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


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Posts Tagged ‘business rules vs business processes’

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.

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Basics for Business Architecture: #2 – Business Processes & Business Rules

Professionals should always focus on business solutions first, then and only then on designing systems. Not just lip service, I mean applying the power techniques of true business architecture[1]. The first of these techniques is structured business strategy. See: http://www.brsolutions.com/2015/05/31/basics-for-business-architecture-1-structured-business-strategy/. The second technique is business processes and business rules. Effective business solutions require architecting both the following:
                  • What is done to create value-add (business processes).
                  • What ensures value-add is created correctly (business rules).
Many professionals are unclear about the respective roles of business processes vs. business rules. At the risk of stating the obvious, let me make the following points.
    1. Business processes and business rules are different. They serve very different purposes: A business process is about doing the right things; business rules are about doing things right.
    2. There is no conflict whatsoever between business rules and business processes. In fact, they are highly complementary. Each makes the other better. If they don’t fit hand-in-glove, somebody is simply doing something wrong.
    3. You need both. Neither can substitute for the other. Period.
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[1] Refer to the second edition of Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules, an IIBA Sponsored Handbook, by Ronald G. Ross with Gladys S.W. Lam (to be published mid-2015). http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php

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