Business Decision Management – Part 2

Registration is free. Login or register to view/download this content.


Faculty Member, and CEO and Principal Consultant, Decision Management Solutions
James is a Faculty Member of and the CEO and a Principal Consultant of Decision Management Solutions. He is the leading expert in how to use business rules and analytic technology to build Decision Management Systems. James is passionate about using Decision Management Systems to help companies improve decision making and develop an agile, analytic and adaptive business. He provides strategic consulting to companies of all sizes, working with clients in all sectors to adopt decision making technology. James has spent the last 20 years developing approaches, tools, and platforms that others can use to build more effective information systems. He has led Decision Management efforts for leading companies in insurance, banking, health management, manufacturing, travel and telecommunications. James is the author of “Decision Management Systems: A practical guide to using business rules and predictive analytics” (IBM Press, 2011). He previously wrote Smart (Enough) Systems: How to Deliver Competitive Advantage by Automating Hidden Decisions (Prentice Hall) with Neil Raden, and has contributed chapters on Decision Management to multiple books as well as many articles to magazines. He is currently working on a book projects related to decision modeling. Decision Management Solutions work with clients to improve their business by applying analytics and analytic technology to automate and improve decisions. Decision Management Solutions is a submitter of the Decision Model and Notation standard.

In Part 1 we discussed using business rules and analytics in the context of Business Decision Management to automate and improve operational business decisions.  There are many ways to bring business rules and analytics to play in information systems and they can be used to improve business processes, Business Decision Management is emerging an extremely productive and effective method. In this article we will address some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic.

Is there any difference between the different flavors – Business Decision Management (BDM), Enterprise Decision Management (EDM) and plain old Decision Management?

Well not really, it’s just a matter of emphasis. Enterprise Decision Management is the phrase we like to use as it emphasizes the importance of enterprise ownership of decisions. Business Decision Management is emphasizing the parallel nature of the concept to Business Process Management – just as a business has processes, it has decisions too that should be managed. Decision Management is just short hand for either or both of these. They all boil down to the same idea – that the operational decisions that an enterprise must take to run its business should be managed just like its data or its processes.

How does BDM relate to business rules?

BDM builds on a business rules foundation and is just one of several things you can do with business rules. Business rules have a long history of giving organizations a declarative way to talk about what they do and executable business rules can be used in everything from process control to data quality. BDM takes business rules and focuses them on the operational decisions that drive the transactions on which a business functions. Automating and improving these decisions, and externalizing them using business rules so that they can be managed and reused is critical to BDM.

How about data mining and predictive analytics – do they relate to BDM too?

Yes they do. Most people think of policies, procedures and legacy code as the sources for business rules. Data mining, analyzing the information you have about the past, especially about customer behavior, is a great additional source of business rules. Most organizations also find that, if they can make predictions about their customers or products or suppliers, then they can write new and more interesting rules about how to treat them. If I can predict loyalty in a customer I can use that prediction to treat them more appropriately. Predictive analytic techniques take uncertainty about something (like customer loyalty) and use the data you have to turn that into a probability or a score that can be used in rules. BDM relies on data mining and predictive analytics to enhance and extend the kinds of rules you have by learning from your data.

Isn’t BDM just part of Business Process Management or BPM?

Some people have said so. However, decisions are fundamentally different from processes. Processes drive sequences of actions and link people and systems together – they define how to do the next thing. Decisions are about what should be done next and so complement processes. Decisions do show up in processes – all those little diamonds on your process charts – but the definition and management of decisions is something much better done in parallel with BPM than within it.

Is BDM a business initiative or a technical one?

BDM is a business initiative, first and foremost. While it will require new technologies to be adopted and existing ones to be used differently, the drivers for it and the barriers to it are overwhelmingly business issues. Businesses need more agility, more control over their information systems and processes that treat their customers more appropriately. They need ways to use their data to protect and grow their business, they need more effective operations. BDM can deliver those things and more.

Do I have to be doing BPM/SOA to do BDM?

