In this post, our Business Rules (BR) trainer Victoria Ichizli-Bartels discusses two important attributes to increase both the quality of your technical publications and the efficiency of the business rules process, while also reducing the overall cost of production and maintenance of your technical publications.
When we consider the business rules Document (brDoc) Schema covered so far, we concentrated on the elements and very little on the attributes. In fact, so far we have only mentioned the attribute brDecisionPointUniqueIdent, which marks the unique identifier of a Business Rules Decision Point (BRDP), and is placed on the element brPara (business rules Paragraph).
But there are two other useful attributes in the brDoc Schema with the potential to make the business rules production process more efficient, and to ensure that the most vital business rules decisions are not ignored. In addition, you can indicate which business rules decisions are not that critical and can tolerate some deviations. This will enable you to plan the updates in such a way as to minimise maintenance costs.
These attributes are: the business rules Decision Point Priority (brDecisionPointPriority), and business rules Severity Level (brSeverityLevel). Both of these attributes are configurable, and the interpretation of their predefined values can be found in the S1000D Issue 4.2, Chap 22.214.171.124.
Let’s take a look at them in the brDoc Schema, along with their definitions.
Business rules Decision Point Priority (brDecisionPointPriority)
Let’s consider these two attributes in the order you would follow when defining business rules. By doing so we would first take a look at the business rules decision points, and sort them according to their importance to your project (see also the article “Why Does It Make Sense to Generate a Business Rules Index First and a Guidance Document Second?”). In other words, we set the priorities for each of them. Correspondingly, you will find the attribute brDecisionPointPriority on the element business rules Paragraph (brPara).
Here’s how the S1000D Issue 4.2, Chap 4.10.1, Para 4.6 defines this attribute:
“brDecisionPointPriority (O), indicates the priority of the BRDP for a project or organization. The setting of the BRDP priority can assist the project and/or organization by identifying which business rules should be defined first. This attribute has five predefined values. Refer to Chap 126.96.36.199.”
Here are the predefined values:
- “brpr01” = Highest BR priority
- “brpr02” = Next lower level of BR priority
- “brpr03” = Next lower level of BR priority
- “brpr04” = Next lower level of BR priority
- “brpr05” = Lowest level of BR priority
The BRDP priority allows you to identify business rules decision points that you don’t have to define immediately and can address later on in your implementation of the S1000D. This will permit you to concentrate on what is important right now, and shorten the business rules definition process. Hence, the considerably increased efficiency of the latter.
Business rules Severity Level (brSeverityLevel)
Once you have your business rules Decisions (brDecision) defined, you can use another attribute to indicate their importance and criticality, or in other words, their severity level.
Therefore, you will find the attribute brSeverityLevel on the element brDecision.
Here is how the S1000D Issue 4.2, Chap 4.10.1, Para 4.4 defines this attribute:
“brSeverityLevel (O), the indicator of the severity of not implementing the business rule decision with its definition. The concept of business rules severity level is described in Chap 2.5.2. This attribute can have one of the following values:
“brsl01” thru “brsl99”. Refer to Chap 188.8.131.52.”
And the S1000D Issue 4.2, Chap 2.5.2, Para 2.2.1, bullet 6 states the following:
“The business rule severity level indicates the impact magnitude, if a certain business rule decision is not followed.”
The predefined values are:
- “brsl01” = Most severe
- “brsl02” = Medium severity
- “brsl03” = Least severe
You can also imagine these values like a traffic light system. So, if you mark a specific decision as “Most severe” and it is not adhered to, then your quality assurance tools will not accept any data “violating” this decision. On the other hand, you can accept and deliver technical publication data that does not adhere to the “least severe” rules.
The application of the brSeverityLevel allows you both to increase the quality of your technical publications, and to accept the presence of less critical errors in the transfer packages delivered, thereby reducing the costs of maintaining them.
Although in contrast to the attribute brDecisionPointUniqueIdent, both brDecisionPointPriority and brSeverityLevel are optional attributes, I would strongly recommend that you use them for your business rules documents. The need to define and assign them to various business rules decision points and the corresponding decisions might seem like additional work, but in the end you will be glad that you did so. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, there is one more: setting priorities and attributing severity levels to your business rules decision points and decisions will keep you in control of your business rules.
Looking to learn more about Business Rules in the world of S1000D?
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About Victoria Ichizli-Bartels
Victoria has been working with S1000D since 2004, first for German Defence, then for a major S1000D software vendor and today as part of her own business. In the S1000D community, Victoria serves as the Business Rules Working Group (BRWG) chair since 2005.
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