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

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Posts Tagged ‘Policy Charter’

Pleased to Announce Release of Our New Book Edition!

Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules (2nd Edition) … Just Out! http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php Get it on Amazon: http://goo.gl/HXxN1f What It’s About: How to develop business solutions working directly with business leads, create blueprints of the solutions, and then use those blueprints for developing system requirements. Engineering business solutions, not just requirements.We have applied the techniques described in this book successfully in hundreds of companies worldwide. Kind Words from a Practitioner: “We have based our whole business rules analysis practice on the methodology and techniques developed by the Business Rules Solution team. This book is an integral part of our practice. It’s an easy to read, useful guide with real life examples – we use it daily and couldn’t do without it!” – Michelle Murray, Inland Revenue Department NZ New in this Edition: How Business Architecture corresponds with your projects and requirements work. Developing a Concept Model and how it will help you. How business rules align with the new terminology in the recently released IIBA® BABOK® Guide version 3. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ www.BRSolutions.com

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What is Business Alignment Really All About?

Business alignment is like motherhood and apple pie, no one will argue much against it.  But for all the hand waving, questions remain.  What are you aligning?  How do you align?  Answers generally center on aligning IT with the business.  But shouldn’t that be a given?!  Methodologies recommend a great many touch points with individual users and good interpersonal relationships.  But do those things ensure good business practices – or just good GUIs?  And why just IT?  Aren’t there other kinds of projects in the business too? True business alignment results from engineering real business solutions for real business problems based on deliberate strategy (in a deliverable we call a Policy Charter).  The approach should be exactly the same whether the business solution involves comprehensive automation, just partial automation – or none at all.  True business alignment is also something you can demonstrate quantitatively
  • How fully are business goals being achieved? 
  • What is the failure rate of business policies
  • How quickly can emerging risks and opportunities be spotted? 
Only metrics (key performance indicators) based on the strategy for the business solution (a Policy Charter) can reliably answer make-or-break business questions like these. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 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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Concept Migration … First You Have a Vocabulary Problem, Then You Have a Data Problem

When one company acquires another, or two companies merge, there is inevitably much consternation over data migration. Indeed, it’s always a hard problem. Underlying every data migration problem, however, is a concept migration problem. By ‘concept migration’, I really mean integration of business vocabularies. After all, business vocabulary comes before data. Consider the case of two airlines merging their frequent-flyer programs. (I live in Houston – Can you guess which airlines I might be talking about?) The airlines need business rules for how concepts from the respective programs line up with each other. (At the onset I’m sure they won’t.) Even better, the airlines should start with a business strategy for the business problem (what we call a Policy Charter) and set of business policies, then develop the business rules. A corresponding problem exists in building a new business capability. An existing set of concepts exists (probably implicit in the data and not well-formed). You also have a revised set of explicit concepts in the form of a structured business vocabulary (concept model, also called fact model). Yes, you will probably have a data migration problem, but first you have a concept migration problem. So before your business model is complete, you need to develop an appropriate set of business ‘migration’ rules to specify how the transition in business practices should take place. In other words, you need to ask:

Are there concepts in the current business capability that need to be reorganized for, or ‘mapped’ to, the new or revised concepts of the future-form business capability?

Here is an example ..

Current Situation: Currently marketing reps can make hand-shake deals with customers on the road (‘road deals’). In the past, these deals were usually based on long-standing connections, so proper documentation of the details (often missing) was not too important.

With faster rates of turn-over and more specialized products this traditional business practice has become problematic. So the business will no longer support road deals. A new concept is being introduced for ‘spontaneous’ deals, called spot deal, which provides better coordination.

When the future-form business capability is deployed, however, some road deals will still be in force. How should these existing road deals be handled?

Business Tactic (in the Policy Charter): ‘Road deals’ are to be discontinued.

Business Transition Rule: Any “road deal” made in the past by a marketing rep that has never been formulated into a contract must be considered a spot deal.

A business transition rule is really about semantic migration. That fancy-sounding term isn’t needed though. At issue simply is knowing exactly what the words we use mean. Tackle that issue as a business problem, and the system solutions will fall into place. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My business partner, Gladys S.W. Lam, will be using the airline example in one of her talks at the Business Rules Forum Conference http://www.businessrulesforum.com/ Oct 28 – Nov 1 in Ft. Lauderdale.

