During the history of decision support systems (DSSs)— in fact, during the history of theoretical investigations of human decision-making situations—the decision maker (DM) has been the centre of attention who considers options and makes a choice. However, the notion and definitions of this decision maker, as well as the various roles surrounding his or her activity, have changed depending on both time and scientific areas. Reading the DSS literature, one might encounter references to such players as decision makers, problem owners, stakeholders, facilitators, developers, users, project champions, and supporters, and the list goes on. Who are these players, what is their role, and where do these terms come from? This article presents a review in historical context of some key interpretations aimed at identifying the various roles that actors may assume in an organizational decision-making situation.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Stakeholder: It is any group or individual who is affected by or can affect the achievement of an organization’s objectives. A stakeholder usually has a stake in the business, therefore, their needs and issues may affect outcomes.
Client: A client is someone who wants to know or do something about a situation and has the power to commission a problem-solving activity (in case decision support is sought, they are the ones who have asked for such help).
User: The user is the one who interacts with a DSS in a physical and purposeful manner.
Facilitator: This is usually a consultant or analyst who provides a framework for the iterative development of a coherent representation of the problem and supports group work.
Champion: A champion is an individual who makes decisive contributions to an organizational innovation by actively and enthusiastically promoting its progress.
Problem Owner: In most cases he or she is the one affected by the issues to be solved or indicates those who would benefit from the solution.
Decision Taker: In SSM, it is the person who can alter the activities and may commit to resource allocation.
Decision Maker: The decision maker is the individual (or group) who has to be committed to action. He or she has the power to commit the resources of the organization or, in other words, has the executive power to determine the use of outputs of the decision-making process. It is often used in an abstract sense as the one who needs to make a choice.
Chauffeur: This is a technical person operating the (usually GDSS-type) support software during a decision conference acting as a collaborator with the facilitator.
Decision Owner: In a network analysis context, the decision owner is the one who leads the decision from start to finish either because he or she is the project leader or has been assigned the supervision of a decision.
Decision Analyst (Consultant): This person helps with methodology and modeling choices as well as with decision-making procedures, or may facilitate the collaboration among all participants. He or she may also help with decision aid or DSS software development and implementation.