What is the purpose of S1000D Business Rules?
Before we can understand the purpose of Business Rules, we firstly need to understand what Business Rules are.
The S1000D Specification defines Business Rules… “as decisions that are made by a project or organization on how to implement S1000D. These Business Rules cover all aspects of S1000D and are not limited to just the authoring or illustrating. As well they can also address issues that are not defined by S1000D such as how S1000D interfaces with other standards, specifications and business processes that are related to the implementation of S1000D”.
So, now that we have a little bit of a better understanding of what Business Rules might be used for, let us dig into this a little deeper.
Business Rules become a guidance document that everyone involved in the project will refer to. This document will ensure that all content that is produced is consistent and it will mean that all parties have a clear understanding on what is required.
At any point in time, if there is a question that is raised and the answer is not in the Business Rules, then the Business Rules need to be updated to reflect this information. Business Rules document is a “living” document. This means that as requirements change the Business Rules need to be updated and modified.
The Business Rules do apply to content and therefore needs to be developed during the analysis stage of the project. When developing the Business Rules there are 10 categories that you need to consider. If you have been able to document information on each of these categories you should end up with Business Rules that will be effective for the project.
The categories are:
- Project Definition
- Maintenance Philosophy and Concepts of operation
- Business Process
- Data Creation
- Data Exchange
- Data integrity and management
- Legacy data
- Data output
In Issue 4.1 of the S1000D Specification, a useful guides has business rules development guide has been provided via the Business Rules Decision Points (BRDP) Index. This is helpful as there is a total of 552 BRDPs. This sounds like a lot of rules to consider, but if you are able to answer these and catalogue them within the categories above, you will know that you have covered all of the requirements for the project.
Now that we have looked at what needs to be considered for the Business Rules, we also need to consider how these are implemented and used moving forward in the program or project.
This is covered in two areas:
- How do you agree on the Business Rules to be utilised.
- How do you make sure content that is shared or delivered is per the agreed business contract.
How do you agree on the Business Rules?
This is an agreement between you and your customer. You can supply your Business Rules to your customer and they can accept these, or your customer can supply you with their Business rules and you accept. Sometimes either party may supply a base set of Business Rules, and these are then modified between the two parties for delivery of the program or project. Once agreement has been achieved between the two parties, any future changes need to be agreed upon to ensure that both parties are aware of what is required.
How do you share this information?
So, how do we share this information, this can become an interesting question. You need to ensure that the content that is generated complies to the Business Rules as they have been documented. Within the Specification, this is achieved by the BREX Module. This is a Data Module that is created based on the decisions contained within the Business Rules. All Data Modules are required to reference the BREX and both parties need to have a method where they can test the generated Data Modules against the BREX to ensure that the content does comply.
Someone within either of the two parties needs to develop the BREX Module. This is developed using the BREX schema and is written in a format that is machine readable. All Data Modules must reference a BREX and the Specification defines that the Information Code must be 022 and the Item Location Code must be D. The BREX Module is used to enable validation of your delivered Data Modules. There can be a default BREX for the project or you can have BREX Modules for some part of the asset. The Specification encourages projects to keep the BREX Modules to a minimum, but it is possible to have BREX that is developed for a specific project and this can reference another BREX that might contain overarching rules at a company or department level.
You can see from the above information that Business Rules are a vital component to your project and you need to ensure that you develop this information as detailed as possible. The more information you include in your Business Rules the less un-answered questions your project members will have.
Need a consultant to assist with the development of your Business Rules and BREX? Ask a consultant at OneStrand to review your requirements.