Every company has business rules that govern how things will work. Often business rules are well known across the enterprise, but undocumented. It’s these rules that can trip you up when you’re planning for a new system. Knowing all the business rules that are established and used in day-to-day work prior to defining system requirements will help you understand the scope of the work.
So what is a business rule anyway? According to Wikipedia:
“A business rule is a rule that defines or constrains some aspect of business and always resolves to either true or false. Business rules are intended to assert business structure or to control or influence the behavior of the business.”
Business rules help a company fulfill its mission and goals. When collecting and documenting business rules, it’s important that you focus at the enterprise level, not just the project level.
Ronald Ross, author of Principles of the Business Rule Approach, describes ten basic principles of the business rule approach. He believes that rules should:
Basically, a business rule is well defined when the person who is expected to follow it can do so in an effective and consistent manner when required. Here’s an example of a business rule.
A customer’s phone service can’t be suspended for nonpayment unless:
To Collect Business Rules, Gather Input From Many Sources
Put It All Together
Once you’ve received information from all your sources -- questionnaires, rules and policy documents, and work sessions – it’s important to consolidate them into one document for review by key stakeholders. An excel spreadsheet works pretty well for this unless you have an alternative method.
And once you have all of your business rules set, you can tackle defining the requirements that will solve that business rule in your new system.