“I have been a big fan of DMN since early 2014. Our customers had asked us for a user-friendly solution to business rules for a long time. But for most of that time we refused to invest in this topic, simply because there were only proprietary approaches to business rules out there.
Then, one day, we discovered OMG’s standardization initiative around DMN. We have always been fans of open standards. I was even personally involved in the early developments of BPMN 2.0 back in the day.
There is also another reason we liked DMN: It goes beyond just business rules. Most importantly, it also addresses business people rather than IT experts only. DMN’s decision tables are much easier to understand than typical rules definitions in a business rules system. On top of that, it provides a means to really divide and conquer complex decisions and go beyond only the execution-relevant parts of a decision model.
Many of the aspects that made BPMN successful, we could see in DMN, too.”
The DMN Ecosystem
The great thing about having a standard is that an open ecosystem can emerge. There are books about DMN, training for DMN, products for DMN, consultants for DMN, even university classes about DMN – adding more DMN users every day.
Just like BPMN, DMN comes with a standardized interchange format. The idea behind this, is that different platforms can share DMN models. This allows products to specialize in different aspects and collectively, as a best-of-breed combination, serve end users to cover the complete lifecycle of Decision Management in an optimal way.
We have seen this a lot for BPMN in the past. User-focused business tools like Signavio, serve as discussion and optimization platforms, while high volume execution of processes happens in a dedicated runtime platform. Long tail processes that are frequently changed by business users, come alive in a lightweight cloud environment. All based on standard BPMN 2.0.
announcement that DMN will be included in the November release of their BPM platform is yet another sign of a healthy ecosystem for DMN. We are excited about this step, as there is quite a big number of organizations using Signavio Process Editor on the business side and camunda on the IT side, with a BPMN-based roundtrip connecting the two. So a lot of organizations will immediately benefit from our respective DMN initiatives.
Camunda’s support for DMN also adds yet another option for rules execution. In July, we announced OneDecision.io, a lightweight Open Source reference implementation for DMN that is currently integrated into a number of platforms. Also later this year, Effektif will add native DMN support to its cloud workflow capabilities, covering most of the expressiveness DMN has to offer.
Unfortunately, many of the incumbent business rules products do not have DMN support, yet. But the good news is that this will most likely change over time. In the meantime, transformation approaches from DMN to the proprietary rules definition are a smooth workaround. Given the huge install base of Red Hat’s business rules products, Drools and Red Hat BRMS, we already added a DMN to Drools transformation in April. This means that most DMN models built using the Signavio Decision Manager can be directly executed in the Drools environment.
DMN is much more than just a different notation for business rules
But let’s have a look at DMN once again: It is not only about the detailed level of decision logic in the form of decision tables or textual expressions. DMN also contains concepts like the “decision owner” or “knowledge sources”, typically used for relating compliance and risk requirements to decisions. These concepts are completely irrelevant for business rules execution and show that it caters for business users, too.
Also, DMN is designed not to cover rules only. James Taylor does a great job explaining how DMN can also be leveraged for business intelligence and advanced analytics use cases. DMN helps you design better management dashboards and turn predictive analytics outcomes into actionable operations.
On top of these use cases involving software development or some form of configuration, we also see a lot of demand for DMN in non-IT use cases: DMN as a structured way of sharing knowledge about decision making between human beings. DMN used for the purpose of reorganization, for training employees, as a knowledge base employees can turn to on demand.
Adoption of DMN
Since we started working on DMN, we have seen a huge spike in interest in the topic. Just as an example: 50 people signed up for our introductory workshop on DMN in Berlin in September – No worries, we have multiple trainers doing the workshop in parallel sessions ;)
We have already experienced impressive download numbers for our whitepapers on DMN and Business Decision Management. And it is not only people wanting to get a sneak preview of some hot new thing – customer projects involving DMN and the Signavio Decision Manager are actually starting on a weekly basis.
So, if you have not yet looked into DMN, you definitely should do so now! Register for your free 30 day trial atand start modeling your business decisions now!
Please also have a look at our free webinars and whitepapers about Business Decision Management and the Decision Model and Notation: