Well, probably most people have never heard of DSM (SAP Decision Service Management) which incorporates BRFplus as a business rules engine (written out Business Rules Framework plus).
But why business rules? I can tell you that SAP offers quite a number of applications covering core processes of our customers’ businesses which are based on rules to reflect conditions or dependencies of a business. Some examples needed? SAP Workflow rules, variant configuration, rules-based ATP (part of gATP), SCM Event Manager, pricing in SD, rebate calculation, and there are more to find down the page. The verdict? Rules-based applications apply very much to Mill Products & Mining and they are being used in business-critical areas!
The problem is that all of these applications bring their own framework of rules, with different models, or even completely different approaches, and complex maintenance. Dependencies between different rules frameworks cannot be seen across applications and the work being done within one model cannot be leveraged in another model. The solution for all of these issues would be an application-independent concept for defining and processing business rules of all kinds – and this is DSM with BRFplus.
Business Rules Framework plus provides a comprehensive application programming interface (API) and user interface (UI) for defining and processing business rules. It allows you to model rules in an intuitive way and also allows you to reuse these rules in different applications. Applications use BRFplus in the following scenarios:
- Validation of data and detection of invalid data and states
- Matching responsibilities, suitable products and locations
- Calculation of costs, overhead and risks
- BRFplus as a technical configuration engine
DSM (and in consequence BRFplus) supports features such as simulation, trace, remote deployment, XML export and import. For more information you can search SAP SCN for ‘DSM’ or ‘BRFplus’.
Today over 70 SAP applications make use of DSM and BRFplus. While this number is still growing there are already a number of examples relevant for Mill Products business such as Master Data Governance, Transportation Management Freight Costs Calculation, TM Charge Management, GRC Risk Management, and it is found in byDesign at many corners.
There is an impressive list of customers using DSM or BRFplus already and in the meantime also Mill Products customers are using this engine to reflect data which used to be modeled in ERP-VC. Could this be the way forward to allow easier maintenance of complex rules for business people? Could this unify the modeling of product configuration between ERP, CRM and APO? Could this directly link product configuration with complex production rules and pricing? Across different systems?
How would someone deploy decision logic to several systems?
The quick answer is that SAP Decision Service Management (DSM) is a add-on to BRFplus which broadens the functional scope of BRFplus significantly. With DSM you can connect your target system(s), and deploy all the decision logic to several systems. When I say deploy, I’m talking about the following process:
- First of all you want to model the decision logic in BRFplus – thus you want to know what the managed business process is all about. Therefore with DSM you get full access to all master data of the managed system(s) in order to create appropriate business rules.
Then you transfer the decision service into the target systems. This can be done as “hot deployment” without downtime. And while DSM requires at least NW release 7.31, the managed system can still run on older releases!
The deployment is done in a way, that DSM generates ABAP code into a class/function in the target system.
Afterwards you can cut the connection to DSM and the target systems can run and execute the new rules without DSM. Of course, you re-connect and analyze and update your business rules.
And what’s the vision for Mill Products?
Today, there are numerous rules systems like condition technique for pricing and gATP, or variant configuration. Especially variant configuration functionality differs in CRM IPC, ERP-VC and APO. One vision would be to deploy identical decision logic to all decision functions in all systems being used through DSM and BRFplus. This unification could make life a lot easier for our customers during implementation and it can deliver consistent results no matter where certain logic got executed. Of course the existing decision or rules systems like LO-VC were grown over time and they a pretty complex and comprehensive. So we can’t expect to replace them soon, but a certain amount of business logic could get unified while still using LO-VC.