Decision Support Tools

A decision making phase occurs after management strategies have been assessed for their social, economic and environmental implications. In this process, all impacts are considered, and a decision is made whether to implement an option that meets a water quality objective, or whether the process is to be repeated with a revised set of environmental values in the hope of finding a better solution.

Sometimes making a management decision can be complicated by many factors. There can be many stakeholders with a varying degree of knowledge and different views of what is important. Decision support tools aim to assist in the integration of information for decision makers, by providing knowledge and analysis to increase awareness and understanding over a wider range of issues and identify trade-offs. Multiple Objective Decision Support Systems (MODSS) and Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) are techniques that have been developed to help with this situation.

MODSS systems usually describe the process of identifying objectives, goals, criteria and options or alternatives. More information on MODSS can be found on the MODSS web site.

Multi(ple) Criteria Analyses are methods for weighting and aggregating data, and prioritising options and alternatives. Three decision support systems for multi-criteria analysis (the Decision Suite) are available at the Coastal CRC website. We advise that you read the guide to which tool to use, to obtain information on previous applications, and to learn more about how the tool can be used for decision making and conflict resolution.

Decision Facilitator

Decision Facilitator is used to work through decisions in meetings, and where prioritisation of criteria needs to be developed quickly by consensus.

Decision Analyst

Decision Analyst is a tool which allows for more precise weighting and testing of the sensitivity of the weights, so is used when more exact information about which are the best alternatives is required.


The Coastal Lake Assessment and Management (CLAM) approach utilises a Bayesian Decision Network to assist in identifying trade-offs between social, economic and environmental values in an integrated way.

Decision Mapper

Decision Mapper (formerly Spatialise ) is used if the decision involves a spatial question and the results are required to be displayed as maps. The software is still under development, but a demonstration of Spatialise on which Decision Mapper will be based is available. Also available is a best practice guide (PDF file, 327KB) for Spatialise.

Additional resources

Development of Triple Bottom Line Assessment Methodologies
The South Australian Government has developed a framework and tools to assist decision makers in assessing economic, social and environmental impacts for deciding on the allocation of resources between competing initiatives.