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Book Contents

Ch. 12
Evaluating Decision Support Systems Projects

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Introduction

Information Technologies support a more global society and many companies now compete in markets all over the world. To compete effectively companies must integrate transaction processing and decision support systems. New systems are needed to support managers working in this new market environment. Telecommunications, shared databases, groupware, Data-Driven and Model-Driven DSS must be integrated and coordinated. Many barriers including language, differing regulations and technology issues must be overcome to make global transaction processing and decision support integration a reality. Integration in a company will not likely occur as part of one large-scale project, rather it will occur more incrementally through the implementation of many smaller projects.

Most observers agree new technologies have created many opportunities to implement innovative Decision Support Systems. This is the good news. The bad news is that many projects will not meet expectations and some will be spectacular failures. To increase the success rate, we need to carefully evaluate proposed DSS projects.

Many managers and MIS professionals are involved in evaluating proposed DSS projects. The technical managers who need to focus on evaluating DSS projects include the Chief Information Officer, corporate IT professionals, database administrators, and network administrators. The business managers who evaluate innovative DSS projects include senior managers, strategic planners, business development managers, competitive intelligence analysts, and market researchers.

When we evaluate projects, we must be skeptical and we must ask questions. We need to understand and use evaluation tools and techniques. Also, for a DSS project, it is very important to examine the technological risk. But, we may also need to consider cross-cultural and international issues when evaluating DSS projects.

Common evaluation questions include: What is the return on investment for a proposed DSS project? What is the payback period? What is the opportunity cost? What are the anticipated benefits? What can we do with a new system that we cannot do with our current information systems? Do our competitors have a data warehouse or OLAP or an EIS? Managers should ask these questions about a proposed or in process DSS project, but it may be difficult to provide satisfactory answers to them. Almost everyone agrees that evaluating and justifying a Decision Support Systems project can be difficult and challenging.

This chapter focuses on the process of evaluating proposed Decision Support Systems projects, especially Web-Based projects; evaluation tools; evaluation criteria; international DSS issues, ethics and privacy issues, and conclusions about evaluating DSS projects.

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