How Rules and Processes Relate ~ Part 1. The Challenges
What do business rules have to do with processes? That's no idle question. After all, it's the processes that get the products out the door and into the customers' hands. Your business faces a host of challenges in that regard, including:
Time shock: As the rate of change accelerates, workers are constantly thrust into new roles and responsibilities. They must be guided through unfamiliar procedures and/or business know-how as thoroughly and as efficiently as possible. The business pays a price, either directly or indirectly, if getting the workers up to speed is too slow (or too painful). Time shock is like culture shock -- very disorienting if you're not prepared for rapid immersion.
Training: The flip side of time shock is training -- how to get workers up to speed. Training is expensive and time-consuming. Yet as the rate of change accelerates, more and more (re)training is required. Where do you turn for solutions?
Adaptability: In the National Football League (NFL), if a play is not working for a team, it will be gone from its playbook in short order (possibly along with a coach or two). New plays can be deployed rapidly. In effect, the plays are essentially throwaways -- cheap enough to discard readily, with minimum disruption or cost. Businesses urgently need something similar -- throwaway procedures cheap enough to replace readily when they no longer work well (make 'yardage') for the business.
The reason NFL plays can be treated as throwaways is that the knowledge necessary to run them is embodied elsewhere -- in the scoreboard, in the skills of the players, in the heads of the coaches, and most importantly, in the NFL rulebook. The NFL rulebook there's a real-world example of Rule Independence as per the Business Rules Manifesto!
Another important direction for many companies today is managing business activity on more of a beginning-to-end, value-add basis. That requires thinking cross-organizationally about fundamental business processes. Are throwaway procedures compatible with managing business activity on a process basis? Can you have the best of both worlds?
Yes. Here's the short answer why. When business people talk about fundamental business processes they (quite naturally) mean process from a business perspective. Value chains simply don't change that fast. With throwaway procedures, process is viewed from the perspective of system design. Processes involved with automated information systems do need to change rapidly. And they can!
The long answer why requires some fresh thinking about processes in a world where business rules are externalized, evaluated, and managed separately. In this six-part series, I will first examine the relation of processes and rules from the perspective of business people, factoring in the very latest developments now emerging in the industry. Later in the series I will examine the relation of processes and rules from the perspective of system design, to show how rule-friendly process models can achieve throwaway procedures. In both cases, I think you'll come to agree with me: there's something really powerful afoot here!
 Excerpted from Chapter 6, Business Rule Concepts: Getting to the Point of Knowledge (Second Edition), by Ronald G. Ross. www.BRSolutions.com (September 2005). ISBN 0-941049-06-X. Reprinted with permission.
 The Business Rules Group, Business Rules Manifesto ~ The Principles of Rule Independence, ver. 1.2 (Jan. 8, 2003). Available at www.BusinessRulesGroup.org (in English as well as translations to numerous other languages).
 In particular based on: Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules (SBVR), by the Business Rules Team, August 2005. Available to OMG members at www.omg.org as bei/2005-08-01: BRT's revised submission to the Object Management Group's (OMG) Business Semantics of Business Rules RFP. For background on the SBVR and the consortium that produced it, refer to "A Brief History of the Business Rule Approach," Business Rules Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1. Available at www.BRCommunity.com/a2005/b216.html
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