Focus on What Makes Your Business Smart: From Interpretation to Implementation Step 4: Develop Scenarios

Gladys S.W.  Lam
Gladys S.W. Lam Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Publisher, Business Rules Journal , and Executive Director, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Gladys S.W. Lam

In Steps 1 – 3, business analysts work very closely with the business stakeholders to gather business rules, identify decisions, and define business concepts.  Step 4 is the transition step between the business and IT.  In this step, the business analyst needs to develop the scenarios for test cases and test data, and to specify the expected result.

The goals of this step

  1. Develop scenarios
  2. Create test data
  3. Test drive business rules and decisions

Responsible parties

  • Business Analysts — develop scenarios, create test data, and identify test results
  • Business Stakeholders — validate

Techniques and methodology

Scenario development techniques based on decision structures, concept model, and business rules

Deliverables from business analysis often get thrown out the window when it comes to development.  That doesn't happen in this approach.  Just the opposite — the deliverables continue to be the crucial documentation for development.

Use what you have done in Steps 1 – 3 to develop scenarios, create test data, and test drive business rules and decisions.

Figure 1.  Expected outcome for each decision in a decision structure. 

Using the decision structure completed in Step 2, a business analyst can specify the desired outcome for a scenario by walking through each decision in the decision structure.  This ensures both completeness and alignment.  Figure 1 shows an example of a decision structure and the expected outcome for each decision.  This particular scenario is created for the male patient 'Sammy' born on September 24, 2012.

Figure 2.  Patient data supporting one outcome in a decision structure. 

Use the business rules identified in Step 2 to determine the data required to generate the desired outcome.  For example, the following business rule dictates whether a patient receives an allowable vaccine:

A vaccine must be considered an allowable vaccine if all of the following are true:

  • the Vaccine Type of the vaccine dose administered is one of the Allowable Vaccine Types.
  • the Allowable Vaccine Type Begin Age Date is less than or equal to Date Administered.
  • the Date Administered is less than the Allowable Vaccine Type End Age Date.

In order to generate an outcome of 'The patient received an allowable vaccine':

  • Vaccine Type (DtaP-IPV(130)) must be an Allowable Vaccine Type (identified in a different business rule, not shown).

  • The Date Administered (November 30, 2012) must be between the Allowable Vaccine Type Begin Age Date and Allowable Vaccine Type End Age Date.

There are, of course, business rules that specify:

  • Allowable Vaccine Type
  • Allowable Vaccine Type Begin Age Date
  • Allowable Vaccine Type End Age Date

The final goal of this step is to create test data for all the decisions in order to generate the desired result.  An example for one decision structure is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3.  Patient Test Data Supporting All Outcomes in a Decision Structure. 

Once a scenario is created, a business analyst can vary each outcome to create a different scenario.  Use the decision structure to help you do that in a systematic manner.  For example:

  1. Keep all other outcomes the same, and change 'Age is valid' to 'Age is invalid'.
  2. Then, keep all other outcomes the same, and change 'Interval is valid' to 'Interval not valid'
  3. Etc.

Each of these new scenarios needs to have the correct data.  Use Q-COEs, concept model, business rules, and decision tables to help with determining the correct data for the desired outcome.

As you can see, this method provides you a framework to systematically build as many scenarios as required.  The number of scenarios needed depends on your tolerance of risk.  Scenarios can be built over time.  With this structure, you can easily identify the scenarios you have developed from the scenarios that still need to be developed.

This approach of generating scenarios and test data based on Q-Charts, Q-COEs, concept model, business rules, and decision tables enables the best testing of decision logic independent of systems, GUIs, or platforms.

Just Remember…

Plainly speaking, here are some of the main things you need to remember:

  • Use the deliverables in Steps 1 – 3 as a framework to build the scenarios.  This gives you the most business alignment and structure.

  • Use scenarios to systematically test your business logic.  No matter how careful you are, you will make mistakes.  This testing is valuable for developers also.

  • The number of scenarios you build depends on your tolerance on risks.  Scenarios can also be accumulated through time.

For further information, please visit BRSolutions.com     

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Standard citation for this article:


citations icon
Gladys S.W. Lam , "Focus on What Makes Your Business Smart: From Interpretation to Implementation Step 4: Develop Scenarios " Business Rules Journal Vol. 15, No. 2, (Feb. 2014)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a2014/b743.html

About our Contributor:


Gladys  S.W. Lam
Gladys S.W. Lam Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Publisher, Business Rules Journal , and Executive Director, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Gladys S.W. Lam is a world-renowned authority on applied business rule techniques. She is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC (BRSolutions.com), the most recognized company world-wide for business rules and decision analysis. BRS provides methodology, publications, consulting services, and training. Ms. Lam is Co-Creator of IPSpeak, the BRS methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak. She is Co-Founder of BRCommunity.com, a vertical community for professionals and home of Business Rules Journal. She co-authored Building Business Solutions, an IIBA® sponsored handbook on business analysis with business rules.

Ms. Lam is widely known for her lively, pragmatic style. She speaks internationally at conferences, public seminars and other professional events. She is also Executive Director of Building Business Capability (BBC) Conference, which includes the Business Rules & Decisions Forum and the Business Analysis Forum.

Ms. Lam is a world-renowned expert on business project management, having managed numerous projects that focus on the large-scale capture, analysis and management of business rules. She advises senior management of large companies on organizational issues and on business solutions to business problems. She has extensive experience in related areas, including BPM, structured business strategy, and managing and implementing information systems.

Ms. Lam is most recognized for her ability to identify the source of business issues, and for her effectiveness in developing pragmatic approaches to resolve them. She has gained a world-class reputation for fostering positive professional relationships with principals and support staff in projects. Ms. Lam graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.S. in Computer Science.

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