It is the stated intent of business rule management systems (BRMS) to support a partnership between the business and IT: they empower business users to own, maintain and test their enterprise business rules, whereas IT departments have the responsibility of integrating the rule system effectively with the infrastructure of the organization and preserving the integrity of production systems. In effect, IT are providing the business with a sandbox environment to control the decision making of their enterprise with true agility. But does it work this way in practice?

The Business Rules Ideal

The crux of the idea is that the day to day maintenance of rules should be done directly by business analysts or operations staff. This cuts out the intermediation errors that relaying all changes from the business to IT can foster.

Let me be clear: by business rule stewardship, I mean that business SMEs analyse, maintain, test and measure the business performance of their rules (against agreed KPIs). IT have no regular involvement, unless changes in the plumbing or technical architecture are required. IT still have sovereign control over the release cycle, although, there may be a fast release path for minor rule changes where it can be proven that there are no unintended side effects.

The Actuality

In several LinkedIn (and other forum) posts made recently, there seems to be an implicit assumption that ownership and maintenance of a business rule repository by the business is virtually unheard of in practice and is, instead, hype spread by BRMS vendors. The implicit assertion is that it is IT departments that manage rule repositories in practice: whether they introduce BRMS technology in the first place, or the business delegates the job to them over time.

So I am throwing open the question: Have I got the wrong impression? Who does own the stewardship of business rules in practice? I am keen to know.


  1. Is the business lead stewardship of business rules desirable?
  2. Is it the norm in business rule projects today
  3. If not, why not
    1. Are BRMS not powerful enough to facilitate true business ownership of rules?
    2. Are the bulk of organisations not mature enough to cede control of rules to the business?
    3. Do business SMEs lack the skills needed?
    4. Is this because the business choose to delegate this task to IT because they don’t want the responsibility?
    5. Is there some other reason?

In a followup to this article, I will give my own views and experiences on the above questions – but I am interested in your experience too: please let me know what you think!

This poll has been cross posted to LinkedIn and I will report my findings here when voting has subsided.

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