General Pattern Questions for Harvesting Business Rules

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
Excerpted with permission from Building Business Solutions:  Business Analysis with Business Rules (2nd Ed.), by Ronald G. Ross with Gladys S.W. Lam, Business Rule Solutions, LLC, 2015, 308 pp.  URL:http://www.brsolutions.com/bbs

A pattern question is simply a thinking tool that assists business analysts in developing business rules.  Over the past decade we have developed a series of well-structured pattern questions in our methodology for business analysis, BABusinessSpeak.  Each pattern question:

  • focuses on a particular topical concern.

  • typically leads to many business rules. 

The general pattern questions presented below aim at capturing basic business rules.  They are designed to assist business analysts in asking the right kinds of questions in the right ways.[1]  Answers typically lead to more questions — and to more business rules.

General Pattern Question for 'What'
Pattern Question G1:  What  
  What constraints apply to a quantity or property?  What computed or derived facts does a business capability require?  What criteria should be used to compute or derive those facts?  
Sample business tactic:  
  Give good customers a discount on large deals.  
Ask specifically:  
  What constraints should apply to a discount?  
Sample business rule specifying a constraint:  
  The maximum discount on a deal must be 15%.  
Ask specifically:  
  What criteria should be used to determine whether a deal is large?  
Sample business rule specifying a criterion:  
  A deal must be considered a large deal if the total cost of the deal is over 150% of the average deal size for the given region.  
       

 

General Pattern Question for 'How'
Pattern Question G2:  How  
  What method is appropriate for doing something?  How should some action be done?  Is there a particular way in which a business tactic or core business rule needs to be performed or carried out?  
Sample business tactic:  
  Give customers proof of purchase for each purchase.  
Ask specifically:  
  What method should be used to give proof of purchase?  
Sample business rule specifying a method:  
  A paper receipt must be given for each purchase.  
       

 

General Pattern Question for 'Where'
Pattern Question G3:  Where  
  Does a business tactic or business policy need to be performed at a particular place?  Are there business rules pertaining to transport, connectivity, or linkage?  
Sample business tactic:  
  Minimize transport costs for components to be assembled.  
Ask specifically:  
  Where should assembly of components be located to minimize transport costs?  
Sample business rule specifying a location:  
  The assembly of the components included in a finished product must be located at the source of the heaviest component.
 
       

 

General Pattern Question for 'Who'
Pattern Question G4:  Who  
  Who is responsible or authorized for what?  Is there a particular party (e.g., person, role, organization, etc.) that should (or should not) be involved in a business tactic
or business policy?
 
Sample business tactic:  
  Large orders from new customers must be individually approved.  
Ask specifically:  
  Who should approve a large order from a new customer?  
Sample business rule specifying a party:  
  An order on credit over $50,000 from a new customer must be approved by a Director.  
       

 

General Pattern Question for 'When'
Pattern Question G5:  When  
  When should something occur?  What deadline or limit on cycle time applies?  What timing criteria apply to a business tactic or business policy?  
Sample business tactic:  
  Fill orders from good customers before other orders.  
Ask specifically:  
  How fast should orders from good customers be filled?  
Sample business rule specifying a timeframe:  
  An order placed by a good customer must be filled within 2 days.  
       

 

General Pattern Question for 'Why'
Pattern Question G6:  Why  
  Do priorities need to be established when business goals, business tactics, or business policies cannot be completely satisfied?  What tie‑breakers apply?  
Sample business policy:  
  Particular car models may be requested in making car rental reservations.  
Ask specifically:  
  If we don't have enough cars of a certain model, which rental requests have priority?  
Sample business rule specifying priorities:  
  The priority of rental requests for the same car model must be determined as follows:
            ■  First, by the current membership level of the customers
                        who made the rental requests.
            ■  Then, by the earliest date the membership level was attained.
 
       

 

General Pattern Question for 'Exceptions'
Pattern Question G7:  Exceptions  
  What exceptions should be made?  Who or what is exempt from a business tactic or business policy?  
Sample business policy:  
  Particular car models may be requested in making car
rental reservations.
 
Ask specifically:  
  Is anyone excluded from requesting a particular car model in making car rental reservations?  
Sample business rule specifying an exception:  
  An employee must not request a particular car model in making a rental request.  
       

 

Next month's discussion focuses on pattern questions specifically for business process models.

For further information, please visit BRSolutions.com      

References

[1]  All business rule statements in this discussion are expressed using RuleSpeak®.  The RuleSpeak guidelines for expressing business rules in structured natural language are free on www.RuleSpeak.com.  return to article

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Standard citation for this article:


citations icon
Ronald G. Ross , "General Pattern Questions for Harvesting Business Rules" Business Rules Journal Vol. 17, No. 3, (Mar. 2016)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a2016/b851.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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