Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence


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Do Business Rules Define the Operational Boundaries of an Organization?

Have you heard business rules described that way? You certainly have to stop and think about it for a minute. Without additional explanation the term “boundaries” could easily be misleading. For example the term could be interpreted incorrectly as suggesting business rules define scope – i.e., the operational edges of an organization or an initiative. They don’t. Let’s revisit the meaning of “business rule”. Business rules are guides or criteria used to:
    • shape conduct or actions
    • form judgments of behavior
    • make decisions
Respectively, yes, business rules therefore establish “boundaries” for distinguishing:
    • acceptable or desirable conduct or actions from what is unacceptable or undesirable.
    • proper behavior from what is improper behavior.
    • correct or optimal decisions from what are incorrect or suboptimal decisions.
But these “boundaries” (delimitations) are a result of applying business rules, not what business rules fundamentally are (i.e., guides or criteria). Furthermore, these boundaries (delimitations) are not as rigid as the term “boundary” suggests. Depending on enforcement level, many business rules can be overridden with proper authority or explanation, or even ignored (e.g., guidelines). Level of enforcement is an organizational decision. Note that the transgressing behavior in such cases is nonetheless still within the scope of organizational operations. My bottom line re “boundary”. Describing business rules can …
    • misleading.
    • wrongly suggest scope.
    • incorrectly assume all business rules are strictly enforced.
But otherwise sure, business rules do set up boundaries (delimitations) for how activity in the organization is undertaken. And that’s especially important when you start thinking about smart processes – as my recent posts suggest.

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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.