Business Resource

The concept of business resource represents all those things that are required by a business to sustain its processes and create its outcomes.  Resources break down into five general categories:  physical things, energy, monetary value, information resources, and various kinds of capabilities.

Business resources are consumed in the course of producing outcomes.  They are housed in specific locations.  They are manipulated by business behavior and enable that behavior to take place.  Resources in the form of the capabilities of people, groups and devices are assigned as role-players.  The recursive relationship on the resource concept indicates that there can be many levels of composition and interrelationship among resources of all kinds in the business.

From an architectural point of view resources are important because the business spends much of its time and effort in acquiring, using, maintaining, and tracking its various resources.  This is a key source of requirements for information systems.  As we allocate work to study the business, the range of resources, and their further classification, is a major organizing principle.  The major types of resources, along with various resource-related issues, are outlined below:

  • Physical resources represent tangible, molecular things that are used and consumed by the business.  Two intersecting type structures help categorize physical resources.  Resources may be mass (sand, sugar, hydrochloric acid), countable (pencils, transistors), or identifiable (individually tracked and accounted for).  Resources may also be supplies, devices, components, or environmental resources.  These category sets influence each other.  Supplies are almost always either mass or countable type resources.  Environmental resources (land, water, trees) tend to be mass types, but may also be identifiable (a particular lake, a large oak around which a courtyard is constructed).  Components are either identifiable or countable, while devices (tools and machines) are usually identifiable. Physical resources are always quantifiable, and almost always have additional physical characteristics (weight, dimensions, quality, color) that we are interested in.  Many physical resources (devices) require energy, while some are used for storing potential energy.  We need to be able track the life cycle of physical resources, for depreciation and inventory purposes.
  • Energy is a factor that should be considered more than it generally is in business models.  Energy is either kinetic (producing physical motion), thermal (expressed in terms of temperature measures), or potential (stored in a medium for future release).  Physical resources store or contain energy (fuels, batteries) and device-type resources consume energy.
  • Money can be promised (to be available in the future) or actual.  In can be incoming (billings, receivables), outgoing (payments, liabilities), or static (balances).  Monetary resources are assigned to accounts (which are logical locations).  Money provides valuation for all other types of resources used by the business.
  • Capability is a major resource of all businesses, from the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and experience  of human beings.  In our concepts we have separated aspects of people into their capabilities, which form a business resource and their relationship to each other as role-players.  We can say things like "Three years of Visual Age experience is worth ...", and then negotiate with individuals, with that monetary valuation as one aspect of the negotiation.  Capability as a business resource is subject to many levels of aggregation and identification.  We sometimes talk about the core competencies of a business, and this is a capability consideration.  The ability to manage and apply capabilities in an effective manner is largely a matter of externalizing the tacit knowledge of individual employees and making it explicit.  This in turn becomes a major opportunity for the application of information technology.
  • Information resources represent the kinds of things that can be known by the individuals and organizations in the business.  What does it mean for an business to know something?  It means that it has stored data (physical or electronic), or that its member individuals know it.  There are many types of information resource that the business needs to be concerned about.  A few of those include: identification of things of interest to the business, relationships among those things, characteristics of things, including quantities and other forms of measurement, descriptions, categorizations, histories, templates, plans, and documents of all kinds.  A key form of information as a business resource is the business rule.  A business rule is an information resource that is expression of business policy.  Business rules can be found in relation to almost all of the concepts in our conceptual architecture.  A business rule may:
  • provide a set of conditions that govern business behavior
  • provide the criteria for when an action is successfully or unsuccessfully completed
  • stipulate what other actions can or cannot be performed as a result of successful or unsuccessful completion
  • specify the  response to some external event that impinges on the business
  • govern relationships that need to apply among various business entities.