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While business rules are everywhere and we well recognize the need for using a business rules management system like the NetWeaver BRM (NW BRM) to create, manage, validate, consume and analyze business rules in business applications, have you ever wondered about common usage patterns for NetWeaver BRM? In this blog, I will detail out the archetypical usage scenarios of NW BRM in customer projects.

There are 3 archetypical usage scenarios for NW BRM (see below) in customer projects in order of popularity.

 

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1       NW BRM in Business Processes

NetWeaver BRM is primarily used for abstracting and supporting decisioning in business processes. This usage pattern is the most common pattern in customer projects. Given that NW BRM is tightly integrated with NetWeaver Business Process Management (NW BPM) both in design time tooling as well the runtime, the use of NW BRM in BPM processes is quite natural. NW BRM also allows business users to edit and manage rules through the web-based Rules Manager, thereby providing control to the business and improving agility and ability to change of business processes.

Usage of business rules in business processes could be several, from invoking a business rule for calculations, supporting process agility, determining a user or a user group for assigning tasks (human interaction in process), supporting gateway decisioning to determine the course of the process i.e. the process flow, cleansing and transforming process context data, to ensuring regulatory and legal conformance. The table below has some examples:

1

Calculations

frequently changing rules and calculations to be managed by business users

Calculating credit score for a loan applicant based on credit scoring rules, Calculating liability for a vehicle insurance claim, Bonus calculations for employees etc.

2

User, User Group Determination for Tasks

determination of user or user group for assigning tasks in a human activity

Determine manager of employee to assign employee leave request

 

 

3

Gateway Decisioning in Processes

Gateway decisioning to determine process flow(or process variant)

Customer support process for premium customers

 

4

Data Transformation and Cleansing

Data transformation and cleansing rules for process context in MDM scenarios

Validation of Business Partner data

 

1.1 Data Transformation and Cleansing Rules in Master Data Governance Scenarios

Apart from supporting calculations, gateway decisioning etc, NW BRM is heavily used to validate, cleanse and transform master data. NW BPM is frequently used along with NetWeaver Master Data Management (NW MDM) to support workflows involving managing and maintaining master data.

For example consider the Supplier Onboarding Process of a major mobile handset maker that is owned and managed by the global sourcing department. The process supports identifying global and local suppliers, making contracts with the suppliers and on-boarding the supplier. In this Supplier Onboarding process, NW BRM is used to validate the supplier data to ensure data quality and to model supplier contracts.

 

2       Rules-intensive applications

Rules-intensive applications are custom-built, industry-specific applications in sectors such as defense, retail, healthcare, logistics, banking, financial services and public sector, which are extensively dependent on business rules to automate decisions. These applications use NW BRM independent of a business process in NW BPM.

Consider the example of a large airline logistics company in Europe, a lead logistics provider for the aviation industry. For its Transportation and Logistics application, calculating customs duty for different material parts for different countries is a cumbersome process. The customs duty changes frequently and has to be reflected in the systems as quick as possible. This company used NW BRM to reduce the complexity of managing customs duties for its logistics operations.

In another case, a financial services and insurance conglomerate uses NW BRM to cross sell health insurance policies to its customers based on a detailed need analysis. NW BRM is also used to calculate risk profiles of customers based on pre-defined rules to de-risk the health insurance business.

 

3       Distributed Deployment Scenarios

In more recent and interesting scenarios, customers want to package rules capabilities with their application and offer their applications on sporadically connected devices such as a laptop of a sales person or as a SaaS offering on the public cloud.

Consider the case of a bank selling financial products like mutual funds, bonds and insurance to its customers through its numerous branches in a country. In order to analyze the needs of the customer and sell the right product, the bank has an “Individual Financial Planning (IFP) application”. This application has business rules to access the financial needs of a customer in order to propose relevant financial products. The IFP application can package rules along with it and deploy it to individual branches or laptops of the field sales person.

Another case in point is the enforcement of centrally defined customer loyalty rules on Point-of-sale (POS) terminals in retail outlets of a retail chain. The loyalty rules can be deployed and invoked directly on the POS while providing real-time offers or discounts. Such distributed deployment of rules is possible with the Lean Rules Engine (LRE) available since NetWeaver BRM 7.30 release.

 

In conclusion, the three archetypical scenarios are the predominantly known scenarios from customer projects. While the BPM usage scenario is more common, rule-intensive applications scenario where business rules capability is the fundamental building block of the applications are becoming popular. Distributed deployment scenarios are more recent and there is a lot of interest from customers for the Lean Rules Engine.

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