James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Decision Service Design

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I have been thinking about decision service design a fair bit recently, as you might expect. As part of my research in this area I came across this posting by Brenda Michelson - Introducing: Business-Driven Service Design Method which has a link to the recording of the webinar on this topic she gave with Beth Gold-Bernstein of ebizQ. The approach is well worth listening to, particularly since they focus on how to design services whether you take a business process approach, a business interaction approach, a business event approach or (as they recommend) some combination. The basic steps in their process was nicely outlined in this graphic.
It is pretty clear to me, having listened to their overview, that what I call a Decision Service is a subset of what they refer to as Business Function Services. Decision Services might be considered a pattern for Function Services in their approach. Decision Services typically are stateless, short-lived and used synchronously by other services. They take data in, might request additional data and then return information about a decision. They don't update databases, they don't take action, they just make decisions. So far so good.
While one could just use their approach and then identify the decision services as a subset of the function services, I do think that their approach could be useful adapted to include decision services more explicitly:

  • They model decision points in a number of their steps. Making these more explicit earlier, and focusing on the unique requirements of decisions, might be more effective than simply applying a design pattern later.
  • While they talk about rules and policies in the context of event processing and process variations, explicitly modeling the decisions driven by these rules and policies will make their use, and the impact they have on services, much more clear.
  • They discuss the information required by a service but don't explicitly model why that information is required - what decision is going to be taken with it. Being more explicit about the decision making would make it clearer what information was required.

This is an area where I am clearly going to have to do more thinking but in the meantime check out their webinar and perhaps some of these links:

1 Comment

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James, you are correct about a Decision Service being a type of service. I also think there may be more than one type of decision service (see my blog post http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/bethgb/archives/2007/11/decision_servic_1.php) But as far as the service model goes, everything that needs to be part of that service - policies, information, etc., is in fact modeled.

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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