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

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Toothless ‘Rules’

The following statement came up recently in discussing business rules at Global Holdings. (Not the real name of the company.) The statement has significant problems. Sometimes simple is too simple.

Global Holdings must review the corporate account of ABC Company.

Problem 1. In general, it is not a best practice to mention “us” in specifying business rules. Do that once, then every other business rule statement should mention “us” too. That’s clearly not practical or useful, and in most cases, not even intuitive. So the current specification should be revised simply to:

The corporate account of ABC Company must be reviewed.

Problem 2. The ‘rule’ doesn’t pass basic tests of practicality or usefulness. What point would it serve to have a business rule saying that something must be reviewed without indicating one or more of the following?
    • some method (how?)
    • some location (where?)
    • some role (by whom?)
    • some timing (how often?)
    • some potential goal or constraint (is there potential fraud?)
In other words, the statement mandates a review based on criteria not encoded. Those absent review criteria probably represent the true business rules. To say it differently, a ‘rule’ that simply kicks out work for a human to do is probably not a business rule at all! Problem 3. As it stands, the practical effect of the statement would be to require ABC account to be reviewed as soon as it comes into being (and indicate a violation if it is not). Very few things must be reviewed for unspecified criteria at the very time they are created. Real business just doesn’t work that way. Bottom Line: Unless additional specification is provided, this simpleton ‘rule’ should be discarded. It’s basically just toothless. http://www.brsolutions.com/

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Ronald G. Ross

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.

Comments (1)

  • Jack Holloway

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    This seems to be an example of where a more generalized policy (“must review ABC”) is confused as a more refined rule. This confusion seems to be more prevalent (I think) in groups with less practice in rule writing but with the desire to create a set of rules. While I agree this simple “rule” is toothless, it may not be necessary to discard it entirely. I can see it being used as a header or sub-header in a policy manual which is then followed by more specific rules you outlined in Problem 2.

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