Guidelines for Defining Business Process Steps

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Like Business Rules, Business Process Step definitions must be easy to understand, must be affirmative and definite, must be functional rather than technical, and must be understandable even when read as an individual statement.

When defining Business Rules, you concentrate on writing Definition text. Ultimately a Rule's Definition text is the only thing that identifies the Rule in a meaningful way. Business Rules may be clarified by classifications, added information or even diagrams, but they remain essentially textual expressions.

When defining Business Process Steps, you can use various different approaches. Depending on the approach, you can start by concentrating on naming and sequencing process steps as they appear in the organization's workflow. Or you can start by focusing on Definition texts, as with Business Rules.

When naming high-level, overall processes, think of nominal phrases such as "Customer Registration", "Quality Assurance" or "High-Demand Delivery".

When naming detailed, leaf-node process steps, you are dealing with specific user tasks. Consider verbal phrases such as Quote Price, Confirm Reservation, Close Deal, Accept Contract, Return Key.

As a Definition text for a Business Process Step, clear statements of "the way things are done" are best. A good description of the business process step Return Car could be "Customers return cars in person to the agreed return branch on the return date stated in the contract." In this example, there will also be rules or procedures for the various ways in which returning a car can "go wrong". You can specify these as sub-rules or sub-processes belonging to the process step Return Car.

As this example shows, good definitions for Process Steps have at least a verb ("return") and preferably also tell you about the agent or performer ("customers") of the process step. This agent may be a person or group of persons, or possibly a computer system. In addition, a time element is often appropriate ("the return date stated in the contract").