Decision Management with DMN in practice

One of the “hot BPM topics” for 2016 is Decision Management. Decision Model and Notation (DMN) is gaining more and more popularity being endorsed by BABOK and having 4 presentations at bpmNEXT 2016.

To help you get started with Decision Model and Notation I asked some of the best DMN experts in the world the following questions:


1. In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?
2. What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

Below you can find great insights from DMN experts, which will help you understand better when and how to use it.

DMN in Practice

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Arash Aghlara
Felix Brandmayr
Nick Broom
Tom DeBevoise
Lloyd Dugan
Marlon Dumas
Alan Fish
Larry Goldberg
Gary Hallmark
Juergen Pitschke
Mihail Popov
Tobias Rausch
Ron Ross and Gladys Lam
Tim Stephenson
James Taylor
Jan Vanthienen
Mathias Weske

Now, let’s dive into the answers.

Arash Aghlara

AghlaraArash is a Principal Architect and Founder at Pliant Framework. He is responsible for providing guidance, expertise and technical leadership in application architecture and design, and data management. Arash works with product team and customers to identify technical hurdles and create innovative solutions across the FlexRule product lines.

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

This is not a decision based on industry selection criteria. This is a decision based on the complexity of business domain and the business rules that are deriving the decisions in higher level. Rules are the first class citizen of systems (either automated or manual). Scaling the rules driven system is always challenging, the benefit of DMN approach is that it allows you to scale your rules in a reusable clear way.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

The first step is to really understand and distinction between business logic (i.e. process) and decisions (i.e. use-cases based on rules for example eligibility check…). And once that concept is clear, using a DMN tool (e.g. http://www.flexrule.com/dmn) that not only allows you model, but deploy the model as a service (http://www.flexrule.com/server) as a single source of truth across organisation.

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Felix Brandmayr

BrandmayrFelix Brandmayr works as consultant in the field of business process management for the BOC Group. He has several years of experience in implementing organisational and technical projects in a broad range of industries. Since the release of the new OMG standard, Felix Brandmayr has been successfully supporting organisations in establishing tailored DMN systems.

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

As an industry independent notation, DMN can basically be used in all industries and by all organisation forms. However, we see in our projects that DMN can be a very useful notation for organisations, where processes are supported by rule based applications with fast changing business rules. This applies primarily to the financial service industry, energy and furthermore to (large) service and ICT providers. If BPMN is already in use, DMN is the consequent choice to model and eventually execute business rules.
This does not mean, that every organisation that already uses BPMN successfully, gets value from integrating DMN to their processes. It highly depends on the focus and the target group of the BPM initiative.
Professionals that are experienced in managing processes, do not necessarily have the right skill set to define accurate DMN models. With the current DMN version, IT professionals and business analysts are more suited to model and understand DMN.
For DMN models that are defined by business a reduced “DMN light” notation for documentation rather than for execution purposes, may be applied. A professional modelling tool like ADONIS provides the needed functionality for all involved stakeholder.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

In general, every organisation needs to get a clear picture what the benefits are that are expected to be gained by implementing DMN. Then the scope of applying DMN has to be defined. Topics like the integration of DMN with BPM, the extent of involving business, and how to keep the decision models up to date should be adressed early. In a next step it is advised to challenge the DMN approach in a representative pilot and get results in a well-defined area. When proceeding with using DMN, constantly check if the aimed benefits can be obtained.

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Nick Broom

BroomNick Broom is an independent Business Architecture and Business Analysis professional, specialising in Business Process Modelling and Decision Management, with a focus on employing those techniques in Agile and iterative development environments.

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

Any and all! Decisions are everywhere and they’re typically made in the context of a process. You don’t have to have a dedicated decision modelling initiative; there will be uses for DMN in every industry and project, what will vary is how those decisions are implemented. A logistics company might want to determine the best delivery method for you based on location and cost requirements; a nursing regulator will want to determine your registration status on whether you’ve completed enough learning and practice in the last few years; a retailer may want to determine which locations to increase stock of certain products based on demographic and current sales figures. Decisions are made in all organisations and that means DMN can be as well. Most of the examples out there will be financial services, but that’s just because it’s the industry where most of the practitioners have first made their mark.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

Ironically, I’d advocate stepping back first – take a broad look at the topic of decision management first. You will then understand what decision management is designed to do and what it’s benefits are. You’ll also discover all of the ‘prior art’ that has come before DMN. Ultimately, DMN is just a notation, built from the years of practice and learning of a diverse group of people. DMN has its limits right now – it’s a new standard and it’s developing. Look at UML and BPMN – both solidified at 2.0. That shouldn’t put anyone off, but if you understand what it’s trying to do, then you’ll know better how to use it and, more invaluably, how to improve it based on your own practical experience.
Take a look at some literature – books are starting to come out in 2016 and there’s plenty of discussion on LinkedIn. Take training courses, be curious, play around with it, get it wrong, learn from those mistakes, become invested in it. Use Excel to model tables, make use of trial versions of tooling. The field is new and no one consultant or tool provider has the answer yet.

