1996 - Implementing Systems for Supporting Management Decisions

London, UK, July

Proceedings edited by P. Humphreys, L. Bannon, A.M. McCosh, P.G. Migliarese & J.-Ch. Pomerol.

Title Pages
Adam, F.
Keywords:Group Decision Making Organisational Decision Making Information in Organisations Information Channels

This paper reports on experimentation with Organisation Analyser (OA), a prototype software aimed at supporting the identification and analysis of decision making networks in organisations. Previous research has identified that there was great benefit in adopting a network approach to the study of organisations. This research has viewed organisations as being composed of a variety of different types of networks: emergent networks, established networks, communication networks, grape vine etc. However, it is often difficult to operationalise such an approach when studying such complex phenomena as organizational decision making and implementation. To facilitate the application of network analysis to entire organisations, we have developed Organisation Analyser (OA), a Windows-based tool for the representation and analysis of all the relevant kinds of networks which we tested in one Irish organisation. Central focus on a sample of decisions currently being made and implemented in that organisation brought to light the very political and unstable nature of the objectives and the unfolding of the decision-making processes in organisations. With the help of a novel framework for the analysis of organisational decision making, this paper describes the organisation where the research is taking place and the decisions selected for the purpose of the study. It shows the support which OA provided the researcher in the analysis of the information collected and presents preliminary conclusions regarding the nature of the decision making effected by groups of top managers in organisations and the way in which these decisions are implemented. In particular, it provides new insights into the concepts of structural hole, centrality and decision ownership. It reveals how decision implementation can be just as difficult as choice. OA appears to have potential as a DSS tool to assist managers in structuring their organisational networks better.

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Berztiss, A. T.
Keywords:Decision Support Domain Model Management Software System Patterns Reuse Software Process

The business world of today is characterized by very rapidly changing business conditions that require rapid responses. The responses are to be results of decision making, supported by carefully designed management software systems. This paper is a position statement that discusses various factors to be considered in the definition of a software process for developing such systems. Since the rapid change will extend to management software, the software process is to allow rapid configuration of new systems from existing components, and rapid reconfiguration of existing systems. Because the boundary between decision support systems and other classes of business-oriented software is becoming increasingly blurred, we use the term management software systems in preference to decision support systems.

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Bohanec, M., Cestnik, B. and Rajkovič, V.
Keywords:Management Decision Support Systems Knowledge-Based Systems Decision Models Loan Allocation Housing

A system for supporting management decisions in the allocation of housing loans is presented. The system has been used in the Housing Fund of the Republic of Slovenia since 1991 for granting loans to citizens. Various activities are supported, such as priority ranking of applications, financial evaluation and analyses. The system is based on a knowledge base that contains several qualitative and quantitative decision models, and is combined with a database. In the paper, we present the design of the system, the principal stages of its development and utilization, and practical experience obtained in 11 completed floats of loans.

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Brézillon, P. and Pomerol, J.-C.
Keywords:Expert Systems Knowledge-Based Systems Decision Support Systems User-System Interaction

It is difficult to determine the number of expert systems or Knowledge-Based Systems (KBSs) that really are operational within companies or administrations. It seems that a large number of such systems have never been used in operations and a rich literature stresses this point. We think that most of these references do not address some dimensions that are of paramount importance. In this paper, we provide a review of the literature according to three neglected dimensions: (1) the differences between automatic KBSs and non-automatic KBSs; (2) the types and importance of decisions that are involved; and (3) the types of data acquisition that is required. Keeping in mind these three dimensions, we review the literature about the acceptance of KBS and their use and point out that most of the observations can be interpreted along these three dimensions. Furthermore, these dimensions permit us to explain some failures and difficulties that have already been pointed out in several scientific domains in which interactivity is crucial, such as Decision Support Systems (DSSs). Our approach brings some new insights on the problems of KBS acceptance and leads us to propose some recommendations.

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Burrell, P. R., Duan, Y. and Boskovic, A.
Keywords:Analytic Hierarchy Process Decision Support Expert Systems Strategic Management Marketing

Management at a strategic level involves a high level of risk and uncertainty. These problems are compounded further in the area of marketing due to the fact that firms often face turbulent and unpredictable markets. Expert systems and decision support systems might have a large impact in this area but the development of such systems has proven difficult with less than expected results. This paper provides a description of an effective decision support tool embedded within a hybrid expert/decision support system. This tool is derived from a modified version of an existing operational research technique and is used to introduce structure and objectivity into a largely subjective process of attaching values to a set of decision criteria.

