DSS News 
                    D. J. Power, Editor 
              January 16, 2005 -- Vol. 6, No. 2
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 


              Check the case by Stottler Henke 
        Associates "PADAL helps US Navy aircraft land 
            aboard carriers" at DSSResources.COM


* Ask Dan! - What are the answers to the DSS case study 
questions at DSSResources.COM?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Releases


Ask Dan!

What are the answers to the DSS case study questions at DSSResources.COM?

by Dan Power 

Recently Zam Zawari wrote "I need your guidelines on how to answer the questions in the
case 'MeritCare Health System uses Simulation'". At least Zam wanted guidelines; some
emails request that I provide the answers to the case questions. The forty (40) cases at
DSSResources.COM are intended to give readers an opportunity to explore real examples and
apply the concepts and ideas of computerized decision support in the context of a "real"
situation. The DSSResources.COM cases are not traditional "decision-making" cases, but the
cases illustrate companies/organizations that have resolved a "challenging problem" using
a technology solution. 

In many of the DSSResources.COM cases, a vendor wanted to showcase a "good" example 
or "success story". It is important to read and analyze a vendor supplied case with some 
caution and even skepticism.  I identify and solicit the cases and I verify the facts 
as much as is possible, but I haven't had the opportunity for field review of the system 
or extensive discussion with users. The term case is used in a variety of ways and vendors 
market software for analyzing "live" case situations. For example, CaseSoft 
( develops software tools used primarily by investigators, 
litigators, and litigation paralegals to organize and explore the facts, the cast 
of characters, and the issues in any case. In a general way, readers 
of DSS cases need to perform these same tasks.

So what are my specific suggestions for analyzing the cases at DSSResources.COM? Start by
looking up any "new" terms, especially technical terms. The DSS hyperbook and online
glossary at DSSResources.COM are good starting points. Then identify the "facts" and
analyze the situation. I strongly recommend that readers begin by determining what the
case is all about.  If the case is about a specific DSS, then identify the type of DSS,
its purpose, the intended users, and the enabling technology. If the case is about
building one or more DSS, determine what was done and what seemed to work.

In the cases, the purpose of the DSS is not always clearly defined and the technology may
already be obsolete or dated. The vendor may have some exaggerated claims (I try to watch
for this). The cases often contain assumptions that need to be identified and understood.
It is important to establish the facts.

The overall goal of questions at the end of the case is to stimulate analysis that uses
relevant theory and concepts to guide and justify conclusions about the case situation.
Conclusions to the questions for further thought and discussion should be answered with
appropriate supporting arguments and facts from the case. Often it is advantageous to
consider how a similar DSS might work in a different company or organization. Some
solutions are more generalizable than are others. Also some DSS solutions may have
unintended impacts or side effects that should be considered and explored.

The cases at DSSResources.COM are not problem solving cases, but there is always the
problem of what to do next or determining if the initial problem is really solved and if
it is not solved, what else could be done? In some case examples it is important to ask if
the DSS was really needed. Expert readers may disagree with the solution that was
implemented or have criticisms of the vendor's product or prefer the solution from another
vendor. Visiting the websites of competing vendors may provide examples of alternative

To understand computerized decision support systems it is important to read many case
examples and compare and contrast what was done and what worked. No one case study can
document the class of information systems known collectively as decision support systems.

The case studies at DSSResources.COM provide current, concrete examples of what is
happening in implementing decision support systems in a wide variety of companies and
organizations. The case examples showcase various types of DSS and various activities
associated with building and evaluating DSS. Some of the DSS are tightly integrated with
specific decision processes and some are intended for more ad hoc and general decision

In future months, I may work on another book titled Decision Support Cases with
Commentary. The idea is to pick 20-25 of the best cases at DSSResources.COM and publish
them with questions for further thought, my comments and commentary, and possibly a
glossary. I don't know if there would be a market for such a collection of cases, but it
might help codify the current state of DSS practice and serve as a useful tool for
teaching others about DSS. Let me know your thoughts about pursuing this project.

The following are some general questions that provide a starting point for analyzing and
discussing DSS case examples.

1. Does the case document a specific DSS? If so, what is the purpose of the DSS? If not,
how is the case relevant to understanding decision support systems?

2. What is the "driver", component or computerized tool that is providing the
functionality of the DSS?

3. Who is the intended user of the DSS? 

4. Who participated in building, designing and developing the DSS? How long did it take to
build the DSS?

5. Is the DSS designed to support a specific business function or type of

6. How is hardware organized, how are software and data distributed in the system, and how
are components of the DSS integrated and connected?

7. Is the DSS an effective solution to the "initial" problem? Were alternative solutions
available? If so, what were the pros and cons of each?

8. Does the new DSS provide a competitive advantage? Is the DSS easy to imitate?

9. Are there limitations or constraints on the decision support capabilities of the
implemented solution?

10. Are there technical, social, interpersonal and/or political problems associated with
implementing and using the specific DSS? 

11. Is the DSS a good solution for other companies/organizations in similar situations?

What about Zam's specific question? The case "MeritCare Health System uses simulation to
optimize integration of service areas into new day unit" was posted at DSSResources.COM on
January 9, 2004. It was written by ProModel Staff and I used email to verify the content
with a MeritCare staff person, Sue Fridgen. MeritCare worked with ProModel Healthcare
Solutions to create a dynamic simulation of a new facility to project how it (the new Day
Unit) would operate upon opening and to define areas for process improvement and ensure
optimal patient care.

The following are my suggestions for analyzing the questions at the end of the case. The
suggestions should help with analyzing other cases at DSSResources.COM. There are six (6)
broad questions at the end of the case:

1. Is this application a model-driven Decision Support System OR is it an example of using
simulation for a special decision support study? 

