From Rule Management to Business Governance, Part 3: Re-Engineering the Governance Process
a process, organizational function, set of techniques, and systematic approach for creating and deploying policy and rules into day-to-day business operations
This definition lists four key aspects: a process, organizational function, set of techniques, and systematic approach. As discussed in Part 2, business rule management provides the systematic approach. As for the others, the set of techniques gets into the particulars of rule methodology and analysis, which unfortunately is too broad for a short column. The organizational function gets into roles and responsibilities -- including perhaps a Chief Governance Officer (CGO). I'll save that topic for the next column.
That leaves process -- namely, the governance process. And, yes, Virginia there is a governance process. Unfortunately, in many companies today the as-is governance process is ad hoc, ragged, and effectively broken. That just won't do, given the complexity, rate of change, and knowledge-intensity of doing business in today's high-tech, globally-connected world.
The engineering of the governance process hinges on the ability to make and deploy policy and rules effectively. That is precisely what business rules and business rule management are about. Indeed, how to fix the nuts-and-bolts of the governance process in a highly pragmatic fashion is the perhaps the most fundamental insight and value-add of the business rules approach.
What is the governance process? In simple terms, it involves a series of actions and checkpoints (i.e., a workflow) indicating who should be doing what, and when, with respect to deploying policy and rules. The scope of the governance process includes, but is not limited to:
- Developing internal business policies.
- Evaluating relevant laws, regulations, and court rulings.
- Tracing interpretations for both the above.
- Performing reviews.
- Resolving conflicts.
- Coordinating sign-offs.
- Performing impact assessments.
- Coordinating business roll-out (deployment) of new or modified business rules.
- Ensuring the correctness of system-level deployments from the business perspective.
- Assessing when to retract or retire rules.
A re-engineered governance process should obviously view the workflow from beginning-to-end. A highly-simplified version should include at least the following tasks:
1. Assess/review business influences
2. Create/refine business strategy
3. Develop operational business rules
4. Assess/simulate impact
5. Deploy business rules
6. Monitor performance
7. Revise/retire business rules
Note task 5, deployment. As discussed earlier in this series, that's where the rubber meets the road. Here's where business management most fully integrates with IT activities -- giving far more of a business focus to IT than many companies have ever achieved before.
Also note tasks 1 and 2. These have to do with injecting structured, documented business strategy into the governance process. Can strategy really be structured and effectively documented? Absolutely. Would every company moving to re-engineer the governance process based on business rule management be ready to jump immediately in that direction? Probably not at first, but eventually the need -- and the opportunities -- will inevitably prove compelling.
The remaining question is who will take on responsibility for this re-engineered guidance process? I'll save that crucial (and exciting) topic for my next column.
The fourth and final column of this four-part series will address the organizational function necessary to support a governance process based on business rules and rule management.
 Ronald G. Ross, "From Rule Management to Business Governance, Part 1: Governance and How it Relates to Business Rules," Business Rules Journal, Vol. 7, No. 11 (Nov. 2006), URL: http://www.BRCommunity.com/a2006/b318.html
 Ronald G. Ross, "From Rule Management to Business Governance, Part 2: Governance and How it Relates to Rule Management," Business Rules Journal, Vol. 7, No. 12 (Dec. 2006), URL: http://www.BRCommunity.com/a2006/b322.html
 Gladys S.W. Lam. "Business Knowledge -- Packaged in a Policy Charter." DataToKnowledge Newsletter, Vol. 26, No. 3 (May/June 1998). URL: http://www.BRCommunity.com/a1998/a385.html
 Business Rules Group. The Business Motivation Model ~ Business Governance in a Volatile World. 1.2 ed., Sept. 2005. Originally published as Organizing Business Plans ~ The Standard Model for Business Rule Motivation, Nov. 2000. Available from http://www.BusinessRulesGroup.org. Now an adopted standard of the Object Management Group (OMG), currently in finalization.
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