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Cariati, T., Iazzolino, G. and Tancredi, A.
Keywords:Transactional Approach Relational Theory Learning Organisation Network Enterprise Hypointegrated Organisation Decision Support Systems Empowerment Communication Process Decision Process Information Technology Technological Network Distributed Systems

The tumultuous developments of Information Technology and the organizational revolution, beginning in Japan with the Lean Organization concept, where important keywords are autonomy, empowerment etc., changed radically the strategic and operational conditions of companies. The environment was becoming more and more chaotic and, in this context, hypointegrated organizations, characterised by weak structural links and by a dispersed memory where the communication process became the central aspect, emerged. After discussing the features of the emerging organization forms taking into account the principal theories, our work analyses thoroughly the communication process because communication has become the co-ordinating and integrating instrument, bound to the ability of using the available media in an effective way. We suggest organizational criteria for integrating available information technology to implement effective, efficient and reliable information systems to support work, decisions and communication in hypointegrated organizations. According to our model, in a learning organization vision, users should define, with the help of technicians, communication, decision and work support requirements. In conclusion, we present an application of the proposed information technology integration model: the Urban Regional Co-ordination Planning project, still in progress in Calabria.

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Carlsson, S. A., Leidner, D. E. and Elam, J. J.
Keywords:Executive Support Systems Executive Information Systems Implementation Effectiveness Assessment Leadership Behavioural Complexity

Individual and organizational effectiveness are foundations of Information Systems’ theory, research, and practice. In this paper, Quinn and associates’ competing values approach (CVA) of organizational effectiveness is used for discussing and assessing the impacts of Executive Support Systems (ESS) on managerial behavior and leadership. It is suggested that an ESS is effective to the extent that it supports top-level managers and executives in promoting organizational effectiveness and that the ESS should effectively support the managers in their different managerial roles. A CVA-based analysis of data from interviews with ESS users in Mexico and Sweden suggests that ESS can support managerial behavior and leadership in different ways. Based on the empirical study and CVA, four archetypes or ESS use are suggested. The study has implications for: 1) ESS theory and research in that it links ESS use to behavioral complexity, and 2) ESS design and implementation in that it suggests a complementary view of the purposes of ESS.

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Courbon, J.-C.
Keywords:Decision Support Systems Design Methodologies Users

Methodologies for DSS design have traditionally put the emphasis on the Decision, or the System, or the Support part of these systems. Illustrating it with two opposite case studies, this article tries to propose a rationale for a User-centered approach to DSS design and implementation. It stresses the importance of considering design, development and user participation as strongly related activities because DSS projects are change as well as learning processes, and communication is becoming paramount in a view of decision making taking place in more group-oriented and informal settings.

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De Michelis, G.
Keywords:Computer Supported Cooperative Work Decision Support Systems Group Decision Support Systems Co-Decision Cooperative Process

This paper analyzes group decision making from a pragmatic point of view, as a sub-process of a cooperative process. It shows how group decision making is carried on through two different co-decision forms (namely co-decision with equal and distinct roles) depending on the positional relations of its participants. Since the position (client or performer) of a participant in a co-decision is highly context dependent, co-decision support systems must enhance the awareness of their users with respect to the cooperative process and the positional relation where they are situated.

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Dennis, A. R., Quek, F. and Pootheri, S. K.
Keywords:Internet Distributed Decision Making TCBWorks Web-Based Groupware Implementation Web-Based Technologies Communicative Competence

This paper addresses implementation from the point of view of DSS construction and installation, and highlights the challenges faced when developing DSS in light of rapidly changing business environment and technological advances. In view of the tremendous interest in the Internet, the paper suggests that the Internet has inherent characteristics that are well-suited to supporting distributed work and distributed decision making. The paper then presents TCBWorks as a first generation DSS built for the Internet, and hopes that through sharing the experiences and lessons learnt, the potential and pitfall of this technology and its fit to distributed decision making can be explored, thereby guiding further research in this area.

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Ferioli, C. and Migliarese, P. G.
Keywords:Design Organizational Change Network Analysis Relational Analysis

The paper proposes a DSS design approach based on three organizational aspects: (i) the analysis of decisional requirements of managers, (ii) the changes the DSS causes in users work habits and (iii) the changes the DSS causes in organizational power equilibrium. The aim of the proposed approach is to save the implementation from failure and to foresee reasons why organization components might reject the DSS. For each of the three aspects the paper describes the main problem the DSS designer has to face with and some solutions are proposed. In particular, as regards the analysis of power equilibrium changes, the paper proposes a new method based on the analysis of the network of relations existing in the organization. The relational method overcomes some of the limits of the two classical organizational approaches to political analysis of IT system introduction in organizations: i.e. the transaction cost perspective and the organization power theory. The paper describes an application of the proposed design approach, regarding the DSS introduction in a public health agency.

