from DSSResources.com

DSS News is a free biweekly newsletter from DSSResources.COM about 
computerized Decision Support Systems.

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                          DSS News 
                    D. J. Power, Editor 
               May 22, 2005 -- Vol. 6, No. 12 

      A Free Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

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  Check the new interview with Bill Inmon "Data Warehouses 
      and Decision Support Systems" at DSSResources.COM

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Featured: 

* Ask Dan! - What is PlanningDSS.COM?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS Conferences 
* DSS News Releases 

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Ask Dan!

What is PlanningDSS.COM?
by Dan Power

Recently, DSSResources.COM registered a new domain name, PlanningDSS.COM. 
The name summarizes the purpose of the web site -- it is a planning decision 
support system. If you visit the URL, you'll find the following introductory 
message: "Welcome to the Planning Decision Support System. This Web-based 
planning and decision process structuring program has been designed to 
improve contingency course of action (COA) planning decisions and selection 
decisions. The Planning Decision Support System (PDSS) is a prototype built 
using open source web tools. This website, PlanningDSS.com, is still under 
development, so your suggestions and feedback are most welcome. We are 
trying to identify 'alpha' testing opportunities." The HELP menu provides 
links to General, Planner, Decision Maker, Analyst and Observer help. 
Planning DSS is a role-based, multi-user decision support system. It is also 
an integrated decision structuring application with knowledge-driven and 
model-driven decision support subsystems.

This Ask Dan! is a quick synopsis of a 30 year research project, an overview 
of the design for a new web-based decision support application, and a 
request for help and collaboration in extending the project.

PlanningDSS.COM is the most recent incarnation of an idea or a vision for a 
computerized decision support application that I first had in the Fall of 
1975. If nothing else, I have been persistent in trying to make my idea a 
reality.  Certainly the idea has evolved as technologies have changed and as 
I have learned more about DSS design and about decision making behavior.  
But looking back the goals have remained remarkably unchanged. You can read 
a summary of that research covering the period 1975-1984 at 
DSSResources.com. Check http://dssresources.com/papers/decisionaids.html . 
Also, check the papers I wrote with Professor Gerald Rose when I was a 
student at the University of Iowa (cf., Power and Rose, 1976; Power and 
Rose, 1977).

My first two DECision AID projects were developed using the Hewlett-Packard 
2000 Access system and then the Apple II. "The DECAID idea was that 
questions could be used to build models of the decision making processes. 
These questions could then be programmed using an interactive programming 
language to aid people in making decisions (Power, 1977, p. 28)". In 1986-
87, I had the opportunity to design some applications for the Decision 
Assistant series from Southwestern Publishing Company. These small 
applications were focused on specific decision aiding tools rather than upon 
providing process support and hence helped me see the need for both 
approaches in a more integrated decision support environment.  In the mid-
1990s, I tried to develop a new, more integrated decision aid in Visual 
Basic, but I eventually abandoned that attempt. A number of other false 
starts occurred in continuing my decision aid research. In July 2004, my 
oldest son Alex reviewed the old documentation and a JavaScript application 
we had started and began some PHP/MySQL programming.  That version was 
called DA3000 and the artifact is still on the web at 
http://www.planningskills.com/da3000 . Alex's work demonstrated the 
feasibility of a new web-based DSS, but showed the need for a more extensive 
and systematic development effort. In Fall 2004, I resolved to make another 
attempt to update and modernize my decision support application using open 
source software and a web platform. DSSResources.com/Power Enterprises 
volunteered as a client for the Information Systems Development project 
course at the University of Northern Iowa.  Professor Betsy Hoffman agreed 
to supervise the web DSS project.

In mid-January 2005, a project team of University of Northern Iowa MIS 
majors was assigned to work on my web-based, action planning DSS project.  
To get them started, I provided a concept paper and eventually the team used 
the 1983 version of the decision aid, tried the Decision Assistant 
applications and the JavaScript decision aids.  We agreed on a Scope of Work
for the project.  For three months, the team of Branimir Peitel, Bryce 
Paulson, Luke Thompson and Chun-yi Wu worked on the project.  I brainstormed 
a list of Use cases for the team and they elaborated on them and I gave 
feedback.  Each team member worked on the Use cases for a specific role in 
the system: planner, analyst, decision maker or observer.  The system also 
has an administrator role. The team members were conscientious in showing me 
their Entity-Relationship diagrams for the application database, the 
proposed screen designs, and plans for documentation.  Professor Hoffman met 
regularly with the team and provided direction and encouragement. Their 
diligent work resulted in a prototype that shows what is possible.  A 
complete process has been programmed and some functionality has been 
developed for all five roles.

In a future Ask Dan! column I may summarize the overall concept and/or how 
the system operates, but for now I'll stay focused on a broad overview.  
PlanningDSS.COM may turn into a new business venture, it may be a tool for 
helping DSS students learn about open source software like MySQL and PHP and 
decision process support, and it may serve as an environment for conducting 
research studies.  Both DECision AID and some of the Decision Assistant 
applications were used in prior empirical studies that are described in 
papers I co-authored (Aldag and Power, 1986; Power, Meyeraan, and Aldag, 
1994).

Where are we going with this?  During summer 2005, I'll be trying to 
identify resources for further development efforts.  I hope to expand the 
capabilities and do some alpha testing of the system with multiple users in 
a simulated decision making environment.  We are currently checking the 
code, making minor enhancements and preparing a list of additions, 
improvements and new Use cases.

