Business Rules

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One of the Sidebars to the Business Agility Manifesto unabashedly indicts the software industry for its long-standing failure to provide direct support for obligations, an obvious and fundamental aspect of real-life business activity.

Where can you find obligations in business? Virtually everywhere you look: acts, laws, statutes, regulations, contracts, MOUs, agreements, terms & conditions, deals, bids, deeds of sale, warranties, guarantees, prospectuses, licenses, citations, certifications, notices – and of course, business policies.

Direct support for obligations is a fundamental capability your organization needs in the Knowledge Age. What’s it about?

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In a classic business analyst universe, requirements are the soul of all the work a business analyst does. If a business analyst fails to identify and translate the right requirements, they’re out of a job. This is the reason why a successful business analyst is always good at requirements handling/management process. What makes requirements...
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Decisions are at the heart of every business transaction. That’s why it is crucial to make the right decision at the right moment in time. In high turnover environments this can be an issue, as new staff need constant monitoring as they ‘learn the ropes’. This can lead to a significant deficit in efficiency and customer satisfaction.

 

To counter this problem, we advocate what we call a ‘Decision-Centric Approach’, which is designed to address the business challenge by enabling innovative technology in those crucial ‘moments of truth’

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Chaos! Stress! Everyday mess! Isn’t this an everyday situation for a business analyst? If not, either you’ve job satisfaction or you’re not being introduced to the real world of business analysis.

A person might possess great skills, however, (s)he might not be able to utilize skills without the right mix of tools and environment. A toolbox enables a person to implement the skills in the most efficient way. Possessing necessary tools is just the one part of it. Another is the knowledge to utilize the right tools at the right time to cater the solution and ensure timely committed delivery.

What are these tools? How do we map the usage of tools to the given circumstance? How can we efficiently utilize the tool? Does it depend on the solution or the approach?

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Don't underestimate how pervasively across your organization business rule is misunderstood. What is a true business rule?

A true business rule is simply a criterion used in daily business operations to shape behavior or make decisions. The things that IT implements under today’s software platforms are not true business rules; rather, they are mostly encoded representations of business rules.
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There are various schools of thought about how to define terms, some arising from professional terminologists and academia. But those approaches are often relatively arcane and not well-suited to everyday business practice.

Definitions with subtle IT or ‘data’ bias are an anathema to effective communication with business partners. Good business definitions are oriented to what words mean when used by real business people talking directly about real business things.
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When my older son graduated from college, he worked as an intern for a professional sports team. At the end of his very first day of work he called me, puzzled. "I asked them what my responsibilities were," he related, "and they said, 'We need you to know what we are supposed to be doing'." After a long pause he went on, "I wanted to ask them why they didn't already know what they were supposed to be doing, but I didn't think that would be such a great idea my very first day there."
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Operational business decisions happen every minute of every day in your organization. You’d like to think that business managers can truly manage them. You’d also like to think that the results of those decisions are comprehensively correct, consistent, traceable, and repeatable (high quality). But are they? Based on real-life evidence I strongly suspect they often are not.... When IT professionals talk about “decisions” they often mean branch points within the deep systemic logic executed by machines – classic decision points in data processing. I don’t mean that either.

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To ensure the continuity of operational business knowledge, no organization should ever depend on absent brains – or even on brains that could (and eventually always will) become absent in the future. To say it differently, your operational business knowledge should be encoded explicitly in a form that workers you have never even met yet can understand.

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I’m frequently asked to summarize what business problems the business rule approach was created to address. Here’s my take on that important question. I believe the potential benefits for your company are compelling.
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Over the past 15 years IDIOM has conceived, evolved, and demonstrated the effectiveness of it’s ‘decision centric’ development approach, which leverages both decisioning and agile approaches to radically simplify and strengthen commercial systems development. This advertorial describes the IDIOM products and how they can be used to implement the decision centric approach.
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The primary subject of this article is process, a word that is generally both indefinite and nuanced when applied to systems development. In this article we describe how process as a concept becomes both simpler and more definitive when it is integrated with decisioning. The combination of process and decisioning extends the ‘decision centric’ development concepts that we have evolved over the last 15 years. These concepts combine into a proven, practical, and robust methodology that leverages decisioning and agile techniques to fundamentally simplify commercial software development.

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A combination of process modeling (BPMN) and decision modeling  (DMN) simplifies business processes by eliminating and replacing entire sections of the model with a decision model—the decision logic of the process model is precisely captured by decision modeling a separate yet linked model.

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This column examines the three basic kinds of knowledge workers involved in business processes, and discusses how the distinctions among them are important for engineering smarter business solutions.

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So, what’s new now? A shift is occurring. Not only are decision models sanctioned as a new kind of deliverable, but thousands of them already operate in production systems serving major corporations. What’s new now is the emergence of an important question: what kinds of decisions belong in decision models and why?

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