In this article I propose that every business analyst should be capable of identifying and modeling business decisions precisely and transparently. They should use a prescribed, standard format to describe decision-making that can be understood by other analysts with minimal explanation, rather than the individualistic, ad-hoc spreadsheets, text documents or technical business rules that they so often use today. Business analysts should be as proficient in modelling decision as they are with data or process and decision modeling should be a recognized as a ‘tool of the trade’. Being able to precisely represent business data, process and decisions should be seen as essential to the analyst role.
Without this skill, vital business knowledge will be buried in the volumes of incoherent verbiage that constitutes most written specifications; lost in the heads of SMEs who ultimately leave the company; or obscured in millions of lines of programming code or equally obscure excel spreadsheets where it may safely hide without fear of discovery.
In a recent article on the LinkedIn Group ‘The Decision Model and Notation (DMN)’, and on his own blog, Bruce Silver elegantly described why DMN is different to (and better than) other means of representing business decision models and asserted that these differences are set to make DMN of crucial importance to businesses that rely on their operational decisions. While I agree with Bruce’s feature list, I have some reservations about some of his observations.
I am pleased to announce the release of James Taylor’s and my comprehensive guide to decision modeling with the Object Management Group’s Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard. The book, “Real-World Decision Modeling with DMN”, has been published by Meghan-Kiffer Press and is now on general release, available from Amazon in paper and Kindle versions. It is also available from Barnes and Noble.
Decision Modeling is an important technique for improving the effectiveness, consistency and agility of an organization’s operational decisions and a vital enabler of the continuous improvement of its business processes. DMN is a standard that is integrated with many other established industry standards. It has been created by experienced practitioners and is maintained by the Object Management Group (OMG; a prominent standards authority). It is flexible and extensible. It is already supported by over 14 software tools. Indeed, DMN represents the most complete and best supported means of modeling business decisions that is currently available or likely to become available in the near future.
“A well-defined, well-structured approach to Decision Modeling (using the OMG international DMN standard) gives a repeatable, consistent approach to decision-making and also allows the crucial ‘why?’ question to be answered—how did we come to this point and what do we do next? The key to accountability, repeatability, consistency and even agility is a well-defined approach to business decisions, and the standard and this book gets you there.”
— Richard Mark Soley, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO, Object Management Group, Inc.
Ahead of the publication of our joint book on Decision Modeling, to be released later this year, James Taylor and I have made a series of video shorts about business decision modeling. In this last video, James and I talk about real benefits that decision modeling using DMN delivered to our clients on some recent engagements. Specifically we discuss how the use of decision modeling:
- Speeds up business rule and data requirements discovery, quickly identifying wrong assumptions and mistakes
- Adds effective communication and consistency between teams and across projects
- Improved business subject matter experts, analyst, developer and program manager engagement and ownership
- Managing size, complexity and rapid change in business requirements
- Improves the definition of the automation boundary
- Gave better tracability between internal decision definitions and external regulations
Let us know what you think. Review the first, second, third, fourth and fifth posts of this series. Find out more about decision modeling and its benefits. Talk to us about decision modeling mentoring and training.
One of the main motivations that James Taylor and I had for writing our book Real World Decision Modeling with DMN was sharing our experience of using decision modeling on many large projects and training engagements. One specific question that interested us was: “who uses Decision Modeling?”
James recently discussed how Decision Modeling is used. Assuming your organization is persuaded of the benefits of Decision Modeling, which specific project team members are most often tasked with building and maintaining a decision model (using DMN, TDM or any other notation)? We present our project experiences here. Let us know if and how yours are different. (more…)