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Decision Service Integration Patterns

There are multiple scenarios – Decision Service integration patterns – for integrating Decision Services and business processes. Each pattern reflects specific business constraints and objectives. Each guides an effective business solution by developing a Decision Service and integrating it with either existing business processes or with a new business process designed specifically to take advantage of the Decision Service.

The key business considerations in selecting a pattern are the urgency with which a need must be addressed, the timeline for implementing the business solution, and the effort needed to develop the solution. The effort involved includes the identification and development of a Decision Service and modifying an existing business process or designing a new process for the overall business solution. Patterns can be broadly classified into three groups: tactical, incremental and strategic.

Tactical patterns are used to address an immediate business problem that has little strategic value. These patterns are often “one-off” solutions that will have to be discarded or significantly modified as new business issues emerge and solution needs change. Tactical patterns involve little or no analysis of re-use or common problems. An example is an existing claims handling process that needs to avoid processing fraud payments by identifying “likely” frauds prior to payment processing. In this case, the existing business process is modified to insert a fraud detection Decision Service task. Based on the outcome of this decision, the process either continues with the existing process for payment or takes an augmented path for adjudicating the claim. Because this is a tactical solution, there is no attempt to identify a common and consistent Decision Service for fraud identification across multiple processes.

Strategic patterns focus on long-term strategic objectives and take a longer view. One such pattern involves evolving a Decision Service so it can be used in multiple processes. This would allow, for instance, a loan qualification Decision Service to be used for both marketing campaigns and actual loan application processing. Another strategic pattern involves refactoring and redesigning existing processes for consistent customer-centric interactions. Using Decision Services to continuously improve processes with root cause analysis and making business processes adaptive by embedding Decision Services are two other strategic patterns.

Incremental patterns bridge the two ends of the spectrum. Incremental patterns can be applied in a localized way and can be evolved through later analysis. Typical patterns include externalizing and automating decisions embedded in existing processes or legacy applications and automating or assisting human decisions in workflow to improve straight-through processing.