What are the business rules

Definition of business rules and areas of application for BRMS solutions

Business rules describe rules that are defined for automated processes or for processes whose degree of automation is to be established or increased. Business rules usually have their background in (business) IT, digitization and other technical issues. But they can also describe business, i.e. entrepreneurial matters.

Example new customer discount

For example, a new customer discount of twenty percent when initially registering in an online shop is both an entrepreneurial, economic rule and a process-related rule in the digitized creation of a customer account and in the subsequent order process.

Benefits of business rules

Business rules in and of themselves are not strategic guidelines, but instructions to be followed; they are used in the workforce, in processes, as well as in business conduct and in the IT systems of a company. Ideally, business rules are centrally stored and set down; for example in a specification for software developers. If the business rules are properly maintained, they can be of use to the company and, in particular, to the relevant processes to better achieve corresponding goals, minimize costs, remove obstacles, optimize communication and comply with legal requirements.

Business rules for application software and BRMS

If business rules describe how a computer program or a process that is controlled by software should run, then these are comparatively simple if-then scenarios that, in their accumulation, enormously simplify or accelerate very complex processes by automating them expire. However, a large number of business rules can increase the complexity and confusion of a process or program and increase the risk that individual rules do not complement one another but also contradict one another. That is why there are so-called business rule management systems (GRMS) or, in English, Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS). These make it possible to develop and use processes and computer programs based on business rules. The GRMS should make the business rules centrally available for other programs or requirements at any time by separating the rules from other levels of the software program.

In contrast, business rules and the corresponding BRMS in rule-based systems take on a much higher degree of complexity in the broader context of artificial intelligence.

Business rules and rule-based systems

Rule-based systems offer a way of representing business rules. The rule-based system consists of three elements: the factual base, the rule base and the business rule engine. The fact base is a database that contains the facts from the business processes. The rule base is in turn a rule database that contains the entirety of rules. The business rule engine forms the control system that identifies the rules in a business process (based on the factual basis), applies the corresponding rules and also updates the rule database with new rules.

A query based on the If-Then-Else scheme is characteristic of a rule system. This breaks down and displays a specific rule. Automated processes in particular can result in very complex business rules that elaborately express a supposedly simple issue, but still make the business process more sustainable and more efficient.

Example of a rush order

A company's decision to accept a rush order is always a procedural challenge. Under which criteria is a rush order accepted and what are the consequences for all processes involved? Business rules facilitate decision-making on the one hand and ensure that attached processes continue to run quickly and smoothly on the other.

Relevance of business rules and BRMS

Every company has business rules, even if these are nowhere laid down and stored. Products and services are procured, manufactured and marketed faster and faster. They are subject to numerous regulations and requirements such as laws, quality standards, specifications and guidelines that affect all areas of the company such as production, accounting, sales or IT.

Thus, all business processes already move within a framework defined by rules that is expanded through business decisions. Two types of automation of business processes can be distinguished through explicitly formulated business rules that are stored in their entirety. On the one hand, there are simple decisions that are made very often, as in the above example with the new customer discount; On the other hand, there are very complex decisions that rarely occur, but involve great technical complexity, as the example with the rush order shows.

Centrally managed business rules enable a company to keep the practiced processes and applications flexible (and thus to change them if necessary), to check them, to make them transparent and also to simulate them using a BRMS.


Business rules are used to establish automated processes, make them transparent and increase their degree of efficiency. They can contain both technical processes and business instructions. A business rule management system (GRMS / English: BRMS) is used to store and manage business rules.

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TUP - editorial team

The editorial team of DR. THOMAS + PARTNER GmbH & Co. KG launched the platform Logistik KNOWHOW, administrates and coordinates the contributions and creates content for various categories.

The software manufacturer DR. THOMAS + PARTNER from the Karlsruhe area has been realizing tailor-made intralogistics IT systems for over 40 years, with a special focus on warehouse management and material flow. Well-known customers include national and international companies of various sizes and sectors.

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