Focus on What Makes Your Business Smart: From Interpretation to Implementation Step 2: Structure Business Logic

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

After working closely with business stakeholders in Step 1, business analysts need to apply methods and techniques to the information collected to produce structured deliverables.  Compiling the results in business-friendly sets of structured deliverables enables analysts to

  1. ask the right questions at the right time.
  2. focus on the business need, not the system requirements.
  3. conduct effective impact analysis.
  4. provide knowledge transfer.
Specialized tools or the MS Office suite can be used to help coordinate and manage the deliverables.

Step 2 — Structure Business Logic

The goals of this step

  1. Apply method and techniques
  2. Structure deliverables
  3. Organize deliverables
  4. Validate deliverables

Responsible parties

  • Business Analysts —specify, model, organize, and analyze
  • Business Stakeholders —validate

Techniques and methodology

  • Concept modeling
  • Business rules specification techniques
  • Decision structuring techniques
  • Business rule and decisions techniques

The key components that drive the smarts of your business are business concepts, business rules, and decisions.  The deliverables associated with each of these are

Business concepts

  • Concept model
  • Glossary of terms

Operation business decisions

  • Decisions
  • Decision structures
  • Decision tables

Business rules

  • Business rule statements
  • Business rule groups

Concept Model

A concept model consists of

  • a graphical representation of how your business concepts or vocabulary relate to each other, and
  • a glossary of these terms and their definitions.

Figure 1.  Example of structured business vocabulary (concept model) and glossary of terms. 

A concept model addresses questions that a process model would not address.  For example, the concept model will provide information on 'how a patient is related to an antigen series', 'how an order is related to a subscription', or 'what is the difference between platinum, gold, or silver customers'.

Operational Business Decisions

Operational business decisions can be complex.  Diving right into details will not be effective and will cause confusion and frustration.  The following is a set of deliverables that allows you to look at decisions from a top-down approach.  Each artifact has a distinct objective to enable understanding and communication before going to the next level of detail. 

Figure 2.  Example of a decision structure (Q-Chart).[1] 

A Q-Chart (Question Chart) is a visualization of how one or more operational business decisions are formally organized.  The Q-Chart answers the questions of how decisions are dependent on each other.

Figure 3.  Example of a decision (QCOE — question, consideration, outcome and exception).[1] 

A QCOE is a graphic representation of an operational business decision indicating what question ("Q") is being asked, and possibly one or more of the following:

  • Consideration ('C')
  • Outcomes ('O')
  • Exceptions ('E')

This artifact guides you to think through carefully the question you want to answer, how the outcome matches the question, the considerations required to determine the outcome, and any exceptions.

Figure 4.  Example of a decision table in a rule-by-column format.

A decision table is a structured means of visualizing decision rules in rows and columns.  A decision table identifies the appropriate outcome for each case it covers.  A decision table is a great way of communicating the specific considerations for each outcome.  This artifact provides the answer to 'why did I get this outcome?'

Decision tables come in many different shapes and sizes.  Figure 5 provides a legend of different styles. 

Figure 5.  Legend of different styles of decision tables.[2]

Business Rules

A business rule is a criterion used in business operations to guide behavior, shape judgements, or make decisions.

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

  • The vaccine type of the vaccine dose administered is one of the allowable vaccine types.
  • The date administered is on or later than the allowable vaccine type begin age date.
  • The date administered is earlier than the allowable vaccine type end age date.

Figure 6.  Example of a business rule.

Business rules provide the answer to 'why '.  A business rule or a set of business rules enables you to understand why things are done or decided in a certain way.

Figure 7. Example of a business rule group. 

Business rules are organized and managed in groups.  Due to the sheer volume of business rules in your domain, you will not be able to manage one business rule at a time.  This artifact answers the question of how the business rules relate to or impact each other.

Just Remember…

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

  • Business rules are what you need to answer the question 'why' things are done or decided in a certain way.

  • Producing the artifacts in this step enables you to ask the right questions at the right time to guide knowledge workers through the thinking process in specifying their requirements.

  • Some business rules are better expressed in statement format, while other business rules are best expressed in table format.

For further information, please visit      


[1]  Decision Analysis:  A Primer… How to Use Decision Speak™ and Question Charts (Q-Charts™) by Ronald G. Ross.  return to article

[2]  Decision Tables:  A Primer… How to Use TableSpeak™ by Ronald G. Ross.  return to article

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Standard citation for this article:

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Gladys S.W. Lam, "Focus on What Makes Your Business Smart: From Interpretation to Implementation Step 2: Structure Business Logic " Business Rules Journal, Vol. 14, No. 11, (Nov. 2013)

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 (, 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, 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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