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Decision Support Systems.


                         DSS News 
                    D. J. Power, Editor 
             November 7, 2004 -- Vol. 5, No. 23
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 


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* Ask Dan! - What are the "best" DSS case studies at
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Ask Dan!

What are the "best" DSS case studies at DSSResources.COM?
by Dan Power

This question and similar ones like "What case should I read
first?" or "What case is relevant to X?" or "Have you posted the
answers to the case questions?" are common in my email. This Ask
Dan! focuses on the various DSSResources.COM cases and tries to
provide a guide for those who want a starting point to read and
review them. It doesn't provide answers to the review questions!

About every 6 weeks, my goal is to publish a new case study
relevant to Decision Support Systems at DSSResources.COM. We have
been working with vendors, consultants and IS/IT staff in
organizations to identify, review and verify case examples since
February 2001. In about 44 months, we have published 39 DSS cases.
Some cases have been longer and more comprehensive than have
others, some have focused on the process of building a specific
DSS, whereas others serve as examples of specific DSS.  Some of the
cases are based upon field research, but many cases have been
provided by vendors. In general, we have tried to confirm and
verify the information in vendor supplied cases. At the time each
case was published at DSSResources.COM, it was my judgment that it
made a contribution.  When possible, I have attempted to find cases
that provided examples of each category of DSS in my expanded DSS
framework. Some of the cases have withstood the test of time better
than others. All of the cases are in the free zone or in the 
subscriber zone archive. I am always looking for detailed vendor 
provided cases and I'm interested in opportunities for field research.

The first case that we published was by Lyons (2001).  It focused
on a data-driven DSS implemented by Maytag International. The DSS
was used to track sales and analyze profitability for
refrigeration, laundry, floor care, cooking and dishwasher product
categories. It was built using development products from
Dimensional Insight. The OLAP database was accessed in a
client-server environment.  Maytag International managers were in
the "process of evaluating DI-WebDiver" to provide web access to
the decision support data.

The next case published at DSSResources.COM was written by
Decisioneering Staff (2001). The case focused on a model-driven,
spreadsheet-based DSS built using the Crystal Ball add-in to Excel.
The case described a DSS with a very different purpose and a
different group of targeted users compared to the Maytag
International case. Bankers in the commercial loan department at
SunTrust wanted to quantify the risks associated with hotel loans
to help determine if the profitability was worth accepting the risk
of approving the loan. The case explained the five steps to
analyzing hotel construction loans using a simulation model built
with Crystal Ball.

Recently, I taught a course on Decision Support Systems to a group
of MBA students in Hong Kong.  We reviewed and discussed 15 case
studies from DSSResources.COM.  With students majoring in
Management Information Systems, I change the mix and focus on fewer
cases and those cases that have more technical content and
description. My approach is to begin with a case that focuses on
the process of building DSS in a company.  Two cases that are very
process-oriented are Power and Roth (2003) and Stevens (2004). 

Professor Roth and I started following DSS/IT developments at Ertl
Company in 1997. The Ertl case (Power and Roth, 2003) describes an
extended process to use information technologies and a data-driven
DSS with a new data warehouse to improve management
decision-making.  The case covers a period of rapid change in
technologies (1990-1998) and one can argue that Ertl had some
serious limitations and constraints that reduced the likelihood
that the IS/IT projects would be a major success. The vendors and
IT staff did however win some recognition for the DSS projects. The
case illustrates the challenges of implementing decision support
technologies in a traditional, mainframe computing environment.
Ertl IS and management staff embarked on a decision support journey
and the IS staff were supposed to lead the transformation of the
firm and hence improve the profitability of the firm.

In general, students and those of us interested in continuing DSS
education should read cases about a wide variety of decision
support systems.  I try to pick cases using the expanded DSS
framework and then start through the list by having students first
read a case that showcases a communications-driven DSS. I usually
start the discussion of each case by focusing on the type of DSS,
the targeted users, the enabling technology, and the purpose of the
DSS. Following that overview of the case, the discussion should
then focus upon the key issues in that particular case.

An example of a simple, communications-driven DSS is the Naval
Bureau of Medicine case by eRoom Staff (2002). The Naval Medical
Information Management Center (NMIMC) staff is tasked with
providing global information services to personnel within Navy
Medicine. NMIMC implemented the eRoom digital workplace solution to
create a virtual work environment for Navy Medicine CIOs and their
staffs. It provided a central forum where CIOs could trade
experiences, make acquisition decisions, discuss upcoming
legislation, and manage the lifecycle of ongoing projects and
assignments. A major issue is the potential problems of such a
large number of participants supported in an asynchronous decision
support environment. 

Many of the DSSResources.COM cases focus on data-driven DSS. Cases
have been published from most of the major vendors including
Alphablox (2001), Brio (2001), Business Objects (2001), Cognos
(2002), Comshare (2001), DataBeacon (2001), Microsoft (2002),
MicroStrategy (2001), ProClarity (2002) and Teradata (2002). A more
vendor neutral case is Barton (2003), "The George Washington
University Data-Driven Decision Support Project." Peter Barton is
Manager, Data Administration, The George Washington University.
Eric Vollmer (2002) described the implementation at Anderson
Clayton Corporation of a "real-time" business intelligence
capability for their customers, i.e. cotton growers.  The DSS was
built using arcplan software. Whether the system is a good example
of "real-time" decision support is questionable, but the screen
shot helps readers understand a simple, data-driven DSS.

