Having spent most of his career in enabling enterprises to change rules and change business logic faster, and more reliable, Carl Hewitt had an inherent passion for process automation. He had previously started two successful software companies, but his passion for transforming businesses was calling him to do more in the process automation landscape. He thus joined hands with the core team he had worked with for a decade and set the foundation of Decisions. Built on over a decade of trying to find ways to make business logic something a business user can configure, Decisions was named after its core value; to put automated decision-making power in the hands of decision-makers.
Headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, Decisions is now a leading business process automation platform, equal parts workflow, and business rules engine. Its unique combination and integration of these two functions, combined with a no-code graphical design environment empowers business analysts to create, edit and maintain workflows and business rules. Unlike other BPM vendors who tend to live at the extremes of either simplicity or capability, Decisions has found success with a balanced approach among these principles. Its platform can be configured to meet true business users with specific business logic in a software application that they need to own and change, while also maintaining enterprise level capability for power users to create anything using its drag and drop designers that a developer could write using code.
Being a product-centric company, Decisions puts its product at first, second and third priority. While many of its competitors have a larger marketing and sales focus, Decisions has put its resources into developing its product furthermore. It has a feature-rich platform that can handle nearly all use cases without any code.
Combining a Comprehensive Set of Capabilities with a Consistent Design Paradigm
The key challenge today is managing complexity in a digital world. Automation platforms and business rule engines that are very simple and allow people to get started really quickly are often very constrained and lack the ability to solve real business problems, while truly capable platforms are often too complex for business users to learn and adopt. Decisions combine a comprehensive set of capabilities with a consistent design paradigm. It helps organizations in their digital transformation. More and more data is being collected in more and more places, be that different systems of record, IOT data, or social media platforms. Decisions connects this data with business rules and workflow to enable business people to rapidly design and maintain their business processes in a no-code design environment.
Since its formation, Decisions has focused on two major factors; engaging the right people with ownership over certain business logic and focusing on the right outcomes.
Engaging the Right People with Ownership over Certain Business Logic
This is a key tenant of why BPM exists, and while the industry is not necessarily young, Carl doesn’t think this problem has been fully addressed today. This is due in large part to how quickly businesses evolve in both their need for more data and the skill sets and expectations of their employee, partner, and customer base.
“This is one of the most common reasons why we see many of our customers running away from COTS (commercial off the shelf) solutions and towards Decisions; you can adapt Decisions to fit your business process exactly instead of adapting your business process to fit the tool that you purchased,” Carl affirms.
Focusing on the Right Outcomes
Carl believes one of the most interesting parts of Decisions’ journey is how they started with an OEM first go-to-market approach, where they would find and work with partners who wanted to add this BPM level of configurable capability to their product(s). “A common thread that we’ve seen working with other software companies in this effort is how workflow can have so many different definitions and connotations. We’ve seen this in our direct sales business as well, where organizations get so caught up in what they could track or automate that they start to focus on having a “process for every process” instead of what the business outcomes should be. If you ever join us for a demo you’ll likely hear us repeat several times that workflow, and ultimately Decisions is about getting work done,” he adds.
A Trailblazer Passionate about Process Automation
Carl Hewitt, the CEO and Chief Architect of Decisions leads the company from its very front. He has been doing business programming as an independent computer consultant since 1987. Decisions is the third venture of the founders. The first company, OOP.com, was founded in the 1990’s and sold in 2001 just prior to the .com bust. The second company, Transparent Logic was founded soon thereafter and sold to Symantec in 2008. Decisions was founded in 2010 and with the current release 4.0 of Decisions, the founders will admit that they have finally built the product that they envisioned back in the 1990’s.
Besides, Carl has served as Director of Research and Development of Professional Support Inc. from 1997 to 1998 and was responsible for developing, evaluating and selecting new technologies to build a state of the art Java based distributed healthcare system. At PSI, he developed an application framework (Java Business Object Toolkit — JBOT ). Carl served as the System Architect of Christian Broadcasting Network from 1995 to 1997 and was responsible for project leadership and development of a client server application framework.
Focused on the Customer and not the Competition
From its inception, Decisions has focused on the customer and not the competition. “We don’t regularly watch our competition but rather react on the feedback from our customers and our understanding of the needs of the BPM market. With that said, when we go head-to-head against other BPM vendors our success rate is high. Along with our feature/price advantage, we encourage all our prospective customers to take part in a “free” proof-of-concept (POC). When conducting this POC we dig into our client’s work processes and build out an important area, free of charge, to show them how the Decisions platform can solve their specific problem. In this way, clients can gain trust that our solution can truly deliver results,” Carl explains.
Typically, Decisions gets involved in an initial project that will soon expand to cover other aspects of its business. It may begin with one particular problem area but soon gets involved solving additional process automation tasks. Apart from that, Decisions has a very high customer retention rate and along with periodic status meetings, regular webinars (usually 2 per month) and free training events (4X per year) are conducted regularly keeping the team connected with its customer base.
High Responsiveness and Unparalleled Support
Decisions’ customers rate the company extremely high on its responsiveness and support, which it measures and tracks religiously. “We have a large team of US based support personnel (25+) that regularly answer customer support calls and questions. We are there to answer specific questions as well as to provide advice and best practices. This open conversation culture that we create with our customers puts us in a position to rapidly evolve our offering, especially with how closely our R&D team works with our support team to escalate not only bug related issues, but commonly asked questions and feature requests,” Carl says.
Success = Knowledge, Passion and Exceeding Customer Requirements
Being a successful entrepreneur, Carl believes there are three main ingredients for entrepreneurial success. The first among them is to have domain knowledge and skills in the area you are working. “That almost goes without saying, but we believe that a successful technology company should have strong technical capabilities. The Decisions platform is ideal for startups as the learning curve is low and we have a large number of clients who have built their entire application on our platform,” he later adds.
The second ingredient Carl believes is a passion for the work you are doing. Running a start-up is tough and you will certainly run into your fair share of tough times. When those time times come you need the passion to sustain you through the rough patches.
According to him, the third ingredient is to make something that customers will pay for. This sounds obvious but there need to be willing customers who will pay for your services. With these three ingredients you would have a high chance of success.
Future of Endless Solutions
Decisions has been a company of process loving nerds, due to which it will continue to adapt to new technologies making its application more portable, able to leverage low cost on-demand cloud infrastructure for more dynamic processes, and improve collaboration tools that allow the citizen developers to work together more seamlessly.
“We also have a lot of plans to raise the awareness of the value of process automation to the executive level of the organization by more robust and visual dashboarding that is automatically tied to key performance indicators. This kind of capability has the added benefit of allowing us to make a rule engine and a workflow engine that can analyze transactions, learning from them and making your organization a smarter organization,” Carl concludes.