Who, What and How of a Business Rules Analyst

Rate this:
Total votes: 0

In my first article, I emphasized the vitality of the role of an IT Business Analyst and how it is expanding due to business demands for high performance. Business Analysts identify the business needs of their clients and stakeholders to help determine solutions to business problems. They play a vital role throughout the project life cycle by understanding and representing stakeholder needs, documenting and organizing the requirements for a system, and communicating requirements to an entire team. During this process, the Business Analyst steps into the shoes of a Business Rules Analyst to formulate business rules to aid in application development process for the technical team. Today, the need for a Business Analyst to grow beyond the conventional role into a Business Rules Analyst is more than ever before. The valuable deliverables and skills for extracting and managing business rules represent an ideal evolution of today’s business analyst.

Business rules, as we examined in our last article, have emerged as a powerful tool of communication in recent years. They are Of, By, and For Business People, Not IT People! A business rule is a statement that defines an aspect of a business. Business rules serve as an effective communication channel to Business Analysts for placing the business expectations across the table to the technical world as they reflect the decision points that are crucial for the business.

The foremost step that a Business Rules Analyst takes is the scoping of business rules which demands their strong understanding of not only the business domain but also the organization and the project at a micro level. The Business Rules Analyst identifies the sources from which business rules are to be extracted and scopes them. After scoping the business rules, the Business Rules Analyst identifies and definines them. Once the rules are scoped and identified, they may be grouped into appropriate business rule families.

The next step involves formulating the business rules. The Business Rules Analyst has to formulate business rules and document them to aid in application development. The simplest formulation is natural language expression. The next level would be to express them in a logical statement. Depending on the organizational and project requirements, the rules may be written in a formal expression which may be exported to a business rules engine. Business rules should be expressed in such a way that they can be validated for correctness by business people and they can be verified against each other for consistency. It's important for the Business Rules Analyst to understand the business audience and adapt the business rule writing style to match their organization's standards. The next step for the Business Rules Analyst is to classify these rules based on a classification method that best fits the organizational structure and project requirements. We have closely studied the various classifications in our previous article in the series.

After formulating and classifying the business rules, the Business Rules Analyst must ensure their proper storage and maintenance. Business rules must be stored in a central repository for business access that is easily accessible, readily adaptable and this allows nurturing of the business rules as they evolve during the development life cycle.

One of the biggest challenges faced by Business Rules Analyst is to understand the intricacies of their role and expectations on them from both the business and the IT. The Business Rules Analyst should identify the business area they represent and accordingly reflect the expectations in the output. Business rules are for the business people and should only aid the IT in realizing the business goals. They should not revolve around the IT to meet IT's needs. Establishing this contour and defining the output such that it communicates the business's rules to IT is what defines the success of a Business Rules Analyst. Another challenge during the scoping and identifying of business rules is where a Business Rules Analyst needs to have a thorough understanding of the demarcation between a business rule and a data rule. It is very critical that the rules are scoped, identified and extracted to successfully realize an application development project.

I had stated the simple rule of thumb as: Business Analyst Artifacts + Business Rules = Complete and Successful Analysis! Hence, the Business Rules Analyst plays a crucial role by supplying the vital segment of this equation, the business rules!

Anu Sripada is a business analyst at a major financial firm. In her professional tenure, she has played myriad roles including those of a developer, data modeler and analyst, in addition to being a speaker and an author. She has evolved from a conventional business analyst into a business rules analyst. In her series of articles, she writes about the roles and responsibilities that have been a part of her experience.

Comments

Join the Discussion