On Business Rules project best practices – Part VI – Divide and Conquer

In the first post of this series, I started listing a list of best practices that can and should be used when working on a business rules project. This post is about detailing one of these practices further.

Divide and Conquer

Once you have scoped the full project size, it is now time to divide it up in to smaller pieces that are easier to manage and develop. In essence this is “Divide and Conquer”.

There are many advantages to taking this path. First, should there be enough resources available, multiple pieces of the whole might be able to be worked on in parallel. Second, each piece or phase of the project will allow teams to work on goals that are easier and faster to attain and that work toward the ultimate goal.

Working in parallel

Depending on the nature of your business rules and the availability of some key resources, it may or may not be feasible to work on parallel streams to complete multiple pieces of the project at the same time. But in some cases it might be beneficial, and when depending on the project manager and the timeline you have to respect, this may be a good option.

The only caveat I have to mention about working in parallel is that it is better to have completed the prototype or pilot before attempting this. This way, your lessons learned and knowledge from this first experience can be leveraged accordingly.

Smaller goals

The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Chinese proverb

Working on smaller goal will help teams build confidence and knowledge on what and how to do perform the activities required to attain the goals. They may decide to readjust some of those activities based on lessons learned and the whole project will benefit from this experience. The teams and the rest of the organization will see progress and the completion of each phase will be yet another milestone towards a successful project.

How to divide and conquer?

At the project level

There are many different ways of dividing the business rules projects and how you decide to do this in your own project may differ from the following, but here are example options:

Divide by:

  • Subject Area (or domain). If the business rules in the subject areas have little or no co-relation, this may be a first level of division.
  • Sub-domain. Some domains are large and may be composed of sub-domains that may be easy to separate from each other.
  • Business Process. Depending on the size and complexity of the business processes, the business process might be an appropriate chunk to separate for a project phase.

At the rule harvesting level

Although the details of the steps to follow during a rule project will be detailed in separate posts, the rule harvesting portion of a project may also be divided into pieces depending on resources, and the number of rules. The following suggestions are inspired by a presentation made by Gladys Lam at the Business Rules Forum 2008[1].

Divide by:

  • Business Process. If the business process has few business rules within its tasks and decision points (50 rules per task)
  • Task: If there are more than 50 rules per task
  • Decision Point: If there are more than 100 rules in the tasks.

In short, if the work is broken down into smaller manageable pieces, your chances for success will be increased.

[1] Lam, Gladys S.W., Organizing a Business Rule Harvesting Project: Divide and Conquer, Presentation made at the Business Rules Forum 2008

Series Navigation<< On Business Rules project best practices – Part V – Plan the projectOn Business Rules project best practices – Part VII – Model and Vocabulary >>

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