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Rules Engine vs Workflow

Posted by Dileepa WIjayanayake on Apr 22, 2020 5:21:20 PM

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There are significant differences between a business rules engine and a workflow engine.   A workflow engine can automate end-to-end, multi-layered processes of various complexities and timing, where a rules engine simply evaluates expressions and decision criteria.   Both engines are designed to be used by technical and non-technical people alike.  A workflow engine manages integration and automation comprehensively and makes use of rules through a business process analyst.  A business rules engine analyzes and processes rules - rule that can be simple to complex, cascading, or even dynamically generated.  But, at the end of the day, rules engines are limited to processing rules.

Good workflow products contain a rules engine in order to process rules: rules are an important component of workflow functionality because workflows frequently use rules to make decisions.  For example, a person’s age being greater than 18 might push a workflow down one path, otherwise push it down a difference path.  And rules engines are capable of processing much more challenging expressions than simply determining relative value - including complex computations.  

FlowWright has its own powerful rules engine for processing rules and expressions.  FlowWright workflow defines and processes rules in two ways: 1) graphically and 2) using decision tables.  Each method has pros and cons.  

  1. Graphical rules are easier to define within a workflow process and easier to view at runtime when rendering the workflow instance - but difficult to maintain when there are many rules. 
  2. Decision tables are easier to maintain because it is a simple table of rules.  Workflow instances provide the inputs to decision table, based on the inputs, and the decision table’s rules determine outputs that are returned to the workflow for decision-making.

FlowWright’s included rules engine supports the use of variables, globals, and business objects - making rules and expressions more powerful and capable of supporting tremendous complexity, if required.  FlowWright rules and expressions also support non-computational expressions such as computing future dates.

Rules processing is a subset of workflow functionality.  FlowWright workflow provides many more comprehensive features to support automating and integrating business processes.

Topics: workflow automation, rules engine