This paper is Part 1 of a five-part series covering practical issues in the performance of decision analysis. The intended audience is individuals who are learning how to perform decision analyses, not just read them. The series assumes familiarity with the basic concepts of decision analysis. It imparts many of the recommendations the authors have learned in teaching a one-semester course in decision analysis to graduate students. Part 1 introduces the topic and covers questions such as choosing an appropriate question, determining the tradeoff between accuracy and simplicity, and deciding on a time frame.