So I was really pleased to run across Bruce Silver's analysis of Where Rules Engines and BPM meet. Business Rules Management Systems (BRMS) are something that I am getting more contact with now, and Bruce really summarizes them well:
In fact, the heart of a business rule management system is in the rule repository, which supports rule discovery, governance, versioning, traceability and reuse across the enterprise. The business rule engine executes business rules defined in a structured rule language supported by the BRMS rule design tool.
Corticon is the system that I have been looking at, with its integrations with the Global 360 enterprise BPMS products. Before moving seriously into this space I believed that most of the value of BRMS came from the rules engine and a user's ability to powerfully define rules in a fairly understandable manner. Now I'm starting to understand the potential of the modeling, central rules repository and rules 'lifecycle management'. This really allows customers to define their policies and rules for decision making and guiding processes in one place, enabling their reuse and consistent application across multiple processes.
BPMS can really benefit from the rules engine, and centralized rules repository during execution of processes. Pulling the remaining rules management seamlessly into place alongside process management is more of a challenge than just integrating the process and rules engines, but is essential to ensure that there is a seamless enterprise view of the way IT systems are managing the way the business runs. Pulling systems together for seamless modeling is always hard - especially when much of their value can also come from them working independently. This is something I need to spend more time concentrating on.