One of the most persistent problems with decision modeling in my experience is the tendency of people to think of decision modeling as a one-time requirements effort. Many teams are convinced that building a decision model using the Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard (white paper here) is going to help them with their business rules or analytic projects. Some of these teams, however, think that decision modeling is only valuable at the beginning – as a way to initially frame and structure their requirements. Our experience, on dozens of projects around the world, is that this significantly limits the value that projects, and especially organizations, could get from decision modeling.
Decision modeling has a best practice life cycle:
- Build the initial model to drive requirements, structuring and framing business rules and analytic efforts
- Use this model to decide on the automation boundary – what gets automated, what gets left to people – recognizing that decision modeling is a great way to specify requirements for automation AND to specify how people should make a decision.
- Use the model to understand which parts of the decision might be best automated with business rules, which will benefit from analytics, even where optimization might be useful.
- Keep the model alive to ensure traceability from the original business-centric requirements to the detailed technical implementation
- Update the model as business needs change to support ongoing orchestration of your decisioning technology deployments.
To make this work you need to ensure that the decision models you build can be integrated with each other into a shared repository and that this is a living repository that everyone can access. DecisionsFirst Modeler, the tool we have developed based on our experience in decision modeling, does this. Not only is everything stored in a shared repository, everything in that repository is available through an API. We have used that API to develop a read-only viewer of the repository, displaying all the content in a mobile-friendly, HTML 5 app so that models are not limited to those who are building them but can be widely shared across the organization. This makes it easier for folks to share the models they develop in DecisionsFirst Modeler – everyone in the organization can see the models and links to specific objects or diagrams can be emailed around to engage reviewers, show the impact of changes to business rules, assess the impact of decisions on the business as a whole, share knowledge and decision-making best practices and much more.
To date this has been a very popular feature of our Enterprise Edition. Today we announced that it will now be available for users of the free basic edition also. You can read the announcement here and the button below will take you to a recorded demo.