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Tom DeBevoise

DeBevoiseTom DeBevoise is a Chief Evangelist Business Decision Managent at Signavio. For over 20 years, his passion has been creating and developing next-generation solutions that take his clients to where they need to go – no matter how complex or difficult the challenges. Tom has done this in industries where technology matters the most: Physical Security, Financials, Petroleum Logistics, Pharmaceutical, and Industrial Manufacturing.
His recent book is titled “The MicroGuide to Process Modeling and Decision Modeling in BPMN/DMN 1.1”.

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Every day, most corporations make thousands if not millions of decisions. These decisions can be buried in the applications and processes that carry out business operations and they are made by your customers support and sales representatives. In additional to operations decisions, these decision have risk. Government regulations, including financial, environmental and labor have risk implications on these decisions. So, these operational decisions have a huge impact on a company’s operations and even small improvements have outsized effects on a company’s performance and risk profile.
Corporations use Business Decision Management (BDM) to identify, catalog, model and improve operational decisions. Traditionally companies that have complex, rules-intensive operations are already using business decision management. These include banking, finance, insurance, and health care. Yet, other industries should, (and are) adopt decision management care methods. These include the sectors of energy, utilities automotive and transportation.
Business analysts and subject matter experts identify business decisions through the analysis of business objectives, process models and use cases. In addition, modeling the properties of the decisions is key. This describes questions, input data, logic, external mandates (authorities) and business knowledge. The objective of the modeling is for all analysts, subject area experts and managers to create a shared understanding of the compliance decisions. One key enabler of BDM is the new open, standard notation ratified by the object management group (OMG): the Decision Model and Notation (DMN). This specification has been developed by the leading consulting and software business rules vendors common notation that is readily understandable by all business users. DMN creates a standardized bridge for the gap between the business decision design and decision implementation.” Many software vendors have adopted DMN.
The goal of BDM is for the decisions to become first class citizens amongst an institution’s resources—that is: an asset for the institution to manage just like capital, processes and intellectual property. Since poor performance and non-compliance can be a costly issue, clear, accurate decision making is most certainly a vital asset. As a result, organizations are empowered to control, manage, automate and improve their critical, repeatable decisions. Precisely modeled business decisions create specific performance and compliance needs to which the responding process must conform. As a result, BDM enables the development of simpler, smarter, and more agile business processes.
Companies wishing to learn more about business decision management can read about it here: http://www.signavio.com/usecases/decision-management/

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Lloyd Dugan

LloydDuganLloyd Dugan is a widely recognized thought leader in the development and use of leading modeling languages, methodologies, and tools, covering from the level of EA and BA down through BPM, Case Management, and SOA. He specializes in the use of standard languages for describing business processes, systems, and services, particularly BPMN, CMMN, and DMN from the OMG. He has developed and delivered BPMN 2.0 training to the U.S. Department of Defense and large consultancies. He has nearly 30 years of experience with public and private sector clients, and has an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. He is an OMG-Certified Expert in BPM (OCEB) – Fundamental, a member of the Workflow Management Coalition and its BPSim Working Group, a member of the OMG’s BPMN Model Interchange Working Group (MIWG), and a Contributing Member (author), Meta Modeling and BPM-BA Alignment Collaboration Teams Member, and Advisory Board Member of the Business Architecture Guild. He is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences on BPM, BPMN, Case Management, SOA, and BA. He is a published author or co-author on BPM, BPMN, and BA. He serves as the Chief Architect for Business Process Management, Inc. (see www.bpm.com), for whom he delivers BPM-related training and client advisory services on BPM-related matters and technologies.

