DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
               March 17, 2002 -- Vol. 3, No. 6
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

 Check the Article by Van den Bergh at DSSResources.COM


* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! - What is a Spreadsheet-based DSS?
* Spreadsheet-Based DSS Tip - Track Changes
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories


This newsletter has more than 750 subscribers from 
50 countries. Please forward this newsletter to people interested in 
Decision Support Systems or suggest they visit DSSResources.COM.


DSS Wisdom

In a pioneering book on computer-assisted planning systems, James 
Boulden (1975) wrote, "Traditional organizational planning assumes a 
seriality of planning activities oriented to functional 
departmentalization.  This fragmented sequential process is a most 
inefficient way of planning when compared with the holistic perspective 
of the computer-based system which permits concurrent and cooperative 
planning activities involving managers at various levels and functions 
in the organization." (p. 86)

from Boulden, James B. Computer-Assisted Planning Systems. New York: 
McGraw Hill, 1975.


Ask Dan!

What is a Spreadsheet-based DSS?

A Decision Support System that has been or will be implemented using a 
spreadsheet package can be termed a spreadsheet-based DSS.  A 
spreadsheet is the enabling technology for the DSS. A wide variety of 
DSS can be implemented using desktop, client-server or Java spreadsheet 

In the world of accounting, a spreadsheet spreads or shows all of the 
costs, income, taxes, and other financial data on a single sheet of 
paper for a manager to look at when making a decision. Also, a 
spreadsheet is a collection of cells whose values can be displayed on a 
computer screen. An electronic spreadsheet organizes data into columns 
and rows. The data can then be manipulated by a formula to give an 
average, maximum or sum. By changing cell definitions and having all 
cell values re-evaluated, a user performs "what if?" analysis and 
observe the effects of those changes. Decision support systems built 
using spreadsheet software are sometimes called spreadsheet-based DSS 
(see Power, D. J., "A Brief History of Spreadsheets" at 

Are spreadsheet packages DSS generators? Sprague and Carlson (1982) 
defined a DSS Generator as a computer software package that provides 
tools and capabilities that help a developer quickly and easily build a 
specific Decision Support System (see p. 11). Spreadsheet packages 
qualify as DSS generators because: a) they have sophisticated data 
handling and graphic capabilities; b) they can be used for "what if" 
analysis; and c) spreadsheet software can facilitate the building of a 

Model-driven and data-driven DSS are the most common types of DSS one 
would consider developing using a spreadsheet package.  Spreadsheets 
seem especially appropriate for building a DSS with one or more small 
models.  A developer would then add buttons, spinners and other tools to 
support a decision maker in "what if?" and sensitivity analysis.  A 
data-driven DSS can also be implemented using a spreadsheet.  A large 
data set can be downloaded to the DSS application from a DBMS, a web 
site or a delimited flat file. Then pivot tables and charts can be 
developed to help a decision maker summarize and manipulate the data.

Spreadsheet-based DSS can be created in an end user development 
environment or in a multiuser environment.  Microsoft Excel is certainly 
the most popular spreadsheet application development environment. Add-in 
packages like Crystal Ball, Premium Solver and @Risk increase the 
capabilities of a spreadsheet and the variety of models that can be 
implemented. At DSSResources.COM, one can read spreadsheet-based DSS 
case examples from Decisioneering "SunTrust 'Banks' on Crystal Ball for 
assessing the risk of commercial loans" and Palisade "Procter & Gamble 
Uses @RISK and PrecisionTree World-Wide". Check the Spreadsheet-based 
DSS pages at DSSResources.COM for product links.

My colleague Cliff Ragsdale of Virginia Tech and author of "Spreadsheet 
Modeling and Decision Analysis" recently commented in an email that "if 
you want to give students hands-on experience creating a DSS, I don't 
think you can beat spreadsheets!" I agree and spreadsheets can be used 
to create many useful "production DSS applications" that deliver real 
benefits at a modest cost.  

Power, D. J. "A Brief History of Spreadsheets". World Wide Web,, version 3.3, March 11, 

Ragsdale, C., Spreadsheet Modeling and Decision Analysis, Cincinnati, 
OH: South-Western Thomson Learning, 2000.

Sprague, R. H. and E. D. Carlson. Building Effective Decision Support 
Systems. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc.: 1982.


Spreadsheet-based DSS Tip - Track Changes

If you are working with a project team to develop a Spreadsheet-based 
DSS, you should use the track changes feature in Excel. When others are 
checking the application, editing formulas or formats, or adding data, 
it is helpful to see what changes were made. 

In Excel, Choose Tools/Track Changes/Highlight Changes. If you then 
change data in a cell, that cell will be outlined and it will contain a 
small triangle in the upper left corner of the cell. If you move the 
mouse pointer over the cell, a comment will appear informing you of the 
change. Try it!


What's New at DSSResources.COM

03/10/2002 Posted article by Van den Bergh, K. "Business Intelligence 
Across the Organization: Why Standardizing Business Intelligence Is 
Critical", DSSResources.COM, 03/10/2002, URL


DSS News Stories - March 1 to 14, 2002

03/14/2002 IntelliWhere targets the Mobile Workforce at GITA 2002.

03/13/2002 Decision Systems Inc. renews iTM1 Planning Partnership with 
Applix Inc.

03/13/2002 ISM and ProClarity announce Enterprise Performance Management 
solution for Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services.

03/12/2002 CrownPeak Technology announces Template Management System for 
web sites.

03/12/2002 SAS teams with the University of Alabama to offer data mining 

03/12/2002 CrownPeak Technology announces developer access to Hosted 
Software application.

03/11/2002 Sagent and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young U.S. form alliance for BI 

03/07/2002 ESI announced enhanced version of Logist, decision guiding 

03/07/2002 APAC purchases ShowCase® STRATEGY™ to monitor operations and 
control costs.

03/06/2002 SAS announced it has agreed to acquire 

03/06/2002 Alphablox, EnFORM deliver customized executive dashboard for 

03/06/2002 EMC Networked Storage selected by Volvo Car Corporation for 
new information infrastructure.

03/05/2002 Venetica releases results of survey of 150 executives on 
content integration.

03/05/2002 Business Objects delivers analytic applications to Italian 
postal service.

03/04/2002 RIM and Cognos form partnership for business intelligence 
solutions for Blackberry users.

03/04/2002 Decision Support Inc. donates $600,000 of data access Ttools 
to UNC - Charlotte College of IT.

03/04/2002 Tokyo-Based Kao Hanbai selects the MicroStrategy Business 
Intelligence platform.


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