The purpose of business analysis is to accurately describe the requirements for an information system (more or less). Business Analysts use a variety of techniques to do this. They use techniques designed to help them find out what is required, to elicit the requirements, and they use techniques to describe and model those requirements in a way that is clear and implementable. In working with Business Analysts on a wide range of decision management projects, I’ve drawn up my observations on why BA’s want decision management:
- Decision Management helps effectively use business rules.
For business analysts driving requirements for organizations that have or wish to adopt business rules, decision management provides a critical framework for success. Focusing only on the business rules themselves often results in a “big bucket o’rules” that are poorly coordinated and hard to manage. Without understanding which decisions must be made, when and to what purpose it is extremely difficult to tell when the rules are done. Gathering business rule requirements without identifying, modeling and describing decisions can leave those rules “hanging”, without a business-centric framework to manage or evolve them.
- Decision Management helps simplify processes and workflow.
Most systems involve some workflow and this is increasingly described by business analysts in terms of business process models. Experience shows that when these process models do not explicitly call out decisions, the process becomes over complex. Decision making modeled as business process is messy and hard to maintain. The local exceptions that can overwhelm process models are often all about decision-making. With decisions identified and modeled separately from the process these local exceptions don’t clutter up the process. Identifying and modeling decisions using decision management makes business processes simpler, smarter and more agile.
- Decision Management clarifies analytic needs.
The primary purpose of analytics, whether business intelligence, data mining or predictive analytics, is to improve decision making. With decision management, business analysts can identify and describe the decisions for which analytics will be required. How the data requirements support these decisions, and where these decisions fit, will be clarified and the use of analytics focused more precisely.
Decision Management also validates and enables what many business analysts have known all along, that decisions, and decision-making, should be a “first class” part of the requirements for a system. Systems that don’t make decisions, that assume the user will do all the decision making, will fail to deliver real-time responses (because humans struggle to respond in real-time), will fail to deliver self-service or support automated channels (because there is no human available in those scenarios) and will fail front-line staff because instead of empowering them with decisions made it will require them to escalate to supervisors.
Business Analysts have one of the pivotal roles in the success of any systems project. They recognize the importance of tools and techniques to better describe the business requirements. Business Analysts want to use business rules most effectively, simplify complex business processes and focus analytics efforts. That’s why Business Analysts want decision management.
UPDATE: Don’t forget our forthcoming webinar on this topic - Re-inventing Business Requirements with Decision Management on November 28 at 11am Pacific.