Guideline: Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules
Main Description

SBVR is a standard of the Object Management Group intended to formalize complex business rules, and business vocabularies. SBVR is part of the OMG's Model Driven Architecture (MDA). The goal of SBVR is to capture specifications in natural language and represent them in formal logic so they can be machine-processed.

SBVR includes two specialized vocabularies:

  • Vocabulary for Describing Business Vocabularies which deals with all kinds of terms and meanings.

  • Vocabulary for Describing Business Rules which deals with the specification of the meaning of business rules, and builds on top of the previous vocabulary.

The meanings are declined into concept, question and proposition. The meaning is what someone intends to express or understands. A phrase such as "We deny the invoice if the medical treatment was done after one year of the accident" has a clear meaning for a claim processor within a car insurance company. As analyst we need to transform logically this meaning into concepts which has a unique interpretation so that we can represent the business knowledge within a comprehensive vocabulary.

Concept includes a unique combination of characteristics or properties.

Business rules are declined into two possible classes:

  • structural  (definitional) business rule which are about how the business chooses to organize the things it deals with, they are considered as necessity. In this context the statements describing the rule can describe the necessity, the impossibility or the restricted possibility.
  • operative (behavior) business rule govern the conduct of business activity. They are considered as obligation and directly enforceable. When considering operative business rule it is important to look at the level of enforcement to specify the severity of action imposed by the rule in order to put or keep it in force. Statements to describe the rule include obligation, prohibition, and restricted permission.

In SBVR, rules are always constructed by applying necessity or obligation to fact types . Fact type is an association between two or more concepts.

Using SBVR the team can document the semantic of the business entities, facts and business rules. The persistence mechanism uses XMI to facilitate interchange between group and tools. SBVR allows multi-lingual development, since it is based on separation between symbols and their meaning. SBVR proposes Structured English as one of possibly many notations that can map to the SBVR Meta-model.

SBVR is a good fit for describing business domains and requirements for business processes and business rule applications.