Decision as Attribute

Business process documentation often reflects decisions that are made during the process that affect subsequent steps in the process. Somtimes the decision can affect the necessity of a step or the outcome of a step. When decisions are made during the process that affect subsequent steps, the result of that decision becomes a data element or attribute that feeds the decision framework for the affected steps.

By making these decisions during the process, the user is adding information to the process that must be modeled and captured.

Sometimes the decisions are non-discretionary, meaning that the decision is always made the same way. In the manual version of the business process, the human evaluates input data attributes, and makes a decision that reflects the state of the data at the time of the decision. While it appears that the human is expressing discretion over the process, in fact they are acting as automaton, merely processing the information and reflecting the state.

Other times decisions are discretionary, meaning that the decision involves some “art” of the human executing the process. This “art” or skill, may require the ability to evaluate information that is not readily available within an automation context like customer preferences or long-text instructions. Other times, the art may be evaluation of the physical state of equipment, or work product. Sometimes the “art” is knowing other facts about the world (like market conditions, competive environment, etc.) and how they impact our execution.

For discretionary decisions, often the “art” or skill is executed differently by different practitioners. In these cases, software requirements often are written to expose or present the information needed by the majority of those expressing the art or skill. Capturing their decisions, and the data that was presented, is often required for future analysis and refinement in the decision making process.

Again, discretionary or non-discretionary capturing or rendering the decision as an attribute of the process or metaphor is important in developing the decision framework for subsequent steps and processes. Capturing the information used to render or make the decision at the point of capture is important for future process improvement or operator skill evaluation.

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