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In my limited practice and teaching of DMN as an adjunct language to BPMN, I have found DMN to be both powerful and expressive (though in a rather verbose way). Together with BPMN and CMMN, we now have robust and sophisticated modeling languages for describing different aspects of the operational behaviors exhibited by a business. DMN is most appropriate for abstracting complex decision logic into a singular process flow node like a Business Rule Task in BPMN or a Decision Task (a far better name) in CMMN that calls to the thing that actually executes the decision logic. This usage should lead to the replacement of otherwise clustered control flow redirection moments in a process model rather than let the decision logic be realized through the process model’s structure. Examples of this include highly computational or algorithmic logic, which one would find in a variety of industry domains.

To learn how to use it, I recommend the DMN specification itself (see http://www.omg.org/spec/DMN/), which is not as narratively dense or a challenge to read as its peer languages. However, it lacks the historical context from which decision modeling has emerged. Previously lumped together with business rules modeling, there are the long-standing concepts of Fact Type and Fact Type Model, which perhaps have been best presented by the well known business rules guru, Ron Ross (see http://www.brcommunity.com/b525.php). Even though DMN does not use the term Fact Type, I do not believe that there is much daylight between this term and what one would otherwise call Decision (as output data) and Input (as input data) in DMN. Of course, there is now a “methods and style” treatment of DMN from BPMN guru Bruce Silver (see http://www.amazon.com/DMN-Method-Style-Practitioners-Decision/dp/0982368151/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8), which I have not yet had the pleasure of reading (one of my summer projects) but am confident provides the desired guidance. However, though but one means of implementing decision logic modeled in DMN (and the one with the best pedigree), Decision Tables can be tricky to do and to understand. In my opinion, a much more intuitive and satisfying examination of the use of such constructs is presented in a predecessor to DMN, known as The Decision Model or TDM (see http://www.amazon.com/The-Decision-Model-Technology-Management/dp/1420082817), which uses slightly different terms for many of the same concepts presented in DMN. Finally, I would recommend finding and using a modeling tool (such as that from Trisotech or Signavio) that supports the DMN standard along with the ability to link it with a BPMN model and/or CMMN model – then practice!

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Marlon Dumas

DumasMarlon Dumas is Professor of Software Engineering at University of Tartu, Estonia where he leads a team of 15 researchers focused on Business Process Management (BPM). Previously, he was faculty member at
Queensland University of Technology and visiting researcher at SAP Research, Australia, where he led several BPM-related applied research projects. Prof. Dumas has provided consultancy and training to a dozen organizations in Australia and the Baltics. He is co-inventor of six
granted US/EU patents in the field of BPM and co-author of the textbook “Fundamentals of Business Process Management”, now used in more than 100 universities worldwide.

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

DMN is relevant in all companies that run business processes with complex decisions. There are some industry sectors where this is clearly the case, like in the financial and insurance sectors, in the logistics sector, in the healthcare sector, in the legal sector, and definitely in the government sector where application-to-approval processes are full of complex decisions with high impact on people’s life.
Think for example of decisions that determine how much social aid a given family receives or decisions taken in clinical pathways, which may have an impact both on people’s life as well as on cost-efficiency. Beyond these sectors, DMN is relevant in sales processes involving complex pricing models or in issue-to-resolution processes driven by large knowledge bases, for example in the e-commerce and telco sectors.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

The first step is to identify and scope your decisions and treat them as first-class citizens, in the same way as you identify and scope your business processes when you introduce process-thinking in an organization. Then you should prioritize your decisions in terms of their impact to the business, and in terms of how dysfunctional they currently are, e.g. how many exceptions they generate that could be prevented or reduced if the decisions were explicitly managed.
This latter step will force you to define performance measures for your decisions, such as their defect rate or their cost-efficiency. You can then pick the decisions that are highly dysfunctional and that have a high impact on the business, capture them in DMN, analyze and redesign these decisions, and perhaps as importantly, establish a monitoring system to track the performance of each critical decision.

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Alan Fish

FishDr Alan N Fish is Principal Consultant in Decision Solutions with FICO, having over 30 years’ experience in the support, automation and optimisation of organisational decisions. He invented the “Decision Requirements Diagram” (DRD) which exposes the structure of a domain of decision-making, and developed Decision Requirements Analysis (DRA): a methodology for building and using such decision models. He is the author of “Knowledge Automation: How To Implement Decision Management in Business Processes” (Wiley), and co-author of the OMG specification Decision Model and Notation (DMN).

