Framework Plus (BRF +)

BRF + can call workflow; version he was discussing was in Ehp 5 of NetWeaver 7.02.  Rules trigger an action.  BRF + is fully integrated in ABAP.

Peter provided a demo of BRF +, showing looking from a catalog, a pricing calculating, the expression builder exposed as a web service.

When to use what?
1) If your technology stack is ABAP, use BRF +
2) Look at location of application data
3) If you have SOA-distributed processes, use BPM

Look at features – Rete Rule; this ties into decision support in Java.

Peter said you could have mixed use of both BRM and BRF +

Useful blogs:
BRFplus a Business Rule Engine written in ABAP

Integrating with SAP Workflow

http://www.sap-press.com/products/BRFplus-%E2%80%93-Business-Rule-Management-for-ABAP-Applications.htmlThanks to Peter McNulty, for another great session at Inside Track NSQ!

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