Decision Support Systems


Decision support systems constitute a class of computer-based information systems including knowledge-based systems that support decision-making activities.

Because there are many approaches to decision-making and because of the wide range of domains in which decisions are made, the concept of decision support system (DSS) is very broad. A DSS can take many different forms. In general, we can say that a DSS is a computerized system used for supporting, rather than automating, decisions. A decision is a choice between alternatives based on estimates of the values of those alternatives. Supporting a decision means helping people working alone or in a group gathers intelligence, generate alternatives and make choices. Supporting the choice-making process involves supporting the estimation, the evaluation and/or the comparison of alternatives. In practice, references to DSS are usually references to computer applications that perform such a supporting role.

The term decision support system has been used in many different ways and has been defined in various ways.

DSS is a “model-based set of procedures for processing data and judgments to assist a manager in his decision-making.” DSS couples the intellectual resources of individuals with the capabilities of the computer to improve the quality of decisions (“DSS are computer-based support for management decision makers who are dealing with semi-structured problems.”)

Characteristics and Capabilities of DSS

The key DSS characteristics and capabilities are as follows:

  1. Support for decision makers in semi structured and unstructured problems.
  2. Support managers at all levels.
  3. Support individuals and groups.
  4. Support for interdependent or sequential decisions.
  5. Support intelligence, design, choice, and implementation.
  6. Support variety of decision processes and styles.
  7. DSS should be adaptable and flexible.
  8. DSS should be interactive and provide ease of use.
  9. Effectiveness balanced with efficiency (benefit must exceed cost).
  10. Complete control by decision-makers.
  11. Ease of development by (modification to suit needs and changing environment) end users.
  12. Support modeling and analysis.
  13. Data access.
  14. Standalone, integration and Web-based.

Advantages of DSS

  1. Improving Personal Efficiency
  2. Expediting Problem Solving
  3. Facilitating Interpersonal Communication
  4. Promoting Learning or Training
  5. Increasing Organizational Control

The right decision in business is usually based on the quality of your data and your ability to shift through and analyze the data to find trends in which you can create solutions and strategies for. DSS or decision support systems are usually computer applications along with a human component that can sift through large amounts of data and pick between the many choices.

The key to decision support systems is to collect data, analyze and shape the data that is collected and then try to make sound decisions or construct strategies from analysis. Whether computers, databases or people are involved usually doesn’t matter, however it is this process of taking raw or unstructured data, containing and collecting it and then using it to help aid decision making.

It is important to note that the field of DSS does not have a universally accepted model, meaning that there are many theories vying for supremacy in this broad field. Because of there are many working theories in the topic of DSS, there are many ways to classify DSS.

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