DSS News
                D. J. Power, Editor
          June 4, 2006 -- Vol. 7, No. 12

  A Free Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM 
        approximately 1,700 Subscribers 


       "Decision Support for Global Enterprises"



* Ask Dan! Who uses DSS?
* DSS Conferences
* DSS News Releases 


         Check the interview with Jim Franklin,
   President of Decisioneering, at DSSResources.COM


Ask Dan!

Who uses DSS?

by Dan Power

In the expanded DSS framework (Power, 2002), one of the secondary
classification dimensions is the targeted or intended users for a
computerized decision support system (DSS). Knowing who does or will
use a DSS provides much useful information about how the content and
design of the DSS might or should differ. This Ask Dan! column
surveys published and Web sources for examples of occupations, job
titles and professions associated with using specific DSS.

My email has recently had a number of interrelated questions. Afria
King asked "What are some DSS products related to business
administration?" I replied "Most DSS are targeted for use by
managers." Janine Engledoe wrote "What are the different applications
of DSS?" Lynn Oelke asked "What are the major DSS products
specifically used by Health Care Administrators?" Emily Bell wondered
about the "cost associated with different DSS?" Nastaran Razavi asked
me to "please specify some commonly used DSS software". Wong Soon
Chen sent me an essay question "'Managers need computerized decision
support and supporting technologies to do their job better.' Justify
the above statement with relevant facts and figures." Finally, Road
Runner writes "Find information on the use of computers to support
decisions versus TPS. Each group member collects an application in a
different industry (e.g., banking, insurance, food services, etc.).
The group then summarizes the findings, points out similarities and
differences of the applications." 

Every week I receive approximately 3 to 10 or more such emails. Some
emails I answer quickly, but I usually wait a few months to answer
"examination" type questions in an Ask Dan! column. Even then I
sometimes change the focus or combine questions. What do the above
questions have in common? The questions suggest that there are
different DSS for people performing different jobs. Also, they
suggest the costs and functionality of DSS differ. I agree. So who
uses DSS?

Let's go back in time to the "first" DSS developed by Michael S.
Scott Morton (1971). That system was designed to support the market
planning manager, the production manager and the marketing manager of
a consumer product division of a large multibusiness firm. "Every
month they developed both a production plan and a sales plan for the
following twelve months (p. 43)."

In 1978, Keen and Scott Morton described six diverse DSS: a DSS to
help investment managers (Gerrity, 1971) with a stock portfolio, a
DSS used by the president of a small manufacturing company to
evaluate an acquisition prospect, an interactive DSS used by product
planners for capacity planning, a model-driven DSS used by a brand
marketing manager for making marketing allocations (using J.D.C.
Little's BRANDAID), a DSS (IBM's Geodata Analysis and Display System
called GADS) used by police officers and commanders in teams of four
to redesign police beats, and also GADS used by school officials to
explore and define alternative school district boundaries.

Holsapple and Whinston (1996) identify many management users of DSS.
For example, the management staff of the distribution department at
Monsanto used a DSS for ship-scheduling decisions, a DSS helped
managers with vehicle fleet-planning decisions, cargo planners used a
DSS for scheduling ship unloading in Rotterdam, plant supervisors at
Dairyman's Cooperative used a PC-based DSS to optimize daily
production planning, maintenance planners at American Airlines used a
DSS, and analysts and executives in the U.S. Coast Guard used a
document-driven DSS to help make procurement decisions.

Turban and Aronson (1998) also identify DSS used by staff for
special studies. Staff at Group Health Cooperative used a data
warehouse and statistical analysis tools to generate periodic reports
and for monitoring key performance indicators and staff at Siemens
Solar Industries constructed a simulation model DSS of a "cleanroom"
to explore alternative design options. has 46 case studies that identify many users
including managers, staff, customers, the general public, and workers
in business, government and not-for-profit organizations. Job titles
of users include: engineers, loan officers, salesmen, fire department
commanders, examiners in the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and
Industry, business and financial analysts, and emergency management

A web search identifies even more uses and users. Medical doctors
using a web-based clinical decision support system. According to, Clinical Decision Support
Systems are "active knowledge systems which use two or more items of
patient data to generate case-specific advice" (cf., Wyatt, J. &
Spiegelhalter, D., 1991). Other Web documents focus on DSS for
trainee lawyers and mediators, a DSS for crop rotation targeted to
farmers and agricultural policy makers, and an example from Scotland
of judges using a Sentencing Information System. The first
international Workshop on Judicial Decision Support Systems was held
in Melbourne, Australia in 1997 (cf.,

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) needed an application that allowed
Marine Command staff to import, manipulate, and analyze terrain data
relative to their operations. Road maintenance supervisors evaluated
a Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) during the winter of
2003 in Central Iowa. DSS are used for air traffic monitoring. Also,
a decision support system is used by staff to facilitate manpower
planning for the U.S. Marines. Military analysts use a Financial Data
Mart at the Military Sealift Command at the Navy Yard in Washington,
D.C. This list can probably go on for many pages. The last system
I'll mention is TIAA-CREF's decision support system for more than 160
billion US dollars of daily equity investment. This on-line system
supports portfolio managers of the world's largest pension fund with
over 250 billion USD in assets.

So who uses DSS? Managers, knowledge workers and staff specialists
in a wide variety of professions, occupations, industries and
disciplines. DSS users include internal and external stakeholders of
an organization. Ultimately, anyone who makes decisions and has
access to a computer is a potential user of a DSS. As always, your
comments are welcomed. If you have a more complete list of user jobs
or a classification approach for DSS users, please send it to me for
a future Ask Dan column. Thanks. 


Gerrity, T.P., Jr., "The Design of Man-Machine Decision Systems: An
Application to Portfolio Management," Sloan Management Review, vol.
12, no. 2, pp. 59-75, Winter 1971.

Holsapple, C. W. and A. B. Whinston, Decision Support Systems: A
Knowledge-based Approach, St. Paul, MN: West Publishing, 1996.

Keen, P. G. W. and M.S. Scott Morton,Decision Support Systems: An
Organizational Perspective, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1978.

Power, D. J., Decision Support Systems: Concepts and Resources for
Managers, Westport, CT: Greenwood/Quorum, 2002.

Scott Morton, M. S., Management Decision Systems, Boston: Division
of Research Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard
University, 1971. 

Toigo, J. W., Decision Support Systems Make Gains in Government,
Washington Technology, Vol. 14 No. 4, 05/24/99 at URL

Turban, E. and J. Aronson, Decision Support Systems and Intelligent
Systems (5th edition), Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.

Wyatt, J.C. and D.J. Spiegelhalter, "Evaluating medical expert
systems: what to test and how?", Medical Informatics. 1991.


          Purchase Dan Power's DSS FAQ book 
  83 frequently asked questions about computerized DSS 


DSS Conferences 

1. CIDMDS 2006, International Conference on Creativity and
Innovation in Decision Making and Decision Support 
sponsored by IFIP WG 8.3, June 28th - July 1st 2006, London,
UK. Check .

2. DEXA 2006, 17th International Conference on Database 
and Expert Systems Applications, September 4-8, 
2006, Krakow, Poland. Check .

3. ICDSS 2007, 9th International Conference on DSS, Jan. 2-4, 2007, 
Calcutta, India. Theme: Decision Support for Global Enterprises.
Check . Papers due May 31, 2006.


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DSS News Releases - May 20, 2006 to June 2, 2006
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

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05/23/2006 New Teradata Retail Advanced Business Analytics and RFID
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05/22/2006 Polycom announces Polycom RPX - first immersive
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