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The goal of a Decision Model and Notation Standard


Last week I posted from an Object Management Group standards meeting on efforts to develop a Decision Model and Notation standard. You can see my kick-off presentation and the table of contents in the first post of the sequence – OMG Decision Model Notation – Importance of Decisions. In response to this sequence one of my twitter followers said:

great deck and great coverage of OMG decision modeling notation day. But what was the goal, and what were the next steps?

So what is the goal of a decision model and notation standard and what are the next steps?

The goal of a standard like the Decision Model and Notation standard is to give companies that are interested in managing and modeling business decisions, specifically operational business decisions, common ways to describe decisions, a common model of the information that should be managed about decisions and a common set of notations to use when graphically describing decisions.

Today, although lots of companies are using business rules management systems to implement operational decisions, there is little or no agreement on the information that needs to be managed around a decision. This means that each company captures different information about its decisions, making it hard to share decision-centric best practices and templates or frameworks.

In addition the many vendors who support ways to document the rules in a decision such as decision tables all do so in a slightly different way. So someone who knows how to read a decision table in one business rules management system would not necessarily be able to read a decision table in a different one. This means that companies using multiple tools must teach multiple approaches (increasing training costs) and must re-train even experienced hires.

Meanwhile the lack of a standard model and notation means that vendors cannot take these things for granted and so invest in competitive capabilities at the next level. If everyone agreed what a decision table looked like, for instance, then the competition would move to capabilities such as those for verifying the accuracy of a decision table or testing the impact of a change to a decision table – higher order functions. This does not mean that everyone would do everything the same, just that core capabilities and information would be common across products with each adding its own “secret sauce”.

Finally, to the extent to which the industry has developed some best practices around decisions and decision modeling (and it has), these are not widely known. A standard that embodied them would allow professional organizations like the IIBA for business analysts or the IASA for software architects to adopt these standards in their certification and training. This would result in these best practices being widely known and more broadly adopted.

The next steps are pretty easy.

  1. An RFP will be issued by the Object Management Group seeking proposals on the standard. This will be available to anyone
  2. Companies interested in responding will submit letters of intent before the next OMG Meeting in June – Decision Management Solutions, the company I run, will definitely be one of them. Some of these will be from single companies, others from groups of companies
  3. In the rest of 2011 the submitters will develop their proposals, sharing them as they go. Typically various other companies sign on as “supporters” and some proposal teams get created by multiple submitters agreeing to submit a single proposal
  4. Eventually one of more submissions are received and, if there is more than one, a formal process merges them into a single proposed standard
  5. At that point people can say they support or implement the proposed standard but it has a ways to go to become official

So that’s the plan. Look for updates on the blog as I work on the proposal, seek feedback and supporters etc.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • James Taylor March 31, 2011, 10:55 am

    The RFP just got issued and anyone can get access to it on the OMG site