Our DMN 2.0 Wish List II: Decision Requirements

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?” frequently arose. 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.

We’ve already explained our wishes for the decision logic level of the standard. Here we consider the requirements level, mainly the Decision Requirements Diagram (DRD). As with the previous article in this series, wish items were constrained to new or amended notation, not method or approach.

Given this, do you agree with our items? What features would you like to see included in the decision requirements level of the standard?

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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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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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New Tool Changes the Face of Business Decision Modelling/Management?

The need to cope with ever increasing rates of change in business policies has made agile decision/rule management a vital topic for enterprise architects – particularly where regulators or legal compliance are concerned – we need to involve business SMEs directly in the capture and stewardship of decisions to improve agility and accountability. Regular readers of this blog already know the significant benefits the Decision Model (TDM) offers in this area. But, until now, we’ve been hampered by the absence of cost-effective tools that support TDM and that would encourage mass adoption of the technique.

Our wait appears to be at an end.

The week before last saw the release of another tool to support decision modelling and management: BiZZDesign Decision Modeller. This offering not only boasts cost effective, fully-featured support for The Decision Model framework (including list fact types and messages), but its combination of four other features excites us, as TDM practitioners, rather more than existing TDM tools. In this article we discuss: our experiences of this product, what’s genuinely new about it and how it might change the way enterprises use TDM and existing BRMS/BDMS technologies.

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The Decision Model: Business Rules Grow Up

The world of business rules and business rule management has grown up. Welcome to the world of business decisions—a much more compelling technique with which companies can manage their operational business policies.

Until now business decision analysis and maintenance—the means by which business logic is discovered within current business practices, mined from opaque legacy systems, represented in transparent format and managed as a business asset directly understood by business subject matter experts—has been rather vendor-specific and lacking in rigour and scalability. Many methods are available (e.g., EDM, ABRD and BRS), but all are either lacking in formal structure, subjective and/or poorly supported by tools. Developments of the past few years have changed this.

With the advent of The Decision Model (TDM) and tools (like BiZZDesign, Sapiens DECISION and OpenRules) that support it, an era of new rigour and effectiveness has dawned within enterprise decision management.  TDM, a precise method and framework for expressing business decisions, has addressed many of the flaws of business rules and prompted a slow evolution from business rules to business decisions. We examine these flaws, what TDM can do for you and the promise and power of this approach.

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Are Business Rules Really Owned by the Business?

It is the stated intent of business rule management systems (BRMS) to support a partnership between the business and IT: they empower business users to own, maintain and test their enterprise business rules, whereas IT departments have the responsibility of integrating the rule system effectively with the infrastructure of the organization and preserving the integrity of production systems. In effect, IT are providing the business with a sandbox environment to control the decision making of their enterprise with true agility. But does it work this way in practice?

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Business Rules without a BRMS

Occasionally, after delivering a design proposal for the use of Business Rule Management System (BRMS, or ‘rule engine’) in relation to a specific business problem, we’re asked:

We like the idea of using business rules for this, but is the use of a commercial BRMS really warranted? Our rules are really simple. Couldn’t we make do with a home grown product, perhaps based on a database or spreadsheet?

This is a fair question and it deserves a considered answer.

In this article I discuss the value proposition of BRMS, the pitfalls of clients attempting to develop their own tools to fulfil this function and how this approach can, in the long term, be more expensive than buying a commercial product.

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Perils of Implementing Business Rules in CEP

Recently I encountered two potential clients, in the midst of selecting business rules support software for high volume transaction processing, who were actively considering a continuous event processing (CEP) platform as an alternative to a BRMS. Given that business stewardship of their business rules (as opposed to rules managed exclusively by their IT department) was a goal of both projects – were they right to consider CEP? I do not think so.

Occasionally the event processing requirements will mandate the sophistication of a CEP, but frequently they do not. In the latter cases a BRMS is a better solution. Find our what happened to the project who chose the CEP platform.

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Business Vocabulary Management Tools vs BRMS

In recent years a new set of tools is emerging to allow business users to maintain their business vocabularies, rules and fact models. These differ from business rule management systems (BRMS) in that they are firmly oriented toward business experts and not technologists. What functionality do these tools offer and how do they differ from BRMS?

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