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First Look: Avola Decision

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The founders of Avola began working together in 2012 as an incubator called Bizzotope, intended as a venue for starting a number of innovative ventures. The first company was Bizzomate – a business and IT consulting firm focused on low-code platforms like Mendix and agile/Scrum approaches. Platforms like these generally lack process and decisioning capabilities so the company adopted The Decision Model and ultimately decided to build a decision modeling/execution platform to support it. Avola Decision is the result and was released to the market in April 2014. Avola Decision has customers across various industries, but with a strong focus onn banking, insurance and professional/legal services. Today these are focused in the Netherlands, Belgium and UK, where Avola has offices.

The basic premise of Avola Decision is to develop decision-aware applications so that they can support decision-aware processes. Today the platform remains focused on TDM but later this year the platform will support the Decision Model and Notation (DMN) notation. Avola Decision consists of a SaaS platform for building decision models and an execution engine that can execute these decision models in a public or private cloud, or on premise.

The modeler itself is web-based, allowing easy access to decisions, rule families and the supporting glossary/fact models. Each decision can be expressed as a decision table or rule family supported by a set of facts and a glossary. Decisions and rule families are linked through the shared fact model.

Rule families are shown and edited using the classic tabular rules-as-rows decision table format and a TDM decision model diagram is inferred from the underlying rule families or decision tables. Each of these can be opened and edited while the model for that rule family – the sub-decisions – can be viewed and used to navigate to underlying sub-decisions. Users can also navigate to the associated fact model as needed. The rule editor is data type aware so that conditions match the data and calculated data can be specified for use in the decision. As users edit the rule family by adding conditions they can specify that a new or existing fact type is required and can identify that this is being derived by a new rule family, adding that to the hierarchy.

Fact Types are managed grouped in business concepts and value lists can be defined and used for multiple facts through an underlying glossary. Business concepts are associated with business domains and these domains are the core management artifact with roles/security defined at this level. Users can navigate from the fact model to the rule families and decision models that use or derive them and vice versa.

Testing and validation is supported in the modeling tool and is linked to the decision models. Each revision of the model is stored and tests can be run against any revision. Users can do a single test using a form generated by the system from the inputs required by that decision or can download an Excel template to create a batch of tests. The template has value lists etc built in and, once filled in, can be uploaded to create a set of tests. Results of tests can be reviewed online or downloaded in a result spreadsheet. When reviewing online, users can drill down into the intermediate generated values and see how the rules fired at each level.

Versioning is also supported along with an approval cycle. This approval cycle manages the departments who own different concepts to ensure that all the right people are involved approving models that potentially cut-across business concepts. Separate approval users can be defined in addition to those who can actually edit and manage the models. Reports can also be published for decision models as documentation.

Once the model is complete it can be deployed to public or private cloud (Azure) or to an on-premise Windows server. The deployed service is accessible as a Rest API and is executed in memory when deployed. Decisions are logged in terms of the version of data provided, decision-making version used, interim conclusions drawn etc.

Pricing is annual with a low price for modelers and approvers and a separate execution pricing based on the number of decisions being made with extra fees for private cloud or on-premise deployment.

More information on Avola Decision is available here and Avola is a vendor in our Decision Management Systems Platform Technology Report

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