The Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) – Is it old and outdated?

This was a question in researchgate.net, and the answer of Prof. Saaty – the creator of the method – is of course: “The AHP is the only accurate and rigorous mathematical way known for the measurement on intangibles. It is not going to get old for a long time., with a lot of answers from others following.

When it comes to AHP, it seems the scientific world is still divided in opponents and advocates of the method.

I answered with the statistic of my website: BPMSG has more than 4000 users of the online software AHP-OS, 600 of them active users with 1000 projects and more than 3500 decision makers. My AHP excel template reached nearly 21 thousand downloads.  It clearly shows that the method is not outdated.

As a reply Nolberto wrote:

No, I don´t think that AHP is outdated, but the fact that over than 1000 projects have been developed using AHP does not mean that their results are correct (which is impossible to check), or that the method is sound (which is easily challenged)… 

Here my answer:

yes, I agree, the numbers only show that AHP is not outdated (which was the original question). They don’t show, whether the results are correct or incorrect, but they also do not show whether the users did or did not realise the method’s drawbacks and limitations.

For me, as a practitioner, AHP is one of the supporting tools in decision making. The intention of a tool is what it does. A hammer intends to strike, a lever intends to lift. It is what they are made for.

From my users feedback I sometimes get the impression that some of them expect a decision making support tool to make the decision for them, and this is not what it is made for.

In my practical applications AHP helped me and the teams a lot to gain a better insight into a decision problem, to separate important from less important criteria and to achieve a group consensus and agreement how to tackle a problem or proceed with a project. Probably, this could be achieved with other tools too, but as you say, AHP is simple, understandable and easy.

For sure, real world problems are complex. Therefore they have to be broken down and simplified, to be handled with the method, and I agree, over-simplification can be dangerous. On the other hand, what other approach than the break down of complex problems into digestable pieces is possible?

Finally, it’s not the tool producing the decision, but the humans behind it. They will be accountable for the decision, and it’s their responsibility to find the appropriate model of a decision problem and the right balance between  rational and non-rational arguments and potential consequences of their decision.

Let me know your opinion!

 

Welcome to BPMSG – Feb 2017

Concepts, Methods and Tools to manage Business Performance

Dear friends, dear visitors,

Using Google search for my own website, I could see a message like Your website is not mobile friendy. It was really time to update my website theme in order to make it better readable for visitors using their smart phone or tablet.

Now you see the new design using the standard wordpress theme from 2015. I simplified the menu structure to the categories:

  • AHP Articles – Material and Information about the Analytic Hierarchy Process
  • Other Articles – Material and Information about Business Performance
  • Tools – Links to my online tools, like the AHP online system and excel templates
  • Other – Posts related to other topics
  • About – Information about the author
  • Feedback – A place where you can leave your feedback as comments
  • Contact – A web form to contact me personally via e-mail

I hope with these changes navigation on the site is much easier, and you can find required information in shorter time.

Again, a big Thank You to all donors! Please note that the website is a non-commercial website for educational purposes. Your donation is used to cover running costs like web hosting, antispam services etc. PLEASE, help to support this website with a small donation. I spend a lot of time, sharing my knowledge for free. Thank you in advance!

For now, please enjoy your visit on the site and feel free to leave a comment – it is always appreciated.

Klaus D. Goepel,

Singapore, Februar 2017

BPMSG stands for Business Performance Management Singapore. As of now, it is a non-commercial website, and information is shared for educational purposes. Please see licensing conditions and terms of use.

Please give credit or a link to my site, if you use parts in your work, or make a small donation to support my effort to maintain this website.

About the author

AHP Frequently Asked Questions

Over the year I receive many questions about AHP, my AHP excel template and my AHP online Software. Here a selection of frequently asked questions:

General Questions

Q: I have 15 criteria and 20 alternatives, can you extend your template/software?
A: The excel template can handle up to 10 criteria, my online software is limited to 12 criteria (in one hierarchy level) and 10 alternatives. In principle it could be extended, but the limitation is inherit to the AHP method. Please read my explanations here.

Q: I have more than 10 alternatives, can I use AHP for priority evaluation of criteria and a different method for the evaluation of alternatives?
A: Yes, you can combine AHP for criteria evaluation with another method for alternative evaluation. Alternative evaluation could be done for example using a simple table with a yes/no or applicable/not applicable scale, or any other scale, e.g. Likert scale, how good the individual alternative matches the specific criterion.

Q: I have 150 participants, can I use your excel template/software?
A: My AHP excel template is limited to 20 inputs, my AHP online software can handle a (practically) unlimited number of participants. Use the AHP online software.

Q: How can I resolve the inconsistency (CR>0.1), when participants are done with their pairwise comparisons.
A: Once the pairwise comparison is done and submitted, data can not be changed and consistency ratio is what it is. Ask your decision makers to adjust their judgments  in direction of the most consistent input during the pair-wise comparisons for the highlighted three most inconsistent comparisons. Please see also my posting here.

