The Importance of Business Rules

Importance of Business Rules

The Importance of Business Rules

The Importance of Business Rules
by Behnam Ataee, CIO
Dream Warrior Design Group

Regulation is much more than consideration for laws of the land. It involves fine tuning and understanding the business and communication rules behind your E-Commerce startup. These rules are both formal and informal.

For instance, in the late 1980’s, I headed a team of designers and programmers in the creation of a concise, functional and user-friendly data management system.

Our client was a major corporate entity in its field of operation and they desperately needed to upgrade their data management process. We worked on the project for over eighteen (18) months.

By the time it was finished, I felt like a proud father. The outcome was everything promised and more. Subsequently, our code sat on the shelf for the better part of three years until it was ultimately implemented.

Unfortunately, what I had failed to realize were the facts facing me squarely in the face. The Corporate Culture (Organizational Behavior – Cultural Rules as a subset of Business Rules) of the end users did not approve of or want any change. Furthermore, this industry’s legal climate required testing measures far beyond anything that may be considered reasonable in any other business arena.

Most of these issues could have been accommodated within the information design process. For example, we could have (and on hindsight should have) created a user interface that would have been identical to the previous software they were so used to using. Our attempt at enhancing the usability had backfired.

While we asked for user input, we failed to involve those with “informal power” within this large organization or allowed them to test and provide feedback at intermediate points. Rather, the managers performed this function. Additionally, we could have (albeit with great difficulty) brought in State Officials to the process of development by providing constant updates and feedback.

This, as I learned subsequently, tends to increase the time of development by a small factor but decreases the approval process significantly. Ultimately, the project earned regulatory approval and was implemented statewide. Although over fifteen years old, the software is still in use today by one of the largest insurance companies in the United States.

As you can see, understanding the Environment (Regulations/Business Rules) is of paramount importance.

To create concise Business Rules for your E-Commerce, the first step is to ensure a clear understanding of your organization and the response to technology. Analyze the work habits of your company, this will tell you what level of automation you will need for your Web site. Next is your technical understanding, which will provide you with a measure of how much work should be outsourced or training considered. Then you must consider the financial rules you live by. Is your company experiencing Cash Flow issues? If so, you will want to consider when choosing your financial alternatives (i.e. having a viable E-Commerce site so that the funds are deposited into your account directly).

Another consideration is your privacy rules. Many privacy rules reflect a set of “fair information practices” first drafted in the 1970s.

Although formulations vary, basic components are:

• Notifying the person (a.k.a. “data subject”) that data is being collected.

• Giving the data subject choices about what is collected and how it may be used.

• Limiting what is collected, how it may be used and how long it is retained to what’s needed
for the original purpose.

• Ensuring the data is accurate, which includes allowing the data subject to review the data
and make corrections.

• Providing reasonable security from unauthorized access or modifications and ability to
verify compliance through audit trails.

In order to combat SPAM (Junk Mail) on the Internet, please feel free to contact us at Dream Warrior Design Group to learn more.
When thinking of the regulation dimension of your E-Commerce, I strongly recommend that you

• Outline all important business practices particular to your sector that you wish to have implemented for customer dealings.

Think of your own organization and its strengths and weaknesses. What is necessary
within the E-Commerce system and your organization to create synergy between the
E-Commerce system and your company’s culture.

• Find out about all relevant legal issues that may affect your business practice on and off
the Internet and ensure that the programmers implement these rules within your E-Commerce system.

• Assign someone to continually keep track of the laws and regulations with regard to your industry and Internet. This person will have to be able to create effective and understandable documentation from which the programmers can modify the E-Commerce system.

• Adhere to and display the privacy rules within your Web site. You must also understand the consequences of your choices.
For example, if your Site clearly states that you will resell people’s information for profit, expect a lot less people to sign up for anything you have to offer.
Regulations (Example Company)

• Only Products that are drop-shipped by vendor are resold

• Vendors are paid weekly

• Immediate payment by customer

• All of our inventory should go through a fulfillment house

• A webmaster should be assigned to handle the site

• An accountant should be assigned to verify and certify payments to vendors

• Customer information is strictly private and for internal use

As you develop proper regulation, you must also pay attention to other dimensions of your developing E-Commerce business.
In order to do so, you must be able to define your company, your product or service, advantages and shortcomings of your offerings and most importantly your audience and target client.

There is a specific set of questions to address. Many of these questions will integrate with the answers you have already provided with regard to regulation.

Go back and look at your business, privacy and financial rules once you have answered the following set of questions:
Purpose Questionnaire:

• What are you offering?

• Who needs it? (target client)

• Who else is selling it?

• How are they selling it?

• Why your product/service and not your competitor’s?

• How would a customer feel while making a purchase?

• How would the customer feel after they have bought it?

• Who would the customer turn to after they have purchased your product?
Purpose Questionnaire (Example Company)

• We sell online pay per use videos, music, games and short animations.

• Our target audience is between the ages of 13 and 30.

• Our largest competitor is Apple Corporation (in music arena).

• The competition uses three sales models: pay per play/pay per volume/membership.

• We are much less expensive in all three areas and we provide more comprehensive content.

• Customer should be able to make the purchase with ease and without unnecessary page changes.

• We provide customers with the means to make the purchase part of their permanent collection
for a nominal fee, and the combination of two fees is still less than the competition for those
who purchase more than 30 songs.

• The customer is assisted in all stages so they can choose, find and download exactly what they seek.

• We have an outsourced customer service center which will be there to assist the consumer
with all their questions regarding download.

Now that the purpose questionnaire has been answered, let us see how the rules might change.
Regulations Modified (Example Company)

• Only Products that are drop-shipped by vendor are resold.

• Vendors are paid weekly.

• Immediate payment by customer.

• Implementation of a membership model is essential thus we will need a membership section
and discounted pricing for members.

• An In-House Customer Service Representative is necessary to handle membership issues.

• All of our inventory should go through a fulfillment house.

• A webmaster should be assigned to handle the site.

• An accountant should be assigned to verify and certify payments to vendors.

• Customer information is strictly private and for internal use.

As you can see, your purpose has a direct effect on the business rules.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments

Dream Warrior Design Group
Telephone: 818.610.3316
7131 Darby Ave Suite 203
Fax: 818.475.5144
Reseda, CA 91335

Copyright Dream Warrior Design Group, Inc. 1993 – 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: ArtemFinland