The Decision-Scope Approach to Specialization of Business Rules: Application in Business Process Modeling and Data Warehousing

M. Schrefl, B. Neumayr, M. Stumptner
Schr13a (2013)
Proceedings of the Ninth Asia-Pacific Conference on Conceptual Modelling (APCCM 2013), January 29 - February 1, 2013, Adelaide, South Australia, Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology, CRPIT, Vol. 143. Eds.: Flavio Ferrarotti and Georg Grossmann, pp. 3-18, 2013.
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Abstract (English)

It is common in organizational contexts and in law to apply a decision-scope approach to decision making. Higher organization levels set a decision scope within which lower organization levels may operate. In case of conflict the regulations and rules of a higher level (e.g. European Union) take precedence over those of a lower level (e.g. a member state). This approach can also be beneficially applied to the specialization of the most important kind of business rules in information systems, action rules. Such rules define under which conditions certain actions may, must not, or need to be taken.

Applying the decision scope approach to business process modeling based on BPMN means that business rules should not be buried in decision tasks but be made explicit at the flow level. This requires a re-thinking of the current BPMN modeling paradigm in that several aspects in conditional flow so far modeled jointly are separately captured: (a) potential ordering of tasks, (b) conditions under which a task may or may not be invoked, and (c) conditions under which a particular task needs to be invoked. Rather than re-defining BPMN as such, an appropriate extension may be provided on-top of BPMN and mapped to standard BPMN primitives.

Applying the decision scope approach to active data warehousing, where analysis rules express actionable knowledge, requires to consider two alternative hierarchies: (1) hierarchies of sets of points at the same granularity and (2) the roll-up hierarchy of points in multi-dimensional space.

This paper presents the decision scope approach, outlines how it complements inheritance and specialization approaches typically followed in object-oriented systems, and introduces consistency rules for business rule specialization as well as auto-correction rules, which rectify an inconsistent lower-level business rule such that it becomes consistent with higher-level business rules.