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

You should use DMN whenever you want to specify the structure of some operational decision-making. Just as BPMN models repeatable processes by breaking them down into sequences of activities drawn as a process flow, DMN models repeatable decision-making (human or automated) by breaking it down into a network of interrelated decisions which can be drawn as a Decision Requirements Diagram (DRD).
This is particularly important in industries which use knowledge workers, especially the financial sector (e.g. banking, credit, insurance, healthcare) where decision-making must be fair, accurate and compliant with legislation, but it’s hard to think of any industry which does not involve some operational decision-making. In a process automation project, DMN can be used to specify the decision-making to be automated and map it to activities in BPMN models of the process. This allows you to define the precise relationship between those decisions which should be automated and those to be made by human case workers.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

The first step should always be to carry out a Decision Requirements Analysis Workshop (DRAW). This is a structured workshop using simple top-down decomposition, involving a few days’ participation from your process owners and subject-matter experts, and led by a business analyst. This small investment will result in DRDs showing the structure of the domain of decision-making and identifying all the information required for it: the data which must be collected by the process, and the organisational business knowledge – business rules, analytic models and calculations – which must be applied to the data to make the necessary decisions.
These high-level requirements can then be used:
• to specify the scope of any subsequent implementation project, determine feasibility, and estimate costs
• to plan the project, partitioning the DRDs into increments of functionality
• to guide and constrain the process of business rule discovery
• to provide context for analytic model development
• to specify the system interfaces and internal structure of decision services
• to identify the human interfaces required to maintain the business knowledge over time.
A DMN decision model spans three levels of detail – the DRD, decision tables, and decision logic – so developing it is a process of gradually adding detail. Once fully specified, a DMN model is executable. Most modelling tools today have some limitations (check their “conformance level” to the DMN specification), but soon it will be common practice to specify your complete decision model in DMN, working top-down, then deploy it directly to the execution architecture as a decision service to be consumed by your BPMS.

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Larry Goldberg

GoldbergLarry Goldberg is the evangelist for Sapiens DECISION, and as a member of the senior management team is responsible for all products in the Sapiens Decision company. He was Co-founder and Managing Partner of Knowledge Partners International LLC, which was acquired by Sapiens Decision, and has over forty years of experience in building technology based companies on four continents. Commercial applications in which he played a primary architectural role include such diverse domains as healthcare, supply chain, property & casualty insurance, financial services and enterprise modeling tools. He has been the business lead and/or business sponsor on many major projects in both the public and private sector, and is a trusted adviser to senior executives from major corporations.

Larry is a leading international authority on business requirements: he is the co-author of the best-selling book “The Decision Model: A Business Logic Framework Linking Business and Technology” (Auerbach, New York 2009), and was co-editor of “The Business Rule Revolution” (HappyAbout.info 2007). He joins Barbara von Halle in writing the monthly Business Decision Management column in www.ModernAnalyst.com and the quarterly column in www.Tdan.com.

In addition Larry can be heard on the webinar series for the IT Product Metrics & Productivity Institute (www.itmpi.org), and at many conferences and industry events around the world. His writings can also be found in industry publications such as www.BPtrends.com and www.RequirementsNetwork.com.

With his co-inventor, Barbara von Halle, he is the patent holder of The Decision Model, can be found at www.SapiensDecision.com

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

The range of industries that BPM professionals should use DMN are extremely broad because, like BPMN, DMN is essentially a notation; wherever BPMN is used, we would expect there to be supporting logic modeled in DMN. A strong contender for the use of DMN also lies in highly regulated domain because the logic that is applied to processes in such fields is particular complex and there is a strong need for that to be transparent and we governed. Because of the sea changes in the financial services market resulting from the global financial crisis of 2008/9, we are seeing a lot of DMN use in this area, but in reality it is also perfectly applicable in healthcare, telecom, supply chain, and many other similar areas.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

DMN, like any modeling approach, requires a certain rigor, otherwise it will prove to be wasteful and will have a very short shelf life. So the first step is to really develop a deep understanding of the modeling approach. Pick a vendor or consultant with a demonstrated track record of decision management implementation, and with solid methodology, and make sure the target of the engagement is to mentor your in-house skills, not to perpetuate a vendor relationship. Start small, demonstrate success in a project of limited scope that has real impact on the business, and keep iterating on an ever expanding scope, tracking carefully the progress and value, and demonstrate self-reliance as the work progresses. Understand the maturity you wish to reach using a maturity model, and measure you progress frequently against that model.

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Gary Hallmark

HallmarkGary is a software architect of Oracle’s Process Cloud and Decision Modeling Services .
He is leading development of a Decision Modeling product based on OMG DMN. Invented DMN FEEL language. Co-chaired DMN standards committee, and co-authored the standard.

