Most people would agree that having a complete and understandable statement for every business rule is a worthy goal. Indeed, a lot of effort has been devoted to techniques for constructing rules statements that meet this goal. Yet, I have to wonder if rule statements that really work are always attainable and if spending a great deal of time on them is justified.

This topic was in my mind when I recently visited a client that has a whole floor of their office staffed with people who do nothing but extract business rules from legal documents about bonds. The rules they harvest are used to create mathematical models that project the future performance of these bonds. The source material is very precise, but to understand it you need to know a lot about the underlying business and the dialect in which the legal documents are written. So perhaps we have a conflict between precision and understandability, but I think that there are additional conflicts that limit the value of business rule statements.

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