Ruleflows Considered Harmful

Ruleflows Considered Harmful

For some time users of Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS) have used rule execution sequence as a means of binding together and orchestrating the rules in a set—providing a ‘top level’ view of their content. Nearly all BRMS products have enshrined this idea in the ‘ruleflow’ concept. In many of these products the creation of a ruleflow is seen as a standard step in packaging a rule set and many rule authors find it a natural activity.

We argue, using an example, that not only are flows rarely required, but that they are frequently harmful to the agility of a rule set, can introduce harmful and hard to find errors and can make rule sets difficult to understand by business users. Furthermore, users frequently misunderstand the goal of ruleflows and misuse them.

We show that there is an alternative to ruleflows that orchestrates rules (especially large rule sets) more effectively and is easier to understand—the business decision model. (more…)

How Decision Modeling Allows Business Rules to Scale

How Decision Modeling Allows Business Rules to Scale

Experience has shown that sets of business rules, even those administered using Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS), become very hard to manage and understand once they reach a certain level of size and complexity. Although small, very tightly focused rule sets can be effective for simple business domains, large rule sets are challenging to create and even harder to maintain. Small rule sets that become large over time (scale up) present the most difficulty. They are at risk of collapsing under the weight of their own growing complexity or becoming the sole preserve of a small number of ‘gurus’ and ‘high priests’ who alone understand them—defeating a key objective of business rules.

In a previous article, I described how to overcome the challenges of maintaining a business rules over a long period. But how can you manage the complications of rapidly growing rule sets: keeping them easy to understand, changing them safely without unintended consequences  and avoiding ‘stale’ and duplicate rules? Here we show, by example, how Decision Modeling, used from the outset can address all these problems and we discuss in more detail the difference between business decisions and business rules. (more…)

Why DMN? (In 1000 Words)

Why DMN? (In 1000 Words)

At the time of writing there are two major industry standards for modeling business decisionsThe Decision Model (TDM) defined by Sapiens Inc, established in 2009 and documented in The TDM book by Larry Goldberg and Barbara von Halle and The Decision Model and Notation (DMN) an open standard defined by the Object Management Group (OMG) in 2014 and version 1.1 is due to ratified later this year.

In this article we explain why, given the choice, you should model your business decisions using DMN as opposed to any other notation. Decision modelers should understand how TDM and DMN are similar, how they differ and their comparative strengths and weaknesses. (more…)

Why Decision Modeling? (In 1000 Words)

Why Decision Modeling? (In 1000 Words)

In a recent article we explained why any organisation that makes business decisions needs decision management, what it is and how it helps them become more effective.

Decision Management is a means of explicitly identifying and nuturing your business’s operational decisions—much as you would any other vital business asset (like data or process)— so that you can describe, share, change manage and monitor their performance to see how they are contributing towards your enterprise goals. Decision Modeling focuses on representing decisions in a precise, standardized and transparent way.

Through Decision Modeling, businesses can:

  • Build and share a robust documentation of how their business decisions work, rendering them transparent, open to wide review and revealing any hidden flaws.
  • Tame complexity by decomposing complex decisions into smaller sub-decisions for scalability.
  • Prepare their decisions for external (compliance) audit by ensuring their behaviour can always be explained and justified against a specification.
  • Understand quickly exactly what data and business knowledge are required to support their business decisions.
  • Through a thorough understanding of decision dependencies, enable effective change impact assessments and agile change cycles.

These advantages cannot be provided by existing approaches like Business Rules alone.

In addition, decision models can be made so precise that they are executable. Modeling can also be the first step in automating decisions to reduce the cost of manual processes and capturing the expertise of manual decisions to avoid losing business expertise when key members of staff leave a company.

If your business systems make manual or automated decisions that influence your operations then you should consider adopting Business Decision Modeling as a matter of priority. Companies that leave their business decisions embedded in obscure program code, ‘technical’ business rules or in the heads of staff who manage manual operations, will be outmaneuvered by competitors who practice Decision Management and Decision Modeling and will be less able to justify the behaviour of their systems to an auditor. In this article we explain why. (more…)

Invitation: Workshop on Enterprise Decision Modeling in Practice

Invitation: Workshop on Enterprise Decision Modeling in Practice

We cordially invite you to join us in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, for a workshop on how Decision Modeling can optimise your organisation’s management of its most fundamental and valuable asset: the business logic that controls the thousands of automated business decisions it makes every day. We will present case studies, based on real projects, that demonstrate the practical benefits of applying TDM and DMN to the management of business logic at an enterprise scale.

Click here now to find our more details and register for this free workshop in Amersfoort on Wednesday 28th January 2015 from 9am to 4pm. During this workshop you: will learn how The Decision Model (TDM), fortified by elements of the DMN, can be used to structure, manage and optimise your business logic; experience a walk-through of a real decision model and understand the benefits decision management brings at the enterprise scale. (more…)