This could be one time (or one at a time) purchase when you launch or make a change in your business, or it can be a regular purchase like olive oil and salt if you own a restaurant.
There is something you will discover when you start defining more than one type of business rules. You will discover that the business rules are not simply a list of rules. When you make decisions about your product or service you rather define a network of rules.
For example, you might have thought after last week’s post that you know your team inside your company and you know it outside your department as well, such as all your partners, sub-contractors, suppliers and you know (at least to a degree) your customer.
But when you look at what you need to purchase and get hold of for your business to operate successfully, then you might find out that there is a person or role, of whom you haven’t thought before, but whom you need in your project team. And you might have already asked yourself last week what materials, software, hardware, etc. you might need to acquire for your project team to function.
Again including your customer. What hardware or environment does your customer need in order to be able to use your app, for example? Or will you assure that you produce an app working on any kind of hardware? Then you would need to get hold of this “any” kind of hardware in order to test your app.
There are obvious things and means you will immediately know of needing as soon as think of your product. A hair-dresser will need scissors, hair brushes and combs. A writer will need a notebook, a pen, a computer, a printer, etc. There will be variations too, depending on your preferences to carry out the work. If you are a writer, you might prefer to make handwritten notes on your book or even write it by hand (as I sometimes do, but not this time), or you might be a writer who types your text immediately (as I do it this time). If you are a computer gig of a writer, then you would not need as many pens as a hand-writing writer. And with computers of course, you would think of a model to use, then of a software to purchase.
And sometimes you need to go there and back in your decisions. For example, I am used to Windows® and I am simply lazy to learn a new for me system like Apple®. So I have a Windows computer. At the beginning I used Microsoft Word® for my writing, but after much praise from others and after giving a very skeptical (at the beginning) try to Scrivener (a software used widely by writers of various genres), I fell in love with this software and use it for any piece of writing I am doing (like today). When I formatted my first novel for publishing I discovered that Scrivener® for Windows didn’t have some of the functionalities, which Scrivener for Mac had.
Complaining didn’t help. I needed a solution. If I would know about Scrivener before purchasing my current computer, I might have bought a Mac. Maybe not. At least now, after finding out what I can do to format well, without purchasing a new computer and go around those missing and useful functionalities, I might as well stay with Windows, even at the point when I will need a new laptop.
So decide in the circumstances you are, and try to think a few steps ahead. But maybe not too many. Concentrate on the solutions and possibilities.
This was about the obvious means for your product and service.
But there is something extremely important to acquire in order to guarantee success for your product and service, and which rarely pops up inside our minds as the first requirement.
And this something is knowledge.
Some of you might nod at this and some might ask, “Huh, what do you mean by that?”
There is a two-fold meaning for knowledge here.
First of all you have to find out what you need to have in place in order to start with production or roll out the service.
I guarantee, you will be surprised along the way.
I was shocked to find out that for technical documentations, S1000D® (International specification for technical publications), as a standard, was not enough. Not only there were other standards on how to capture data on parts and materials, and how to capture correctly the language so it is correctly understood by operators of a complex machinery, such as an airplane. But there were standards prescribing the formatting of the information at its output.
Even today, more than ten years after, I can remember almost each word of the questions I put when confronted with this information at the German Defense department I have been working between 2004 and 2006. “Doesn’t S1000D define exactly how you have to format each tiny little bit of text and data? Why do we have to follow another standards as well? Aren’t those outdated? Why not just following S1000D?”
The answer was friendly and precise. “Well, first of all S1000D is a specification, which means that everything inside it can be followed but doesn’t have to. And the definition it offers are sometimes not precise enough.” A few years later the text in S1000D went even further saying that the output and formatting definitions were recommendations and not rules.
And I learned about the cases, where the “violation” of those recommendations was vital.
One of the most prominent examples in this respect are warnings.
According to S1000D (Issue 4.1, Chapter 3.9.3):
“Warnings are used in data modules and technical publications to alert the user that possible hazard are associated with the materials/processes/procedures/limits. These can cause death or injury in any form if the instructions in the operational or procedural task are not followed precisely. Warnings describe the hazards and the possible impact.”
So understandably the standard way to format them is in red colour. Usually a frame around it warning red. But you wouldn’t want to mark your warnings in red on submarines. At least on those, where red light is used for interior lighting while in combat. Even if you might not quite understand the physics behind the good reason why they do it (find out more here), you want to make sure that the crew on the submarine you produce is safe and is warned correspondingly on possible dangers during its operation.
How do you acquire knowledge about what you need? Yes, by research and interviewing the others who do it. You might think that competitors would be afraid to give you any particular details, but you will be surprised how much valuable information you will get, because many want to share their lessons learned and warn of the pit-falls.
But knowing what you need is not enough. There is another aspect to knowing. As soon as you find out what you need, you have to find out more details about what you need.
In the example above with the rule of how to format and present warnings inside a submarine, it is not enough to know that there is a particular rule, you need to know what the rule is about.
It is not enough to know that some of the mobile phone batteries are not allowed to be used in the country of your residence and business, you have to know which those are, so that you don’t put the wrong batteries into the mobiles you want to sell.
It is not enough to know that there is a certain slang the young adults use these days, you have to know the words and how they are used in order to write an appealing book for young adults.
And here is another surprise. When you learn more about what you need for your product or service, you might find out that there are people, materials, hardware, software and many other, whom and which you would need as well and haven’t thought before.
Of course you need to focus on a feasible minimum and make a start. Endless planning and deciding will not launch your product or service. You need to decide on the qualitative minimum and see how the demand will shape what you offer for sale.
Yes, starting and running a business is a strategy game. As well as the definition of business rules. It is a strategy game too. And next week we will make our next move.
This post is a part of “Business rules: General”, copyright © 2015-2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels