I have been working on Decision Management since we first started using the phrase back in 2002 – I’m probably the guilty party behind the phrase – and Decision Management Solutions (the company I run) does nothing but Decision Management. This gives us a unique perspective on new technologies and approaches that show up. One of the most interesting developments in Decision Management recently has been the use of decision modeling – especially the use of decision modeling with the Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard.
In DMN a decision is the act of determining an output or selecting an option from inputs. In this context we mean a repeatable decision, allowing us to define a decision model for our decision-making approach. If we use DMN then we:
- Document a decision and its sub-decisions, the components of decision-making
- Capture specific questions and allowed answers for each decision and sub-decision
- Identify the data required and how it is used by these decisions
- Document sources of knowledge about decision-making
- Define relationships between decisions, metrics, organizations and processes
Our experience with DMN is both broad and deep – we have trained nearly 1,000 people and used decision modeling on dozens of real-world projects. We have seen how valuable it is on these projects and we particularly notice how many different kinds of projects it is valuable for.
Unlike some DMN proponents, we don’t think that defining executable decision models is the only reason for using DMN. Here are some other reasons you might use decision modeling and DMN on your projects:
- Eliciting decision-making requirements using DMN decision models is more productive, more fun, and much more rapid than traditional approaches to business rules or requirements. This is true no matter how you plan to implement the requirements – as an executable DMN model, as business rules in a BRMS, as analytics or as a decision-support environment.
- DMN decision models make impact analysis and traceability really work at a business level. You can answer questions like “who needs to know if I change these rules” or “who has to believe this analytic” and see how changes will impact your business results.
- DMN decision models let you mix and match analytics, AI, rules, manual decision-making, machine learning, optimization and all other decision-making approaches in a single model. As the world moves beyond explicit logic to data-driven decision-making, this is critical future-proofing for your business.
- DMN decision models let data science teams see what the requirements are for their analytic models, helping focus their efforts and ensure that the results will have a clear path to implementation and business impact.
Specific projects we have used decision modeling on have shown us that decision modeling with DMN is:
- More Rapid
It’s much faster than traditional approaches with customers telling us that in 1 hour we developed an understanding of the problem “that would have taken 10”
- More engaging
Business SMEs participate more fully in decision modeling and our experience is that they get so into it that they start freeing up their schedule so they can participate more!
- Really enlightening
Decision modeling clarifies the real requirements for data and logic in a decision. So much so that we regularly hear from experienced SMEs that they learn something from building the model. Some training departments in our customers have taken to using the decision model to train people….
- Much more open
Because human and automated decisions can be modeled together you can use DMN decision modeling when dealing with any kind of data, any kind of decision. That makes it easy to adopt as part of your standard approach.
- Better at finding reuse
Because business users can clearly express their problem and share this with others you can get agreement and discussion about reuse and common/shared decision-making long before you get to implementation
We have had great success with decision modeling and are helping many organizations adopt it right now by delivering a business value pilot that goes from a business need to a working pilot in a few weeks. Get in touch if we can help you.