Q: Can I use the Likert scale instead of the AHP scale?
A: No, AHP is based on the rational scale 1/9 … 1 … 9. It cannot be replaced by the Likert scale.

Q: Do you support Fuzzy AHP?
A: No, I have made no provisions to support Fuzzy AHP, neither in Excel, nor in my online software.

Q: How is the computation done, where do I find the description and formulas?
A: Please download the manual for the excel template, or the description about the  Software Implementation of AHP-OS.

Q: How can I cite your work, can you give me a reference?
A: Please cite my paper: Implementing the analytic hierarchy process as a standard method for multi-criteria decision making in corporate enterprises–a new AHP excel template with multiple inputs (Excel template) or my paper Software Implementation of AHP-OS.

AHP Excel template

Q: Can I extend the number of participants to more than 20?
A: Though it is possible in principle, the better way is to use my AHP online software with (practically) unlimited number of participants. I will not do a further extension of the template.

Q: Do you have a version of the Excel template w/o multiple inputs?
A: Yes, a simplified version is available on request from the author.

Q: How can I do alternative evaluation using your Excel template.
A: It is not possible. The template can only handle one category of a hierarchy and calculate the priority of one set of criteria.

AHP Online software

Q: If I have a group of decision makers, do they need to register for the online software?
A: No, they don’t need to register. As the owner of a project you get a link for group decision inputs. Simply send them the link, and they can start the pairwise comparisons.

Q: Can I erase/delete inputs from individual participants from the group results?
A: Yes, you can select and delete individual participants from a project .

Q: The alternative evaluation is not working?
A: Criteria evaluation (priorities) and alternative evaluation have to be handled as two different projects. Only when you have a decision hierarchy with completed comparisons and evaluated priorities, you can define the alternatives from the group result page clicking on Use consol. priorities. Define number and name of alternatives from there and save as new project. Hierarchy evaluation and alternative evaluation projects appear as type “H” for the first and type “A” for the latter in your project list.

Q: Can I get the source code of your online software?
A: Sorry, it is not an open source project.

AHP online software – a reminder

If you are a registered user of my AHP online software, please keep in mind and be aware:

After 3 months of inactivity, your user account will be deactivated automatically. Please reactivate, using the link provided in the e-mail, if you want to keep your data, otherwise your account and all your data will be deleted 48 hours after deactivation.

This is done to ensure a slim database and help to keep the software fast and responsive. Please also avoid multiple registrations under different user names and e-mail addresses. You can keep up to 20 projects in your account, and it should be sufficient for the majority of users.

AHP online program limits:

  • Number of hierarchy levels: 6 max.
  • Number of hierarchy nodes: 50 max.
  • Number of criteria/node: 15 max. ( 7 to 9 recommended)
  • Number of hierarchy end nodes: 150 max.
  • Number of Alternatives: 10 max.
  • String length for nodes/leafs: 35 char max.
  • Number of characters for hierarchy definition: 6000

Thank you for your cooperation, and PLEASE – as a registered user – help to support this website with a small donation. I do not have a commercial interest, but I spend a lot of time, sharing my knowledge for free, and I have running costs to keep the site alive.

Thank you!

Welcome to BPMSG – October 2015

Concepts, Methods and Tools to manage Business Performance

Dear Friends, dear Visitors,

it’s soon coming to five years that my webpage has been online, and things getting slowly a bit messy … There was a need to clean-up the pages, posts and directories, so that the necessary maintainance will take less time, and future updates are possible. As you should know, this project is done in my free time as a hobby, I still have a full-time job for another couple of years.

Unfortunatly, during the whole process, some links were broken and it will take time to repair. Sorry, when you experience missing images or a broken link. Just let me know using my contact page. I am still working on it and plan to simplify the navigation in order  to make it easier for you to find relevant information.

AHP as one category, where you find information about the analytic hierarchy process, will stay in focus. From the start this was the nost frequently visited part of the site, and my AHP excel template slowly reaches 15 thousand (!) downloads. Under  the category Articles you find posts about other topics, mainly the concept of diversity, as I was using it for  different applications. All more personal related  topics under the category Other will move to my new personal blog – Klaus & Lita – running on my own server with topics like multicopter, programming and – maybe – cooking in future.

For now, please enjoy your visit on the site and feel free to leave a comment – it is always appreciated.

Klaus D. Goepel,

Singapore, October 2015

BPMSG stands for Business Performance Management Singapore. As of now, it is a non-commercial website, and information is shared for educational purposes. Please see licensing conditions and terms of use.

Please give credit or a link to my site, if you use parts in your work, or make a small donation to support my effort to maintain this website.

About the author

Welcome to BPMSG – May 2014

Concepts, Methods and Tools to manage Business Performance

Dear Friends, dear Visitors,

The latest beta version of my AHP online software (AHP-OS) has now additional features to manage complete AHP projects. AHP stands for Analytic Hierarchy Process, and is a decision support tool.  To use the full functionality, please register and log in; it’s all free.