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

Many business processes are all about approvals. We have so many examples – loan approval, expense approval, travel approval, document approval – that I often joke that we should have named our latest BPMN-based cloud product ‘Oracle Approval Cloud’ instead of ‘Oracle Process Cloud’. BPMN is great at showing the steps in such a process, but it is terrible at explaining the reason something gets approved or rejected. DMN excels at diagramming how approval decisions are composed from smaller decisions about risk, affordability, and so on. DMN also excels at automating the logic behind the decisions as decision tables and other user-friendly tabular expressions. DMN should be used wherever decisions need to be documented, improved, and automated.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

DMN-oriented books, training, and software are now coming to market. Check out expert authors including Bruce Silver, James Taylor, Alan Fish, and Jan Vanthienen. Some of these authors also offer training and consulting services. Visit dmcommunity.org for more information, news, and help about decision modeling.

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Juergen Pitschke

PitschkeJuergen Pitschke is Partner and Managing Director at Process Renewal Group Deutschland.
Juergen has more than 25 years industrial experience about enterprise modelling and the realization of Business and IT Architectures. He is recognized for his deep knowledge and the systematic use of visual standard notations and of different frameworks für the design of an Enterpirse Architecture. His knowledge is often sought in the field of Business Process Management and Decision Management.
His focus are model-based approaches for enterprise design and their practical use. Clients value his abilities to explain concepts, to help teams to adopt and successfully apply such methods, and to guide projects successfully.
He is author of the book “Unternehmensmodellierung für die Praxis”. He translated the Business Process Manifesto, the Decision Management Manifesto, and the RuleSpeak® – approach into German.
His customers include companies as Kuehne+Nagel (AG & Co.) KG, Boehler Edelstahl or organizations like the Federal Office of Police in Switzerland.

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

Decision Management is very valuable for all industries, not only for compliance issue. All service-oriented industries have decision intense processes. Look for you KPIs. In the most cases you can influence the KPIs through (good) operative decision.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

I think you need at least a basic understanding of your process before looking into your decisions. Both belong together. Check your processes – where are they to complicated or incomplete? Maybe the reason are hidden or unclear decisions. Prioritize the decisions you want to analyze.
First understand the concepts of Business Decision Management, than look into the DMN notation. Start with the content, not with the standard. Grow from this. Especially predictive decisions need a change in thinking.

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Mihail Popov

PopovMihail works as a systems engineer for the MITRE Corporation, specializing in model-based engineering techniques and tools with focus on executable business and system models. Before MITRE, worked as a software developer and systems architect for information technology solutions in the financial services, hospitality, and entertainment sectors. Lives in the Washington Metro DC area with his wife and daughters.

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In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

During my career as a software and systems engineer and architect, serving clients in the financial and insurance business, I have seen many areas that can benefit from Decision Modeling techniques. Through my more recent work at MITRE, I continue to see this trend continue with our sponsors in the Federal Government. I believe that there are excellent opportunities to apply decision models to address a multitude of diverse problems ranging from tax accounting to national security and everything in-between. The DMN specification has the potential to accelerate the adoption of Decision Modeling at a much broader scale, due to increased awareness and better tool capabilities and interoperability. My hope is that Decision Modeling and DMN will become just as popular as Business Process Modeling and BPMN have become in recent years.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

Understanding what Decision Modeling is about at a high-level is simple: take a training, read a book, or invite an expert to demonstrate Decision Modeling. For many stakeholders, this is all that is needed so they understand the value Decision Modeling may have for their organizations. Becoming an expert in decision modeling takes practice, just like becoming a good database modeler or software designer do. Depending on the role a stakeholder plays related to Decision Modeling the necessary steps to become familiar with it are different. For business analysts and others who need to understand information in decision models, a simple few hours of training is all that is needed to learn how to navigate decision models created by others. For analysts and modelers who create the decision models, a more in-depth training program is needed to learn the principles of Decision Modeling and to become experts in their chosen tools. Developers of Decision Modeling tools must focus on the relationships and elements within decision models and learn as much of the DMN specification as needed to ensure the desired level of conformance with the specification and proper implementation of it in their tools.

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Tobias Rausch

RauschTobias Rausch is the Product Manager at BOC Group for the ADONIS Business Process Management Toolkit as part of BOC’s Management Office suite. Previously Tobias has been working for the BOC offices in Austria and Ireland and his role as a Senior Consultant offered him the opportunity to manage and be part of (large-scale) projects in different industries. His main fields of expertise are in introducing and implementing BPM in organisations, approaches for process-driven requirements definition and software development and in risk management scenarios.

