Guideline: Execute Rule Discovery Workshop
Main Description

Rules and processes elicitation is an ongoing activity throughout the whole duration of the project. Constant collaboration with the stakeholder is critical. They will change their minds as the project proceeds and that is perfectly fine.

Discover Rules from Subject Matter Experts

The rules discovery workshop is a powerful technique for eliciting rules. It gathers all the key subject matter experts together for a short but intensely focused period. The use of an outside facilitator experienced in requirements management can ensure the success of the workshop. Brainstorming is the most efficient techniques used during the sessions.

Brainstorming involves both idea generation and idea reduction. The most creative, innovative ideas often result from combining, seemingly unrelated ideas. Various voting techniques may be used to prioritize the ideas created.

Allow for human behavior but control the following points:

  • Do not attack other participants
  • Do not come back late from a break: the sessions are short, so there should be plenty of time for other activities during the day.
  • Avoid any domineering position

Some suggestions to improve the process:

  • Facilitator keeps a timer for all breaks and fines anyone that is late, everyone gets one free pass
  • Facilitator encourages everyone to use 5-minute position statement
  • In case of long discussion without reaching firm conclusion or agreement it is good to use the business concerns to drive the elicitation
  • If the rule is not clear this is good practice to prototype it.
  • Use concrete scenario to illustrate some rules. It will prepare for the tests.

In the case of a use case oriented roadmap the analyst team will start from the use case or business process map and may ask the following standard elicitation questions like:

Input DocumentType


Impacted Artifacts

  • Use case
  • Business process map
  • What happen on this business activity?
  • What is the input information of this activity?
  • What is the output ?
  • What kind of validation the user is doing on this process step?
  • How do we check that …?
  • What is happening in case of error or exceptions?
  • Who is taking the final decision?
  • Use case
  • Business process map
  • Rule description document
  • Use case
  • Business process map
  • Business entities diagram
  • What do you mean by …. (a business term to clearly define)
  • Business entities diagram
  • Rule statement
  • What about the other range of possible values for this condition?
  • Business entities diagram
  • Rule description document

Between sessions, try to make some rule analysis to verify that business terms are well defined and the rules make sense and do not have logical conflict. Log all the questions related to this analysis in a issue tracking document.

Discover Rules from Documentation

When they exist, precisely written business policy documents prove an excellent source of information for rule elicitation. The advantage of a "company certified" policy document is that it is not biased by the individual practice of a subject matter expert. In any case, the elicitation work performed from a document should of course be corroborated by a subject matter expert, and usually takes frequent interaction with the SME to get some explanation on a rule or a term that might be unclear or ambiguous. 

It is recommended to:

  • Get an exhaustive list of the business events under scope and log them in a table
  • Get the activities, tasks, processes that support the processing of those business events
  • Get the business motivation behind the rules
  • Try to extract the object model under scope, the domain values, etc...

We should still apply agile modeling by involving the SME to get feedback on the findings, assumptions and issues. Use simple diagrams to communicate with the project stakeholders.