DSS News
                   D. J. Power, Editor
            June 18, 2006 -- Vol. 7, No. 13

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


    "Decision Support for Global Enterprises" Conference



* Ask Dan! Can DSS improve strategic planning?
* DSS Conferences
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Releases 


       Check the case study by McCall and Young
        of at DSSResources.COM


Ask Dan!

Can DSS improve strategic planning?

by Dan Power

YES. For the past 30 years, my research has investigated business
planning and decision-making processes and the use of information
technologies to support and enhance those processes. My teaching
interests have also been divided between courses in Decision Support
Systems (DSS) and Business Strategy and Planning. In the early years,
the overlap between my 2 interest areas was small, but I perceived,
hoped, expected that information technologies could and would have an
increasing impact on strategic planning and strategic decision making.
Call it technology optimism or a technology imperative, but today
"best practice" in strategic planning is making greater use of DSS
and information technology. The presumption is that DSS can improve
strategic planning. 

In the mid-1990s, it appeared that strategic planning was a
discredited concept and that attempts to increase rationality and
planning in organizational management had failed. Henry Mintzberg was
leading the charge to "unfreeze" our views on strategic planning.
Sadly some managers thought formal strategic planning involving
identifying explicit strategies and substrategies, stating measurable
objectives, developing programs, and creating budgets was no longer
necessary or important. 

Basically Minztberg (1994) was concerned that a bureaucratic,
analytical planning process deceived managers into thinking that they
were planning strategically and hence improving future organizational
performance, when that was not the case. While I agree with some of
Minztberg's concerns, he is generally confrontational and simplistic
in his critique. Planning must involve both analysis, critical
thinking and formal processes. Renaming or reconceptualizing
strategic planning won't improve poor processes. Mintzberg raises a
valid concern, but he fails to offer any real solutions. Formal
planning processes with computerized support can reinforce and
enhance planning in organizations, but poorly designed processes and
DSS can be and usually are detrimental to effective planning.

Fortuitously, Kaplan and Norton (1996) injected new life into
strategic planning with their balanced scorecard approach. According
to, "The balanced scorecard is a management
system (not only a measurement system) that enables organizations to
clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into action. It
provides feedback around both the internal business processes and
external outcomes in order to continuously improve strategic
performance and results." This perspective led to developing
computerized tools to supporting the balanced scorecard approach.
Strategic management and planning were in vogue again.

According to Steiner, strategic planning involves anticipating the
future environment, but decisions or plans are made in the present.
The following are nine characteristics of strategic planning based on
Steiner's (1969) views with my assessment of how DSS can help:

1. Strategic planning is both continuous and irregular in response
to non-routine stimuli. 

Document-driven DSS can speed-up access to plans and a
computer-based strategic planning work flow process can improve
responsiveness to non-routine stimuli. A document-driven DSS
integrates a variety of storage and processing technologies to
provide complete document retrieval and analysis. 

2. The problems confronted by strategic planning are unstructured
and usually unique.

Data-driven DSS intended for performance monitoring can help
identify problems that require strategic analysis. Also, unstructured
problems can sometimes benefit from structuring them using general
purpose decision analysis tools.

3. Strategic planning tends to encompass the entire scope of
activity of an organization.

The larger an organization, the more important DSS of various types
become to the success of strategic planning processes. Information
technologies can help manage planning processes that extend across
the functions of an organization.

4. Strategic planning requires large amounts of information.

The only effective means to manage large amounts of information is
with information technologies. Kaplan and Norton argued effectively
that strategic planning and control requires information about "How
the organization will sustain its ability to learn and grow?", "What
business processes we do and must excel at?", "How we do and should
appear to our customers?", and "How we do and should appear to our
shareholders?" Data-driven DSS with scorecards can store this diverse
range of information in a manageable format that is accessible to
senior managers.
5. Strategic planning is heavily dependent upon subjective

Model-driven DSS can help managers capture and analyze subjective
assessments quickly and meaningfully, but senior managers must be
willing to record their subjective assessment using computer-based

6. Strategic planning usually involves making a choice among a range
of alternatives.

Whether the choices are associated with strategy content or resource
allocations, DSS can help managers make such choices. Computerized
brainstorming using group DSS has been available for 20 years and
such systems have become Web-based in recent years.

7. Uncertainty and risk is high in strategic planning.

Computerized model-driven decision support can include risk and
uncertainty in calculations. Excel add-ins like Crystal Ball can
assist in analyzing risk in special studies related to strategic

8. Strategic planning usually covers a long time period.

Model-driven DSS can simulate results for many periods into the
future. Also, prior plans can be monitored, revised and reassessed
more quickly in a computerized planning and decision support

9. Strategic planning should guide tactical planning. 

DSS can facilitate sharing of planning information, support
collaborative planning and link strategic and tactical planning

What are some DSS and strategic planning case examples?

