The George Boole Foundation
The Decision Analysis Initiative

Demonstration development cycle

Demonstrations are made accessible online to enable "hands on" evaluation by different users to assess the utility of different types of decision analysis implementation. Where demonstrations are contemplated they are developed on the basis of a systems engineering group organization that has four basic steps:

1. practitioner & decision-maker workshops; 2. decision analysis model specification; 3. model implementation; 4. practitioner & decision-maker assessment. This sequence is illustrated in the diagram below:

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Step 1

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practitioners systems group

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Step 2

Decision analysis model specification ...

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Step 3

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Step 4

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Ongoing Feedback & Refinement

Explanation of demonstration development cycle diagram

Practitioner & decision-maker workshops

Who are the decision-makers?

There are two types of decision-making that determine performance:

  • decisions taken on the commitment of resources
  • decisions that manipulate process operations
Decisions taken on the commitment of resources: The development of decision analysis systems requires an initial identification of who the decision-makers in an organization are. A decision-maker in the context of accepting and acting on the outcomes of a decision analysis is the person (or persons) with the appropriate authority to take a decision to commit the necessary resources to carrying out the activities required to implement a decision. Somearial these roles are split between managers and financial directors in which case the decision analysis has an important role in enhancing the communication of decision justifications.

Decisions that manipulate process operations: In order to ensure that a process maintains an adequate coherence between how it operates and the output objectives (product or service) it is essential that those involved in managing process operations (practitioners, shop floor operators) have sufficient decision-making power to improve the process as throughput advances. This does not imply disruption but rather a gradual elimination of waste and improvements in performance arising from learning and refinements in technique. It is therefore apparent that practitioners need to be included in development workshops so that they can help shape the decision analysis model of the process into something that represents the reality of operations.

Workshop objectives: are designed to obtain critical information on decision-maker objectives, to identify the main components of the decision-making environment and to determine their time and risk preferences. The critical factors over which the decision-maker/s has/ve some influence as well as those over which no influence can be asserted will be identified. In the case of exogenous non-controllable factors, the identification of ways to avoid or mitigate risks is an important task. The relationship between information quality and knowledge of the critical relationships within a domain has a direct influence upon the degree to which time and risk preferences match reality. The DAI will organize and facilitate practitioner & decision-maker workshops as the starting point for the specification of the decision analysis model and development of online demos.

Decision analysis model specification

Decision analysis model specification involves smaller workshops based upon the decision analysis cycle as outlined under the "Decision analysis" menu item.

Use will be made of critical functional analysis (CFA) in order to maximise the efficiency of the design process.

Where the sponsor has no IT staff this work will be undertaken by qualified personnel, under the management of the DAI, and who will submit an overall operational proposal to the decision-makers/s.

Model implementation

Once the model specification is deemed to accommodate the operational target objectives by the decision-makers then the decision analysis model will be programmed and set up within a development Studio than simulates online operations. The output of this activity is a functioning prototype decision analysis model. The term "prototype" refers to the fact that the decision-maker/s have not seen the final product in operation and are therefore not is a position to have passed judgement on the system's operational transparency, ease of use, relevance and utility of output.

During implementation significant segments of the system will be demonstrated to the decision-makers based upon the Internet System Prototyping Service concept. The system will, however, be a fully functional system operating in compliance with all Internet, World Wide Web, HTML, ECMA and other relevant standards. However the coding system used enables reconfigurations to be undertaken to adjust to user requirements with extremely short turn-around cycles.

Practitioner & decision-maker assessment

Assessment is a process of evaluation of the utility of the operational decision analysis model in terms of elucidating the options for satisfying the original process objectives. This will include the ability to review process options from the standpoint of convenience of use, process efficiency, costs of operation and the likely cost savings in terms of operations. This will also include assessments of the likely savings resulting from the use of the system in securing decisions which improve the performance of the organization.

Process performance monitor

Users, business, government officials and process operators are often interested to know how much it costs to complete such exercises as well as how long it takes to complete each step to achieve a viable operational system. A simple real time audit (RTA) will be used for each demonstration so as to record and analyse such data. The results will be made available as each demo goes online.

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