The Importance of S1000D Business Rules

Introduction

S1000D is an international specification for technical publications that benefits from contributing members from all over the world with expertise in multiple industries. The specification is different than other technical publication standards in that it provides a structured approach regarding organization, processes, and management for all aspects of a technical publication. Part of this structured approach is the creation of business rules which allow for organizational and project tailoring of the specification.

 

What are business rules?

S1000D uses the term ‘business rules’ to describe project-tailorable requirements related to technical data. All technical data projects and organizations already have business rules, but these rules are typically referred to as ‘requirements’ and not documented and managed as thoroughly as S1000D allows. S1000D business rules are documented project and/or organizational requirements, which define and constrain all aspects of a technical publication or the entire project.

 

S1000D also explicitly defines Business Rules Decision Points (BRDPs). BRDPs help guide a project’s creation of business rules. When addressed, these BRDPs become project-specific business rules.

 

Why are business rules important?

Business rules are important because they specify the implementation and processes to ensure consistent and complete content.

 

What are business rules used for?

Business rules provide instructions and guidelines which affect the authoring, presentation, and distribution of a publication. Business rules provide a formal method to document customer expectations and agreements between the project stakeholders.

 

How are business rules implemented?

Implementing the business rules simply means to follow the established requirements. Many organizational and project requirements can be included in a Business Rules EXchange (BREX) data module. The BREX can be used by projects and customers to validate data to ensure compliance with these rules.

 

How long does it take to create business rules?

The time to create business rules is dependent upon many factors. Depending on circumstances, business rule development could range from a few hours (small project and simple publications) to many months (large project or organization and complex publications).

 

For example, if there are multiple partners, additional (partner) requirements may need to be evaluated and discussed to ensure no conflicts exist. Business rules are rarely written all at once and must be agreed to by all project stakeholders.

 

What happens when business rules do not exist, especially at the beginning of a project?

When business rules do not exist, chaos and poor data are almost guaranteed. While it is possible to initially address only a small portion of BRDPs, projects may find skipping some BRDPs will create ambiguity which can lead to additional work in the future.

For example, Project X initiates work on developing maintenance procedures for their products. All the technical writers are familiar with S1000D and get started on their tasks. The resulting data modules are likely to have many issues:

 

  • Consistent ID values were not provided, so references between data modules authored by different employees do not work
  • Some data modules include steps with titles, while others do not.
  • All data modules have references that were authored differently, some with titles or additional issue information.

 

Summary

While business rules are only a piece of the S1000D puzzle, they are one of the most important. Business rules provide valuable information for:

 

  • Authors developing the data
  • Information Technology (IT) personnel setting up related software
  • Managers tracking project progress
  • And so on

Properly documented succinct business rules reduce ambiguity, ensure consistent practices, and reduce overall cost.

 

For more information

For additional information on business rules, to see how Pentecom can help your company create or improve business rules, or help your company with converting your legacy data to S1000D, call 888.773.9067 or e-mail us at info@pentecom.com.

 

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