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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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Black Swans, Business Rules, and Strategy: What Every Business Analyst Needs to Know

We preach (and practice) strategy as a key element of business analysis. A key element of strategy is identifying significant business risks. We address such risks in the deliverable we call a Policy Charter. See http://www.brcommunity.com/BBSGlossary.pdf (page 39). Appropriate business policies are developed to protect the company. Sometimes we hear the argument that it’s impossible to determine the risk of some future unknown event. And what’s a rational definition of risk anyway? By “risk” we simply mean what the dictionary (Merriam-Webster Unabridged) means: 1: the possibility of loss, injury, disadvantage, or destruction : CONTINGENCY, DANGER, PERIL, THREAT Yes, the following statement is correct: “It is impossible to determine the risk of some future unknown event.” The operative word in that is unknown. How could anyone argue with that? The implicit reference is to black swans … unpredictable outliers. The only thing business analysts can do to help protect the business against black swans is “… build robustness to negative ones that occur and being able to exploit positive ones.” (Wikipedia on Taleb’s book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable). I maintain that business solutions based on business rules do exactly that. To respond successfully to unforeseen circumstances you must know what your business practices (business rules) are in the first place(!). On the other hand, business people generally do have a good understanding of known business risks. We think it’s crucial to factor that understanding into business analysis. Now who could argue with that?!

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Requirements Management and the Business Motivation Model

Guest post by Cecilia Pearce ~~~~~~~~~~~ I have just completed the “Business Analysis with Business Rules: From Strategy to Requirements” on-line training session given by Ron Ross and Gladys Lam.[1] This approach has additional benefits where requirements are concerned. During the session, it became evident that some of the requirements processes defined by BABOK® – Requirements Elicitation, Prioritization and Traceability – may be simplified when following the Business Motivation Model (BMM)[2] approach. The BMM approach emphasizes starting with strategy for addressing the business problem. Being top-down and structured, it ensures that defined requirements are based on the business goals identified for the organisation. Since the source of the requirements is therefore known, their prioritization is simplified. Requirements linked directly to the goals will have a higher priority, whereas other requirements, depending how linked to the goals, may be allocated a lower priority. Traceability of requirements also benefits from the BMM approach. The requirements are already associated with the goals, possible business risks are identified, and relationships are traced to business processes, business milestones, and key performance indicators. The requirements elicitation process is just another benefit of the BMM approach. Requirements are defined with the goals in mind. The Policy Charter[3], a deliverable in the style of the BMM, illustrates the goals in more manageable segments and links the requirements directly to the identified goals. It allows the business stakeholders to ‘see’ their end result more clearly and understand what steps are required to get there.
[2] BMM is the strategy standard originally developed by the Business Rules Group, and subsequently adopted by OMG. See http://www.businessrulesgroup.org/second_paper/BRG-BMM.pdf.
[3] Business Rule Solutions’ Policy Charter was a basis for the BMM, and is consistent with the standard.
 

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Understanding Strategy as a Key Business Analysis Tool: It’s Not Business Process!

John Matthias recently wrote this about our new book, Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules[1]:

“I especially liked the discussion about the mission and goals. I still see business process analysis in organizations I visit where the goals are not articulated well, and the results are not useful. (I’ve done it myself.) It’s easy to get lost among the trees, unaware of the contours of the forest or what direction you’re going.”

