Business Rules Technology and Rule-Based Systems

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Below are more detailed descriptions of the six categories. The definitions are fairly flexible, indeed, they need to be.

Why The function, purpose goal or objective of some activity, what is going to be gained, with a measure of success if possible.
Who A person, actor, organization or group.
What A thing, situation, action, an aggregate of things, an idea or ontology.
Where A place, a physical or namable location, potentially a situation in the sense of a state in a series of expected events.
When A point in time, a span, duration, or interval, an event or sequence of events, a temporal context of some sort.
How Steps, a manner, procedure, a capability to to change, transform or control something.

Sometimes, there are subtleties in the interaction between the subjects and questions that require a deeper understanding of the subject in order to assign them to a specific slot.

Fuzziness of the Subject

For example, there might be a business policy saying that all orders for a highly profitable product that happen to be out of stock in one location will be shipped out the next nearest location, even at a higher shipping cost for the company. In others words, locations of shipping point and distances between them are suddenly an important factor - it requires a fairly complex locator function to map from "what gets shipped from where" to "where it gets shipped to". A deeper understanding of 'where' is required.

Fuzziness of the Category

There may be significant features of a situation that demand a stretching of the categories themselves. For instance, the category of 'where' can include a sense of 'where are we in moving toward our objective", with a clear sense of moving nearer or farther away from it as if it were a definite location. The category 'when' may refer to a window of opportunity rather than definable instant or duration of time. In this case, there is a sense is of moving in time toward the window, but once it is past, that time is no longer accessible, it's too late. In other words, a window of opportunity behaves more like a 'when' than a 'what' or 'where'.

Often the fuzziness is based on the type of task being performed. For instance, detailed planning tasks have strong elements of 'how' and 'when', mixed with in 'what', in the sense of the plan itself as a concrete structure of tasks. There is also a sense of 'what' tasks need to be performed, although these tasks are probably more properly modeled as 'hows'.

Leveling the Model

More confusion can arise by mixing different levels of interaction among the subjects, such as mixing the high level concepts of' why' or 'what to do' with lower level concepts, 'when, 'where' and 'how' to do it. In the case of a framework for planning, the model would show the interactions between the plan and other plans or objective in the organization. It would not work to mix interactions between the plan and its constituent parts within the same subject framework. The framework needs to be 'leveled' the same as any other model - things of basically the same type need to be shown at roughly the same level of the model.



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