As part of our ongoing “Meet our Partners Series” I caught up with Juergen Pitschke of BCS, a Decision Management Solutions partner. Juergen and I are giving a webinar on April 1 – Getting Started with Decision Management.
Please describe your current role and title and tell us a little about your company
I’m Juergen Pitschke the founder of BCS, a European consulting company specializing in Business Process Management and Enterprise Analysis.
BCS is recognized for its outstanding methodological support of different standards and methods. This allows us to address the needs of our customers in an unique way. Our customers also value our “engineering” approach to business analysis.
How did you come to get involved with Decision Management?
The fact that you need to describe and analyze your business rules and business logic to be successful with Business Process Management has been clear for a long time. The question was always how to do this most effectively.
Around 2007 BCS started to systematically look into the management of Business Logic. As many others have, we started with a general focus on Business Rules. For instance, I translated the RuleSpeak® approach into German at this time.
Customers were very interested but the adoption rate was low. I think one of the reasons for this slow adoption was that the approach is too general—companies become overwhelmed by the number of rules to describe and manage. I feel that the methodological support was just developing at this time. Today, with Decision Management and the new Decision Model and Notation (DMN) Standard we have a much better framework.
What are some of the key business challenges facing your clients?
Internal and external regulation is certainly a big issue these days. This is true in all industries, not just financial services and insurance. Second enterprises have to manage complexity—it is not possible to avoid complexity in a modern enterprise so it must be managed.
In your experience what are some of the top challenges for those working with business rules in terms of maximizing the business impact of what they do?
As I already said: You need a pragmatic approach. If you try to capture and analyze all the rules in your company, you will fail. If you don’t have a well-defined structure for the rules you capture, you won’t be able to maintain the rules.
In addition the strong separation between business and IT propagated by most of the classical business rule approaches is a challenge. This may have been acceptable 15 years ago but today IT is part of the business. If you involve IT too late your project will get into trouble. We need a different understanding of the business-IT relationship in general and we need to apply this understanding to business rules.
How does Decision Management address those challenges beyond what the technology offers?
Decision Management offers a structural principle: The (business) decision. This gives you a way to organize your projects, to start small and to grow. You can begin by identifying a small set of business decisions that have a high business impact, analyze and improve them, and grow from there. Decision Management also helps you bring business and IT together. This combined business-IT focus is also a big benefit of adopting the new DMN standard as it addresses both perspectives.
Companies do need to be pragmatic about building their knowledge and methodology step-by-step, however. Decision Management must be integrated with the Business Process Management and system development approaches they are already using.
Can you share a success story or two that illustrates the power of Decision Management?
Although Decision Management is just becoming something we address with clients, we often do some Decision Management as part of a Business Process Management project. For instance, we had a project in the financial sector (credit card management in combination with a bonus program) last year. It started as a pure Business Process Management project. We were able to guide the project as to the techniques and notations it should use and we encouraged them to separate the description of the decisions from the business process with great success.
How do you see decision modeling helping companies achieve these kinds of successes?
Applying Decision Management systematically improves your Business Process projects a great deal. Specifically, process models become much easier to read and more maintainable. As with every concept you first need buy-in.
Interestingly enough the users in the above mentioned project used decision tables. They had their decisions documented on a personal level in Excel, printed them out and pinned them to their screens! Using this input, making it explicit, accessible to others, and manageable for the future made a big difference.
BCS recently became a Decision Management Solutions partner. What are you looking forward to working on with us in 2014?
I’m sure that we will see much more awareness of Decision Management in 2014. As customers ask more explicitly for Decision Management they will need resources, methods, knowledge and support. The community of Decision Management professionals is still small and partnerships such as ours help to share experience and resources. Not to mention the fact that Decision Management Solutions is one of the leading service providers in the field. The partnership gives our clients access to the best resources available.
Last question – what advice would you give those working with business rules to help them maximize the value they create for their organization?
First, don’t repeat mistakes from the past. The DMN standard is going to be a great help. Nevertheless organizations should understand the concepts of Decision Management first before they look into the notation. Decision Management is more than just drawing decision models in a standard notation.
Second, be open to the approach. Decision Management is needed in all industries. Don’t be fooled by the many examples from finance—you will find many decisions with a high impact in your company no matter what your industry. Sometimes in areas where you don’t expect it.
Third, Integrate Decision Management with Business Process Management and Adaptive Case Management to get the maximum benefit.
Don’t forget to register for the webinar Juergen and I are giving on April 1 – Getting Started with Decision Management.