Computer-Aided Decision Analysis: Theory and Applications

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

7
A Spreadsheet System to Support
the Decision-Making Process

RON JANSSEN

Decision support systems (DSS) can be defined as "interactive computer- based systems that help decision makers utilize data and models to solve unstructured problems" ( Gorry & Scott Morton 1971). Although this definition is now more than twenty years old and although numerous competing definitions have been developed, this definition contains all the elements that are essential to the concept of decision support. "Interactive" and "computer-based" are essential features of DSS. By using a DSS, decision makers no longer communicate with models through an analyst but have direct access to available models and information. "Help the decision makers" highlights the point that decision makers as individuals are supported. "Utilize data and models" emphasizes that support is given by processing information.

Multiobjective decision support systems (MODSS) are a specific subcategory of DSS. An MODSS concentrates on the support of analysis/evaluation in a decision process (Figure 7.1) ( Mintzberg, Raisinghani & Théorêt 1976). A MODSS includes formal methods such as multicriteria methods, graphic methods, and cost-benefit analysis combined with methods for problem definition and sensitivity analysis. In this way MODSS can support both the selection and the development phase of a decision process ( Janssen 1992).

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