Group Decision Support Systems

) “One example of implementation of GDSS is at IBM. They, as well as many other corporations, initiated GDSS to improve group meetings. A specific case involved a plant manager not being able to identify the cause of problems with shop floor control. After having a meeting for two hours with plant personnel all that resulted were arguments and bad feelings. So after meeting with the company's GDSS facilitator, the manager decided to have ten plant employees, he, and two junior analysts participate in a GDSS program.

They would use electronic brainstorming and voting to resolve the shop floor control problem. The manager and the facilitator decided the topic would be "What are the key issues in improving shop floor control?" After brainstorming for 35 minutes and compiling 645 lines of suggestions, ideas and comments on how to improve shop floor control, the manager found that he had gotten useful information about the issue for the first time. A list was compiled of the comments and then the members of the group ranked them in order of importance. The results were displayed and a discussion occurred for ten minutes. The manager thanked the participants and was given a printout of all the discussion and results of the group vote (Aiken 3).”

2) “Another example is Hewlett-Packard. Their human-factors engineers work at locations all over the world. And they meet in person only once a year. The rest of the time, they have frequent, ongoing meetings to discuss professional and company issues. But they have these discussions through an electronic conference and final decision making is done with the aid of GDSS.”

Application of GDSS to Value Management

GDSS For VALUE MANAGEMENT [How GDSS Can Support Value Management (VM) Studies]

Value Management (VM) is described as a process which involves a multi-discipline, group of representative people working together to seek the best value solution of a particular situation, and hence member participation, group interaction and team collaboration are essential to VM studies. The following discussion will describe how GDSS can support VM studies and what the benefits are. GDSS is a computer-based system which is specifically designed to assist the group decision-making process, and it provides three supports including (i) communication support, (ii) data analysis support, and (iii) decision technique support to assist the implementation of VM studies.

Figure: Various Types of GDSS Support to VM Studies GDSS consists of communication, computing and decision support technologies and the figure has demonstrated how these technologies can be contributed to VM studies. Decisions and recommendations are occurred as a result of interpersonal communication in VM studies, and Communication Technologies (level 1 GDSS support) can alter the communication pattern in order to promote participation and encourage interaction in workshops.

The use of electronic communication tools such as chat room and newsgroup provides a shared environment to facilitate the exchange of ideas, opinions, and preference within the groups. For example, large screen can be used to display of anonymous ideas and preferences in meetings. Recommendations and suggestions of VM studies are made after extensive consultation and in-depth analysis in VM studies and the tasks of backup calculations and cost analysis are essential, in particular the development phase, to translate the screened idea into proposed alternative designs.

These activities, however, are time consuming and might constitute over half of the time of a VM study. In order to improve the productivity, Computer Technologies (level 2 GDSS support) are applied Moreover, computer technologies also improve the information management of VM studies including information retrieval, maintenance and presentation. For example, the provision of file exchange server and connection with Internet improves the availability and quality of information to support decision analysis in workshops.

These features enable the analysis to be completed more efficient and effective way and finally, the uncertainty encountered in VM studies are significantly reduced. Decision Support Technologies include (i) decision-modeling methods such as decision trees and risk analysis, (ii) structured group methods such as Nominal Group and Delphi techniques, and (iii) rules for directing group discussion. The creative use of communication technologies and computer technologies can facilitate the introduction of new "group structuring techniques" to VM studies. For example, anonymous individual brainstorming can be integrated with face-to-face group brainstorming to form a new brainstorming technique.

The Interactive Value Management Systems (IVMS) is a Group Decision Support which is specifically designed for VM studies. It consists of three modules including (i) Communication Module, (ii) Information Module, (iii) Analysis Module which are shown in the following diagram. In a GDSS-supported VM study, facilitator is responsible to decide on what GDSS tools to use, when and how to use them. An assistant may help him to operate the system by starting and stopping the software and provide technical support to users. Team members are arranged to sit in a U shape which allows them to communicate verbally. Moreover, members also allows to communication electronically. They can participate in the tasks such as brainstorming, ranking, data analysis, and voting through individual terminal and the results will be displayed on a 'public screen'.