Our DMN 2.0 Wish List I: Decision Logic

While James Taylor and I were collaborating on our Decision Modelling book and discussing our experiences of using DMN with clients, the question “what additional features should be adopted in the next major release?” was a frequent subject of conversation. We found that our respective wish lists had a lot in common, reflecting our views on decision modeling best practice. We decided to describe these proposed new features in a series of posts and encourage readers to give their own opinions.

DMN (The Decision Model and Notation) is a way of representing  Decision Models using diagrams and text; it does not address issues such as method or approach. Therefore wishes must be constrained to new or amended notation. Given this, do you agree with our items? What features would you like to see included in the decision logic level of the standard?

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Who Models Business Decisions?

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.

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Why We Need a Book on DMN

When James Taylor and I began our collaboration on our new book ‘Real World Decision Modeling with DMN’ it begged the question: ‘Why is a book on DMN  necessary? After all there is a well-documented specification.

The Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard—a document defined and published by the Object Management Group (OMG)—does define the notation, so why is a book on Decision Modeling, and specifically DMN, needed? What can it do that the specification cannot? What should users of DMN be aware of that the specification cannot tell them?

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New Book: Real-World Decision Modeling with DMN

I’m very pleased to announce my collaboration with James Taylor, CEO of Decision Management Solutions, on a definitive guide to Decision Modeling with the Object Management Group’s Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard. Our book, “Real-World Decision dmn front coverModeling with DMN”, will be published by Meghan-Kiffer Press in Q4-2016.

James has a vast experience of Decision Modeling and is a prominent member of the Object Management Group (OMG) panel that designed the DMN standard. He practically invented the term Decision Management. Like us, he has been applying Decision Modeling techniques to help companies master and improve their Business Decisions since the first standards emerged over five years ago. James is an insightful, shrewd and accomplished man and working with him is a real pleasure. We both aim to enrich the book with our practical experience of using DMN on large projects.

This comprehensive book will provide a complete explanation of the Decision Modeling technique, the DMN standard and of the business benefits of using it. Full of examples and best practices developed on real projects, it will help new decision modelers to quickly get up to speed while also providing crucial patterns and advice for more those with more experience.

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Ruleflows Considered Harmful

ruleflow

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Book Review: Process and Decision Modeling in BPMN/DMN

Thankfully, Tom Debevoise and James Taylor have recently joined forces to address the drought of books on DMN and its integration with BPMN. They have updated the former’s Microguide to Processing Modeling in BPMN to include decision modeling and published it as the Microguide to Process and Decision Modeling in BPMN/DMN. As an admirer of both Tom’s precise, example-laden earlier work and James’ impressive work on decision management, I have a very high opinion of their book. See why here…

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Invitation: A Hands-On Guide to Mastering your Company’s Business Logic Using the Decision Model

You are invited to a free morning workshop, on February 25th 2015, in London, to experience how The Decision Model (TDM) and the Decision Model and Notation (DMN) can assist your company in managing one of its most fundamental and valuable assets: the business logic that controls the thousands of automated decisions your company makes every week (or even every day).

In this ‘hands-on’, practitioner-led workshop you will learn — by exploring and manipulating real decision models —  how organisations can effectively articulate, communicate, change and control their business logic and the powerful opportunities this provides in eliminating inconsistencies in business policies and quickly changing them to exploit new business opportunities. You will understand how decisions lead to superior integration of business logic with business process. Taken together these allow TDM to deliver business agility and scalable, rigorous, enterprise decision management in a manner business rules alone cannot.

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