Differences between a Workflow Engine and a Business Rule Engine

Because of their similarities, it's easy to confuse a workflow engine and a business rule engine. However, the two are different concepts with various benefits. It is important to understand them to reap their benefits.

What are Workflow Engines?

A workflow engine is a software tool that assists users in executing a sequence of repeating actions that comprise "business operations" or "workflows." The workflow engine follows the architecture of the workflow and directs the process through its many parts. This is accomplished by task sequencing, otherwise known as workflow automation.

The difference between a workflow engine and a business rule engine can be seen by examining some real-world variations in their use.

A workflow is a sequence of tasks that completes the processing of data. It is a time-bound orchestration of repetitive and predictable tasks. For example, when one purchases a pair of jeans from an online retailer, they initiate a workflow that includes payment processing, order fulfillment, and delivery dispatch.

Modern firms have embraced workflow software to automate their operations for speed, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. Most workflow solutions have a process designer, which allows software users to execute a workflow instance without coding. The workflow designer allows the administrator to route activities in sequential order, assign jobs dynamically based on data in the form, and include conditions, exceptions, parallel branches, and so on.

Workflow engines are pre-programmed scripts that take into consideration a workflow structure, i.e. how tasks should progress from one phase to the next, and implement the stages. They could also be defined as pieces of code integrated into software to move operations from one step to the next.

A workflow engine has no say in 'how' a workflow runs, but instead follows the provided layout and executes the operations.

Benefits of a Workflow Engine

• Workflow engines improve a company's overall efficiency. It guarantees that they perform their workflow more quickly and effectively.
• The correct workflow engine provides total transparency to every activity, allowing individuals to be held accountable for their tasks and time management.
• Workflow engines allow for a continuous flow of information, files, assignments, and occurrences.
• Everyone gets access to the task information, which makes it easier for them to accomplish their assignments within the deadline.
• Because each activity and procedure is clear, operational obstacles may be quickly discovered and addressed.
• Manual processes such as emails, documents, and memoranda are drastically reduced, saving money and resources as well as  preventing data loss.

Business Rule Engines

A business rule engine is a software collection of circumstances that runs application code if all (or a defined number of) criteria is fulfilled. It is concerned with establishing guidelines on how software should operate within particular limitations.

A rule engine has the benefit of allowing non-technical software developers to alter the program behavior depending on their business requirements without changing the entire underlying algorithms. It enables fast and reliable decision-making based on a vast amount of information that would be hard for people to handle.

Business rule engines, BRE, are part of a bigger paradigm that extends beyond workflow management. Rule engines do not influence task orchestration but act as a framework for software to deduce judgments based on specific parameters. Given the conditions, it could imitate a workflow process.

A ruleset is a collection of business rule engines, commonly expressed in a table format or as a tree structure. Business rule engines are mostly used in enterprise applications to provide operational consistency.

Benefits of a Business Rule Engine

One of the most significant advantages of the business rule engine is that changes to the rules do not have to be made to the rest of the application code. This allows developers easily maintain their apps and make them adaptable as business requirements evolve. The difficulty and expense of upgrading the application are decreased, leaving resources that may develop other aspects of the organization.

A business rule engine's load balancing functionality improves an application's scalability by offloading rule execution to many servers. This enables the primary web server to handle a higher amount of requests in a more effective manner.

It is possible to develop logic without using sophisticated coding because they replace the programming language with logical rules and decision tables.


Both a workflow engine and a business rule engine enable non-technical end users to change the structure of a process at execution without changing the code. They are both required for an organization to function efficiently. While it is simple to mix up the two and think they fulfill the same objective, they are quite different concepts with varying objectives. The workflow engine is based on process and specific to workflow, while the business rule engine is based on rules and is specific to the enterprise. The workflow engine helps streamline workflow processes, while the business rule engine assists with complex decision-making.

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