Business Rules Harvesting : Extract your business rules in 3 steps

Rules Harvesting Process
For any Business Rules Engine to be successful it is important that the business rules be identified and documented accurately. 

A Rules Harvesting process is a series of steps which will help in identifying and documenting business rules. 

The outcome of the rules harvesting process will feed the rules design process.

The Rules Harvesting process should be run by the rules analyst or business analyst. To find about other required roles in a business rules project please see Roles and Responsibilities in a Business Rules Engine Project

There are 3 key steps in the rules harvesting process - Identify Business Rules, Document the Business Rules and Review the Business Rules. 

Step #1: Identify the Business Rules

Business Rules Harvesting
In this step the rules analyst or business analyst will collect the business rules which will be implemented in the business rules engine. 

This is the key step in the whole process of rules harvesting.  The rules analyst will have to do all or some of the below mentioned tasks - 

  • Understand the key business functions and the key business process.
  • Conduct Workshops with key SME to identify the manual process and any system processes.
  • In the workshops ask details about the manual process and ask for any documentation.
  • If there any rules in the system then get help of developer to understand the code and logic.
  • Get any additional documentation you can from the SMEs on the processes or policies.

Step #2 : Document the Business Rules

The second step in the process it to the document the business rules. The recommended approach for documenting the rules is to use a "Rules Register" or "Business Rules Definition Document".  Please see an example below.

Business Rules Register, Business Rules Document, Rules Harvesting Template
Business Rules Register or Definition Document

When you capture rules you should be looking at capturing the following attributes  -

  • Rule ID: A unique identifier for every rule.
  • Rule Name: A sensible name for the rule.
  • Rule Condition: The condition which needs to be true for the rule or the action to trigger.
  • Rule Action: The action the rule is supposed to do?
  • Data Elements: The data required by the rule to be able to check the condition and perform the action.
  • Business Entities (Optional): Business entities involved in the rule.

Techno-Tip : During the identification process you might find some of the rules are complicated or large. Splitting and optimizing of the rules should happen during  design the phase. During the harvesting process the focus should be on capturing the business rules.

Techno-Tip : The data elements and business entities identification will need knowledge about the existing data model. The technical team or the architect will be able to help out with getting the current data model. 

Step #3 : Review the business rules

The final step in the process is to review the documented rules and make sure everyone involved in the process is comfortable with the rules documented. 
Rules Harvesting Process
  • The review can be done by conducting workshops with the business and technical team. 
  • Getting feedback from the technical team is important as they could identify any gaps and also assess if the rules can be actually implemented.
  • The review the process can also act as precursor to the rules design as the technical team will gets a heads up for what is coming their way.
Please email me at if you need the template or any other help.

Swapnil Wale

Written by

Swapnil Wale is an IT Professional based in Sydney, Australia with over 10 years of experience in technology and project management. He is a passionate blogger and focuses on project management and BRMS articles.


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