Common Enterprise wide Data Governance Issues #10: No ‘Master’ repository of business rules

This post is one of a series dealing with common Enterprise Wide Data Governance Issues.  Assess the status of this issue in your Enterprise by clicking here: Data Governance Issue Assessment Process

Business rules provide critical details about data fields, including the ‘business’ name of the field, the business purpose of the field, the values it may hold, the business meaning of each value, and interdependencies with other data.

An example of a business rule could be ‘Account Type must be consistent with Account Fee Rate, both must be BUSINESS, or both must be ‘PERSONAL’.  Such a business rule would be critical on an Anti Money Laundering Programme, where you must apply different alert rules to personal and business accounts.

In some organisations, there is no ‘Master’ repository of business rules.  Business rules are not easily researched, not formally documented, and not subject to change control.

Impact: Projects dependent on existing data must research business rules governing that data from first principles, and face the risk of not finding them, or finding inconsistent business rules.  This leads to duplication of effort, project delays, and the risk of making incorrect business decisions based on incorrect business rules (e.g. generating False Anti Money Laundering Alerts on accounts you treat as PERSONAL, when in fact they are BUSINESS.)

Agree and implement the following Policies:

  1. Overall ownership for business rules governing data within the Enterprise lies with the CIO.
  2. Ownership for business rules within each Business Unit lies with the CIO and the head of the Business Unit.
  3. Business rules must be formally documented and subject to change control (Enterprise-wide, and Business Unit specific).
  4. The CIO must appoint a person (TitleX) with responsibility for Enterprise wide business rules.
  5. TitleX is responsible for the definition and maintenance of Enterprise-wide business rules, in consultation with business units.
  6. TitleX must provide a single point of contact to handle requests for business rule details.

Your experience:
Have you faced the above issue in your organisation, or while working with clients?  What did you do to resolve it?  Please share your experience by posting a comment – Thank you – Ken.

4 thoughts on “Common Enterprise wide Data Governance Issues #10: No ‘Master’ repository of business rules

  1. Hi Ken.
    Interesting topic & a timely one for me.
    At my current client we’ve implemented
    biz rules management & change control
    using a requirements management (RM) product.
    We’ll soon be applying these rules in the
    data transformation & DQ space.
    Are there any practical tips out there for tracing
    biz rules from an RM product down to
    products(s) that manage transformation & DQ rules?
    Marianne (@emx5)

  2. Hi Marianne (@emx5),

    If I understand you correctly, you are using a requirements management (RM) product as the ‘Master Repository’ to capture enterprise wide business rules, and critically, to apply change control to them. These business rules may be used in many places across the Enterprise, including:
    1. Within existing business applications.
    2. Within Data Transformation processes
    3. Within Data Quality processes
    4. etc.

    If I understand you correctly, you need to manage the MASTER, and all REPLICA instances where the business rules are applied.

    The above challenge will be the subject of a future blog post…

    Meanwhile, I recommend you use the Requirements Management (RM) product to capture not only the business rules, but details of each business process that uses a replica of the rule. The details should include business stakeholder details, identifying the title of the person who should be consulted regarding any changes to the business rule.

    At a future date, when applying change management to a business rule, you will be in a position to identify all of the stakeholders who need to be consulted / informed of the business rule change.

    I hope I understood your question correctly, and I hope the above helps,

    Rgds Ken

  3. Pingback: Business Rules Case Study – Part II « Ken O'Connor Data Consultant

  4. Pingback: Common Enterprise wide Data Governance Issues – #12. No Enterprise wide Data Dictionary. « Ken O'Connor Data Consultant

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