Decision Tables in Automated Decisions

on February 22, 2024
Decision Tables

What is a Decision Table?

Decision tables are tables that graphically represents which decisions or actions to take under different conditions. Each column or row represents a different combination of conditions and what decision or action to take. The conditions are independent or input variables and the decisions or actions are dependent or output variables.

In business, decision tables are a form of business rules, documented guidelines for an organization’s operations. Decision tables are useful because they are concise and easy-to-understand. In addition, when they are complete in that they include every possible combination of conditions, they can help identify gaps in the decision-making process.

Decision Table Use Cases and Examples

Decision tables can be formatted in several different ways. The simplest form is the limited-entry decision table. The upper part of the table lists the various conditions, one per row. Each condition can either be true or false, and usually indicated in the decision table as Yes or No. The lower part of the table lists the various actions, one per row. Each action can either be taken or not taken and usually indicated by a checkmark or “X” next to the actions that should be taken. As a result, each column represents a unique business rule.

Below is an oversimplified example of a decision table that an underwriter could use to determine whether or not to process a loan application:
Decision Table Example: Loan Eligibility v1

Alternatively, decision tables can be formatted in such a way where each row represents a rule. Each column represents the inputs (conditions) and the final column represents the output (action). Below is the same information as above in a different format:

Other use cases for decision tables include the following:

  • Risk assessment, product eligibility, and pricing in financial services and insurance
  • Triage, diagnosis, and treatment in healthcare
  • Product recommendations in retail
  • Troubleshooting in Customer Service or IT
  • Identifying test cases for QA/QC
  • Documenting regulatory requirements for Compliance
  • Outlining customer-facing policies such as returns and refunds

Decision Tables in Automated Decisions

With automated decisions, decision tables are useful because they’re easy for business analysts and domain experts to manage and maintain and easy for developers to understand and code into executable business rules. Even so, this translation process is not fool-proof and therefore the code may not always match up with the decision table. This is why when you use our SMARTS™ decision management platform, when you create a decision table, SMARTS™ will automatically convert the decision tables into executable business rules. This ensures that what you see is what you’ll get.

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Sparkling Logic Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based company dedicated to helping organizations automate and optimize key decisions in daily business operations and customer interactions in a low-code, no-code environment. Our core product, SMARTS™ Data-Powered Decision Manager, is an all-in-one decision management platform designed for business analysts to quickly automate and continuously optimize complex operational decisions. Learn more by requesting a live demo or free trial today.