How Business Requirements Serve Business Rules

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

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When I start working with new clients, the one question that invariably comes up is "What's the difference between business rules and business requirements?" I briefly took a look at this question in my Business Rules 101: What's a Business Rule? column, but let's dive a little deeper.

Business Rules vs. Business Requirements

Here's a story that will be familiar to readers with kids of a certain age. Like many concerned mothers, when my daughter hit the driving age, I decided we needed to have some rules. Those rules were the following: no staying out past 10:30pm (grumbles); no letting new drivers — i.e., any of her friends — take her home without my permission ("Oh, Mooommmm."); no getting in a car with people I didn't know ("WHAT! I'm sixteen, you know — you don't know all my friends!"); no going anywhere with strangers ("I'm not stupid, Mom!"); letting me know where she was at all times ("Oh BOY!" — big sigh).

My daughter thought about it for a little while and then agreed to follow the rules. However, she had one requirement. Want to guess what it was?

Her own car!

Business Requirements Serve Business Rules

What made my daughter's request a requirement rather than a rule? The fact that owning a car would make it easier to comply with my rules.

Put simply, business RULES tell you whether you may or may not do something or provide you with the criteria and conditions needed to make a decision. Business REQUIREMENTS, on the other hand, enable the implementation and compliance of business rules.

Various business requirements can enable the implementation and/or enforcement of business rules — my daughter could have taken the bus rather than own a car. Rules shouldn't be changed to fit requirements — my daughter still had to be home by 10:30pm. A change in a rule can entail different or additional requirements, but a business rule stays what it is.

When my husband asked me why our daughter needed her own car, I was able to tell him that it was so she could be home on time without accepting rides from strangers or beginner drivers. One of the most important things about business rules is that they tell you WHY.

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Standard citation for this article:

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Gladys S.W. Lam, "How Business Requirements Serve Business Rules" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 21, No. 06, (Jun. 2020)

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.

Read All Articles by Gladys S.W. Lam

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