Case examples of document-driven DSS include Stellent (2004) and
Documentum (2003). Stellent Staff (2004) describe the
implementation of Stellent Universal Content Management software
for managing the University of Alberta's administrative policies
and procedures manual. The Documentum (2003) case focuses on BFG
Aerospace. BFG adopted a document-driven DSS called AirFLOW to
support the complicated workflow approval procedures for
non-routine aircraft maintenance.

Two case examples of spatial DSS help readers distinguish between
data and model-driven, spatial DSS. Myron Messak (2003) reported a
system he helped develop in Mayfield, NY. The decision support
system was built using Geographic Information System (GIS) software
to help Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel.  Sugumaran
and Meyer (2003) report on WEBSDSS. The web-based spatial decision
support system (WEBSDSS) they developed is a prototype focused on
watershed levels in the Columbia, Missouri area. A user inputs
relative weighing factors for criteria, then the system outputs a
map with a graphical display to help choose an area for future
development. By changing criteria, the user can perform "what if?"

A number of cases describe knowledge-driven DSS. My favorite is of
course Pontz and Power (2002). Craig Pontz works for the Bureau of
Unemployment Compensation Benefits and Allowances, Pennsylvania
Department of Labor and Industry. The case describes the Expert
Assistance System for Examiners (EASE).  Craig was the major author
of this web-based DSS developed to help examiners conduct fair and
consistent determinations for unemployment claims. Both EXSYS
(2002) and Biss (2002) describe other knowledge-driven DSS.

Model-driven DSS are probably not as well represented as they
should be in the DSSResources.COM archive. Relevant cases include
Young, Rabone, Akenhead and Gregrone (2001), Wasyluk and Saaty
(2001), Palisade Staff (2001), Decisioneering Staff (2001), arcplan
Staff (2001) and ProModel Staff (2004). The Promodel case describes
a computerized simulation model that was used in a special study
for MeritCare Health System and that might eventually be used as a
DSS. The TechComm Associates Staff (2001) case describes how and
why Liberty Brass changed their estimating software from a
model-driven, spreadsheet-based approach to a data-driven,
engineered cost approach. Wasyluk and Saaty (2001) describe a
model-driven, group DSS used for resource allocation at the U.S.
Department of Veteran's Affairs.

This Ask Dan! tries to convey the breadth of DSS cases at
DSSResources.COM and how they fit into the broad realm of
computerized decision support.  All of the cases are listed at URL . 

Once again ... we are always looking for interesting cases to
publish. Please contact me with your ideas, materials and
suggestions, Daniel.Power@DSSResources.COM.


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DSS News - October 22 to November 5, 2004
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

11/05/2004 Best Software and e-Analytics partner to bring powerful
business intelligence tools to accountants.

11/05/2004 Healthcare CIOs can increase organizational revenue
through data sales.

11/04/2004 Tucson's GroupSystems Corp. donates decision-making
products and services to U.S. White House.

11/04/2004 Fair Isaac introduces Blaze Advisor for Microsoft .NET.

11/04/2004 U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chooses
Visual Analytics' Data Clarity Suite to support its national
Multi-Information Sharing Initiative (MISI).

11/04/2004 Parascript expands into business intelligence market
with announcement of new subsidiary.

11/03/2004 Meet Oracle's development leaders at Oracle(R) OpenWorld
San Francisco.

11/02/2004 Location based services: is the GSM camp lost? asks ABI

11/02/2004 Wipro Technologies to help property and casualty
insurance companies improve their underwriting efficiency.

11/02/2004 Oracle to unveil new transportation planning

11/01/2004 Computer thefts net breach of 2.5 million personal
records in 2004.

11/01/2004 Top library software provider Dynix selects
MicroStrategy for business intelligence reporting and analysis.

11/01/2004 Cognos wins 2004 DM Review Readership Award for best
business intelligence solution.

10/29/2004 Fair Isaac announces version 2.2 of model builder for
faster development and deployment of decision systems.

10/29/2004 Netezza and Epsilon transform data into business
intelligence for top five financial services company.

10/28/2004 Fair Isaac announces new enterprise origination

10/28/2004 arcplan dynaSight expands connectivity to IBM DB2 cube

10/28/2004 Majority of supply chain improvement efforts still focus
on short-term gains and remain disconnected from business plan,
says CSC survey.

10/27/2004 Gearworks launches new version of etrace software for
GPS-enabled mobile workforce management.

10/27/2004 U.S. Bank and Concur Technologies partner to deliver
powerful travel benchmarking service.

10/26/2004 Epicor(R) enhances financials and supply chain
management suites.

10/26/2004 Fair Isaac and Experian partner to deliver more
effective customer management capabilities.

10/26/2004 Problem-solving a key to productivity and profitability.

10/26/2004 Ekahau helps Heartlands Hospital optimize its operating

10/25/2004 Ascential Software meets rapidly evolving enterprise
data integration requirements with technology innovations and
product advancements.

10/25/2004 GMAC-RFC unveils exciting new eCommerce business tools
to help lenders streamline the mortgage loan process.

10/25/2004 Document Processing Systems eMortgage Studio powers
fully paperless, electronically registered closings.

10/25/2004 Celequest and Ascential Software partner to provide next
generation solution for operational performance management.

10/25/2004 Mortgage lender announces wireless access to web-based
loan information through cell phones and PDAs.

10/25/2004 AppIntelligence and Fiserv join forces to stop fraud at
loan origination.


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