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Why other approaches don’t work

Before considering the remaining principles, it is worth considering why it is essential to begin with the decision in mind. What is it about a focus on functions, on process, or on data that prevents the effective development of Digital Decisioning?

A Functional Focus Does Not Work

One traditional approach to building systems is to focus on a cluster of related functions—those that have to do with human resources or those that have to do with managing a factory, for instance. Such systems contain stacks of capability focused in one functional area and owned by a single functional department. This approach could result in the development of Digital Decisioning if the decisions involved were wholly contained within a single business function. However, while some decisions are concentrated in this way, many cut across functions. A discount calculation decision, for instance, might involve inputs from supply chain functions, from finance and from customer management. As such, a focus on functions will rarely identify and encompass decisions in a way that lends itself to the construction of Digital Decisioning.

A Process Focus Does Not Work

Functional applications have gradually fallen from favor as organizations have moved to focus on end-to-end business processes. Business processes such as “order to cash” or “issue policy” often cut across several functional areas, linking elements of one function with elements of another to create a useful business outcome. While this cross-functional approach can help with the identification of decisions, a pure process focus tends to entwine decisions with the process itself. If no real distinction is drawn between decisions and the processes that need those decisions it is hard to create true Digital Decisioning. A strong separation of concerns, keeping business processes and decisions linked but separate, is required if enough of a focus on decisions is to be maintained.

Some processes keep decisions separate and manage them separately by assigning these decisions to people in manual process tasks. A focus on human decision-making, even in high-volume operational processes, does not result in the construction of Digital Decisioning.

A Data Focus Does Not Work

Particularly when constructing their own custom systems, organizations often focus on the data that must be managed. These systems become focused almost entirely on the management of the data elements or entities concerned. Providing what is known as Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) functionality for the core objects becomes their rationale. The data contained is managed only so that it can be edited and displayed, while analysis is limited to reporting. Such systems often provide data for decision support systems but they, like process-centric and function-centric systems, defer decision making to actors outside the system.