My friend Carsten Ziegler, with Thomas Albrecht, has just released a new book on business rules for SAP customers – BRFplus — Business Rule Management for ABAP Applications. I was delighted to provide a foreword to this book as I think BRFplus is a terrific tool for SAP customers, giving them the power of business rules on their ABAP infrastructure. You can buy the book right now on SAP Press and amazon.com.
I first met Carsten at SAP TechEd in 2009 as he presented BRFplus. I was impressed then by the capability of both Carsten and his product. I have spent the last 8 years promoting business rules and helping companies use business rules technology, like BRFplus, to automate and improve business decisions as Neil Raden and I described in Smart Enough Systems.
SAP is adopting business rules and BRFplus in its applications – showing how mainstream the approach has become in recent years. BRFplus is unique because it is a business rules management system specifically designed to work as a part of an SAP enterprise backbone. But BRFplus is a not a lightweight product – it is a complete business rules management system that allows you to create, manage and deploy simple and complex rules in an ABAP environment – so a book on how it works is timely and welcome.
The book contains a succinct but thorough definition of business rules and business rules management systems followed by a walk-through of the whole product and a quick tutorial to help you build your first BRFplus application. Anyone considering using BRFplus at any level will find these chapters helpful in getting familiar with the product. Two more technical chapters discuss how BRFplus handles objects, especially the objects being manipulated in SAP applications, and the core elements of BRFplus (rulesets, expressions, functions and actions). These more reference-oriented chapters will be useful as you develop more complex solutions with BRFplus as will those that cover the administration tools and performance/integration considerations. The book concludes with a set of deployment patterns and a high-level outline of a suitable methodology for developing rules-based systems.
Carsten and Thomas have written a detailed yet readable description of BRFplus. The book covers everything from the web-based user interface for non-technical users to the technical details of the integration APIs. If you plan to use business rules to extend and manage your SAP Business Suite applications, which I highly recommend, this book will show you how to do so.
If you just want something short to be getting on with, check out this white paper I wrote on business rules and SAP – Business rules and decisioning for process experts. Got questions? Want some help getting started with business rules – drop me a line anytime firstname.lastname@example.org
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I purchased the book as soon as it came out. I found that it contained a lot of very useful information and some nice examples although I have not had the chance to try them out. A definite “must buy” if you are using BRF Plus.
How flexible is brfplus with interpreting multiple parameter formulas, formulars with more than two ifs. Is complex algebra posible with BRF plus?
Thanks for the comment and the question. I will ask the folks at SAP to respond in more detail but I will say that BRFplus has a good formula editor that allows complex formulae to be built against the data in the system. This supports a wide range of functions and allows for complex combinations to be defined. BRFplus supports multiple data elements as parameters for sure and also allows an exit to an ABAP function if all else fails.
In BRFplus we have so called Formula Expressions that allow you like in excel to define complex formulas using all the data available in the context of the execution. Additionally you can also use formula functions for more complex calculations (similar to functions in excel). Formula functions are grouped into Date & Time Functions (math, rounding with dates..) , String Functions( search, replace, concatenate…), Mathematical Functions (LOG, DIC, ARCSIN…), System Functions (local time, language, OS, …) and Table Functions (for vectors). Formulas can be combined with other rules in a very flexible way and nested so that the individual formulas do not get too complex.
Finally, in case of missing functionality in the formulas you also have the chance to extend it by custom formula functions (write a function module and plug it into BRFplus).