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First Look – Sapiens DECISION


Sapiens has been around for over 25 years developing technology solutions around business rules and model-based development, specifically in financial services and insurance. Established in 1982 and NASDAQ traded, they have $100M in annual revenues post a couple of recent mergers. They have over 750 employees in US, Canada, UK, Japan, Australia, Belgium and Israel. Sapiens Americas headquarters operates from Cary, NC with additional offices in New Jersey and Toronto.  Their global customer is based largely in financial services and insurance.

DECISION powered by The Decision Model is a new product based on Sapiens’expertise in business rules architecture and management that was launched in 2011 to banking and mortgage clients in the US. Regulatory compliance, product definition and launch, terms of business management, data quality and more are typical projects. Business benefits from managing this decision logic include 50-75% reduction in time to implement new or changed products, services or regulations; business change without IT resources; enhanced traceability etc.

DECISION is a Business Decision Management System (a decision-centric business rules management system) based on The Decision Model invented by Barbara von Halle and Larry Goldberg (details here and the book is available on amazon.com). The product’s central repository is based around the artifacts of The Decision Model and all the graphical presentation conforms to it.

DECISION features completely browser-based editors with a rich graphical interface coupled with a Java Enterprise Edition backend built on standard components and a metadata repository for storing the information created. Graphical comparisons of the models, cross-referencing and traceability are available for Decision Models and the repository has a full set of user definable governance and workflow. Changes are tracked through a managed business change document that maintains traceability of everything being changed to the original policy or regulation document and section. A federated glossary, supporting different communities within the organization, is supported with a flexible data mapping layer.

While DECISION is essentially a repository of decision logic, it enables the implementation of the logic in business systems and business rules management systems through what it calls “Deployment adaptors.” Through these adaptors Sapiens currently supports implementing the business logic through its own rules engine known as eMerge, Red Hat’s Drools,IBM’s ILOG JRules, FICO’s Blaze and most other major BREs as well as a generic export capability. An SDK for deployment adaptors for other engines and execution environments is also available. The deployment of decision logic into executable systems is controlled by a release management system.

The web-based editors are all based on The Decision Model – the latest version that has evolved since the version published a couple of years ago in the book. The models have zoom, navigation panels, where used highlighting, jump to Rule Family, highlight uses of a Fact Type and more to manage large models. Any node can be selected and the user can navigate to the underlying tabular view of a Rule Family. This tabular editor is very Excel like and supporting Rule Families can easily be navigated within the tabular view or within the graphical view. As artifacts are navigated a pane displays all the cross-references and usage of the Facts or Rule Families being viewed. The Decision Models and Rule Families can also be viewed as a hierarchical model.

Underlying the Decision Models and Rule Families are a set of Fact Types. Fact Types are managed in a federated repository, allowing multiple glossaries to be defined in a hierarchy. This allows different communities within the organization to specialize and manage their own glossary in a controlled way while enabling reuse. Fact Types can be grouped into business concepts for navigation, have defined types and valid values, support synonyms and aliases etc. A target data mapping can be defined (table and column name say, to support the implementation of the logic into business systems and business rule management systems) and test values can be maintained separately from allowed values.

The software supports reuse and customization of business logic through Views and Communities of Decisions and Rule Families, a newer feature in The Decision Model. Views allow a specialized version of a decision to be developed. These can combine the base views of some Rule Families as well as specialized views of other Rule Families- the decision structure can be completely different if necessary or the variation could be minor and restricted to a single Rule Family. Individual rows within a Rule Family can be shared between views so that only new or changed rows need to be managed.  Associated decisions and rule families for a specific business context can be grouped and managed as a community.

Search and query tools run across the whole repository. The repository design enforces most of the structural requirements of The Decision Model and a validate button validates rows, Rule Families or Decisions against the declarative and integrity principles. A number of remaining checks are being implemented to validate all principles of The Decision Model. The repository also allows “Whiteboards” that represent a local copy of a set of objects so they can be edited and then merged back using tools for managing overlapping and contradictory changes.

The Business Change Document is at the heart of any change made using the tool. To make changes a business change must be identified, documented, and is defined through multiple tasks that can be assigned to people. Each task can then be linked to a specific workflow, defined in the repository and potentially custom to a specific community. These workflows can be completely customized and define the basic tasks, state transitions etc. Multiple workflows, for different levels of change for instance, can be defined and glossary/fact changes are managed separately from rule/decision changes. The change in state of a decision view is tightly coupled with the workflow, showing how the artifacts have to change as the workflow proceeds. Workflows can enforce segregation of duties by insisting on distinct users to ensure that people can’t approve their own work. Users see a work queue and manage their work from there. This can be integrated with an external workflow tool. These Business Change Documents and their associated workflow bring together all the work for a specific change to the model.

DECISION Version 3, which is in BETA and will be released to the public in early June 2012,  will also support test case management and generation. These can use the values in the Rule Families, the allowed values in the Fact Types or test data defined for the Fact Types (or all three). The different values are then combined into test cases. An expected result can be defined from the allowed results defined in the Rule Family and a comparison can be done. The results can be expanded to see what happened in each Rule Family, what messages were generated and can overlay the results on the graphical view of the model. Test results can be compared between versions also to see what changed in terms of test cases even if those differences are only in interim conclusions not overall outcome. Side by side views can be highlighted to show differences.

DECISION is cloud-ready and available on standard clouds such as Azure and Amazon.

Sapiens is one of the vendors listed in our Decision Management Systems Platform Technologies report.


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