If you work with S1000D, then you will hear about Business Rules on the first day of your acquaintance with the Specification. You might hear about them on the second, third or fourth day when you deal with Information Technology in a more broad sense. The same might happen to you if you are in retail industry. Their relevance for businesses of all sizes and natures will become more and more evident in the years to come.
“I know what Business Plans are. But what are the Business Rules?”
Who works with small businesses and startups might have the following question hovering in their heads when confronted with the term Business Rules, “I know what Business Plans are. But what are the Business Rules?”
If those who ever systematically developed or dealt with business rules consider business plans and business rules side by side, then they might give you the following answer:
“Business plans are about a company, what it wants to achieve, and its plans how it is going to operate in the near and far future to achieve those goals . Business rules are about products. These are the rules the company and their partners, and to some extent also their customers, need to agree upon and commit to in order the products (and services) to be of high quality and longevity.”
If you look a bit closer you will discover that you already deal with business rules, every day. If you are involved in production process of your company’s products, then you are following certain rules how to do this. If you design a product for your company, then you choose only among the parameters given by certain specifications, or if you suggest a new range of parameters then these specifications go through a review process, they are adjusted and approved. If you make a part of the sales department then you negotiate various contractual terms with your company’s customers, including the version or state of the product when sold, frequency of updates or renewals, what the maintenance services include and how much they cost.
All these and many more are the rules focusing on your company’s products and services. They make the relatively new term, which gets more and more attention. Business Rules.
But don’t think that only you are dealing with business rules because you or your company are planning, designing, producing, maintaining or discarding your products or services. There are also rules which your customers have to follow while using your product, so that it functions to its full potential.
In the next Bitesize Business Rules we will consider why a bigger picture and bringing a clear system into business rules documentation is important, even when your company already has them — as we discovered today — for various phases of your product’s life cycle.
Victoria delivers Mekon’s Business Rules training courses. She 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 has led the Business Rules Working Group (and corresponding teams before that) for ten years and today she serves as chair of the group. Victoria is keen to help disentangling complex projects into logical chains of steps.