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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Why manage decisions?

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I read a lot these days about managed IT in one from or another - managed systems, managed processes, managed management and so on. So why manage decisions?

First let's be clear what a "decision" is in this context. A decision, or more precisely a business decision, selects from alternatives, typically to find the one most profitable or appropriate for the organization and/or the customer. To do this various facts or pieces of information about the situation and the participants in it must be considered. Finally an action is taken - decisions are not just about knowledge being added to what is known. Decisions are taken by enterprises at every level - from strategic decisions taken by the CEO to the intensely operational ones taken by customer service representations or store workers. Decision Management is largely an issue with these operational decisions. If we want to automate these kinds of decisions, and we do, then we need to consider Decision Management as a separate discipline, not just part of systems development.

Automating decisions involves embedding know-how into operational systems. Often this know-how is specific to your organization so buying a package has limited value - the package vendor does not know how you like to take decisions. Traditional coding approaches tend to separate the expert from the process - most business experts don't read code very well and so have a hard time editing it or even reviewing it for accuracy.

In regulated industries - and let's face it most industries are more and more regulated these days - compliance is another issue with decisions. Will you be able to show that this decision was taken in a compliant way if you automate it? Do you think the regulators will be able to read that code? Will you be sure exactly which bits of the code executed for each transaction and can you log that?

Decisions also represent one of your key areas for competitive advantage and distinctiveness. In an era of standardized forms and increasingly best-practice focused processes, how you decide things makes a real difference to how you are perceived. If you decide to take on high risk customers (for a price) or to decline certain kinds of requests, these decisions affect how the market sees you. Managing the decision you take interacting with customers is thus key to your market perception.

So operational decisions must be automated differently and can be key to your business. They deserve to be managed as corporate assets and this requires new technologies, new approaches, a new mindset. More on this as the blog continues.

James Taylor blogs about decision-management technologies such as predictive analytics and business rules, discussing how they deliver agility, improve business processes and bring intelligent automation to SOA.

James Taylor

James Taylor blogs on decision management for ebizQ, and is an independent consultant on decision management, predictive analytics, business rules, and related topics.

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