The National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of
International Material Protection and Cooperation (IMPC) needed to
identify, quantify, and track its progress in accomplishing its
overall mission and goals as well as planning and predicting future
progress a decade into the future. Project Performance Corporation
met this need by "supporting a program-wide strategic planning
initiative and developing and deploying a web-enabled metrics
tracking system."

At Electrogrid, according to McCall and Young (2006), thirty-six
directors gave their input in an online survey and an online
discussion forum for a strategic planning process. Then sitting in a
conference room, "managers entered comments concurrently into their
computers, quickly exchanging and documenting ideas on electronic
flipcharts. With anonymity ensured, they wrote frankly and read with
an open mind. Within thirty minutes, the Environmental Scan produced
two hundred well-documented issues of concern to the organization."

American Savings Bank uses BusinessObjects Budgeting and
BusinessObjects Plan Reporting to give the bank's 100 business
managers control over the budgeting process. Telindus integrated
BusinessObjects Budgeting and BusinessObjects Plan Reporting software
to eliminate the gap between its human resources and financial systems
in its 20 locations throughout Europe and Asia.

Where is Strategic Planning headed?

Richard T. Roth of The Hackett Group identified several key trends
that will drive World-Class business performance in the future,
including 1) "collaboration" will become the watchword to planning;
2) companies will continue to de-emphasize the traditional static
budget in favor of driver-based rolling forecasts; 3) increased focus
on more dynamic planning processes that allow organizations to
anticipate and adapt when events happen rather than waiting for the
roll of the calendar; and 4) technology advances will bring
tantalizingly close the possibility for real-time decision support. 

In summary, what are the prerequisites to effective strategic

1. Effective communication and decision support,
2. Extensive senior management involvement, 
3. A comprehensive, rational planning process, and
4. A Widespread perceived need for strategic planning.


Anthony, R., Planning and Control Systems: A Framework for Analysis,
Graduate School of Business, Harvard University, 1965. 

The Balanced Scorecard Institute,

Balanced Scorecard Collaborative

BusinessObjects Strategic Planning

Kaplan, Robert S. and David P. Norton, The Balanced Scorecard:
Translating Strategy into Action, Harvard 
Business School Press, 1996. 

Lorange, Peter and Richard F. Vancil, “How to Design a
Strategic Planning System”, Harvard Business Review, (Sep-Oct
1976), pp. 75-81.

McCall, D. and J. Young, "Bringing Strategic Planning Online:
Eliminating Static from Collaborative Strategic Planning",
DSSResources.COM, 06/16/2006.

Mintzberg, Henry, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, Free
Press, 1994. 

Mintzberg, Henry, “The Fall and Rise of Strategic
Planning”, Harvard Business Review (Jan-Feb 1994), pp. 107-114.

Porter, M., Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing
Industries and Competitors, Free Press, 1980. 

Project Performance Corporation, "International Material Protection
and Cooperation (IMPC) case", .

Roth, R., Chief Research Officer at The Hackett Group,

Steiner, G., Top Management Planning, Simon & Schuster, 1969.


            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 . 


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What's New at DSSResources.COM

06/16/2006 Posted case by Danuta McCall and Julia Young, "Bringing
Strategic Planning Online at Electrogrid". Check the cases page.


DSS News Releases - June 4, 2006 to June 16, 2006
Read them at DSSResources.COM and search the DSS News Archive

06/16/2006 Call for papers: Information and Data Quality conference.

06/15/2006 Microsoft announces plans for July 2008 transition for
Bill Gates.

06/15/2006 Epocrates' brings leading clinical content to Motorola Q

06/15/2006 Internet2 and Level 3 Communications to deploy next
generation nationwide research network.

06/14/2006 Oracle announces next-generation content management

06/14/2006 MicroStrategy teams with Sybase to enhance scorecards and
dashboards with streamlined access to multiple data sources.

06/13/2006 SAP and partners deliver business analytics and strategic
insight for SMEs.

06/13/2006 Collaborative Technologies Conference to showcase
collaborative technology industry's latest product and news

06/13/2006 Decision Dynamics announces Oncore, real-time project
cost management software for the energy industry.

06/13/2006 Cognos delivers BI solution of choice for leading
'Software as a Service' providers.

06/13/2006 Intergraph opens international users conference.

06/12/2006 Cutting through the clutter with a new search tool.

06/12/2006 Microsoft launches Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, a
comprehensive and powerful business management solution.

06/12/2006 PlanView Enterprise(TM) introduces automated investment
optimization for strategic and project portfolio planning. 

06/09/2006 Socialtext and Dan Bricklin partner on the 'social

06/08/2006 Innovation: a top priority.

06/07/2006 Worldwide market for relational databases growing, demand
for data warehousing cited as a growth factor.

06/06/2006 Organizations look to Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)
for transformation and innovation, says Capgemini survey.

06/05/2006 CodeRyte adds data mining to extend its existing quality
assurance and compliance tools.

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