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Describe a business context, a quality concern, and the end(s) a business intends to achieve.
A business often has mission and vision statements that describe the ends it intends to bring about in the world. A business will also usually have statements of its corporate values: those qualities it intends to foster and by which it intends to operate in order to achieve its mission and vision. Together vision, mission, and values articulate the policies of a business, establishing business direction and the acceptable means for achieving its intended ends.
To bring about its intended ends, a business has processes, especially processes that operate on information (and so need information systems). Business information systems are products (with qualities) that provide services (which also have qualities). Information services support and improve business operations by streamlining business processes (which have qualities).
Use policy statement when
Business policy statements express and address quality concerns. Policy statements tend to answer the following questions:
Quality can be measured. Measurement requires appropriate instrumentation. Also, measurement has costs, especially when humans participate. Software can improve business activities, but software also offers the opportunity to reduce measurement costs through automatic data collection, analysis, and presentation as business intelligence for decision support.
Governance guides business activity through policy making (direction) and decision making (execution). However, governance requires feedback. The following business information food chain summarizes the business feedback loop linking policies and decision making:
Enterprise software development and maintenance is expensive, being both knowledge intensive and labor intensive. Without deliberate and consistent alignment to business policies and technical standards, waste will inevitably result: wasted money, time, effort, resources, and opportunities. To prevent and minimize waste, quality alignment must remain a foremost concern throughout software development. To reduce waste, lean and agile practices have emerged within the software development industry.
The quality concerns expressed in business policy statements often describe enduring business themes. Business activities aligned with these themes are the most durable business processes. Business elements related by these business activities often have stable surfaces, but may be replaceable. Technical solution components often have both changing surfaces and frequent replacements. Business information system designs informed by these insights can maximize stability where the opportunities for stability are greatest.
A business needs to determine its business process and improvement objectives. Given these objectives, a business needs to specify the product and service qualities required of its information systems. Ideally, the software product and service qualities will be aligned with and supportive of the business objectives expressed in its mission and vision statements, but how can this alignment be achieved? Trace cards offer an agile means to record and track these important considerations and maintain solution alignment with business policies.
Consider the business policies and quality concerns captured on a sample policy card below from an example business problem (a hazmat storage facility). This representative sample captures the essential quality theme and the supportive activities required of a proposed business solution.
Storage Depot Safety Compliance