Where Rules Fit in the Zachman Framework … Conspicuous in Their Absence?
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Business Rules Manifesto
Question: Why aren’t rules found in any of the cells of the latest Zachman Framework?
The Manifesto says clearly (principle 1.1) that rules should be considered a first-class citizen of the requirements world. Yet rules cannot be found in any of the cells of the latest Zachman Framework. Contradiction? No.
For an artifact to appear in a cell of the Framework it must represent a primitive. An artifact that references multiple primitives is considered a composite.
Rules are intrinsically composite. Even atomic rules can address multiple primitives. (Atomic means “can’t be reduced into two or more rules without losing meaning.”) An example: An accounting must be given by the CFO in Delaware on March 15, 2015. This rule refers to a thing (‘accounting’), a person (the CFO), a place (Delaware), and a date (March 15, 2012).
Simply because an artifact is composite, however, doesn’t necessarily make it unimportant. Consider what Zachman calls integration relationships – the connections tying the six primitives together. Integration relationships serve to configure the enterprise at any given point in time. No integration relationships, no enterprise.
To illustrate, Zachman frequently rolls the Framework into a cylinder and looks through it like a telescope. The primitives must be tied together through that empty cylinder by integration relationships. What can serve in that role?
Traditionally, integration relationships have been implemented by procedural means – hardcoded into application programs. Unfortunately, that’s like setting the business in concrete. It also plays havoc with process as the simple, straightforward primitive it should really be.
A much better alternative is rules. Rules, by comparison, are far easier to change. So consider rules as the first-class candidate to achieve configuration agility for the enterprise
 The Manifesto is free, only 2 pages long, translated into 15 languages. Have a quick look (or re-look!). No sign up required. Well worth your time.
Tags: agility, Business Rules Manifesto, composite, configuration agility, FAQ, integration relationships, primitive, processes, Zachman Framework
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.