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Other characteristics of decision-centric organizations

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Syndicated from ebizQ

Decision-centric organizations also focus on automating, not just supporting, decisions. They use this focus to develop simpler, standard processes and to become more event-driven. With decisions at the forefront, organizations need to change their thinking about automation. Instead of regarding information systems as simple stores of information that people use, they need to regard them as action-oriented partners in running the business. This means automating decisions as much as possible so that decisions are executed quickly and accurately by information systems whenever they are needed. Encapsulating business knowledge, the regulations and policies that must be followed and more in their information systems, organizations can reduce costs, improve consistency and put people to work on higher value activities.

Few if any organizations are going to be able to automate 100% of their operational decisions. Most, in fact, will not want to do so. They want to provide some option for manual intervention and the flexibility that people can bring. However, no separate system is required at this point. The system cannot simply hand-over to a person and return to a passive state. Instead the system should support those making the decision so that it can be made quickly and accurately. As soon as it is made, the system should respond to the decision being made and immediately see if the rest of the actions can be completed automatically. Can the system run to completion? If not, it should run as far as it can before asking, once again, for a person to participate. This turns the decision support model on its head—people are supporting the system by making decisions. The system can help them do so but it “knows” the decision that must be made.

Many organizations run multiple variations of their core processes. Dynamic processes can also be overly complex with multiple paths and complicated routing. A decision-centric organization, in contrast, runs standard processes. The separation of decisions from processes makes processes simpler and reduces the need for multiple, similar processes and for processes with many complex paths. Extracting the decision and putting it first creates a process driven by the specific customer, case or transaction without increasing process complexity.

Decision-centric organizations build these simpler, more standard processes from standard components, services and activities that perform the core functions of the organization. The variations that organizations need when dealing with different kinds of customers, different products or services are managed by deciding on the appropriate collection of activities in the context of this standard process rather than by having many process variations.

Decision-centric organizations tend to be more event-focused than their more process- or function-centric competitors. A focus on decisions means that organizations have a way to take the appropriate action in response to external, or internal, events. When business events are detected, the next step for a decision-centric organization is not to initiate a process but to make a business decision based on the available information and to act on that decision. This might mean invoking a standard process, assembling a set of generic activities to process information or gathering more information so that effective action can be taken. Because decision-centric organizations automate more decisions, most of these event responses can likewise be automated so that responsiveness to events is not compromised by a need to wait for manual intervention.

A decision-centric organization is going to need a decision-centric platform as part of its information technology or enterprise architecture. Next week the key characteristics for such a platform.

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