Why is Why Business Rule Methodology is Different

Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal , and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

This column originally appeared in the July/August 1997 issue of the Data Base Newsletter.

Outwardly, the business rule approach produces many of the same deliverables as any other approach to building automated business information systems -- screens, processes, data, controls, etc.  In other words, the end result is almost sure to include some application system.  So why is the business rule approach any different from other system development methodologies?  Here's why.

As discussed in previous Newsletter issues, a business rule methodology places an emphasis on the following:

  • Balancing what the company 'knows' and what it 'does.'

  • Specifying requirements in a declarative manner.

  • Liberating rules from processes.

  • Producing thin processes and throw-away procedures.

These features have various technical advantages, but collectively they seek to ensure that the resulting application system produces an adaptable business.

This has two important implications.  First, to achieve that result, the 'application' components must be seamlessly integrated with the business itself.  To say that a business rule project aims toward producing application software misses the whole point.  The real objective is to produce a full business capacity that covers all the following areas.

business aspect   business component   IS component

knowing   terms and facts   data model
producing   business transformations   actions
communicating   business network   communications grid
collaborating   work   procedures
coordinating   precedence   states
guiding   ends and means   rules

The second implication is being able to address the issue of motivation.  A business capacity will be of little value if it addresses the wrong business objectives.  The key question is why the business capacity in its particular form is the right one for the company.

Traditional system development methodologies have done a poor job of answering that key question.  Information engineering, for example, sought to answer it by involving sponsors and key managers directly in producing deliverables.  This was not only expensive and time-consuming -- but worse, did not really even work.  Today, most projects are still directed based on cost.  Money is important, of course -- but it is not a substitute for knowing why.

The business rule approach offers a revolutionary new approach.  This is because core business rules are always about satisfying a particular set of business objectives involving a particular set of business risks.  These connections are not 'data' and they are not 'process.'  Instead, they represent something different altogether -- namely why.

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Standard citation for this article:


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Ronald G. Ross , "Why is Why Business Rule Methodology is Different" (Jul./Aug. 1997)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a1997/a365.html

About our Contributor:


Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal , and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the IPSpeak methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:


Ron serves as Executive Editor of BRCommunity.com and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997., now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on http://www.brsolutions.com/category/blog/. For more information about Ron visit www.RonRoss.info. Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

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