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A Decision Support System for Technology R&D Planning: Connecting the Dots from Information to Innovation

A Decision Support System for Technology R&D Planning: Connecting the Dots from Information to Innovation
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Author(s): Jeffrey H. Smith (California Institute of Technology, USA), Julie Wertz (California Institute of Technology, USA) and Charles Weisbin (California Institute of Technology, USA)
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 4
Source title: Innovations Through Information Technology
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-261-9.ch154
ISBN13: 9781616921255
EISBN13: 9781466665347


Investment in technology research and development (R&D) is a critical component of the strategic planning process for private and public sector organizations. The R&D planning process is fraught with uncertainties, risks, dependencies, and a host of interrelated complexities. Each of these elements often bring stores of information, both conflicting and synergistic, that serve to confound the R&D planning process. This paper describes an information technology innovation developed to assist decision makers faced with complex R&D planning tasks. The decision support system (DSS) was developed and applied to the analysis of a 10-year, 700 million dollar technology program for the exploration of Mars. The technologies were to enable a 4.8 billion dollar portfolio of exploration flight missions to Mars. NASA’s Mars Exploration Program is charged with developing a series of missions to the planet Mars that will return a variety of scientific products [1, 2, 3]. Each of the mission concepts requires a host of innovative technologies to enable various levels of scientific return. While a recent critique of the program by the Office of Management and Budget found the program to be the highest rated government program (out of 234 programs), their report encouraged the program to “Develop long-term, quantitative, outcome oriented performance measures [4].” A decision support system was developed herein that implemented a solution approach to the R&D portfolio selection problem. The DSS was used to address the question, “Given a Mars program composed of mission concepts dependent on a variety of alternative technology development programs, which combination of technologies would enable missions to maximize science return under a constrained budget?” The decision support system provided a mechanism to focus and manage the vast assortment of science, mission, and technology information surrounding the problem.

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