Technique Summary: BABOK 10.17 and Agile 7.9

By Alissa Johnson
Below is a summary of section 10.17 - Data Modelling from BABOK® version 3 and Agile Techniques 7.9 Portfolio Kanban from the Agile extension to the BABOK guide version 2.

Technique 10.17 – Decision Modelling

DescriptionDecision models show how data and knowledge are combined to make a specific decision, and can be used for both straightforward and complex decisions. Complex decision models break down decisions into their individual components so that each piece can be separately described and the model can show how those pieces combine to make an overall decision. A high-level model may only show the business decisions as they appear in business processes, while a more detailed model might show as-is or to-be decision making in enough detail to act as a structure for all the relevant business rules. Decision tables and decision trees define how a specific decision is made.
Decision Table: A tabular representation of the defined definitional or behavioral business rules required to make an atomic decision. Each row (or column) is a rule and each column (or row) represents one of the conditions of that rule. When all the conditions in a particular rule evaluate to true for a set of input data, the outcome or action specified for that rule is selected.
Decision Tree: Decision trees are common in some industries, but are used less often than decision tables. They can be very effective for representing certain kinds of rule sets, especially those relating to customer segmentation. Each path on a decision tree leaf node is a single rule. Each level in the tree represents a specific data element; the downstream branches represent the different conditions that must be true to continue down that branch.

 Decision Requirements Diagram: A visual representation of the information, knowledge, and decision making involved in a more complex business decision.
Decisions: shown as rectangles. Each decision takes a set of inputs and selects from a defined set of possible outputs by applying business rules and other decision logic.
Input Data: shown as ovals, representing data that must be passed as an input to a decision on the diagram.
Business Knowledge Models: shown as a rectangle with the corners cut off, representing sets of business rules, decision tables, decision trees, or even predictive analytic models that describe precisely how to make a decision.
Knowledge Sources: shown as a document, representing the original source documents or people from which the necessary decision logic can be or has been derived.
Solid arrows show the information requirements for a decision. These information requirements might link input data to a decision, to show that this decision requires that data to be available, or might link two decisions together.
Business knowledge models, which describe how to make a specific decision, can be linked to that decision with dashed arrows to display knowledge requirements. Knowledge sources can be linked to decisions with a dashed, rounded arrow to show that a knowledge source (for example, a document or person) is an authority for the decision. This is called an authority requirement.

 Usage Considerations

Strengths Limitations
Easy to share and combine multiple perspectives among all stakeholders, facilitate shared understanding, support impact analysis Adds a second diagram style when modelling business processes that contain decisions. This may add unnecessary complexity if the decision is simple and tightly coupled with the process
Grouping by decision in tables manages large numbers of rules, easy to reuse models May limit rules to those required by known decisions and so limit the capture of rules not related to a known decision
Simplifies complex decision making by removing business rules management from the process May create illusion of a standard decision-making process, or lock an organization into a current-state decision-making approach
Models work for rules-based automation, data mining and predictive analytics, manual decisions or business intelligence projects Necessary sign-off may be difficult to acquire across organizational boundaries


Agile Technique 7.9 – Portfolio Kanban
Kanban is a framework which brings structure to analysis and decision making at the Strategy Horizon, and to manage flow of work during the entire delivery cycle. A portfolio is a collection of strategic initiatives for an organization or department to execute in alignment with their business goals.
Business analysis professionals use a Kanban Board to increase visibility into their process, work in progress, decision-making criteria and feedback loops. Each initiative is represented as an item and incorporates metrics or impact goals necessary for decision makers to prioritize initiatives and measure value against business goals.

visualizing and prioritizing the initiatives that are in progress limiting work-in-progress (WIP) to increase speed of delivery and reduce waste
managing flow by identifying bottlenecks and stalled items making decision making and rules explicit
incorporating feedback loops increasing collaboration and continuous improvement

Elements - Columns represent all the steps identified in the organization to move an initiative or item from idea to completion.
Done Criteria for Columns: explicit criteria indicated when an item is complete and ready to move to the next column. This allows organizations to have a shared understanding of what must be completed to move to the next step.
Limits Per Column: emphasizes limiting work-in-progress to increase flow through the system. To effectively do this, organizations impose limits for each column based on the reasonable capacity of their departments or teams. The focus is on getting items through the portfolio in a timely manner over having many initiatives in progress without completion.
Strategic Business Initiatives or Portfolio Items: Each strategic initiative is represented on the Kanban board and includes a name, short description, and impact metrics or goals to measure success and prioritize work.
Refinement Meetings: Used to make decisions and changes based on ongoing feedback and learning. Meetings with all necessary decision makers, and those affected by decisions, occur on a regular basis and include a review of the board, analysis of focus areas, and prioritization of existing items.
Visual: The Portfolio Kanban board is made easily accessible to anyone who wants to view the information. Physical representations that can be easily interacted with have the greatest visibility and lowest barrier to entry.
Usage Considerations

Strengths Limitations
Can be replicated at the Initiative and Delivery Horizons. Useful when all initiatives go through the same flow, but not useful if there are different paths/columns through which an initiative can move.
Visual representation provides value and optimizes portfolio management to respond to business and customer needs. Initiatives should be appropriately sized to regularly move through columns. The approach does not add clarity when initiatives sit in the same column for a long period of time.
Increases feedback loop per portfolio item and per step. Designed to provide visibility and best used for a single flow system. Multiple systems represented on one Kanban board will be overwhelming and not provide the necessary clarity.
Increased visibility into work-in-progress allows people to see current priorities and focus for the organization.  
Increased visibility identifies bottlenecks or impediments which need support.  
Limiting work-in-progress increases overall flow of the system.