For a business unit of a large chemical company, Ventana built a model-based decision support system to help managers and scientists decide what integrated testing to perform. Testing issues were particularly important because testing represented over half of the business unit’s controllable costs. The initial Ventana decision-support system coupled business and scientific issues, and it allowed Ventana to identify several gaps in the company’s understanding of why its chemistry worked. Working with the company, Ventana developed an R&D test program to fill in some of the most important gaps. This test program produced results that allowed Ventana to create a new understanding of both product chemistry and the physics involved in its application.
With this better understanding of the basic science, Ventana designed a stochastic decision support system that permitted managers to design optimal test strategies for individual sales campaigns. The system permitted users to determine the business impact of different testing programs and to assess testing uncertainties in both graphical and rigorous statistical terms. Users could update the test evaluation as they received new data and review graphical displays that helped them understand whether test results were behaving consistently or spuriously.
The decision support system permitted the business unit to gain several new insights into traditional testing tactics and strategy. Ventana was able to show that the business unit’s recent emphasis on cost cutting in the area of sales testing was counterproductive. The company’s business situation called for more sales testing, rather than less. Ventana also showed how the business unit could decrease the cost of individual tests by 35% with almost no negative impact. Implementation of this single cost saving idea paid back the expense of the Ventana modeling in less than a year.