He co-authored the chapter “BPMN for Business Professionals: Making BPMN 2.0 Fit for Full Business Use” in “BPMN 2.0 Handbook Second Edition“.

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Twitter: @BOC_Group

In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

Decision Management and Modelling (and therefore also DMN) can be of relevance for all industries. Typical rules are an important aspect of the requirements analysis in projects focusing on application development and process execution support.
From my personal experience the definition and design of business rules, in these type of projects, as the basis for decision making is also long-lived practice. Any business analyst will have done decision tables, pseudo-code for rules and the like during a requirements analysis where the results served as an input for implementation (and testing etc.). Such projects are not limited to any industry, but typically focus on domains and processes with high volume, good predictability, a good potential for automation (at least of parts), a certain degree of complexity and need for “integrated solutions” with proper audit trails.
While therefore DMN is to some degree “old wine in new skins” it can help these efforts as it summarises and formalises different aspects and provides a framework for decision modelling as well as a defined notation.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

Every organisation needs to understand where and how business critical decisions are made. Therefore they need to understand their business processes and ideally have a risk management established (based on a documented internal control system).
Important decisions and business rules, supported by IT systems or not, should be properly documented. In case an organisation lacks such documentation, DMN is a valid option providing a standardised model and notation. However a clear scope, governance mechanisms and organisational responsibilities need to be defined to make sure the documentation is kept up-to-date. It also needs to be reflected to what level of detail a documentation is required and if all concepts of DMN are really needed.
For organisations already possessing documentation for decision/rule management, they need to evaluate if DMN provides advantages compared to their current approach.
In any case, if an organisation is interested in applying DMN, we recommend to apply it in a small, but representative pilot environment. Several of our customers have followed this approach by evaluating the DMN extension for ADONIS (which is provided as an integrated and well-defined extension to our BPMN “fit for business” approach). Based on the results of the pilot, their individual goals and project scope as well as a cost/benefit analysis the decisions about next steps have been taken.

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Ronald G. Ross

RossRonald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC (BRS), where he actively develops and applies the BABusinessSpeak™ methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak™, and ConceptSpeak™. Ron consults to companies worldwide through BRS.
Ron is recognized internationally as the “father of business rules.” He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:
• Building Business Solutions: Business Analysis with Business Rules (2nd edition) with Gladys S.W. Lam (2015, An IIBA® Sponsored Handbook).
• Business Rule Concepts: Getting to the Point of Knowledge (4th edition, 2013).
Ron serves as Executive Editor of BRCommunity.com and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.
Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997, now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR. He was also a contributor to the IIBA’s BABOK v3.

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Before answering those questions, it might be worth a second to probe more directly. Can anyone think of a business process that doesn’t include some juncture at which an operational business decision is made? By ‘operational business decision’ I mean a repetitive choice between possible outcomes or results. Want consistency of results from the process for the customer experience? You’d be well-advised to model the decision.
Processes today get their business rules, including those applied in making decisions, all entangled with the ‘flow’ of the process. The result? Unagile, high complex processes. Not what the business wants any more (if ever).
What’s the solution? Model the question the decision addresses. Decompose it down to its roots, where you will find decision rules, often in the form of decision tables.
DMN is a standard that addresses one way of modeling decisions. It fits well with vendors’ rule-engine platforms. What the world of business analysts really needs is a proper mindset that ‘gets’ the importance of separating business rules, including decision rules, from process flow (and other business analysis artifacts). Treat them as a first-class citizen of the requirements world. That’s unfortunately still missing in a great many cases.

In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

From an industry stand-point, DMN is receiving the most attention in financial and insurance applications. That’s probably simply because their products are intangible, and more or less obviously rule-based. But as I said, we haven’t really seen any business process in any industry sector that at some juncture doesn’t need to make a selection between possible alternative results or outcomes based on circumstances (e.g., the particulars of the customer, the product, the jurisdiction, the timing, the business transaction, etc., etc.). It’s just common sense.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

Understand the problem from a business point of view, not a technology or standards perspective. Keep yourselves out of the technical weeds so you can communicate effectively with business stakeholders. Here’s a good way to get started: DecisionSpeak (free on http://www.brsolutions.com/b_ipspeakprimers.php).