Who has helped with my computerized decision aid projects over the past 30 
years? First, Gerald Rose (Univ. of Iowa), Bobby Brown (Univ. of Iowa) and 
Warren Boe (Univ. of Iowa) supervised and approved my Master's Thesis. My 
friend Ray Aldag (Univ. of Wisconsin) provided support, help and 
encouragement to continue the project when I studied at the University of 
Wisconsin-Madison for my Ph.D. in Business Administration.  At the 
University of Iowa, an undergraduate student William Valliere helped me with 
some programming. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Willy Cats-Baril, 
Maureen Sullivan and Scott Conrad helped with programming.  Willy was a 
friend and fellow Ph.D. student in those days. At the University of Northern 
Iowa a number of students have worked on related projects over the years. My 
son, Alex Power, has helped with many DSS projects in the past 6 years. 
Finally, I want to especially thank Betsy Hoffman, Branimir Peitel, Bryce 
Paulson, Luke Thompson and Chun-yi Wu for their help in renewing this 
research stream.  I'm sure I've missed some names on this list, so to all 
those who have helped with my DSS design projects -- Thanks.

If this project sounds interesting and you'd like to get involved in some 
way, send me an email, power@dssresources.com .  As always your comments and 
feedback are welcomed.


References

Aldag, R.J. and Power, D.J. An Empirical Assessment of Computer-Assisted 
Decision Analysis. Decision Sciences, 1986, 17(4), pp. 572-588.

Power, D.J., Meyeraan, S. and Aldag, R. Impacts of Problem Structure and 
Computerized Decision Aids on Decision Attitudes and Behaviors. Information 
and Management, 1994, 26, pp. 281-294.

Power, D.J. and G. L. Rose. Improving Decision-Making Behavior Using the 
Hewlett Packard 2000/Access System. Proceedings of the American Institute 
for Decision Sciences, Nov. 1976, 47-49.

Power, D.J. and G. L. Rose. An Evaluation of DECAID, a Decision Formulation 
Computer-Aided Learning Program. Proceedings of the American Institute for 
Decision Sciences, October 1977, 118-119.

Power, D., Design and Development of DECAID: A CAL Decision Formulation 
Program, unpublished Masters Thesis, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Ia, 1977.

Power, D. J. "Designing and Developing a Computerized Decision Aid - A Case 
Study", World Wide Web, http://dssresources.com/papers/decisionaids.html , 
version 2.0, April 14, 1998.

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What's New at DSSResources.COM

05/12/2005 Posted interview with Bill Inmon "Data 
Warehouses and Decision Support Systems".

05/08/2005 Posted an article by Graeme Simsion "You're 
making it up! Data modeling - analysis or design?"

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             Purchase Dan Power's DSS FAQ book 
    83 frequently asked questions about computerized DSS 
     http://dssresources.com/dssbookstore/power2005.html 

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DSS Conferences 

Upcoming Conferences 

1. 2005 Crystal Ball User Conference will be held June 13-15, 
2005 at the Marriott Denver City Center, Denver, Colorado.
Check decisioneering.com/cbuc .

2. International workshop on context modeling and decision
support will be held July 5, 2005 in Paris, France. 
Check http://ec.cba.hawaii.edu/context/program.html .

3. PACIS 2005 will be held July 7-10, 2005, Bangkok, Thailand.
Check www.pacis2005.ku.ac.th .

4. Eighth International Conference on Decision Support 
Systems (ISDSS'05),Trends in DSS Research and Practice, sponsored 
by AIS SIG DSS, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 
July 12-15, 2005. Check www.ufrgs.br/dss2005 .

5. AMCIS 2005 with SIG DSS mini-tracks in Omaha, Nebraska, 
USA, August 11 - 14, 2005. Check amcis2005.isqa.unomaha.edu .

6. 2005 NPRA Plant Automation and Decision Support 
Conference, October 18-21, 2005, Gaylord Texan Hotel, 
Grapevine, Texas.  Check npra.org .
 
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DSS News Releases - May 6, 2005 - May 19, 2005
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive 

05/19/2005 Intergraph honors outstanding customer achievements at GeoSpatial 
World 2005.

05/18/2005 Huntington Hospital to build new patient care tower featuring the 
latest advances in technology and safety.

05/18/2005 Call for participation: International workshop on context 
modeling and decision support, Paris, France, July 5, 2005.

05/18/2005 SAP teams with HP and Intel to deliver breakthrough business 
intelligence flexibility and performance.

05/17/2005 Economist Intelligence Unit survey: one in three firms lack 
business continuity plans, according to global survey of senior executives.

05/16/2005 New tool assists nonprofit boards in assessing the chief 
executive.

05/13/2005 SYSPRO releases new business intelligence solution.

05/13/2005 BIO-key receives order for combined mobile data solution from 
City of Galax, VA.

05/12/2005 Congress expresses concern on future of computing research 
funding in US.

05/12/2005 Cold Stone Creamery sweetens CRM initiatives with NetSuite.

05/11/2005 Oracle delivers PeopleSoft(R) Enterprise Performance Management 
8.9.

05/11/2005 Handhelds continue decline as converged mobile devices surge 
ahead, according to IDC.

05/10/2005 DataDirect Technologies launches connectivity components for data 
warehousing and business intelligence systems.

05/10/2005 Business Objects helps Catholic Relief Services report on and 
manage Tsunami relief efforts.

05/10/2005 Microsoft Office System to add new business performance 
management scorecard application.

05/09/2005 Fair Isaac offers more decision management innovation with Blaze 
Advisor 6.0.

05/09/2005 Iowa State University launches first government funded cyber test 
lab to recreate and study real-life Internet attacks.

05/09/2005 Business Objects delivers performance management applications on 
trusted BusinessObjects XI platform.

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DSS News is copyrighted (c) 2005 by D. J. Power. Please send your 
questions to daniel.power@dssresources.com. 

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