No, but it is sure easier if you are. A focus on processes and on component services that support those processes makes it much easier to identify decisions that should be managed and to develop and implement the decision services that can deliver those decisions to the systems and processes that need them. Plenty of successful BDM projects have been done that were not based on SOA and that supported traditional systems rather than processes defined using BPM. Clearly, however, the growth of BDM will come from organizations also doing BPM and SOA.

Can I do BDM today or do I need to wait for new technology?

You can, and should, do it today. Business rules management systems are robust and established and data mining/predictive analytic tools are both proven and increasingly accessible to less technical users. In addition, many software companies are delivering combined rules and analytic platforms or applications that use rules and analytics to manage customer treatment decisions. With the growing integration of these technologies with optimization and with process and performance management, everything you need is in place.

How do I get started?

Find the decisions that make a difference in your operations. It might be a pricing decision or a cross-sell/up-sell one, it might be a customer treatment decision or a scheduling one. Think about how you could automate and/or improve that decision. Could you define a set of rules for it that would let the business define how they want the decision taken? Could you analyze your data to provide some insight that would drive the way the decision is made? You don’t need to do everything at once – just rules or just data mining can work well – but begin with the decision in mind and focus on it. As Bill Fair once said “Grab the decision by the throat and don’t let go.”

Similar Resources

Featured Certificate: BPM Specialist

Everyone starts here.

You're looking for a way to improve your process improvement skills, but you're not sure where to start.

Earning your Business Process Management Specialist (BPMS) Certificate will give you the competitive advantage you need in today's world. Our courses help you deliver faster and makes projects easier.

Your skills will include building hierarchical process models, using tools to analyze and assess process performance, defining critical process metrics, using best practice principles to redesign processes, developing process improvement project plans, building a center of excellence, and establishing process governance.

The BPMS Certificate is the perfect way to show employers that you are serious about business process management. With in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management, you'll be able to take your business career to the next level.

Learn more about the BPM Specialist Certificate





  • Business Process Management Specialist
  • Earning your Business Process Management Specialist (BPMS) Certificate will provide you with a distinct competitive advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. With in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management, you’ll be able to take your business career to the next level.
  • BPM Professional Certificate
    Business Process Management Professional
  • Earning your Business Process Management Professional (BPMP) Certificate will elevate your expertise and professional standing in the field of business process management. Our BPMP Certificate is a tangible symbol of your achievement, demonstrating your in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management.


BPM Certification

  • Make the most of your hard-earned skills. Earn the respect of your peers and superiors with Business Process Management Certification from the industry's top BPM educational organization.




  • Operational Excellence Specialist
  • Earning your Operational Excellence Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in driving organizational excellence and achieving sustainable improvements in performance.


OpEx Professional Certificate

  • Operational Excellence Professional
  • Earn your Operational Excellence Professional Certificate and gain a competitive edge in driving organizational excellence and achieving sustainable improvements in performance.



  • Agile BPM Specialist
  • Earn your Agile BPM Specialist Certificate and gain a competitive edge in driving business process management (BPM) with agile methodologies. You’ll gain a strong understanding of how to apply agile principles and concepts to business process management initiatives.  

Business Architecture



  • Business Architecture Specialist
  • The Business Architecture Specialist (BAIS) Certificate is proof that you’ve begun your business architecture journey by committing to the industry’s most meaningful and credible business architecture training program.

  • Business Architecture Professional
  • When you earn your Business Architecture Professional (BAIP) Certificate, you will be able to design and implement a governance structure for your organization, develop and optimize business processes, and manage business information effectively.

BA CertificationCertification

  • Make the most of your hard-earned skills. Earn the respect of your peers and superiors with Business Architecture Certification from the industry's top BPM educational organization.




  • Digital Transformation Specialist
  • Earning your Digital Transformation Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. 


  • Digital Transformation Professional
  • The Digital Transformation Professional Certificate is the first program in the industry to cover all the key pillars of Digital Transformation holistically with practical recommendations and exercises.



  • Agile Business Analysis Specialist
  • Earning your Agile Business Analysis Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in the world of agile software development.


  • DAS Certificate
  • Decision Automation Specialist
  • Earning your Decision Automation Certificate will empower you to excel in the dynamic field of automated decision-making, where data-driven insights are pivotal to driving business innovation and efficiency.