Re-Vitalize, Don't Just Re-platform! ~ Three Tests for Whether Your Company 'Gets It' with Respect to Re-Platforming Business IP

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

If you missed last month's controversial catch line, I'll repeat it here:  A thousand use cases have yet to add up to a workable solution to the problem of wholesale re-platforming of business intellectual property (IP).  Using use cases as the primary vehicle for re-platforming business IP is like studying traffic at airport gates to understand airline operations.  Locally illuminating (maybe) -- but globally disastrous!

What are the "musts" for effective re-platforming of business IP?  First, recognize that your legacy IP is probably in no shape to re-platform as-is.  We strongly believe business IP needs to be revitalized as re-platformed.  Otherwise, you are simply doing a very risky and probably very costly 're-legacy' project.  Second, recognize that you need the right tools to capture and express your business IP -- and use cases aren't it!

Here are three quick additional tests to determine whether your company 'gets it' with respect to re-platforming complex business IP.

Definitions -- especially 'data definitions' -- are not enough.  Successful replatforming of large-scale business IP requires a structured business vocabulary -- i.e., a fact model.  A fact model shows how the entire set of core business concepts is configured in the form of business-language templates to provide a reliable 'knowledge map' to the business IP.  This 'knowledge map' is composed of highly-structured, highly re-usable, highly precise business terminology (nouns, verbs, and adjectives) providing for consistent expression of the IP in the form of rules (often very complex ones).

Error messages are not enough.  A business rule is its own error message.  It tells you what must go right -- and therefore what can go wrong -- from the business perspective.  The only need for additional 'messaging' is to outline remedial or corrective action, give examples, or provide additional narrative (again using the business terminology).  This 'integration' of business rule and error message is fundamental for effective engineering of large-scale business IP.

If-then statements are not enough.  If-then statements are pseudo-code, not business-speak.  The reason many rules seem so complicated is that they embed plentiful conditions.  Reading through a long list of conditions only later to get to subject, verb, and constraint can leave business people bewildered.  Rule statements need to be expressed in more natural English.  Conditions that appear in other rules need to be named and broken out.  Put simply, re-vitalizing business IP means returning it to a structured form of business English.

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Standard citation for this article:


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Ronald G. Ross , "Re-Vitalize, Don't Just Re-platform! ~ Three Tests for Whether Your Company 'Gets It' with Respect to Re-Platforming Business IP" Business Rules Journal Vol. 7, No. 8, (Aug. 2006)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a2006/b305.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

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