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Decision Migration Techniques & Best Practices


Written by: Nancy WaiPublished on: Nov 25, 2022No comments

How to Ensure Your Modernization Project is a Success Part 2

In our previous post, we discussed why migration should be a part of your decision modernization planning process. In today’s post, we’ll cover decision migration techniques and best practices. As a reminder, while this blog series provides tips for any modernization initiative, our focus is on projects related to operational decision-making and decision management.

Decision Migration Techniques

Decision migration projects are similar to other migration projects. In general, there are three techniques with variation in-between:

  • Fully Automated
  • Rule Conversion
  • Manual Rewrite

While we believe a manual rewrite produces the best quality, this technique is also the most labor intensive. Therefore, blending the three techniques will probably be the best approach for your organization. Let’s take a closer look at each technique.

Fully Automated: automatically translate decision logic that is reliable and stable

  • How it works: extract your rules (decision logic code) as data and then apply business logic to convert that data to the decision logic representation of your new system
  • Pro and Cons: fastest technique but will transfer over any errors and ugly code from the old system — the decision logic in the new system may still be difficult for business analysts to understand and manage
  • When to use it: where your decision logic is reliable (error-free) and stable (doesn’t change)
  • What to look for when evaluating new technology: automated import capabilities

Rule Conversion: literally translate decision logic that business analysts are familiar with

  • How it works: manually translate rules from the old syntax to the new syntax
  • Pro and Cons: requires less skills/time than a manual rewrite and can incrementally improve the readability of the rules but prevents you from leveraging the richer features of the new system
  • When to use it: pockets of decision logic that business analysts were already comfortable managing in the old system (ex. a decision table)
  • What to look for when evaluating new technology: expressivity of the language

Manual Rewrite: completely rewrite ugly and outdated decision logic

  • How it works: redesign the data model, simplify logic, and address decision limitations
  • Pro and Cons: enables you to take advantage of the richer features of the new system to produce the best quality (redesign decisions and decision management for business analysts) but requires a significant upfront investment (skilled labor)
  • When to use it: crucial areas of your decision logic that currently cannot be effectively managed by business analysts
  • What to look for when evaluating new technology: verification capabilities

A way to blend manual rewrite with fully automated could be to focus the redesign on the decision flow (sequence of decision steps). Once the decision flow has been established, the rules that operate at each decision step can be fully automated from the old system. Regardless, determining your migration approach will take some time (and why migration should be a part of your decision modernization planning process).

Decision Migration Tips

To help you plan and speed up your migration approach, here are a few tips:

  • Start with the data model: Whether you decide to keep your existing data model or create a new one, you should look for opportunities to augment. In addition, establish a team early on to mine your database for edge cases and other examples that can be used for regression testing.
  • Get rid of ugly code: Where possible, remove concepts that are confusing such as null, nested logic, and string assembly. Instead, replace them with syntax (in place), business terms, calculations, and functions. In other words, the more expressive you can be, the better.
  • Define expectations ahead of time and test-as-you-go: Does an outcome on the new system have to exactly match the outcome of the old system or can there be variability? Once you establish expectations, be sure to test as you build decision logic (makes it easier to identify errors than waiting til the end to QA), using the edge cases that you identified early on.

Through proper planning and utilizing the tips we mentioned, you can avoid dragging out your migration project for months, if not years. For example, one of our bank clients was able to migrate a multi-channel credit origination system onto our decision management platform in 2 weeks! But more importantly, because they understood the importance of testing, they were able to improve the quality of their decisions from the get-go. In our final post, we’ll go deeper into regression testing and business verification during migration and beyond.

Want to learn how SMARTS empowers business analysts to make smarter, faster operational decisions? Contact us today to request a custom demo.

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