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Enabling Operational Excellence
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Posts Tagged ‘general rulebook management’

The Terms of Governance

You can find definitions and discussion of all terms in blue on Business Rule Community: http://www.brcommunity.com/BBSGlossary.pdf ~~~~~~~~ 1. Business Governance We define business governance as follows: 

a  process, organizational function, set of techniques, and systematic approach for creating and deploying business policies and business rules into day-to-day business activity

Our definition is based on Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary [MWUD] definitionsfor governance 1, 2a, 4a, and 5. Why should any divergent definition be created?

1: the act or process of governing

2a : the office, power, or function of governing

4a: the manner or method of governing : conduct of office

5: a system of governing

And have a look at the MWUD definition of govern [1a]: 

to exercise arbitrarily or by established rules continuous sovereign authority over; especially:  to control and direct the making and administration of policy in. 

Note the high-profile roles of rules and policies in that definition.  ‘Governing’ a business involves coordinating how business policies and business rules are created (the making … of) and deployed (managed, distributed and monitored) within day-to-day business operations (administration).  Clearly, business governance and business rules are directly linked.  Why haven’t more people recognized the direct link between business governance and business rules?! 2. Governance Decision The original decision to create a business policy or business rule is an example of a governance decisionGovernance decisions should be part of a special business process, the governance process, which also coordinates deployment and retirement of business rules To support business governance you need a systematic approach, which is provided by a rulebook and general rulebook system (GRBS).  These tools also provide the traceability needed to support compliance. 3. Governance Process We define governance process as follows: 

a series of business actions and checkpoints indicating who should be doing what (business roles), and when, with respect to deploying business policy and business rules

That just follows naturally, doesn’t it? ~~~~~~~~~~~ Excerpted from Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules, by Ronald G. Ross with Gladys S.W. Lam, An IIBA® Sponsored Handbook, Business Rule Solutions, LLC, 2011, 304 pp, http://www.brsolutions.com/bbs

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What Rulebooks, Rulebook Management and GRBS Are About

You can find definitions and discussion of all terms in blue on Business Rule Community: http://www.brcommunity.com/BBSGlossary.pdf ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ rulebook:  the collection of elements of guidance for a business capability, along with the terms, definitions, and wordings that support them

Discussion:  The rulebook of a game enumerates all the do’s and don’ts (rules) of that game along with the terms and definitions (vocabulary) needed to understand the rules.  Each participant in the game, whether player, coach, referee or umpire, scout, spectator, or media person, is presumed to understand and adhere to the rules to the extent his or her role in the activity requires.  The rulebook sometimes suggests how to play the game to maximum advantage, but never dictates playing strategy.

Similarly, a rulebook in business includes the business rules (and advices) needed to perform day-to-day operational business activity correctly or optimally, along with the structured business vocabulary (fact model) needed to understand the business rules correctly.  Each participant in the business activity must adhere to the business rules to the extent his or her role requires.  The rulebook never dictates business strategy, but should reflect, enforce, and measure it. 

Unlike the rules for a game, however, business rules change, often quite rapidly.  Therefore knowing the original source of each business rule, its know-why, and its full history of modifications, as well as how and where the business rule is currently deployed, is essential in effective rulebook management.

rulebook management:  the skills, techniques and processes needed to express, analyze, trace, retain, and manage the business rules needed for day-to-day business activity general rulebook system (GRBS):  an automated, specialized, business-level platform for rulebook management

Discussion:  Key features of a general rulebook system (GRBS) include rich, interactive support for structured business vocabularies (fact models) and comprehensive traceability for business rules (not software requirements). 

Unlike a business rule engine (BRE) a GRBS is not run-time.  Think of a GRBS as more or less like a general ledger system, except for Business Analysts.  Because of the potential of GRBS to support compliance and accountability, a GRBS is indispensable for improved business governance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ From Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules, by Ronald G. Ross with Gladys S.W. Lam, An IIBA® Sponsored Handbook, Business Rule Solutions, LLC, October, 2011, 304 pp, http://www.brsolutions.com/bbs  

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Black Swans, Business Rules, and Strategy – Re-Clarified

Let me re-clarify what I am, and am not, saying about business rules and black swans. There’s been some confusion. I did not say that preparing for or responding to black swans is all about business rules. (I’m not that naive!) I did say, however, that business rules “… build robustness to negative [black swans] that occur and being able to exploit positive ones” [Taleb’s words]. My main point is this: If you don’t have ready access to your current business rules (i.e., know what they are in depth), then when a black swan occurs you can’t immediately undertake to respond to negative ones, and exploit positive ones. (See: http://goo.gl/Ny2Cn) A colleague wrote: “For example, Taleb cites 9/11 as an example of a black swan. What business rules would prevent or allow successful response to that?” I make no suggestions about prevention. Hindsight is 20-20. But successful response? You need to quickly review what your current business practices (business rules) are …
  • Permissible carry-ons. Box-cutter knives? Immediately banned. Any other sharp items including silverware for meals, banned.
  • Access to the cockpit. Special barriers (food cart, steward(ess)) put in a blocking position when a pilot exits the cockpit to use the lavatory. Doors locks reinforced.
We learn as we go. Amounts of liquid over a certain threshold, banned. Shoes must be removed at security. Souvenir ‘blizzard’ globes, banned. You want to roll out these new business rules fast(!). If you don’t know what business rules you already have in place, you simply can’t respond as fast you need to. Make no mistake, most businesses today sadly don’t really know what their current business rules are. That’s what I’m saying!

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Black Swans, Business Rules, and Strategy – Continued

I’ve gotten a lot of excellent response to yesterday’s post on black swans. Let me summarize yesterday’s points and continue the line of thought.

a. Business rules cannot be used to help protect against unforeseeable events that have not already happened. b. Business analysts can assess unforeseeable events (black swans) and develop business rules to cater for their potential recurrence.

c. If you don’t have ready access to your current business rules (i.e., know what they are in depth), then when a black swan occurs you can’t immediately undertake point b.

Point c is actually where my emphasis lies. The result is that the organization remains vulnerable for recurrence (and copycat malicious attacks) for a much longer period than necessary (or desirable). How long extra? At least days, more likely weeks, sometimes months. What most organizations don’t realize today is that they don’t actually know what their business rules are. Before they can even begin to rethink business practices in-depth they have to send out ‘scouts’ (business analysts and IT professionals) to discover their current business rules (from people’s heads, source code, procedure manuals, documentation, etc., etc.). When the scouts do find the current business practices (business rules), they have to sort through redundancy, inconsistency, gaps and conflicts. That’s simply no way to run a business! There’s no single-sourcing of business rules, no official, authoritative ‘rulebook’, no structured corporate memory. The result is huge loss of time and energy. The problem is so big it’s hard to see. We simply have to face up to the fact that current methodologies produce a crippled business governance process. And yes, the situation *is* that bad! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ P.S. To single-source business rules and retain corporate memory about them, we recommend a ‘general rulebook system’. See http://www.brcommunity.com/BBSGlossary.pdf (page 30) for quick explanation.

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