Hint: Check the definitions of DSS, the DSS types AND special decision support study. You
need to understand how these computerized tools differ.

2. What decision support technologies were used? 

Hint: Is simulation a decision support technology? If so, what is simulation.  Is visual
simulation a specific type of simulation?

3. What is the purpose of the simulation software? 

Hint: Check the discussion in the DSS hyperbook about simulation for model-driven DSS. 
Check the definition of simulation.

4. How can the model serve as a "tool in evaluating future opportunities for care process
improvement and change"? 

Hint: If the model serves this function, then is it a DSS?  Ask how this change in purpose
would change the design of the simulation application. Would more "What if?" analysis be

5. What are the major benefits of this type of analysis? 

Hint: Again check in the DSS hyperbook and/or search the web for general benefits of
simulations and review the case to identify what the authors claim are the specific
benefits. You may want to visit the vendor web site.

6. What problems or difficulties do you anticipate with use of this type of decision
support solution? 

Hint: Ask questions like: Will it be easy or hard to maintain the simulation model? Are
the results easy or hard to understand?  Will the results be quickly outdated or should
they be relevant for a few years?

As always your comments and feedback is appreciated.


What's New at DSSResources.COM

01/15/2005 Posted case by Stottler Henke Associates Staff, "PADAL helps US Navy aircraft
land aboard carriers".


          Have Questions? Post to the Web Forum at
            DSSResources.COM -- Free registration


DSS News - January 1 to January 14, 2005
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

01/14/2005 U.S. announces plan for an improved Tsunami detection and warning system.

01/13/2005 Stottler Henke introduces first Internet search tool that learns.

01/12/2005 SAS becomes member of FORTUNE's 100 Best Companies to Work For "Hall of Fame";
renowned employer-of-choice comes in at No. 16 on 2005 list.

01/12/2005 Oracle(R) Database 10g sets new world record TPC-C benchmark result for a 4 CPU
system running Red Hat Linux.

01/11/2005 University of Tokyo sets new Internet2 land speed record using switching and
optical technology from Foundry Networks.

01/11/2005 GlowPoint recognized as foundation of U.S. State Department video conferencing
system in InformationWeek article.

01/11/2005 AsiaInfo recognized for innovation and excellence for Business Operation
Support Systems (BOSS) it constructed.

01/11/2005 Business Objects launches BusinessObjects Knowledge Accelerator XI.

01/10/2005 Call for Papers: 8th International DSS Conference of the Association for
Information Systems SIG DSS, 12-15th July 2005, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

01/10/2005 Online holiday spending surges beyond expectations, driving e-commerce to
record annual sales of $117 billion.

01/10/2005 Defense Acquisition University improves operational efficiency with

01/10/2005 Oracle unveils Oracle(R) Database Lite 10g, first database to extend grid
computing to the mobile enterprise.

01/10/2005 Reader's Digest optimizes service quality and reduces costs with RightNow's On
Demand CRM technology.

01/09/2005 Sony showcases XYZ navigation system and other in-vehicle technologies at
Detroit Auto Show.

01/07/2005 The New York Times joins more than 10,900 authoritative business information
and news sources now on Westlaw.

01/07/2005 MicroStrategy wins favorable ruling in patent lawsuit against Business Objects.

01/07/2005 Logistics experts to meet in Fort Lauderdale Jan. 27-28, 2005.

01/07/2005 Business Objects wins patent infringement appeal against MicroStrategy; Federal
court orders MicroStrategy to stand trial for infringing Business Objects patent.

01/07/2005 DS Collaborate streamlines, accelerates business planning.

01/06/2005 VisualMED Clinical Solutions Corp. successfully implements new upgrade of its
clinical information system.

01/06/2005 ePolicy Solutions aligns with TM Floyd & Company.

01/06/2005 Latest version of SPSS Data Mining Workbench offers in-database modeling with
Oracle Database 10g.

01/06/2005 Revenue Science enters 2005 with major client wins; Autobytel Inc., Bolt,
Morningstar, and Smart Money sign on.

01/06/2005 web site targets needs of consumers, loan originators and real estate

01/05/2005 UMT survey finds lack of portfolio management processes at global 500 companies
could be short-circuiting technology objectives.

01/05/2005 ETSA Utilities awards Intergraph contract for outage and mobile workforce
management system.

01/05/2005 Physicians at Duke University Hospital rapidly adopt McKesson's Expert Order

01/05/2005 Call for papers: 16th International Conference on Database and Expert Systems
Applications (DEXA 2005), August 22 - August 26, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark.

01/04/2005 Experts to gather and share conferencing success stories at the Collaborative
Conferencing Summit in New York.

01/04/2005 ACNielsen chosen by Wrigley for sales analysis and consumer insights;
innovative ACNielsen tools and wide range of support critical to Wrigley's decision.

01/04/2005 ProfitLogic fills gap in retail planning software with unique next-generation
merchandise optimization solution for assortment execution.

01/04/2005 RFID World 2005 show heralds RFID shift from trials to deployments.

01/04/2005 DecisionPath Consulting to design management information system for medicare
prescription drug application processing.

01/04/2005 Mortgage Banking Systems adds ComplianceAnalyzer to ProClose.

01/04/2005 Northern Group Retail extends use of ProfitLogic's Merchandise Optimization
Suite to pre-season planning.

01/03/2005 Ascential Software leads enterprise data integration market in product content,
partnerships, and ETL product commitment.

01/02/2005 On day of catastrophe, scientist at Pacific Tsunami Warning Center sat looking
at gauges and feeling 'like a schmuck'.


DSS News is copyrighted (c) 2005 by D. J. Power. Please send your 
questions to 

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