Day 1 – Pre Conference workshop – Sunday 10/26/08
I was thrilled to attend a Business Rules seminar by Ronald Ross who is often called the “father of business rules”. I brought along his book Principles of the Business Rule Approach and he graciously signed it for me. Mr. Ross made a great case why we need to document and manage business rules independently of processes and program logic. He reminded us that rules have nothing to do with hardware or software technology and are only concerned with describing criteria for business decisions, business terminology and business facts.
The best question a BA can ask the business stakeholder is why do we have this rule and how does it support the business strategy and objectives? The other main thing is to ensure that everyone is using the same definitions for business terms. He calls these rules facts. He made the distinction that business rules should be specified by business people, not IT. He showed us a fact model which looked surprisingly similar to an ERD. But not the same he declared. He also clarified the difference between rules (which represent decisions and are not procedural) and processes (they transform and are procedural). He was adamant that rules should not be included in processes. In documenting process workflows Mr. Ross never includes any diamond symbols. Diamonds represent decisions which need to be documented as business rule statements. He stressed rule independence from program logic is needed so that the business can manage their rules directly without getting IT involved and the business maintains control and establishes traceability. The great news is that Mr. Ross’s seminar was aligned with the principles we teach to our business analysts.