IT and Business Architecture/Decision Support Systems


QUESTION: Hi Royden,

I have to build a decision support system not based on an existing DSS application but I'm having a hard time thinking of new ideas...Any help Royden..



Wooaahhhh....  This is a major effort, BI is one of the most complex and involved areas there is; the specifics of DSS is built on the foundation of having the right information, at the right time, in the right place.  I spend months on this topic each time a new area of interest comes up.  

The approach I would take is find the narrowest scope you want to use as a proof of concept.  Focus on that, and the information data type and business process that need to be supported. The design a way of articulating the options for the decision making process. Use a simplified data aggregator coalesce the data in to meaningful decision trees. This will allow for options to fit the pattern.  It is critical that you understand the statistic involved, particularly in anomalies tracking or removal, and in core trend analysis. These will guide the decision process, then apply the business rules in a hierarchical and weighted fashion to allow for certain decision to result based on the precedence occurring or event determination. Now it should provide some critical weighted values to the options and present these in a clear and meaning form.  Ideally the higher the management the less details you want and a nice clean dashboard can allow them to see the obvious choices.

However, this is only half of the solution. There should be an ability to apply the decision to a model which will extrapolate the change by generating false data in a separate store and the produce the "new" dashboard based on the interpretation of the data.  This would allow them to do simple models ie:

+ Reduce price  -->  See Revenue Impact
         -->  See Sales Volume Increase ---> See Revenue Impact
         -->  See Cost of Sales Impact ---> Pricing Pressure on COmpetitors

A lot more scenarios would have to be worked out but this should give you the rough idea.

By the way this is first real architecture question I have had on this sight, thanks a lot.

Royden Akerley, DTS, MIS, MLS, B.Comm
Enterprise Architect
DHL Express (International)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Royden,

Sorry to disturb again..Found an idea now..I decided to design a DSS solution for the hospitality industry that supports decision making. Would an hotel,for instance, have to hire more part-time staff, more chefs, how much food would they need for a particular month, as different months have varying occupancy rates.This would guide decision making and prevent wastage. I intend to use a normative model. My question is what a normative model is and how does it relate to building a DSS system.

I would have thought you could have done the research of this yourself.

There are a number of scholarly treatise on this subject some with the detailed mathematics behind it. Effectively it normalizes the data (removes the outlayers and stray values). Effectively you need to understand the model of historical values in the past. Effectively this should be tied to three main value sets.  

The first is simply period to period (week on week is best) sales by units (number of meals, number of customers, number of orders). And how that trends (up/down). As with most business there is clearly defined cyclical patterns based on calendar events when major jumps in sales occur. Valentines, Mother's day, etc... If this is coupled to a hotel or resort then it is further influenced by vacation or business cycles.

Secondly the menu and respective orders, some items have a higher food cost and wastage but are critical to maintaining a high demand for specialty items. The best examples of this are Salad Bars, these have to be maintained fresh and appealing, yet have a higher waste factor than made-to-order salads as they expire on the tray if low demand is present. This means while choice can remain the quantity needs to be managed . The salad bar requires a higher server presence while the made to order requires a higher preparation staff.

Finally, it is the level of service you wish to maintain. The higher the quality of service the more professional staff you need. This is a direct impact to customer satisfaction.

Normalizing the values and then maintaining a profitability factor is essential to the success of any restaurant, the higher the end the more it becomes necessary.

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Royden Akerley


Any architectural question relating to the business change, requirements, and solution design activities as a part of the business/IT development process. I can discuss SOA, and traditional development, design patterns, architectural paradigms, and professional accreditation (or associations).


1974 began as a system operator in SHL Atlantic. 1978 worked as developer and data base anlyst. 1986 became a software designer. 1989 became an enterprise level Technical Director and Architect for Blue Chip company. Ardent adherent to the ISO and CMM standards for process standardization and improvement since 1988 Concentrated on the design or re-engineering of large complex applications since 1989 (majority of projects were over $10M USD and 2 were over $100M USD) High-performance strategist focusing on optimizing efficiency and creating competitive advantage Respected professional, repeatedly recruited to build start-up IT infrastructures that bolster profitable growth, manage quality development/delivery activities, turnaround poorly performing programs, and architect solutions to maximize ROI. Thought leader and industry recognized expert in Service Oriented Architect, lecturing and consulting to industry and government globally. Contributes regularly and participates as speaker in 2-3 conferences a year around the globe. Led the architecture and integration of hardware, firmware and software relating to large-scale intranets and data inter/exchange using everything from EDI through FTP to XML for financial institutions, telecommunications firms and governments Exceptional communicator, who combines solid business and technical acumen while building consensus and creates synergy among diverse groups. Experience with Banking, Logistics, Telecommunications, Government Currently one of 5 Enterprise Architects for the worlds largest logistics and express company.

International Association of System Architects | Canadian Information Processing Society | World Wide Institute of Software Architects | Open group - Architecture Forum | Data Processing Management Association | International Programmers Guild

B Comm - Major: Data Processing Management, Minor: Accounting | Certificate - Scientific Computer Programming | M Sc - Information Science | DCS - Thesis - "Business Alignment, Change and IT Requirements Management"

Awards and Honors
CIPPA Award (1992, 2005) SIAAA Award (2008)

Past/Present Clients
Aliant Communications | Atlantic Kidney Transplant Clinic | BC Workers Compensation Board | Brascan Power | CARIS | Corkette McConnell | DFA Philippines | DHL Express | DHL Global Forwarding | DHL SPL Asia | ESA | Globe Telecom | GTE | Hong Kong Government | LRA Philippines | LTO Philippines | Malaysia Government | Ministerio de la Salud Pública – Chile | NB Tel | NSO Philippines | PCI – Equitable Bank | PharmaCare | Phil Health | Rural Health Administration – Uganda | Smart Communications | World Health Organization

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