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Book Contents

Ch. 9
Building Model-Driven Decision Support Systems

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Decision Analysis Models

Decision situations that involve a finite and usually a small number of alternatives can be evaluated with decision analysis models. Decision analysts often help managers identify alternatives and attributes. Decision alternatives are listed with their potential forecasted contributions to a goal or goals, and the probability of realizing such a contribution in a table or a graph. Then one evaluates the results on some attributes to select the best alternative.

Single goal and multiple goal decision analysis situations are usually discussed. Single goal situations are approached by the use of a decision table or decision trees. Multiple goal situations can be analyzed by several techniques including multi-attribute utility analysis and the analytical hierarchy process.

The focus of decision analysis techniques is to help decision-makers clarify their problem understanding and separate facts from priorities and preferences. This is achieved by structuring problems into a hierarchy of objectives and by studying the performance of decision alternatives on specific criteria. The interactive structuring and prioritization process directs the participants to keep the problem presentation simple and helps to extract essentials out of it.

A decision analysis is oriented towards finding the best alternative. The aim is to avoid eliciting any priorities that do not help to reach this goal. The modeling philosophy is to include only those goals that are relevant in each decision-making situation and that help to distinguish the alternatives from each other.

In general, computerized decision analysis tools help decision makers decompose and structure problems. The aim of these tools is to help a user apply models like decision trees, multi-attribute utility models, bayesian models, and Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). Examples of decision analysis software packages include AliahThink, BestChoice3, Criterium Decision Plus, DecideRight, DecisionMaker, Demos, DPL, Expert Choice, Strad, Supertree, and Which and Why.

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