Common Knowledge now includes a powerful Workflow Rules Extender. This extender allows business rules designers to architect solutions from powerful combinations of both declarative and time and sequence dependant rules. The Workflow Rules Extender provides a graphical editor for defining process flows which can incorporate other rules representations as well as external actions.
Traditionally, rules management systems have focused on declarative representations of business rules, using formats such as decision tables, decision trees and production rules (rete-rules). Unlike the traditional approach using a procedural language representation, a declarative approach allows business rules to be represented in a more understandable and maintainable format. Whilst the best systems will always represent as many business rules as possible in a declarative format, declarative rule formats have a number of limitations relating to the representation of the timing, sequencing and rule inter-dependencies aspects of business rule solutions. These limitations can be overcome by providing for the concept of a "flow" through the system, and defining how rules and actions fit into this flow. This "flow" is often termed "workflow" or "rules-flow".
Considerations of flow within business rules are now being recognised by various authors, commentators, methodologists and product vendors in the field of business rules systems. The responses to this are, however, somewhat varied. Some authors will recommend including flow directly into the definition of the business rules whilst others advocate the restriction of rules representations to declarative formats only. Likewise, some business rules management systems will include facilities for defining basic rule-flows, whilst other vendors will recommend that this be co-ordinated by a dedicated workflow management system. There will be compromises with whichever approach is taken so it is important to make careful consideration of the needs of your particular problem when deciding which approach to adopt.