The Decision Model – September 2013

Edited by Barb von Halle.
The Decision Model (TDM) is a methodology and framework for modelling the business logic[1] behind business decisions.  Its popularity, adoption, and number of ground-breaking success stories are increasing significantly[2].  TDM, as a powerful but simple graphical notation, is easy for both business people to understand and IT professionals to implement.  As such, it puts business people in control of their business rules and logic and it accelerates IT’s ability to automate them quickly and without errors.
The Decision Model was co-invented by Larry Goldberg and Barbara von Halle, who are the co-authors of the seminal book The Decision Model: A Business Logic Framework Linking Business and Technology. In early January 2012, I made three predictions about the urgent need for low cost software that would support the creation and automation of  TDM models, and, that such software would be available by the end of 2012.
It is now several months after I expected my original predictions  to come true, but they are now reality.  Below is a summary of my three original TDM predictions and how they relate to specific functionality of the new TDM tool, The Decision Modeler, launched in early June 2013 by BiZZdesign.
Original Decision Model Prediction #1
January 2012: By the end of 2012 a low cost entry-level TDM modelling tool will exist that will enable modelers to create and validate that their TDM models comply with the TDM 15 principles. 
As of January 2012 only one tool had sophisticated TDM capability and it is  Sapiens’ DECISION, designed for enterprise TDM modelling, full life-cycle management, and business-to-IT governance.
My prediction for an entry-level low cost TDM modelling tool was based on the following:
  • There are a large number of small to medium size companies, who in the coming months and years, would like to adopt TDM as a best practice, but who will not have the need for a sophisticated enterprise supporting software such as Sapiens’ DECISION. Therefore, these companies typically use MS/Excel and MS/Visio for TDM modelling.  However a modelling tool specifically targeted at TDM with associated automated validation would be much better.
  • Many departments in large companies wish to experiment with TDM, perhaps on a project-by-project basis.  Use of a low-cost entry tool to get started is an excellent way to publicize success and full potential of an initial TDM project,  In time, such organizations may evolve to need enterprise governance products such as Sapiens’ DECISION.
  • Having a low-cost or open source TDM modelling tool will empower many thousands of new decision modelers to experiment on their own.  From here, they can drive the bottom-up adoption of TDM within organisations of all sizes.
Original Decision Model Prediction #2
January 2012: By the end of 2012 a low cost TDM model translator will exist that will automatically convert high-level graphical TDM models into executable  code for a number of business rules engines[3].
I predicted that such a tool will provide an interesting integration between business specification of business logic (of business rules) and the corresponding increased productivity of business rules programmers.  This connection from TDM to executable code removes complicated error-prone translations and ensures that Decision Models are converted without error into code for one or more target business rule engines.
Original Decision Model Prediction #3
January 2012: From my perspective Business Decision Management = BPMN + TDM.   It is therefore my prediction is that by end of 2012  a low-cost entry tool will exist that will enable business analysts and TDM modellers to model TDM and BPMN process models in an integrated modelling environment. 
This is useful because a decision model most often exists within the context of a BPMN process model.  When this is so, the result of the decision model determines the flow of process execution. For more information on the integration of TDM with BPMN process models see the BPMN guru Bruce Silver’s blog post.
The Three Predictions and The Decision Modeler
At the time that I made these predictions, I was unaware that BiZZdesign was about to embark on developing a TDM tool.  It was only in the autumn of 2012 that I became aware of BiZZdesign’s TDM plans and that its alpha version of the tool was to be available by end of 2012.
So how does BizzDesign’s ‘The Decision Modeler’ compare with the three TDM predictions?
  • TDM Prediction #1 and The Decision Modeler: – BiZZdesign’s The Decision Modeler is priced at around $5,000 for a single user licence.  A  later lower priced SaaS/Cloud version is to follow. The Decision Modeler currently validates decision models against some of the 15 principles, including the structural principles. In forthcoming releases, it will validate decision models against  all 15 principles. And so it is that  The Decision Modeler meets TDM Prediction #1.
  • TDM Prediction #2 and The Decision Modeler: – BiZZdesign’ s The Decision Modeler can export TDM models into MS/Excel in a format executable in the OpenRules open source business rules engine.  The ability to export to other business rules engines,  such as Drools and ILOG, are on the roadmap. With this functionality,  The Decision Modeler meets TDM prediction #2.
  • TDM Prediction #3 and The Decision Modeler: –The Decision Modeler has excellent integration with process modelling approaches. It supports both the BPMN 2.0 standard as well as the proprietary Amber process modelling languages.    This means the Decision Modeler satisfies TDM Prediction #3. 
In addition, The Decision Modeler enables a TDM modeller to view all  process models that contain a specified TDM model.  Also, from a given process model, a modeller can select a business decision task and view the associated TDM model. No other TDM tool has this tight execution with process models, out of the box, as does The Decision Modeler.
The Decision Modeler meets all the three TDM Predictions.
TDM is rapidly revolutionising enterprise business decision management simply by enabling the business managers to re-gain control of their business decisions. I believe The Decision Modeler will have a significant impact by reducing the costs of engaging with TDM and allowing a wide variety of organizations to adopt TDM as a standard organizational practice.
Future Predictions for Decision Modeler
It is my view that, with its integration of TDM with other BiZZdesign modelling tools and languages, The Decision Modeler will continue to advance in subsequent releases. It is now my latest prediction that BiZZdesign will become a de facto modelling tool for doing TDM modelling within the enterprise.
For more information on how BiZZdesign has integrated TDM with its other modelling tools and languages and some of the implications of this integration for the business and IT, see:
In the olden days, thousands of years ago, prophets who made predictions that did not materialise were either ignored or more often stoned to death as false prophets.  So my thanks BiZZdesign for developing its TDM product, The Decision Modeler, just in time!

[1] Business logic is the representation of business rules as conditions leading to a conclusion.

[2] Freddie Mac SVP and CIO Rob Lux on Technology Transforming the Secondary (Mortgage) Market at Freddie Mac, Technology Transforming the Secondary Market. 

[3] Business rule engines are sometimes referred to as BRMS (business rule management systems)


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About Barbara von Halle

Barb von Halle is Managing Partner of Knowledge Partners, Inc. (KPI). She is co-inventor of the Decision Model and co-author of The Decision Model: A Business Logic Framework Linking Business and Technology published by Taylor and Francis 2009. She is the fifth recipient of the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award from International DAMA, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. Known as a business rules pioneer, she has consulted in this area for more than 10 years. She is an invited keynote speaker at conferences in the U.S. and Europe.

Her first book, Handbook of Relational Database Design has sold more than 21,000 copies. She was the most popular in Database Programming and Design magazine for manyÊ years.

Other book publications include Business Rules Applied and The Business Rule Revolution. Her recent article in Intelligent Enterprise magazine features case studies from Oregon State, Freddie Mac, Dell Financial Systems, and Pershing LLC.Ê

Barb can be found at where new announcements and materials on the Decision Model appear as well as a link to purchase The Decision Model: A Business Logic Framework Linking Business and Technology.