Gladys S.W. Lam

Lam Gladys S.W. Lam is Principal of Business Rule Solutions, the most recognized company world-wide in business rules and decision engineering. BRS provides consulting services, methodology, training and publications. Ms. Lam is co-creator of BABusinessSpeak™, the BRS methodology for business analysis with business rules. BABusinessSpeak is used by companies world-wide. She is co-founder of BRCommunity.com, a vertical community for professionals and home of the Business Rules Journal.

Ms. Lam actively consults. She is widely known for her lively, pragmatic style and world-class project management skills. She speaks internationally at conferences and other professional events. She is also Executive Director of the Building Business Capability (BBC) Conference, the official conference of the IIBA®.

Ms. Lam is a world-renowned expert on business project management, having managed numerous projects that focus on the large-scale capture, analysis and management of business rules. She advises senior management of large companies on organizational issues and on business solutions to business problems. She has extensive experience in related areas, including BPM, structured business strategy, and managing and implementing information systems.

Ms. Lam is most recognized for her ability to identify the source of business issues, and for her effectiveness in developing pragmatic approaches to resolve them. She has gained a world-class reputation for fostering positive professional relationships with principals and support staff in projects.

WWW: Company website
Twitter: @GladysLam

The only thing I like to add is that the ‘mindset’ Ron is talking about is easy to learn once business analysts and process analysts first understand decision and rules from a business perspective. As Ron said, which process does not have rules and decisions? Without rules guiding a process, you will have ciaos. Without well defined decision guiding a process, you will have inconsistent results. Once that is understood, look first at how these rules and decisions can be externalized from a business perspective. Then think of implementation. IT professionals tend to like DMN because it aligns with many rules engine and decision management platforms.

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Tim Stephenson

StephensonTim has many years experience in Business Process software and has contributed to a number of industry standards including XPDL, BPSim and DMN across multiple versions. In both Global 500 companies and brand new startups Tim has worked to bring agility and competitive advantage through application of model-driven software support for both human and machine processes and decisions. Currently Tim is COO of Omny Link, a cloud CRM provider. http://omny.link.

WWW: LI profile
Twitter: @tstephen10

In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

At one level you could say ‘any industry that makes decisions’!
More specifically, I think the arguments that have long applied to business process and BPMN apply here too. If you have high volumes then automation will be beneficial to reduce costs, in particular staff time taken in completing tasks which could be automated with BPM. At the other end of the scale where volumes are small, if the industry is highly regulated or the consequences of mistakes very high then well documented decisions will benefit accuracy and transparency.
Either way it is our view that BPM is part of the push towards greater automation of business processes, giving increased efficiencies and economies of scale.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

I certainly believe it’s beneficial to start at the top and get a broad understanding of the problem space before driving into details in a subset of areas. DMN can represent this problem space with no more complexity than a ‘bag’ of named decisions analogous to a number of sticky notes on a white board. At this level you’re looking to eliminate overlapping concepts and define a common set of terms (nouns) that the decision logic will later operate on. All the typical discovery methodologies apply, but clearly with DMN the type of understanding needed is different to BPMN.
Furthermore you are also trying to develop something which can be adapted and optimised over time, so the benefit of DMN is not just in the time saving, but also in the ease at which you can adjust parameters to affect decisions.

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James Taylor

TaylorJames is a leading expert in decision management and in the development of Decision Management Systems. Experienced working with business rules, predictive analytics and other decisioning technologies to improve operational systems. Published author – Decision Management Systems (IBM Press), Smart (Enough) Systems (Prentice Hall) – strategy consultant, writer and speaker.

WWW: Blog
WWW: LI profile
Twitter: @jamet123

In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

Almost any industry can have projects that will benefit from using DMN – the trick is how to identify a process that will benefit. I am working on a new book, Real-World Decision Modeling with DMN, with Jan Purchase and have actually just been writing on this topic. Processes that focus on an organization’s customers, on managing risk or on fraud detection and prevention are a good place to start. If those processes involve high transaction volumes or real-time responses even better. Similarly if there is significant business complexity, regulatory compliance or frequent change in a process then that’s a good sign too. All of these suggest that there are repeatable, non-trivial, decisions that add business value in these processes.
Identifying these decisions and modeling them with DMN (instead of not modeling them or trying to use BPMN to model them) will make the process simpler, smarter and more agile. Simpler because externalizing decisions reduces process complexity by eliminating gateways and other process elements used to model the decision. Smarter because business rules and analytic technologies can be more effectively applied once the decisions are known and understood. More agile because the decision and process can be changed independently and because a DMN decision model allows you to understand and change decision-making more safely and rapidly.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

Begin with the decision in mind!
The most important thing is to focus on decisions explicitly as a separate thing. Decisions are not subordinate to processes but their peers. Decision-making should not be wrapped into processes or embedded in system logic but should be modeled and managed as separate decision services. Business rules should not be captured directly, but in the context of a well understood decision. Decision modeling with DMN is an approachable, iterative technique that allows decisions to be quickly modeled and effectively managed. But you have to focus first on the decisions – on the business questions you are going to answer – and sustain that decision focus as you build the model. It’s not a process, it’s a decision.

