Managing Knowledge-Driven DSS Projects
Knowledge-Driven DSS should be initiated with a decision-oriented diagnosis and if the feasibility analysis is positive, then a small project team should complete a rapid prototyping development process. Many Knowledge-Driven DSS are built using rules and an expert system shell development environment. A knowledge engineer works with a domain expert to elicit rules and relationships. The testing and validation of the system may involve using prior examples and cases from the domain.
Several general rapid prototyping approaches for developing Expert Systems and Knowledge-Driven DSS have been proposed. Waterman (1986) proposed the following widely accepted approach: 1. Identification of a domain; 2. Conceptualization; 3. Formalization; 4. Implementation; and 5. Testing. These five stages are highly interrelated and interdependent. An iterative process continues until the Knowledge-Driven DSS consistently performs at an acceptable level.
Choosing a Knowledge-Driven DSS Project
If a business decision problem cannot readily be solved and supported using traditional methods it may be appropriate to try an expert system solution. How do we choose an appropriate Knowledge-Driven DSS project? In general, the "telephone test" can be used to help determine if a task can be supported with a Knowledge-Driven DSS built using expert systems technologies. What is the "telephone test"? To apply the test, we ask "Can a domain expert solve the problem and support decision-making using a telephone exchange with a decision-maker?" Sometimes it is even helpful to ask the domain expert to interact with a potential user of a new DSS over the telephone and record the interaction that occurs. The domain expert should be told to ask structured rather than open-ended questions. If the answer is YES the telephone exchange works, then a Knowledge-Driven DSS based on expert systems technologies can be developed to support the decision-maker. On the other hand, if the decision-maker is unable to describe the problem verbally, or if the expert is unable to consistently recommend a reasonable solution, then development of a Knowledge-Driven DSS will likely be unsatisfactory. The telephone test assures that the expert is not gaining additional information about a problem from other senses and insures that the user is able to adequately describe the problem in words.