- Improved visibility is vital to the success of your company and the functionality of your team.
Visibility is the way that you see (and how much you can see) a business process. In many cases, business processes can have pretty visible components and create an ease of access that allows managers and other decision-makers to step in right when they’re needed. This is especially true of certain physical business processes, like a line cook assembly or a manufacturer’s conveyor belt.
However, there are also business processes that by nature have low or no visibility. Digital workflows often have this problem, as components are rarely centralized or kept together, and many of these components function like black boxes, allowing the passage of information into them without making it readily available to the manager of the workflow. This is especially true of the rules that each container will follow in a process if automated.
Because this is the case, business processes in the digital space often need ways to increase their visibility, and DMN is one way to do this for the automated systems in place.
DMN, or Decision Model and Notation, is a way of notating visually what decisions software will be informed to make. Because the format is also designed to integrate with automations, the decision tables you see are often the exact representation and reference used by a given software or bot to execute according to your business rules. The inputs of a decision table are provided, and when the automation utilizes your DMN table, it uses these inputs as conditional statements, providing outputs or answers based on the conditions that were given.
This DMN rules engine model is perfectly suited to informing decision-making in a visible way. Because it’s a table that can be seen and understood easily in a layperson context, DMN actually is used as a way to see into that “black box” that so often describes these inscrutable automations. You’re not required to use code, or go inside the black box even: the rules engine is a separate entity, and the table you’ve built via DMN actually resides within that separate entity, both to protect client data and to create less chance of human error within an automated business process.
Instead, all you need to do is look at the table and eyeball the input column(s) for indications of what’s going into a container, and watch the output column to see what will come out. If your automation is using the same table that you’re looking at, you’re basically looking directly at their decision-making process without breaking into that black box enigma — thereby improving the process visibility overall. Each task that has a rule-based execution will have a table in the rules engine, and you’ll be able to look into each one without the need of cracking or hacking.
Because a process’s visibility can be improved in such a way, there are various benefits to doing so that will ultimately affect your team and your efforts:
One of the main benefits of having this visibility into the process is knowing that, whether it’s you, your IT team, or the executives that have met over this in shadowy communion, someone is able to effect change in the system without much fuss.
The first part of this is the idea of actually finding changes to make: without visibility into your process, no one will have the power to analyze the process the way it needs to be analyzed without breaking open the container. However, if you understand the internal guiding force behind each container without having to crack them open, then you can make educated decisions about it all using this information.
Similarly, now that you have visibility into the way that these decisions are made, you and your team can easily and effectively change these decision points when needed, whether it’s to expand your options, to correct mistakes, or to change methodologies on how some specific need is addressed. After all, the editing of a rules engine is a lot easier and less time-intensive than reprogramming specific automation in full.
You can be a part of the solution early and often when you have access to the right tools. Firstly, there’s the ability to see what conditions and results are programmed into a decision table, creating the ability to start testing its functionality as soon as the automations are able to be tested. Doing this before a full deployment can help you early on, as you will recognize issues long before they go live. In the same way, if the automations are live and there are problems with a specific order or a specific task, you can use the visibility of the decisions in DMN to find the problem visually, rather than having to use other diagnosis methods.
The way that a programmer understands the logic of the automations in place will be very different from the way that the IT team as a whole sees the technical effects of the same system. This is all shadowed by the fact that business analysts will be looking at performance and business decisions alone.
So, with that in mind, using DMN to increase visibility has one last glaring benefit: it serves as a reference point for various departments, various viewpoints, all to reach the same page when talking about existing issues and needs within the process and within the existing business rules. If you’re in need of a team that can reach such agreement on what they see happening, the best possible way is to give them all something to look at.