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Jan Vanthienen

VanthienenJan Vanthienen is professor of information management at the Business Information Systems Group of KU Leuven (Belgium), where he is teaching and researching on business rules, processes and decisions. The area of business rules modeling, validation and verification, and decision modeling in the context of business process modeling has been his major area of research and expertise for many years. Jan is also a recipient of an IBM Faculty Award, the Belgian Francqui Chair at FUNDP, a Best Paper award at The International RuleML Symposium and a Best Paper Nomination at the Fourth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems.

WWW: University website
WWW: DMN Resources
WWW: LI profile

In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

If you are using BPM(N), you should also consider using DMN. It will simplify your processes, by unraveling the decision logic, and it will allow you to focus on the relationship between decisions.
If you are not using BPMN, maybe because your processes are rather knowledge-intensive, case-based or hard to capture in a rigid flow, you should certainly consider DMN and model the decision knowledge.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

The first steps to start using decision management might involve bringing together some decision rules and organizing them in a decision model, which is then checked for completeness and consistency. But soon you will learn how to obtain consistency and completeness by design.
Besides these obvious advantages, DMN is much more than that. It is not just about the one big decision to be taken. The purpose of a decision model may look like deciding the outcome for a given (complete) set of input values. E.g. John is a customer with these and these data, how much discount does John get on a specific order? DMN contains the full decision logic and can therefore answer many other questions, e.g.: – with the available inputs, what do I already know? – What does John have to change in his order to obtain more discount? – What is the maximum discount John can obtain in his situation? – etc. The model of the decision does not dictate one specific execution for one question only.

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Mathias Weske

WeskeProfessor Dr. Mathias Weske is chair of the business process technology research group at Hasso Plattner Institute of IT Systems Engineering at the University of Potsdam, Germany. The research group aims at addressing real-world BPM problems with formal approaches and engineering useful prototypes. His research focuses on the engineering of process oriented information systems, decision management, and event handling. In addition to running the BPM Academic Initiative bpmai.org with colleagues from academia and Signavio, the BPT research group has a track record in engineered prototypes with a significant impact on research, including projects like Oryx and jBPT. Dr. Weske is author of the first textbook on business process management and he held the first massive open online course on the topic in 2013. He on the Editorial Board of Springer’s Distributed and Parallel Databases journal and a founding member of the steering committee of the BPM conference series.

WWW: University website

In which industries and projects BPM professionals should consider using DMN?

DMN allows us to represent decision logic in a way that it can be understood by people, for instance, by using decision tables. At the same time, decision logic can be understood by machines, so that decisions can be taken in a precise, unambiguous, and repeatable manner. Therefore, domains in which operational decisions play an important role in the daily business are ideal candidates. Especially if decisions are subject to frequent change. We witness this situation in finance, where regulation plays an increasingly important role and where policies set by regulatory authorities are subject to change. Decision management also helps in auditing, since we can document precisely which decisions have been taken and, by referencing the decision logic, how exactly decisions have been taken. This makes decision management an ideal tool in finance. A similar argumentation holds for the insurance domain, so that finance and insurance are among the prime candidates for decision management.

What should be the first (and next) steps of someone who wants to start using decision management with DMN in practice?

Since decision management with DMN is a novel approach, there is no generally agreed methodology on how to introduce decision management in companies. Due to the diversity and complexity of decision management challenges, it’s actually hard to imagine that a single methodology will fit all needs. For companies which defined their business operations using business processes, for instance represented in BPMN, however, the following procedure might be useful: Start with the business process models, investigate decision points in the process and also process activities that are responsible for taking the decision. Next look at the data objects used by these activities. These data objects are inputs to the decision, and the process also shows the expected outcomes. These make an excellent start to define the decision logic, especially if a suitable tool for representing processes and decisions is in place, like, for instance, the Signavio system. Since many companies in finance and insurance have already represented their business processes properly, this procedure could be well applicable in these domains.

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