Decision Requirements Analysis

I HAVE BEEN BUILDING knowledge-based systems now for 30 years, and in my experience the most difficult problems with such projects are rarely technical ones—those are easy to solve. They are the ones that involve management and communication. For example:

  • How can you discuss the required decision-making at a high level with all concerned?
  • How can you define the scope clearly at the outset of the project before any rules have been collected?
  • How can you implement the project in stages without the need for extensive rework?
  • How can you avoid nasty surprises halfway through (such as the need to integrate with an extra source of data)?
  • How can you divide the development tasks between multiple teams or locations and be sure the components will integrate properly?
  • How do you know when you've finished?

Decision Requirements Analysis (DRA) is the approach I have developed as a response to these problems. It is a formal method comprising:

  • The Decision Requirements Diagram (DRD): a diagram showing the structure of the required decision-making as a network of decisions and subdecisions with their supporting areas of business knowledge and data
  • Decision Requirements Analysis Workshop (DRAW): a structured workshop technique allowing a methodical top-down analysis of a decision into the structure recorded in the DRD and supporting documents
  • Best practice guidelines on the use of DRA in project planning, rules discovery, functional design, and system ...

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