Simulation-based decision support for evaluating operational plans
Operations Research Perspectives
Decision support systems Data analysis Operational planning Effects-based planning Effects-based approach to operations a b s t r a c t In this article, we describe simulation-based decision support techniques for evaluation of operational plans within effects-based planning. Using a decision support tool, developers of operational plans are able to evaluate thousands of alternative plans against possible courses of events and decide which of these plans are capable of achieving a desired end
... ate. The objective of this study is to examine the potential of a decision support system that helps operational analysts understand the consequences of numerous alternative plans through simulation and evaluation. Operational plans are described in the effects-based approach to operations concept as a set of actions and effects. For each action, we examine several different alternative ways to perform the action. We use a representation where a plan consists of several actions that should be performed. Each action may be performed in one of several different alternative ways. Together these action alternatives make up all possible plan instances, which are represented as a tree of action alternatives that may be searched for the most effective sequence of alternative actions. As a test case, we use an expeditionary operation with a plan of 43 actions and several alternatives for these actions, as well as a scenario of 40 group actors. Decision support for planners is provided by several methods that analyze the impact of a plan on the 40 actors, e.g., by visualizing time series of plan performance. Detailed decision support for finding the most influential actions of a plan is presented by using sensitivity analysis and regression tree analysis. Finally, a decision maker may use the tool to determine the boundaries of an operation that it must not move beyond without risk of drastic failure. The significant contribution of this study is the presentation of an integrated approach for evaluation of operational plans.