Summary: 

Business Constraints identify activities or actions that are prohibited or prescribed.

Business Constraints are applicable to Business Processes. The Systems Processes that implements the Business Processes are responsible for enforcing the constraints.

 Applicability

Business Constraints may be imposed by governments, regulators, accepted practices within certain industries, or by the organization itself. In all cases, a constraint represents a restriction on a business activity or in one or more parts of a business activity. When describing a systems process, the constraint must be enforced.

Business Constraints are some of the most common rules in regulated industries. They are usually expressed:

  • Prohibited, as in the business cannot support customers who are resident in specific countries, or
  • Prescribed, as in the business supports customers who are resident in specific countries.

Guidance in Specifying Constraints

In specifying Business Constraints, the following guidance may prove helpful:

  • When specifying a numeric boundary, in addition to specifying the value (or how to calculate it), the boundary condition also specifies less than, less than or equal to, equal to, greater than or equal to, or greater than.
  • When specifying a role, such as, "Order Taker", specific people are identified who have that role. This is usually done by identifying one or more specific job titles within an organization.
  • When specifying a constraint that includes a list, such as a sanctioned countries list, the specifics of the list are identified and a copy of the list is obtained.
    • The list will be used within the development or acquisition of the system to enforce the constraint.

Common Examples

The following are common examples of Business Constraints that I have encountered in the course of my career:

  • The company can have customers who are resident in any country, except those that are sanctioned by the United States Government.
  • The company can only have customers who are resident in Canada, the United States, or Mexico.
  • Orders from customers may only be taken by persons who are designated order takers or their direct supervisors
    • Orders with a total value that is greater than a specified threshold must be approved by the direct supervisor or that supervisor's designated alternate.
    • Unless a different amount is specified for a specific order taker, the amount that requires authorization is CAD 1,000.