The Decision Model: Business Rules Grow Up

The Decision Model: Business Rules Grow Up

The world of business rules and business rule management has grown up. Welcome to the world of business decisions—a much more compelling technique with which companies can manage their operational business policies.

Until now business decision analysis and maintenance—the means by which business logic is discovered within current business practices, mined from opaque legacy systems, represented in transparent format and managed as a business asset directly understood by business subject matter experts—has been rather vendor-specific and lacking in rigour and scalability. Many methods are available (e.g., EDM, ABRD and BRS), but all are either lacking in formal structure, subjective and/or poorly supported by tools. Developments of the past few years have changed this.

With the advent of The Decision Model (TDM) and tools (like BiZZDesign, Sapiens DECISION and OpenRules) that support it, an era of new rigour and effectiveness has dawned within enterprise decision management.  TDM, a precise method and framework for expressing business decisions, has addressed many of the flaws of business rules and prompted a slow evolution from business rules to business decisions. We examine these flaws, what TDM can do for you and the promise and power of this approach. (more…)

Effective Business Decision Management: How Mature is Your Company?

Effective Business Decision Management: How Mature is Your Company?

Are you effectively managing your business decisions (or indeed rules)? Are you fully in control of those operational decisions your company makes, maybe thousands of times a day or more (possibly using some degree of automation), that determine which customers you will accept, what credit terms you will offer them, what risks you’re prepared to take, what products they might like or need, what prices to charge for them, whether you are compliant with regulatory edicts – in short, the bedrock of your business?

The reason I ask is that the vast difference between various companies’ approaches to operational decision management is a constant surprise to us. For some, the management process is a well-oiled machine: not only are all key decisions automated (this represents the bare minimum in this contest!), but so too is the continued measurement of their effectiveness and alignment with (ever changing) business strategies. Decisions are separate from code, tangible to the business, explicit, agile, measured and optimized.

For other companies decision management is a morass of emails, spreadsheets, confusion brought about by lack of visibility and missed opportunities. For many, despite the acknowledged importance of these decisions, their processes are mired in chaos. “We’re not mature enough for that,” or “There is no need to be so highfalutin,”  some IT managers claim – it seems to us that, when you examine how well the two corporate styles compare in their effectiveness, this denial is just not credible.

So: how grown-up is your company when it comes to decision management? Why not take our quiz and find out? (more…)

Are Fact Models Obviated by the Decision Model?

Are Fact Models Obviated by the Decision Model?

If you model your business decisions and rules using the Decision Model (TDM), it might at first appear that both the information captured in the TDM glossary and the inferential dependencies between rule families in the model itself, together, capture all the same information that might normally be caught in a fact model. All the business terms, their relationships and the fact types than bind them are already in the glossary—why bother to capture them again in a fact model? Would this not cause redundancy and undue maintenance overhead? Our experience of using TDM in the investment banking domain suggests that it is not as simple as that… (more…)

Business Decisions and Business Rules: What’s the Difference?

Business Decisions and Business Rules: What’s the Difference?

Within the past ten years the business rule community has been referring increasingly to business ‘decisions’ in its books, papers and internet forums and somewhat less frequently to business ‘rules’. But what is a business decision? Is it a synonym of business rule? Some certainly seem to use it that way—some tabular rules even come in the form of ‘decision tables’.

Is ‘decision’ a new term for ‘rule’, invented to help with marketing of the same old ideas for comparatively ‘new’ disciplines like Enterprise Decision Management? Are decisions the new rules, or just hype? Or is a decision a genuinely new idea in its own right?  Are business rules and business decisions compatible: can they be used together, or must one choose between them?

This article explains our view—forged by front-line experiences over the past decade—that business decisions and rules are very different things.

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Breaking the Rules 2: to OR or not to OR

Breaking the Rules 2: to OR or not to OR

This is the second article (see the first here) of an occasional series, “Breaking the Rules”, in which we look at the sacred rules governing business rule design and examine some exceptional circumstances under which they can and should be broken. In this article we investigate the prohibition on the Boolean ‘OR’ operator in rule conditions.

It is a widely known rule of thumb that business rules should be atomic and that they should eschew the use of the Boolean OR operator between conditions. Only rules with single conditions, or multiple conditions that are ANDed together are recommended. In this article we consider the case for this prohibition, before explaining why, in some cases, an OR is not only acceptable, but advised… (more…)