Decision Support Systems

Decision support systems in business

in business!

Assisting hard choices!

Decision Support Systems Definition
Decision Support Systems (DSS) are a specific class of computerized information system that supports business and organizational decision-making activities.

A properly designed DSS is an interactive software-based system intended to help decision makers compile useful information from raw data, documents, personal knowledge, and/or business models to identify and solve problems and make decisions.

Typical information that a decision support application might gather and present would be:

  • Accessing and cross referencing all of your current information assets and relational data sources.

  • Objective comparison of sales figures from one week and the next, with ongoing assessment.

  • Projected revenue figures based on new product sales assumptions derived from historic results.

  • Ability to view the consequences of different decision alternatives, given past experience in a contextual time frame.

Defining a (DSS) is quite a tall order, mainly because there are many different approaches to decision making. Also because of the huge range of areas which decision making processes are used, the actual concept of a DSS is very wide indeed.

A DSS can take many different forms. In general, we can say at the very basic end, that a DSS is a computerized system for helping make decisions. A decision is an informed choice between two or more alternatives based on calculations of the values of those alternatives generated.

Supporting a decision means helping people working alone or in a group gather supporting data, work out alternatives and make informed choices.

Supporting a DSS choice defining process relates to supporting the estimate, evaluation and the comparison of developed alternatives.

You will find most references to DSS tend to be references to the computer applications that carry out such DSS functions as a supporting role.

The term decision support system has been used in many different ways and has been defined in various ways depending upon an individuals viewpoint.

In the most broad and basic terms, defines a DSS as "a computer based system that helps the process of decision making.

Some individuals define them more specifically as "interactive and adaptable" computer based information systems.

Further more, especially developed for supporting the solutions of non-structured management problems for improved and informed decision making. It uses data gathered, delivers an easy-to-use person interface and allows for the decision maker's own insights through interaction.

All other definitions generally fall somewhere between these two extremes. Following are some example definitions of DSS systems and their respected authors.

  • DSS are interactive computer-based systems that help decision makers utilize data and models to solve unstructured problems;
    Sprague and Carlson.

  • A 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");
    Keen and Scott Morton.

  • A DSS is an extendible system capable of supporting ad hoc data analysis and decision modeling, oriented toward future planning, and used at irregular, unplanned intervals;
    Moore and Chang.

  • A DSS is a model-based set of procedures for processing data and judgments to assist a manager in his decision-making;

Some authors of DSS methodology claim that it is impossible to give a precise definition of DSS ("there can be no definition of DSS, only of decision support").

Even so Decision Support Systems remains a descriptive, useful and inclusive term for many types of data gathering information systems that support decision making.

Even though, as you can see, there is no standard or universally accepted definition of
Decision Support Systems.... Yet!

The definition of management information system on this website should also be of interest and included with these descriptions.

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