You can store complete decision hierarchies, use them to estimate the weights of criteria and sub-criteria and evaluate up to seven decision alternatives.

AHP is also helpful to support group decision making; participants can input their individual judgments and a consolidated group result is calculated. I have prepared a practical example, where you can participate, input your judgments and view the overall group results and consensus. Just click on the link and try it out.

The development is still continuing. I am further optimizing the handling and plan to implement additional analysis, especially for group decision making. Bookmark the page and revisit from time to time to get the latest updates.

Now please enjoy your visit on the site and feel free to give me feedback – it is always appreciated.

Klaus D. Goepel,

Singapore, May 2014

BPMSG stands for Business Performance Management Singapore. As of now, it is a non-commercial website, and information is shared for educational purposes. Please see licensing conditions and terms of use. Please give credit or a link to my site, if you use parts in your website or blog.

About the author

Welcome to BPMSG – Feb 2014

Concepts, Methods and Tools to manage Business Performance

Dear Friends, dear Visitors,

the development of my AHP online software is still continuing. Most of the recent changes were structural, and not so obvious to users, as I use the software on two different platforms and in two different designs. On the entry page you will now find a short introduction to the analytic hierarchy process, and links to further examples and documentation. From there you can go to the online priority calculator, or the AHP online solution to handle complete projects.

Overall the functionality is complete and the program is stable. Except for group inputs, the priority calculator includes all functions of my AHP excel template. With the AHP online system you can even define complete AHP hierarchies and evaluate alternatives. For both programs the results can now be exported as csv files for further processing in spreadsheet programs in two versions: using either dot or comma as decimal separator.

The next big step would be the implementation of group decision making. My idea is to implement web sessions for different users  on different computers, and an online consolidation of all judgments, to get the consolidated group result. This could be very useful when you are in a meeting and have group discussions, then all participant could do their judgment online, seeing the consolidated group result in real time.

It will still take some more time, so bookmark the page and revisit  from time to time to get the latest updates.

Now please enjoy your visit on the site and feel free to give me feedback – it is always appreciated.

Klaus D. Goepel,

Singapore, Feb 2014

BPMSG stands for Business Performance Management Singapore. As of now, it is a non-commercial website, and information is shared for educational purposes. Please see licensing conditions and terms of use. Please give credit or a link to my site, if you use parts in your website or blog.

About the author

AHP Online System

As I was asked by many visitors, how to evaluate priorities and alternatives for a whole project in AHP, I have realized an online solution, where you can define a hierarchy, get the priorities for all categories and evaluate alternatives. The project is realized in PHP.

AHP OS Example

Links

AHP Online System – BPMSG
AHP-OS software Implementation (paper 2018)
Short description (pdf) for download.

Please rate the software at the end of this post!

Continue reading AHP Online System

AHP Online Calculator

The AHP online calculator is part of BPMSG’s free web-based AHP online system AHP-OS. If you need to handle a complete decision hierarchy, group inputs and alternative evaluation, use AHP-OS.

Calculate priorities from pairwise comparisons using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) with eigen vector method. Input the number of criteria  between 2 and 20 1) and a name for each criterion. Next, do a pairwise comparison: Which of the criterion in each pair is more important, and how many times more, on a one to nine scale. With Check consistency you will then get the resulting priorities, their ranking, and a consistency ratio CR2) (ideally < 10%). Calculation is done using the fundamental 1 to 9 AHP ratio scale.

The three judgments with highest inconsistency will be highlighted, with the last column showing the recommended judgment for lowest consistency ratio. Slightly modify your comparisons, if you want to improve consistency, and recalculate the result, or download the result as a csv file.

Pairwise-comparison
Example of inconsistent pair-wise comparisons. The most inconsistent judgment no 2 is marked in red (Color or Delivery); the consistent judgment would be 3 (B) and is highlighted in light green. Decision makers can decide to adjust some of their original judgments to improve consistency.

Here the link: AHP priority calculator

Kindly rate the software from 1 star (poor) to 5 stars (excellent) at the bottom of this post.

Please make reference to the author and website, when you use the online calculator for your work. For terms of use please see our user agreement and privacy policy.

Format of the csv file

Fields are separated by tabs:

  • Line 1: Date (yyyy-mm-dd)  Time (hh:mm:ss) Title (text)
  • Line 2: Number of criteria n
  • Line 3: Criteria
  • Line 4 to 4+n: Decison matrix
  • Second last line:  Priority vector
  • Last line: eigenvalue and consistency ratio CR

References

1) Though the maximum number of criteria is 15, you should always try to structure your decision problem in a way that the number of criteria is in the range 5 to 9.

2) Alonso, Lamata, (2006). Consistency in the analytic hierarchy process: a new approach. International Journal of Uncertainty, Fuzziness and Knowledge based systems, Vol 14, No 4, 445-459.

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