Business Rules

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This month’s column is not a debate about decision table theory versus decision model theory. Instead, it focuses on current practices for decision tables and those of The Decision Model. It covers (1) Four Benefits of Decision Tables (2) Decision Tables in Practice (3) The Decision Model in Practice (4) The Science Behind the Transformation Steps and (5) Wrap Up: A Leap in Maturity.

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How do business rules fit with requirements? What role should business rules play in business analysis? Do business rules offer something to agile projects? This column, the first in a series of three, explains the deep insights offered by the Business Rules Manifesto on these questions. Already read it? You may be surprised by what you find here!

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Today many business analysts are creating business-oriented decision models. These decision models contain business logic for operational decisions that operate within business processes. And, it is no surprise that data quality is critical to business-oriented decision models. After all, good decision models operating with bad data are no better than bad decision models operating with good data. The surprise is: not only are decision models a preferred way for managing true business logic but they are remarkably suitable for managing data quality logic!

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With the rapid adoption of The Decision Model, the most frequently asked question is: “How do I convince my organization to try it and eventually adopt it as a standard?” Two related questions from two different perspectives are:  Do I have to find a way to introduce The Decision Model from the top down? Can I introduce The Decision Model from the ground up?
 

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Business process models are intuitive. That’s why people like them. They provide management blueprints for coordinating repetitive work. But are they sufficient for creating an optimal business solution for a business challenge? No. This discussion brings into focus some of their blind spots and what you can do to address them successfully.
 

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While many organizations have already adopted The Decision Model, others are actively exploring how it may improve or totally replace their current business rules approaches. The latter are asking the critical question:  How is The Decision Model different from what we are doing and why are these differences important?
 

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Does your requirements approach allow you to reliably identify blind alleys and showstoppers before your company invests large sums in modeling and software development? What’s missing? Most organizations do follow some project management approach. Do you find yours really helps in answering big-picture business questions?

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Ron Ross and Gladys Lam have written an important book for the business analyst community. It aims to get business analysts out of the technology ghetto that many of us get stuck in. Regardless of the type of analyst you are, I think it would be worth your time to get your hands on and read this book. I’ll explain why below.

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Agile development is an approach that evolves requirements and software through iterative deliverables. One of its principles is to deliver working software frequently, often through a series of two to three week iterations.  The Decision Model (TDM) is a model for the full and rigorous specification of logic.

 

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This article proposes a use case best practice technique: Always document decisions separately and explicitly in use case scenarios. This practice assists the business analyst in identifying where alternate and exception paths may be needed.This is similar to how decisions and resulting gateways are documented in Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN).

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A business model should include behavioral rules, decision rules, operational business decisions, and operational business events — all as first-class citizens. Understanding their intertwined roles is key to creating top-notch business solutions and business operation systems unmatched in their support for business agility and knowledge retention. This article explains how such true-to-life business models can be created.

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Before harvesting business rules, you should be aware of some basic principles and absorb them into your practices. First, all business rules are subject to change, including (and perhaps especially) business rules derived directly from business policies. The ability to change and redeploy business rules is essential to business agility.

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RuleGuide is a tool that accelerates and improves the quality of business decision and rule capture, analysis and management. By providing an enterprise repository for business decisions, rules, and associated metadata, RuleGuide fosters ongoing collaboration and alignment ofthe business and IT teams.

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In this article we focus, not so much on the similarities among decision models, but on their differences. More than that, we explore the idea of classifying decision model structures based on differences in their logic. The decision model diagram is the first place to look for visible differences among decision models.
 

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Continuous change is a central fact of life for business these days. The techniques you use for business analysis must be based on the assumption that business rules will change, often quite rapidly. The best business solution is one that caters to such change, always doing so in the manner friendliest to business people and Business Analysts.

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