Rules Fest Live: Larry Goldberg / The Decision Model for Business Rules and Logic – An Enterprise Analysis Technique

on October 13, 2010
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Unfortunately Barbara did not make it to the show.  Larry presented solo their Decision Model.  The presentation is not totally new for me since I had the chance to preview the book (I am quoted too).

Starting with the motivation for the methodology, we all agree that the complexity of real-life business logic is hardly manageable when mixed with the business process details.  Separating both aspects simplify dramatically the readability of each piece.

Larry defines an atomic piece of business logic as the smallest yet meaningful logic statement made of ANDed conditions leading to a conclusion.  Basically a business rule.  Those business rules can then be associated in families.  The methodology preached by KPI organizes all those concepts in 2D tables for simplicity.

Larry shares key principles they have detailed in the book, that business users can comprehend:

  • Structural principles
  • Declarative principles
  • Integrity principles

One key concept is that every Decision Model Starts with a Business Decision – this is the outcome of the decision service if you will.

Larry walked us through the building of decision model using their notation:

  1. Starts with the decision: here determining the policy renewal method
  2. Then connects it with the rule family “Policy Renewal Method” including condition criteria which will translate into column headings, namely “Policy Pricing Within Bounds” and “Policy Underwriting Risk”
  3. Other rule families may be linked to it, for example here referring to the rules that will compute “Policy Pricing Within Bounds”
  4. Etc.

Larry then highlighted the value of extracting Business Logic from the Process Model, a dear topic to all of us “Business Rules Evangelists”.  I used different illustrations for that same argument in this post.  This is a variation on the human nervous system analogy I put together when I was working “for a BRMS vendor”.

The Business Decision Maturity Model (BDMM) illustrates artifacts of Visible through Autonomic levels of maturity of the enterprise.  I personally don’t like having a single perspective of levels of maturity as many enterprises can approach those disciplines in many different way but I understand that methodologists like to simplify and “model” experience.

Among the recent advances in the industry, Larry mentioned the “codeless implementation into BRMS” which could have been elaborated a little more for this audience.  This is our main interest for the show after all!  I did like the testing and generation of test cases though.  I do not believe that the industry does enough here though.

To get onto my soap box for a moment here, let me question the practicality of having a highly-structured methodology for truly AGILE projects.  I think there is a mismatch between the needs to change “on the fly” and the process of maintaining such non-executable tables.  We launched a decade or so ago an initiative called “Rule Traceability” which aimed at linking those modeling / methodology tools with operational BRMS implementation.  This initiative lost steam due to the lack of demand for it.  So what was wrong with it?  Why do we feel we need methodology and operational systems, stress agility as a mandate, and yet have not made it easy for customers to go full circle?  I’d love your input on this.

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