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Francardi, E. and Norese, M. F.
Keywords:Change Process Multicriteria Approach Cooperative Decision Support Systems

Operational tools may be introduced in change processes to facilitate actual change activation and successful implementation. The adoption of a conceptual framework from literature, and its operationalisation, by means of a system of structured Schemes in a procedure of collective analysis and management, may supply appropriate “tools” for structuring problem situations and their evolutions and may be suitable for being inserted into communication contexts. The integrated use of Schemes and different techniques in a collective process of change analysis, planning and control is described in this paper. The main Schemes are presented in detail, together with some results that have arisen from the application of the system to a change process now in progress.

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Georges, P. J.
Keywords:Information Theory Reengineering Systems Strategic Management

Business success does not come from advances in Information Technology (IT). True, IT has helped companies to produce more, but the only effect has been to bring prices down to their marginal value. Further, some have profited solely by the rapidity of information flow to gain an “opportunity” advantage over competitors. However, real business success can be traced back to new ideas or new ways, not new computers. A winning strategy for every business must therefore address, with the help of IT, the production of content as opposed to volume and speediness. Information in the large is the prime material that companies process in their business. A company’s information system can be used to build a valid model of its activities. Application of simple information theory measurements to this model yields the intrinsic value and cost of its activities. These measurements can equally be applied on the corresponding software systems and therefore produce a relative measure of how well the computer systems in place support the business activities. With such a model it is possible to measure the goals and capabilities of any organization. Hence its capacity to elucidate the strategy and the relevance of decisions concerning the products, the organization, and the company’s computer system.

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Jirachiefpattana, W., Arnott, D. R. and O'Donnell, P. A.
Keywords:Executive Information Systems Developing Country Systems Development Evolutionary Development Outsourcing

This paper examines EIS development in Thailand. Thailand is a newly industrialized country, typical of other developing countries. First, the paper discusses the nature of the Thai economic and political systems. Four case studies are explored to examine how EIS are developed and to explore the influence of the economic and political environment on EIS development. Only one of the four systems examined can be considered highly successful. The factors behind EIS success and failure in a developing country are discussed. The paper concludes by suggesting that to develop an EIS successfully in a developing country an evolutionary approach with strong user participation should be followed. It is also suggested that outsourcing EIS development to foreign consultants is unlikely to be successful.

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Kilov, H. and Simmonds, I. D.
Keywords:Precision Abstraction Reuse Change Process Patterns Generic Relationships Collective Behaviour

Business patterns are powerful, high-level constructs that provide a natural and well-structured way of both understanding and specifying businesses and their rules. To be of use, business specifications have to be presented in an abstract and precise manner, and this paper shows how to do just that. Key concepts include business invariants and operations, and a higher level notion of “business pattern”. Specifications built in this way can be parameterized and reused in various business contexts. Business patterns in particular promise to be extremely helpful as a basis for systematic business analysis and subsequent implementation of the results of this analysis. We have successfully used these concepts and constructs in our engagements with (insurance) customers (Kilov et al., 1996). The motivation for our work is to allow the production of complete, rigorous business specifications understandable by both business users and system developers. These specifications require rigorous expressions of semantics – that is, assertions – rather than loose, “intuitive,” descriptions. We present different kinds of reusable and abstract specification fragments – patterns – such as “action” and “module” patterns, which have different characteristics. We include examples of both elementary patterns – such as “composition” – and nonelementary patterns – such as “information gathering” and “joint ownership”. Unlike typical programming constructs, instantiations of business patterns are inherently interactive and so must adapt to their changing environment.

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Larichev, O. I., Andreyeva, E. N. and Sternin, M. Y.
Keywords:Multicriteria Approach Decision Support Systems Active Groups

The paper describes the analysis of an important problem: the choice of a gas pipeline route on the Yamal Peninsula in the North of Russia. It is a real case of a difficult and controversial real life decision. The authors were in the position of consultants, helping to decision makers to develop and justify a new and promising variant of the decision. The result of the utilization of verbal (categorical) decision analysis and a decision support system are given.

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Lawrence, M.
Keywords:Forecasting Decision Support Decision Support Systems Judgement Bias

One of the most widely occurring management decision tasks is preparing the monthly forecasts. This execution of this task requires the application of management judgement to combine contextual knowledge with the time series historical data. The task would appear well suited to the application of a DSS. Yet surveys in the USA, UK and Australia show very low penetration of any direct computer support in the estimation of forecasts. This paper gives some clues as to the reasons for this state of affairs and explores a tool, potentially more acceptable to forecasters which is designed to help reduce the human bias present in extrapolating a time series. The tool which is behaviourally rather than mathematically based, is shown to improve estimation accuracy over a purely judgemental alternative and to be significantly better than the naive forecast.

