In What is Lifecycle Management for a Business Rule, Carole-Ann touched upon the usefulness of rule versioning for traceability or backtracking. She also mentioned the power of a release, which basically represents the version of multiple rules (or any kind of item) at a given point in time, effectively giving the ability to travel back in time.
Such capabilities are essential during the implementation and deployment of decision logic; but they can also be extremely useful during decision modeling time, as we will see here.
If you model your decisions in Word or in Excel, you know how difficult it can be to collaborate with other Business Analysts on these documents. The Track Changes feature in both Word and Excel helps tremendously, by allowing coworkers to provide comments in a legible fashion.
In Talking about decisions, we saw that using a decision modeling tool makes it so much better to collaborate on your organization’s decisions. Such a tool must therefore provide the ability to track which changes were made by whom and when. One solution we took in Pencil Decision Modeler is the ability to provide a comment when a decision model or a glossary is saved. Also, each time you save, this effectively creates a new version.
Later on, you can look at all the versions of a decision model or a glossary, and read the accompanying comments, providing you with a useful trace of all the changes that were made in time.The comments provided at save time can give you a good idea of the changes; but such comments can however sometimes be imprecise, if at all present… In such cases, when more detail is needed, it is useful to be able to pick two versions and compare them.
What if you need to revert to a previous change, because there was some miscommunication, or updates to a particular policy while you were modeling it? Replacing the current version of a model or of the glossary with any other will allow you to move along as if nothing had happened.
Now, when you actually ship a new version of your application, how do you ensure the model and glossary are actually in line with what you shipped? One idea is to use the concept of a project release we mentioned in the introduction to this post. Taking a holistic approach, releasing an application would also mean releasing the accompanying internal documentation, represented by the decision model.
This is what Pencil Decision Modeler makes possible: you can release both your automated decisions implemented in SMARTS along with their DMN models. Later on, you can open a read-only view of a project with its decision models and glossary, in the state they were in at the time the release was created, allowing you to understand the evolution of your decision models over time.
The latest release of Pencil Decision Modeler takes teamwork and collaboration even further, so give it a try!
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