Activity vs Business Rule: Can You Always Tell the Difference?
A Practitioner Wrote:The distinction between activities and business rules becomes very fuzzy when models grow very granular/detailed. Suppose I have a process called “Handle customer inquiries”, and an activity called “Close inquiry”, which has several small sub-steps, one of which is a “Send customer confirmation of solution by email”. Is that sub-step a rule or an activity?
My Answer: No fuzziness whatsoever. Processes – including activities to any level of granularity – always involve a transform. True business rules never do.
So ‘Send customer confirmation of solution by email’ is a process (activity step). I can tell because its name starts with the verb ‘send’ in the command form.
Suppose the following had been written instead: “A customer must be sent a confirmation by email when a solution is found.” That’s a business rule. It would apply to any process (activity) anywhere, anytime, even if such process(es) are not modeled. The business rule could be violated, of course, but it would not do (transform) anything. It would exist to ensure consistency (of behavior) everywhere – and not incidentally, a good customer experience.
Note I said true business rule. Rule technologies confuse the matter because sometimes their rules do do (i.e., do transform) things. That’s simply a highly unproductive mis-positioning of business rules.
Tags: activity vs rules, business rules vs business processes, rules vs. processes
Ronald G. Ross
Ron Ross, Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rules Solutions, LLC, is internationally acknowledged as the “father of business rules.” Recognizing early on the importance of independently managed business rules for business operations and architecture, he has pioneered innovative techniques and standards since the mid-1980s. He wrote the industry’s first book on business rules in 1994.