Business Rules

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Operational business decisions happen every minute of every day in your organization. You’d like to think that business managers can truly manage them. You’d also like to think that the results of those decisions are comprehensively correct, consistent, traceable, and repeatable (high quality). But are they? Based on real-life evidence I strongly suspect they often are not.... When IT professionals talk about “decisions” they often mean branch points within the deep systemic logic executed by machines – classic decision points in data processing. I don’t mean that either.

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To ensure the continuity of operational business knowledge, no organization should ever depend on absent brains – or even on brains that could (and eventually always will) become absent in the future. To say it differently, your operational business knowledge should be encoded explicitly in a form that workers you have never even met yet can understand.

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I’m frequently asked to summarize what business problems the business rule approach was created to address. Here’s my take on that important question. I believe the potential benefits for your company are compelling.
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Over the past 15 years IDIOM has conceived, evolved, and demonstrated the effectiveness of it’s ‘decision centric’ development approach, which leverages both decisioning and agile approaches to radically simplify and strengthen commercial systems development. This advertorial describes the IDIOM products and how they can be used to implement the decision centric approach.
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The primary subject of this article is process, a word that is generally both indefinite and nuanced when applied to systems development. In this article we describe how process as a concept becomes both simpler and more definitive when it is integrated with decisioning. The combination of process and decisioning extends the ‘decision centric’ development concepts that we have evolved over the last 15 years. These concepts combine into a proven, practical, and robust methodology that leverages decisioning and agile techniques to fundamentally simplify commercial software development.
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A combination of process modeling (BPMN) and decision modeling  (DMN) simplifies business processes by eliminating and replacing entire sections of the model with a decision model—the decision logic of the process model is precisely captured by decision modeling a separate yet linked model.

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This column examines the three basic kinds of knowledge workers involved in business processes, and discusses how the distinctions among them are important for engineering smarter business solutions.

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So, what’s new now? A shift is occurring. Not only are decision models sanctioned as a new kind of deliverable, but thousands of them already operate in production systems serving major corporations. What’s new now is the emergence of an important question: what kinds of decisions belong in decision models and why?

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The emergence of decision analysis techniques[1] is hugely important for both business rules in particular and business analysis in general. The same is true for decision tables, although current innovations[2] are more of a re-invigoration than fresh invention. [3]Every business analyst should be familiar with these decision analysis and decision table techniques.

Before we get carried away with decisions, however, we need to take a deep breath and do a reality check. This article discusses three major (and quite harmful) myths of the business decision space.

 
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Decision requirements models allow business analyst, architects and decision designers to describe the decision-making they need. When these models are combined with business-friendly decision tables, non-technical domain experts can represent critical “know-how” accurately and precisely resulting in faster time to value and fewer errors...

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Have you heard it said that ‘business rules define the operational boundaries of an organization’? Do they?... Something is being bounded by business rules, but what? Does scope need to be understood in some deeper, richer sense? And how do these issues relate to smart business processes?

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Have you ever been confused about why you were not allowed to do what you tried to do? Been judged or evaluated in a way you didn’t expect? Stumped by the result or decision a business system produced? If so you are a ‘why victim’.
 

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The goal of DMN is to provide a notation for decisions understandable to all audiences, including business and technical people. This is good news and is the very reason we introduced The Decision Model (TDM) to the public in 2009

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This article examines how to use tabulation to write better business rules. If you’re not writing business rules, well, you should be. Fortunately, the very same guidelines apply to writing requirements in general, so there is much to be gained on all fronts.

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...As hands-on business ownership of decision automation gains ground it is becoming apparent that fully automating a decision-making process requires an expanded concept of business rules that includes the ability to transform and/or derive data within the rules process itself, in order to align the input data with the policy statements that are driving the decisions; and to produce a wider range of outcomes.

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