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Paul N. Finlay & John M. Wilson


Decision support systems have become widespread in recent years. However, most of these systems are not carefully validated and this has led in some cases to serious errors.

One of the principal reasons for the lack of validity is the lack of an operationalised validation methodology. A simplified validity framework has already been developed by the authors as the first part of a 3-phase approach towards devising a practical validation methodology.

This paper describes the second phase, reporting as it does on a survey that has been undertaken to unearth the contingency factors that influence how the process of validation, employing the validity framework, will be carried out for a particular kind of decision support system - one involving a spreadsheet model.


The broad set of contingency factors
The broad set of contingency factors

We identified a series of themes that form a validity framework.

The factors are:

  • The decision/issue.
  • Attributes of the decision support system.
  • Conduct of validation.
  • Users' competence level.
  • System builders' attributes.
  • Organisational culture.

Some of the factors were found to be new aspects of validation related information.


2000, The Journal of the Operational Research Society, Volume 51, Number 8, August, pages 949-958

Full article

A survey of contingency factors affecting the validation of end-user spreadsheet-based decision support systems