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Loebbecke, C. and Bui, T. X.
Keywords:Design Implementation System Dynamics Cognitive Feedback

This paper proposes an integrative approach for the design and implementation of systems to support market-related decisions in a dynamic environment. It outlines various design issues relevant to a dynamic decision environment and introduces system dynamics as an implementation-oriented DSS design methodology. A real-life case study from the German “Global System for Mobile Communication” (GSM) market briefly investigates basic design principles of a successful implementation, describes design and implementation experiences, and shows selected results. Lessons learned from the case study provide a critical assessment of the proposed approach. The paper closes with a brief summary and some suggestions for further research.

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McCosh, A. M.
Keywords:Ethics Decision Support Systems Investment Appraisal Theory

The paper addresses the need to build ethics into the process of designing decision support systems. Two examples are offered, in which the essential concept of a DSS is changed considerably when the principles of ethics are applied, taking the decision models far beyond the basic quantitative and economic variables customarily employed. Ethical concepts are described first and their applicability to DSS design is then demonstrated.

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Mertens, P., Hagedorn, J., Fischer, M., Bissantz, N. and Haase, M.
Keywords:Active Management Information Systems Data Mining Critiquing Navigation Addressee-Orientation Automatic Reporting

With Active Management Information Systems (Active MIS) we delegate more responsibility to the system. Different types of Active MIS are arranged in a framework that is defined by two scales. We focus on one of the scales, namely the intensity of user interaction, which also serves as the guideline of the paper. At the same time we give examples to illustrate how Active MIS can contribute to the solution of a user’s problem.

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O'Donnell, P. A., Arnott, D. R. and Jirachiefpattana, W.
Keywords:Developer Experience Executive Information Systems HOLOS OLAP Systems Development

This paper describes the development of an EIS in an Australian-based subsidiary of a multi- national firm. The EIS development team was lead by an experienced EIS developer seconded from the U.S.-based parent company. The structure of the EIS team and the nature of the system development process are described. Many of the problems that are normally confronted by EIS developers were avoided by the EIS team. The leader of this team was able to use his experience to ensure the smooth progression of the system development effort. The system is now the official management information source in the organisation. A survey of the system's users confirmed that the users find the system useful and the EIS team responsive to their needs.

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Zoltay-Paprika, Z.
Keywords:Decision Support Marketing Database Marketing Implementation

This paper takes the example of one of the most important Hungarian banks to show the requirements that a marketing information system must meet under the current Hungarian economic conditions to support the decision making implementing the marketing strategy in the increasing market competition·

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Roberts, C., Wild, C. and Maly, K.
Keywords:Project Management Decision-Based System Development Contingency Planning Group Communication Uncertainty

One of the most pervasive problems faced by project managers is controlling a large project in an uncertain and distributed work environment. We believe that many of the inherent difficulties in managing large engineering and software projects result from difficulties in managing the uncertainty inherent in any lengthy, complex undertaking. Currently available project management tools allow the project manager to perform “what-if” and risk analyses, but do not support the management of an uncertain project environment. Existing decision support systems allow analysis of known facts about the project, but they focus upon what should be done with information after it is available. They do not support decision-making in the face of evolving and often insufficient project information, and they do not support the decision-maker when a plan must be enacted even before a decision can be made. Also, they assume that decisions are made once, instantaneously, and in isolation from the external project environment. . In our approach, we respond to the presence of project uncertainty by supporting the manager in developing and enacting competitive contingency plans. Competitive contingency plans are those plans which solve a particular project objective, and which are performed concurrently because sufficient information is not available to allow the manager to choose the single most appropriate plan. The competing plans are simultaneously enacted because project uncertainty precludes selection of a single correct course of action, and the manager must proceed with project tasks based only on the information at hand. In this paper, we address the management of contingency plans in the inherently uncertain environment of large-scale projects. Our major objectives for this research are to define and implement a process for decision-based contingency planning, and a knowledge structure to support this process. By utilizing this decision process model, we will be able to see the effects of new information upon the project and communicate the new information to affected project team members.

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Sroka, H. and Stanek, S.
Keywords:Implementation Implementation Requirements Revision of Business Processes Organisations in Transition Organisational Support Innovative Process Supporting Management Decisions

Implementation of Information Technology is nowadays seen as a means, available to organizations, of improving their competitive position. However, the question arises, “What is it that makes improvement in one organization quick and successful but unsuccessful in another?” Analyzing the implementation requirements is crucial since it sets the initial direction and thereafter guides the evolution of the improvements. In this work we would like to present the suggested preconditions of, and our experience in, the implementation of innovative processes that are connected with the revision of the business processes in an organization in transition, with a special focus on the implementation of Information Technology. Soft system methodology requires that we perceive an organization as a whole. In organizational settings this kind of perception is strongly connected with the leader who is in a position to perceive the process of improvement in its relation to his vision, or concept. In this context it must be emphasized that technology now calls for general management leadership.

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