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Why Does Decision-Making Need a Standard?

It’s a complicated world out there.

First, customers no longer accept being treated as a collection of accounts. They expect consistency in all their interactions, regardless of channel or product. They expect simple, transparent services with real-time customized experiences. They expect innovative products and services that fit their ever changing needs.

Second, technology has created a new wave of competitive pressures, as some companies started to innovate a lot faster than others, and even newcomers to well established, and up until recently reasonably protected, markets are able to leverage these new technologies and services to disrupt established players.

And finally, as a direct consequence of the financial crisis regulators introduced stricter rules and have been enforcing them with hefty fines.

As businesses struggle to respond to these pressures, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the average time to deliver an IT project increased by more than a month from 2010 to 2015, and now stands at over 10 months from start to delivery.

A few years ago we started noticing this trend – an increase in complexity in our customers’ strategies, the number of predictive models used, the multiplication of algorithms used to produced them and the sheer number of business rules used, sometimes in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. Needless to say, projects became longer and overruns were frequent.

The interesting thing is, we solved this problem not by improving project management skills or restructuring teams to allow for clearer accountability. We solved it by helping teams collaborate better.

We developed a new way for decision requirements to be captured in workshops attended by representatives from both business and IT, the end result being a graphical depiction of how decisions were to be made. The key thing to note, though, is that these diagrams tend to fit in one page, even when these decisions require tens of thousands of rules to be made.

By converting the complexity of the business problem to a human digestible size, all team members left this workshop with the same picture in their heads of their project objectives, leading to fewer overruns in better scoped, incremental projects. This translated into more innovation delivered faster to their customers.

This methodology, developed by Dr. Alan Fish at FICO, was so successful that was adopted as a corporate standard at FICO. It is also the basis for the new Decision Model and Notation, or DMN, standard by the Object Management Group.

We are announcing today a new product called FICO® DMN Modeler that conforms to the new standard and supports our methodology. We’ve built it with a clear goal in mind: help teams collaborate better.

And to demonstrate how much we believe in this approach – and also show we are truly committed to the new standard we helped create – we have decided to provide DMN Modeler for free in the FICO Analytic Cloud. We want every single company out there to model their decisions on DMN Modeler – we want all of them to innovate faster.

Adopting the DMN standard will help companies of all industries and all sizes to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations, fend off the competition and satisfy the regulators.

Check it out for free at, we’d love to hear your feedback.

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