The Microguide to Process and Decision Modeling in BPMN/DMN is now available on Amazon. A little bit about the book: the landscape of process modeling has evolved as have the best practices. The smartest companies are using decision modeling in combination with process modeling. The principle reason is that decisions and processes are discovered and managed in separate, yet, interrelated ways.
Decision Model and Notation (DMN) is an evolution of Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) 2.0 into an even more powerful and capable tool set and the Microguide book covers both specifications. It also focuses on the best practices in decision and process modeling. A number of these best practices have emerged, creating robust, agile, and traceable solutions. Decision management and decision modeling are critical, allowing for simpler, smarter, and more agile processes.
A simple decision and gateway control of an execution path to respond to a purchasing decision.
As the figure above shows, the proper use of decision modeling uncovers critical issues that the process must address to comply with the decision. Decision-driven processes act on the directives of decision logic: decision outputs affect the sequence of things that happen, the paths taken, and who should perform the work. Processes provide critical input into decisions, including data for validation and identification of events or process-relevant conditions. The combination of process and decision modeling is a powerful one.
In most business processes, an operational decision is the controlling factor driving processes. This is powerful, as many governments and enterprises focus on minimizing the event response lag because there is often a financial benefit to faster responses. Straight-through processing and automated decision making, not just automated processes, is also emphasizing the importance of decisions in processes. Developing a decision model in DMN provides a detailed, standardized approach that precisely directs the process and creates a new level of traceability.
Decision modeling can therefore be considered an organizing principle for designing many business processes. Most process modeling in BPMN is accomplished by matching a use case, written or otherwise, with workflow patterns. Process modeling is critical to the creation of a robust and sustainable solution. Without decision modeling, however, such an approach can result in decision logic becoming a sequence of gateways and conditions such that the decision remains hidden and scattered among the process steps.
Without decision modeling, critical decisions, such as how to source a requisition when financial or counter-party risk is unacceptable, or what to offer a customer, are lost to the details of the process. When the time comes to change or improve a decision, a process model in BPMN alone might not meet the need. Providing a notation for modeling decisions separately from processes is the objective of DMN.