“I’m not talking about business rules! We first need to sign a contract with our supplier.” This statement or one of its many possible variants is given often when I talk about the importance of business rules.
And recently I understood why. The challenge lies less in the understanding that certain parts of the contracts make part of the business rules. Whenever I emphasize this in my conversations on business rules, I face complete agreement.
The key issue here is the point in time when you start defining business rules.
The common understanding is that you begin defining the business rules after signing a contract with your customer and after assigning a team to do it. But it is actually not the case. You already set up a number of rules quite some time before you sign a contract.
Let us go back to the definition of the business rules we addressed in the first article of the Bitesize series on the Business Rules
We pointed out there that any decision made in respect to a product or service is a business rule and you will agree with me that you start making those decisions as soon as you decide to make your product idea a reality. This is of course true when it comes to a completely new and standalone product, like a car or a piece of software. But what happens to a complementary product? Such as a technical manual describing another product.
What does this mean for a S1000D implementing project?
The very first business rule in this case usually appears when you customer requires a technical manual to be in conformance with S1000D. So the initial decisions are made already during the very first negotiations about a possible common project.
The requirement for S1000D to be applied to a technical manual is not the only decision made. The number of the S1000D Issue to use, which types of manual to produce, and often also delivery format are communicated to you during the contract negotiation.
Or maybe not even to you as a technical publication responsible, but to your boss. To the person responsible for the whole product, which is described by the technical manual you produce.
A certain set of business rules is “imposed” on you even before you start thinking how to implement S1000D. The customers acquiring products with manuals to go along with S1000D often make those decisions long before they look for a supplier. And then they expect the suppliers to adhere to these decisions.
The biggest challenge related to this is that the knowledge generated during all those negotiations and decision making on either side and together is documented in a multitude of documents, with a significant part of them at times being lost or ambiguous.
Business rules is a vital and the most efficient concept that allows you to bring all the decisions made in frames of your project into one consistent knowledge base of decisions. The clue here is to start recording all the decisions in a consistent manner and keep track of them as early as possible.
This means that you start recording them as soon as the idea of the project appears. Or latest when your boss calls you to him and says, “I have this exciting project for you to take over.”
Looking to learn more about Business Rules in the world of S1000D?
Book your place on our S1000D Business Rules training course delivered by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels.
This course is for anyone who needs an understanding of the principles of S1000D prior to implementing the standard. It covers the technical and business aspects of Business Rules and how to implement it and its implications for technical publications. Find out more.
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.
To book your place call +44 (0)20 8722 8400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org