If you’re carrying out a questionnaire and have a well-designed and attractive form ready to be handed out, you may believe that obtaining results will be a simple procedure. However, no matter how attractive the form, beauty is always enhanced with substance; does your questionnaire have substance?

Business Rules aBusiness rulesnd Validations

Building substance within a questionnaire often comes down to the creation of business rules (BR) and validations, which establish certain protocol and pathways within a document to uphold validity and accuracy of your data. Depending on the complexity of the form, it may be useful to house many sorts of rules, each of which will ensure data collected through your questionnaire is as accurate as possible. Business rules will take effect after data collection, particularly when processing forms automatically; though can also be set when collecting data electronically.

If we take the example of a medical form, for example, there may be certain male- and female-only questions. In this instance, BRs can guide the flow of the questionnaire in the right direction. If a person ticks male as their gender, then obviously he is not required to fill out any questions that are female-only.

A simple example of a validation may be discharge dates. A rule could be set which explains that a discharge date cannot be earlier then the admission date. BRs such as these help to flag up human errors.

Other examples of BRs and validations include:

  • Ranges: For example, on an activity analysis sheet, you could add a business rule that will filter out or flag up any activity that is has been filled out at a time outside the normal shift hours of a particular member of staff.
  • Database look up: If a document requires a respondent’s postcode, this can be checked against an external database to determine its validity, or used to pre-fill other address data.
  • Character limits: These may be relevant on commonly collected information such as phone numbers.
  • Basic mathematics: Adding up sums, total shift hours and so forth.

BRs and validations are applicable to questionnaires, but may also be used for any document that is required to be of a certain format and/or of a specific flow, such as invoicing.


The main function of these BRs and validations is to uphold the accuracy of your data, ensuring any shiny new documents or information collected is free from errors. On paper-based questionnaires these would come into effect during the processing and verification stage. Online, tablet and mobile-based questionnaires would flag up a break of rule or validation as the survey is being completed or upon attempting to submit the questionnaire, ensuring accuracy directly within the data collection stage.

We hope you enjoyed our quick, mini guide of business rules and validations. If you would like help applying business rules and validations to your document, please contact us today.