Business rules or business processes?
In many companies, employees are busy capturing their operations in "business processes". In defining these you face a few challenges:
• What standard do you use, for example BPMN 2.0
• What drawing tool do you use, Visio or a more sophisticated tool
• Which level of abstract do you choose, descriptive level 1; Level 2 analytical; Level 3 executable
• Will you also record the business rules in the processes, and if so, how
• How do you harmonize the processes across the locations / units / countries / etc
• How do you deal with exceptions
To start with the last point, how to handle exceptions? Often the first draft of a business process is drawn in a workshop. During the workshop a discussion with "yes-but" will occur. In other words, the right process is drawn, unfortunately there are some exceptions. After some discussion and wrangling comes the liberating word: "Let's not model exceptions, but the main process. We aim for a 95% coverage. " For the drawing, this approach is fine, unfortunately for implementation not. The automated systems to support the processes must 'understand' when anything is permissible to deviate from the 95%. Software does not understand this automatically, so there should be clear rules for that. As a result, all transactions will be enforced through the drawn process, or there is a loophole created for the exceptions. When and how the loophole is used is often ambiguous.
There is a solution that always works. Capture the business rules. Business rules can be described as 100% adequate. Just try to write all the rules in an existing process containing a decision. Drawing contain "approved / disapproved." For the approval of products, the rules could be:
• Temperature between 2 and 5 ° C
• Weight per bag between 10.0 and 10.5 kg
• Label scannable
• Packaging damage
If one of the criteria is not satisfactory, it is clear that the process cannot continue. That is clear to everyone, and you do not draw complicated loops in the process.
In short, in order to successfully execute a change, drawing of a process is not enough. It is also essential to capture all business rules. Capturing these rules should be done by the business itself, and not by ICT. ICT should make the translation into software systems, but do not have to write the rules. Practice shows that companies that establish their rules well in advance, are 25% faster in the project implementation and reduce cost of failure with 20%!