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Business Rules Forum Tutorial: Smart Use of Rules in Process

I was fortunate to be able to attend Kathy Long’s (Innovative Process Consulting, Inc) presentation centered on the importance of working with business rules in the context of process.  This was a preconference tutorial for the 12th Annual International Business Rules Forum.  She did an excellent job of walking us through her experiences and thinking concerning process modeling and business rules.  The three hour session flew by!

Kathy spent a fair amount of time discussing four ways we typically model processes.  The four were Process Decomposition, Swim lanes (e.g. BPMN light), Full BPMN and IGOE (both and a high-level and as full flow models).  The IGOE (Inputs, Output, Guides and Enablers) was new to me and I think she anticipated that the majority of the attendees would not be familiar with their use.

We took some time using the IGOE approach with a couple of exercises.  This allowed us to understand the way these diagrams are used.  She pointed out some interesting strengths of using IGOEs versus swim lane-based flow diagrams.  I would recommend that people who document processes take a look at IGOEs.  They would seem to be a useful tool in the analyst’s arsenal.

Beyond the exploration of process documentation, Kathy discussed the need to consider business rules within the context of process.  She pointed out that we often embed decisions within our process flows as if they are separate from the processes themselves.  Of course this is wrong, the decisions occur as part of the process.

She showed us how the simplification of the flows, through the removal of the decision, makes the diagram clearer and more useful as documentation.  Rather than being tied to low level business rules, the process stands on its own.

I cannot do justice in describing everything Kathy walked us through in the course of the three hour session.  You should check out her articles, published in the Business Rules Journal (http://www.brcommunity.com/).

I am looking forward to more preconference tutorial sessions tomorrow!

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