Indeed! That’s why we came up with the Policy Charter, which is the deliverable in our approach that lays out the elements of strategy and their motivation.  A Policy Charter is all about business goals, business risks, and business policies. It’s not about business process! [2] How do you distinguish between good business strategy and bad business strategy? Noted strategy expert Richard Rumelt distinguishes the good and bad as follows.[3] Good Business Strategy Rumelt, p. 20: “good strategy requires leaders who are willing and able to say no to a wide variety of actions and interests.  Strategy is at least as much about what an organization does not do as it is about what it does.” Rumelt, p. 243: “good strategy is, in the end, a hypothesis about what will work.  Not a wild theory, but an educated judgment.  And there isn’t anyone more educated about your [business] than the group in [the] room.”  Bad Business Strategy Rumelt, p. 32: Bad strategy “… is not simply the absence of good strategy.  It grows out of specific misconceptions and leadership dysfunctions.  To detect a bad strategy, look for …
  • Failure to face the challenge. When you cannot define the challenge, you cannot evaluate a strategy or improve it.
  • Mistaking goals for strategy.  Many bad strategies are just statements of desire rather than plans for overcoming obstacles.”
Rumelt, p. 32: Bad strategy “… is long on goals and short on policy or action. …  It uses high-sounding words and phrases to hide [its] failings.”  He means (and says) fluff. The Three Skills of Good Business Strategy What do you need to be successful with strategy? Rumelt (p. 268) says: “… you must cultivate three essential skills or habits.
  • First, you must have a variety of tools for fighting your own myopia and for guiding you own attention.
  • Second, you must develop the ability to question your own judgment.  If your reasoning cannot withstand a vigorous attack, your strategy cannot be expected to stand in the face of real competition.
  • Third, you must cultivate the habit of making and recording judgments so that you can improve.”
Good stuff!


[2] The standard for organizing business strategy is provided by the Business Motivation Model (BMM). See www.BusinessRulesGroup.org
[3] Rumelt, Richard [2011].  Good Strategy Bad Strategy:  The Difference and Why It Matters.  New York, NY:  Crown Publishing, a division of Random House Inc.

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Are You Struggling with Requirements? Project Off-Track?

Guest Post by Senior Consultant to Large Organization I am struggling on a project right now where the requirements were never properly collected in the beginning. So we’re now going back to our requirements to try and sort out what the business really wants.   As this process of validating the original requirements started, I had just decided to read your new book[1].  While reading about Policy Charters[2] it immediately came to my head that this activity was never done formally with the business!  Honestly I have heard different business people state goals to us all the time as we were building this system, but nobody on the original scoping or blueprint team ever once did a formal strategy to determine what the business wants and how we can give it to them. I hacked together a simple Policy Charter in Powerpoint to show the business the strategy.  It made a big difference to finally have everybody on the team sit in one room and see how different business goals and their business tactics actually link to each other via business risks, which then precipitate other business tactics or business policies.  We never had an overall view of the business goals like that before. Now I feel the business finally sees how complex their goals were and the consulting team really understands them too. So even though it is very late in the game, doing the Policy Charter has still helped a lot in our efforts to get our project back on track. I just wanted to let you know that your new book has been very helpful so far. I love it! I will be recommending it to all my colleagues.


[1] Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules  http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php
[2] Ronald G. Ross, “Becoming Strategy-Driven:  The Policy Charter,” Business Rules Journal, Vol. 10, No. 6 (June 2009), URL:  http://www.BRCommunity.com/a2009/b483.html

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Why Don’t Requirements Approaches and IT Methodologies ‘Get’ How to Use Strategy as a Technique? … Not Acceptable!

An enterprise architect recently said to me, “The motivation (why) column of the Zachman Architecture Framework is the most underrated, underutilized construct in architecture.” Absolutely correct. Even worse, IT methodologies (that is, the people who create and use them) don’t realize how far afield they are on the matter. As a result they cause business people to focus on the wrong things … or to drop out entirely. Ironically, IT then becomes the impediment, rather than the solution, to much needed business innovation. A bit of background: The Business Rules Group (BRG – www.BusinessRulesGroup.org) identified the area of business strategy as a missing ingredient for business rules in the mid 1990s. In 2000, we came out with a standard for the area, now sponsored by OMG, called the Business Motivation Model. It’s a highly readable document with lots of good examples (and free): http://www.businessrulesgroup.org/bmm.shtml. It provides standard vocabulary and structure for strategy. Zachman, by the way, was a key participant. I am proud of my role as co-editor and author of the first working draft. My business partner, Gladys S.W. Lam, and I have just come out with a new book that explains how strategy (and business rules) can be an integral part of business analysis. It’s actually not that hard to do (if you have the right people, motivation, scope, and approach), and it doesn’t take all that long (ditto same caveats). Those are big myths. Gladys is generally given credit for some of the key ideas in the standard. She grew up in a highly entrepreneurial environment and has a natural sense of business risks and solution sinkholes. But I digress … See Chapter 4 of Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Ruleshttp://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php.

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