Links - Business Rules

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Added Jan 20 2009: new section for Business Rules of Thumb
Updated Sept 16 2008: new links

The Grand Daddy of business rules sites is Business Rule Community, run by Ron Ross. They make you sign up in order to see most of their articles, but it's well worth the time to sign up. The content is excellent. They send you a newsletter about once a month - no big mailing lists, no spamming.

Another excellent site is Business Rules Group, run by John Zachman, Ron Ross ( again ), Terry Moriarty and many other big names in business rules.

In addition to his work in business rules, John Zachman deserves a separate mention for his development of he the Zachman Framework, one of the essential tools of conceptual modeling.

Another important person in the history of business rules is Barbara Van Halle, who has been an indefatigable supporter of the technology ever since ... I'm not sure when. See link below.

The Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan ( MAIP ) has an interesting ( and very local ) business rule document for the Commonwealth Automobile Reinsurers (CAR) titled CAR Rules of Operation. In some ways, it is a perfect counter-example of building a complex set rules by brute force - it is crying for specification and validation with a rules management tool of some sort. Check out the CAR sitemap, especially the Business Plan.

Update Jan 20 2009:

Rarely Asked Questions: Are "Business Rules of Thumb" the Same as Business Rules ?

I found a small site devoted to business rules of thumb at PbWiki. Many of the rules are "tried and true" and have relevance to business and to the conduct of life in general. On other hand, note that many others sound great but are a triumph of form over content. Indeed, they are more interesting because they are idealized examples of more powerful abstract form of a rule.

Take the example of "a bad reference is as hard to find as a good employee" by Robert Half. Abstract the rule to "a bad X is as hard to find as a good Y", where there is some association ( or in this case an anti-association ) between X and Y, such as "a bad cat is as hard to find as a good dog". Dog lovers would reverse the order of course. Samuel Johnson was renown for this sort of statement.

A more business-oriented example is "all financial models built of a start-up projecting more than 6 months in the future are guaranteed to be grossly inaccurate" by Ben Casnocha. This one is more complex.

Constuctiing a more formal statement for the rule:


Business organization = Start-up AND
Planning Document = Financial Model AND
Projecting Peroid more than 6 months in the future


Model Reliability = Grossly Inaccurate

Note the defaulting problem contained within the abductive assertion that "a plan projecting less than 6 months in the future is not grossly inaccurate". Is that true ? It may not be grossly inaccurate, but that's are far as one can go with a valid deduction. What should the value of Model Reliability be for less than 6 months ?

Note too that buried in the implementation details of the rule is an implied workflow. If the financial model is over 6 months old then it must be revisited and updated. In fact the "Revise Financial Model" workflow might kick off every 3 months. Why not every 2 moths or even every month ? The arbitrariness of the time period is a hallmark of "pure" business rules.

Clearly, business rules of thumb are not the same as business rules, but asserting them as operating principles often lead to and may inevitably lead to business rules.