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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Decision Services

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Saw this post on characteristics of services (with a nice historical perspective) and thought I would define a decision service, just for fun:

A self-contained, callable service with a view of all the conditions and actions that need to be considered to make an operational business decision

Or, more simply

A service that answers a business question for other services


Clearly a decision service must conform to the list of characteristics in the article but I would add a few:

  • Behavior understandable to the business
    After all we are talking about a "business decision" here so the business had better be able to verify exactly what is going on inside
  • Supports rapid iteration without disruption
    Business decisions change all the time so a decision service has to be both flexible and designed for this change
  • Integrates historical data
    Business decisions are increasingly made "by the numbers" with much reference to historical data. Decision Services need a similar ability to use historical data, and trends/insight extrapolated from it.
  • Expects multi-channel use
    While this is largely covered by the standard items it is worth noting as it means that VERY different kinds of applications will use the service - everything from ATMs and SmartPhones to Call Center applications and Bill Printing.
  • Manages exceptions well
    Not only should it respond sensibly when it cannot decide, it should ensure that enough context is returned as to why it could not decide to assist a manual process
  • Must explain its execution
    Many decisions must demonstrate compliance or conformance with policy. Any decision service must be able to log exactly how it decided and that information must be accessible to non-technical users

I posted before about 7 ways to embed decisioning

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What you need to know about Decision Services from Enterprise Decision Management - a Weblog on March 19, 2007 1:10 PM

A key tenet of Enterprise Decision Management is the automation of the operational decisions that drive your business. You need to identify operational decisions and automate them; you also need to separate them out from the rest of your applications Read More

1 Comment

James, great post. I commented on our blog as I think some of my clients will really enjoy your post. I particularly liked your point about management of exceptions. It gets at a key concern that some of my clients have about automated decisions--a perceived lack of control or transparency about how decisions are made. This is particularly important to clients that have compliance responsibilities such as government regulation, Sarbanes-Oxley, or HIPAA. It's critical that those organizations have the ability dramatically increase decision speed and quality through automation, while maintaining the ability to provide explanation and justification to external authorities, and/or fairness to their stakeholders or customers.

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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