Software can make hard decisions easy
Even the best IS manager makes decisions that are regretted later — hiring an employee for an IS position based on a mutual love of hockey, only to find that he/she simply is not right for the job or making an important information technology choice based on a “gut feeling,” then finding the decision unjustifiable to the supervisor when things go wrong.
For IS managers, sound decisions are rationally thought out, consistent with gov. ernmental goals, made with input from others and justifiable to supervisors. More importantly, decisions should be made with confidence, knowing that the arrived at recommendation is, in all likelihood, the right one.
Local governments are turning to decision software for a variety of needs. With shrinking budgets becoming common place, city and county managers are using the software to help with budget planning, especially evaluating how best to allocate their resources between districts and departments.
There are various levels of decision software, from the overly simplistic spreadsheet “templates” that are sufficient for basic decisions to more sophisticated tools for handling complex decisions involving hundreds of factors and countless options.
Some city officials develop their own systems; others use vendors’ shrinkwrapped packages. The choice depends on the agencies’ particular needs.
For example, decision software can aid in hiring individuals for permanent positions and in hiring external consultants for contract work.
By reviewing the financial advantages and/or disadvantages of both types of hirees, the manager can decide which employee and position is more viable for various job positions.
The software helps in establishingthe criteria for comparison between potential candidates and in building group consensus when many different factors must be considered by different levels of management.
Additionally, procurement officials can use decision software when evaluating computer’ hardware and software, office and other major equipment purchases.
Like a budget package, the software can determine which mainframes and software packages best fit the needs of the local government.
Also, equipment purchases can be reviewed over the long haul to make sure they are right for the department.
Decision software also is being used to evaluate existing assets and plan budgets for maintenance of sites and equipment, thus enabling the manager to avoid crisis situations. The software helps decisionmakers determine whether to continue t6 maintain these assets, to upgrade them, to eliminate them or to replace them..
In this time of economic uncertainty, software that can help individuals and groups make the best possible decisions and squeeze the maximum value from every decision that is made is essential.
Management software tools are becoming easier to use, yet more and more mathematically complex underneath.
For example, the software uses pattern recognition techniques to help decisionmakers find the option that best matches what they are searching for.
These techniques are based on algorithms using such methods as Bayesian analysis or “fuzzy logic.” Some users, however, are likely not to understand the software design, so the interface explains how the management decision was arrived upon as well as the recommendations made.
This way, the manager is still in control over the decision-making process and can relate the reasoning of the analyses from the software.
And it is a lot better than basing an important decision on nothing more than a whim or a mutual love of sports.