Business Process Models and Business Rules … Separate the ‘Know’ from the ‘Flow’
Conditional flows are one of the most important features of a business process model. For example, a business process model for handling claims would include multiple conditional flows – e.g., if valid claim, if claim approved, if fraud suspected, etc. A conditional flow simply means that work follows the given path only if the condition is satisfied for a given case.
The secret of effective business process modeling with business rules is never embed the criteria used to evaluate a conditional in the conditional itself. Instead, just name the conditional using an adjective (e.g., valid) or past participle (e.g., approved). The criteria for evaluating conditionals should always be expressed separately as business rules. Fortunately there’s nothing particularly hard about that. Example: A claim may be considered valid only if it has an incident date.
Following this best practice is how you keep a business process model simple – often by an order of magnitude or more! Frankly, most business processes aren’t nearly as complicated as people think. What’s complicated is the know-how needed to perform the business process correctly. That know-how should be represented by business rules.
P.S. I first heard the phrase ‘separate the know from the flow’ from Roger Burlton on 11/30/1999. I immediately made a note because it was so memorable and on-target.
This post excerpted from our new book (Oct, 2011) Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules. See: http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php