To-Do Items, Checklists and Out-of-Tolerance Business Events … Business Process Problems?
Does a to-do item constitute a business process? No. Does a checklist constitute a business process? No. Does an out-of tolerance event constitute a business process? No. Analysis of the following case study illustrates.
The take-away: “Process” shouldn’t be force-fit to every aspect of business operations. That kind of ‘Big-P process’ perspective as I frequently call it puts blinders on you.
Case Study: An organization runs public conferences. In reaching an agreement with a hotel, it must commit to a room block of a certain size. If the conference does not fill the room block, it must compensate the hotel. The amount of the compensation is roughly equivalent to the cost of the number of room nights not filled. So it’s prudent to always guesstimate on the low side.
Sometimes conference attendance exceeds expectations. If the hotel is already heavily booked for the conference dates (e.g., for other conferences), attendees will not be able to secure a hotel reservation. Not having a hotel room may naturally discourage them from coming. So it’s wise to constantly monitor the number of hotel reservations vs. the size of the room block. Once exceeded, provisions should be made immediately to secure more hotel rooms for attendees, often at a nearby hotel.
Analysis: Business process problem? No. This is really an operational business event – in particular, a spontaneous event.
If detecting the spontaneous event via testing of the business rule and notifying the conference organizer can all be automated, fine. If not, monitoring the hotel room block should be assigned as a job responsibility for staff, possibly just one of many ‘checklist’ items to perform daily.
Does a to-do item constitute a business process? No. A to-do item – or even a whole checklist – is not a business process! Each item is what it is, simply a job responsibility. Simply notifying the conference organizer is not a business process either. A business process needs to be something more substantial, like Secure additional hotel rooms.
Tip for Business Analysts: To be a business process it’s not enough for someone to be informed, something must be transformed.
After-the-Fact Settlement: What happens if the hotel registration overflow is not detected in real time? Nothing good! Suppose the hotel continues to accept reservations knowing they can be accommodated at near-by hotels. Now you need an additional business process: Handle hotel registration overflow. It’s a business process you’d rather not have(!).
Transferring registrations to other hotels entails significant work and communication, leaving some registrants inevitably unhappy. Clearly you need a ‘fairness’ rule for who gets transferred – probably first-come, first-serve.
The bottom line: Failure to detect operational business events in real time can result in highly undesirable ‘settlement’ problems downstream. Use business rules in real time to detect out-of-tolerance business transactions whenever you can.
Tip for Business Analysts: Stay alert for business processes involving after-the-fact settlements. Could real-time reaction to operational business events eliminate them?
This post excerpted from our new book Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules. See: http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php
- The operational business event is when hotel room block is exceeded.
- A business rule could be specified defining the appropriate conditions producing the operational business event.
- An appropriate response to the operational business event might be Notify conference organizer.
Tags: Big-P process, business process model, checklist, job responsibility, out-of-tolerance condition, real-time response, to-do item
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.