Business Rules Solutions: General Pattern Questions for Harvesting Business Rules

Excerpted with permission from Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules (2nd Ed.), by Ronald G. Ross with Gladys S.W. Lam, Business Rule Solutions, LLC, 2015, 308 pp,

A pattern question is simply a thinking tool that assists practitioners in developing business rules. Over the past decade we have developed a series of well-structured pattern questions. Each pattern question:

  • focuses on a particular topical concern.
  • typically leads to many business rules.

The general pattern questions presented below aim at capturing basic business rules1. They are designed to assist practitioners in asking the right kinds of questions in the right ways. Answers typically lead to more questions — and to more business rules.

General Pattern Question for ‘What’


General Pattern Question for ‘How’


General Pattern Question for ‘Where’


General Pattern Question for ‘Who’


General Pattern Question for ‘When’

General Pattern Question for ‘Why’


General Pattern Question for Exceptions

My next Column focuses on pattern questions specifically for business process models.

1All business rule statements in this discussion are expressed using RuleSpeak®. The RuleSpeak guidelines for expressing business rules in structured natural language are free on

Ron Ross

Ron Ross

Ronald G. Ross is Co-Founder and Principal of Business Rule Solutions, LLC ( BRS provides workshops, consulting services, publications, and methodology supporting business analysis, business rules, business vocabulary, and rule management. His popular public seminars on business rules and business analysis, the first on business rules (starting in 1996) and the longest-running in the industry, are given through AttainingEdge ( At BRS, Mr. Ross co-develops Proteus®, its landmark business analysis and business rules methodology, which features numerous innovative techniques including the popular RuleSpeak® (available free through These are the latest offerings in a 30-year career that has consistently featured creative, business-driven solutions. Mr. Ross also serves as Executive Editor of and its flagship on-line publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a regular columnist for the Journal’s Commentary section which also features John Zachman, Chris Date, Terry Halpin, and Roger Burlton., hosted and sponsored by BRS, is a vertical community for professionals working with business rules and related areas. Mr. Ross was formerly Editor of the Data Base Newsletter from 1977 to 1998.


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