Pattern Questions for Harvesting Business Rules About Organizations

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
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
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

The key word in understanding business rules for business organization is interaction.  By interaction, we mean person-to-person or role-to-role business interactions in the real world (even if separated by time and distance).  Often such interactions are supported by special work products and take place over active channels (e.g., connections via the internet).

Business rules offer a powerful tool for business analysts to understand and orchestrate roles, interactions, work products, and channels.  Pattern questions pertaining to these organizational issues assist not only in capturing related business rules, but also in discussing and resolving related business issues with business stakeholders.  This month we present a targeted set of pattern questions to assist in that regard and illustrate them with practical examples.

What Are Pattern Questions??

Over the past decade we have developed a series of well-structured pattern questions in our methodology for business analysis, BABusinessSpeak™.  These pattern questions represent thinking tools to help business analysts harvest business rules from different kinds of models (e.g., business process models, concept models, etc.).  Each pattern question:

  • focuses on a particular topical concern and some particular construct (pattern) found frequently in models of a given kind.

  • typically leads to many business rules for the same model.

The pattern questions are designed to assist practitioners in asking the right kinds of questions in the right ways.  Answers typically lead to more questions — and to more business rules.  The answers also frequently prove useful in validating and refining the underlying models.

Pattern Question for Business Role Qualifications

Pattern Question BO1: 
Qualifications for Business Roles
 
  What qualifications or experience should a person have to fill a business role?  
Sample business rule specifying a business role qualification:  
  An operational manager must have at least 3 years experience in a field office.  
Sample business rule specifying a business role qualification:  
  An inspector must attend a course covering new technical developments at least once a year.  
       

Comments: 

  • Business roles generally may be filled only by people properly qualified.

  • The business rule above, as well as all other examples in this discussion, is expressed using RuleSpeak®.[1]

Pattern Question for Business Role Responsibilities

Pattern Question BO2: 
Responsibilities of Business Roles
 
  What business responsibilities should a business role have?  
Sample business rule specifying business role responsibilities:  
  An order of a given amount must be approved by the following.
  Amount of Order: Approval Required By:
     $1,000,000 or above      vice president
     $500,000 up to (but not
     including) $1,000,000
     regional manager
     $100,000 up to (but not
     including) $500,000
     store manager
     less than $100,000      none
 
       

Comment:  Business roles are often charged with certain business responsibilities.

Pattern Question for Business Interactions

Pattern Question BO3: 
Business Interactions
 
  What restrictions are placed on how different roles should or should not interact in their business activity?  
Sample business rule restricting a business interaction:  
  A union member may meet face-to-face with a company official only if a union representative is present.  
Sample business rule restricting a business interaction:  
  A trainee may send a memo to a manager only with the permission of his supervisor.  
       

Comments: 

  • Interactions between business roles are often restricted in certain ways.

  • Business interactions are not limited to just people or roles.  An organizational unit (e.g., the eMarketing Department) or another company (e.g., a partner in a supply chain) can also be involved in business interactions.

Pattern Question for Work Products

Pattern Question BO4: 
Work Products
 
  What restrictions are placed on the form that work products should or should not take based on their business purpose?  
Sample business rule restricting a work product:  
  A contract over $100,000 for construction of a new vessel may be signed only if all the following are true:
•  A feasibility study has been performed for the new vessel.
•  The feasibility study includes all stress tests appropriate for
     that kind of vessel.
•  Each stress test is completed and certified by a qualified engineer.
 
       

Comment:  Work products must often be produced in certain forms (e.g., notifications, requests, sign-offs, analyses, position papers, legal agreements, etc.) to support business interactions properly.

Pattern Question for Business Channels

Pattern Question BO5: 
Business Channels
 
  What restrictions are placed on the business aspect of interacting through specific channels?  
Sample business rule involving a business channel:  
  An opt-in choice covering promotional offers must be made available to every registered member of the company's web-site.  
Sample business rule involving a business channel:  
  A promotional offer may be sent only to registered members of the company's web-site who opt-in.  
Sample business rule involving a business channel:  
  An invoice may be sent to a customer only through the customer's preferred invoice delivery method.  
       

Comments: 

  • These days, interactions between people take place over an ever-growing number of active channels (e.g., websites, smart phones, ATMs, etc.).  Business rules are often needed to coordinate the business (not technical) aspects of interacting via such channels.

  • Interactions over time or at a distance require infrastructure (e.g., the internet).  Designing how such infrastructure is best used (e.g., based on GUIs and use cases), should be addressed as part of the system design, not the business analysis.

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

For further information, please visit BRSolutions.com     

References

[1]  RuleSpeak guidelines for expressing business rules in structured natural language are free on www.RuleSpeak.com.  return to article

# # #

Standard citation for this article:


citations icon
Ronald G. Ross and Gladys S.W. Lam , "Pattern Questions for Harvesting Business Rules About Organizations" Business Rules Journal Vol. 17, No. 7, (Jul. 2016)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a2016/b865.html

About our Contributor(s):


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
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.

Read All Articles by Gladys S.W. Lam
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