Business Rules and Duplicates

When finding or avoiding duplicates or doing similar kind of consolidation with party master data you will encounter lots of situations, where it is disputable what to do.

The “political correct” answer is: Depends on your business rules.

Yea right. Easier said than done.

Often you face the following:

  • Business rules doesn’t exist. Decisions are based on common sense.
  • Business rules differs between data providers.

Lets have an example.

We have these business rules (Owner, Brief):

Finance, No sales and deliveries to dissolved business entities
Logistics, Access to premises must be stated in Address2 if different from Address1
Sales, Every event must be registered with an active contact
Customer Service, In case of duplicate contacts the contact with the first event date wins

In a CRM system we have these 2 accounts (AccountID, CompanyName, Address1, Address2, City):

1, Restaurant San Remo, 2 Main Street, entrance thru no 4, Anytown
2, Ristorante San Remo, 2 Main Street, , Anytown

Also we have some contacts (AccountID, ContactID, JobTitle, ContactName, Status, StartYear. EventCount):

1, 1, Manager, Luigi Calda, Inactive, 2001, 2
1, 2, Chef de la Cusine, John Hothead, Active, 2002, 87
2, 1, Chef de la Cuisine, John Hothead, Duplicate, 2008, 2
2, 2, Owner, Gordon Testy, Active, 2008, 7

We are so lucky that a business directory is available now. Here we have (NationalID, Name, Address, City, Owner, Status):

3, Ristorante San Remo, 2 Main Street, Anytown, Luigi Calda, Dissolved
4, Ristorante San Remo, 2 Main Street, Anytown, Gordon Testy, Active

Under New ManagementSo, I don’t think we will produce a golden view of this business relationship based on the data (structure) available and the business rules available.

Building and aligning business rules and data structures to solve this example – and a lot of other examples with different challenges – may seem difficult and are often omitted in the name of simplicity. But:

  • Master data – not at least business partners – is a valuable asset in the enterprise, so why treat it with simplicity while we do complex handling with a lot of other (transaction) data.
  • Common sense may help you a lot. Many of these questions are not specific to your business but are shared among most other enterprises in your industry and many others in the whole real world.
  • I guess the near future will bring increased number of available services with software and external data support that helps a lot in selecting common business rules and apply these in the master data processing landscape.

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2 thoughts on “Business Rules and Duplicates

  1. John Owens 10th October 2010 / 22:23

    Thanks, Henrik

    A wonderful example of how businesses create complexity out of simplicity.

    There are two fundamentals for business rules:

    A) It is business policy, set by the owners in small enterprises and by senior executives in large enterprises, that determine the business rules for the enterprise.

    B) From A) above we get our first business rule. 1a) Policy is set at corporate level not at department level and 1b) all departments must ensure that all business activities (function, process or procedure) carried out by them comply with all published corporate policies.

    In your example you have defined three corporate policies:

    1. We do not trade with dissolved entities.
    2. We only deliver to defined delivery addresses.
    3. We only have contact with current, authorised client contacts and each contact event must be logged.

    So what business rules do these corporate policies give rise to?

    Policy 1:
    Activity Type: Sales
    o We do not do new business with businesses on our Trading Blacklist.
    o Before any orders are taken from a proposed customer get Finance to check out the customer’s status and credit rating.
    o Do not take orders from existing customers whose account is flagged as “Stopped”.

    Activity Type: Finance
    o Carry out standard credit rating on businesses that are proposed customers. Put any who fail on our Trading Blacklist. Notify Sales.
    o Monitor customer payments and put a “Stopped” flag on those exceeding their credit limit.

    Policy 2
    Activity Type: Sales
    o Get the customer to define their preferred delivery address and enter this into Address 2, even if it is the same as Address1.

    Activity Type: Logistics
    o Make all deliveries to Address2. If any problems are encountered then get Sales to get a better delivery address from the customer and get them to enter this into Address2.

    Policy 3
    Activity Type: Sales
    o Ensure that the each contact for the customer is entered into the CRM.
    o Every contact with a customer must be logged in the CRM.

    Activity Type: Customer Service
    o Every contact with a customer must be logged in the CRM.
    o If there is more than one contact name for a role, then the active contact with the most recent start date wins. Mark the older contact as “Inactive”.
    o If you are constantly being redirected when you contact the customer, then ask customer to nominate a more suitable contact and add them to the CRM.
    o Set the status of any ineffective or superseded contact to “Inactive”.

    Notice that I refer to “Activity Type” rather that “Department”. Business rules apply in whatever Department the activity is carried out.

    This gives us perhaps the most important business rule of all; Business Rules are cantered on the Activity and transcend Departments.

    Thanks again, Henrik, for bringing the anomalies to the fore.


  2. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 11th October 2010 / 06:09

    Thanks a lot John for your comprehensive comment.

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