Decision Support Overview

Aim: Decisions that support Value for Money

Decisions analysis was aimed at understanding of the role of decisions on influencing the Value for Money (VFM) of the project, and identifying opportunities where improved decision making could improve the Value for Money of the project. Questions that were relevant to this initiative were overlaid on a VFM outcomes chain, for the concepts of economy, effectiveness and efficiency. Decision models were then defined to answer these questions.
A sustainability framework was defined as a means of aligning the environments within which decision-making takes place. This framework provides the opportunity to reduce risk of failure, by identifying aspects that need to be addressed during implementation.
This approach is outlined below (adapted from Meyer and Marais 2014 ):


Figure 1 Questions and decision models to enhance Value for Money (Adapted from Emmi, 2011 )
Figure 1 Questions and decision models to enhance Value for Money (Adapted from Emmi, 2011 )


This view highlights some of the decisions that could affect the ability of the project to increase its Value for Money. Better execution of decisions along this chain can lead to outcomes that deliver better value. For example, if technology decisions are made with the objective to purchase tablets that are affordable, but also durable and appropriate for the specific rural environment (high glare, high dust, low electricity), the tablets are more likely to be used over a longer period of time, be usable for its purpose and cost less over the duration of its lifetime. Similarly, if money is spent to have the best utility (i.e. to reach the most students with technology given the budget), the overall impact of the project could be larger.
Three models were developed to support decisions around the implementation of ICT initiatives in Rural Education.

Technology selection model

This model assists with the selection of technology from perspectives other than cost only. The model is packaged as a web-based decision tool, which can be used to rate the relative importance of decision criteria and to score different tablets. An appropriate recommendation is made, based on these preferences (reference to Tablet Selection Model).

Total cost of ownership model

The total cost of ownership of the initiative is calculated (initial investment, as well as projected cost to maintain the solution over the next five years). The analysis is used to determine the affordability of the implementation and the appropriateness of the investment strategy across components (reference Total Cost of Ownership Model).

Cost-utility model

The purpose of the cost-utility analysis is to provide an indication of the utility that is derived from investment, i.e. how much has been gained through the investment that was made. This provides a means of evaluating different investment strategies, and choosing an appropriate one. In addition, it provides one of many possible means of justifying to funders the value that was created (DPME, 2014 ). Cost-utility parameters have been calculated along the outcomes chain, thus highlighting parameters that indicate economy, efficiency, and effectiveness respectively.