The analytic hierarchy process (AHP) is widely used in all industries for many different types of decision analysis. This paper is aimed at creating awareness of the potential benefits of the AHP in the modern organizational context of a rock engineering department on a mine. A case study, which involved the auditing of the rock engineering department on a mine in South Africa, is presented to illustrate the fundamental principles of the AHP.. Functions that are required for a rock engineering department were identified and compliance of the department with those functions was evaluated. Through this process, shortcomings of the rock engineering role were identified and the functions were ranked in order of priority, after which they were rated in terms of effectiveness. This culminated in a report that clearly suggested to management where focus and resources were required to improve the effectiveness of the department. A list of example publications is presented to indicate the scope and applicability of the AHP framework to mining-related problems in general.
Modern organizations are faced with a great number of factors to consider when decisions have to be made. Owing to the internet, information is more abundant and readily available than ever before, and the number of stakeholders in any given decision has proliferated. The complexity that modern decision-makers face is daunting. At the same time, decisions have far wider effects than was the case ten, or even five, years ago. Over and above all these factors, the ability of humans to make consistent judgements is notoriously flawed because of what is known as ‘cognitive bias’: a mental phenomenon that greatly affects the ability of humans to make rational judgements in any given situation.
To deal with the complexity requires a paradigm shift in the decision-making process within organizations and of modern society in general. The days when the man at the top made the decision and everyone else toed the line, are past. Decision-making is now a science. Modern concepts such as ‘focus groups’, ‘scenario planning’, ‘consensus decisions’, ‘conflict resolution’, ‘decision modelling’, and ‘decision analysis’ have emerged as disciplines in their own right.