What is a decision support system?
A decision support system (DSS) is a computer program used to support decisions, judgments and action plans in an organization or business. A DSS sifts through and analyzes huge amounts of data, compiling comprehensive information that can be used to solve problems and make decisions.
Typical information used by a DSS includes target or projected revenue, sales or past figures from different periods, and other data related to inventory or operations.
Understanding a decision support system
A decision support system collects and analyzes data, synthesizing it to produce comprehensive information reports. In this way, as an information application, a DSS differs from an ordinary operations application, the function of which is simply to collect data.
The DSS can be fully computerized or powered by humans. In some cases, it can combine the two. Ideal systems analyze information and actually make decisions for the user. At the very least, they allow human users to make more informed decisions at a faster rate.
Key points to remember
- A decision support system (DSS) is a computerized system that collects and analyzes data, synthesizing it to produce comprehensive information reports.
- A decision support system differs from an ordinary operations application, the function of which is simply to collect data.
- Decision support systems allow for more informed decision making, rapid problem resolution and improved efficiency in problem or operational handling, planning and even management.
Use of a decision support system
DSS can be used by operations management and other planning services in an organization to compile information and data and synthesize it into actionable intelligence. In fact, these systems are mainly used by management from intermediate to higher level.
For example, a DSS can be used to project a company’s revenue over the next six months based on new assumptions about product sales. Due to a large number of factors surrounding the projected revenue figures, it is not a simple calculation that can be done manually. However, a DSS can integrate all of the multiple variables and generate an alternative outcome and results, all based on the company’s past product sales data and current variables.
A DSS can be adapted to any industry, profession or field, including the medical field, government agencies, agricultural businesses and business operations.
Characteristics of a decision support system
The main purpose of using DSS is to present information to the customer in a simple to understand manner. A DSS system is advantageous because it can be programmed to generate many types of reports, all based on user specifications. For example, DSS can generate information and produce its information in graphical form, such as in a bar graph representing projected revenues or in the form of a written report.
As technology advances, data analysis is no longer limited to large, large mainframe computers. Since a DSS is essentially an application, it can be loaded on most computer systems, whether on desktop or laptop computers. Some DSS applications are also available via mobile devices.
The flexibility of DSS is extremely advantageous for users who travel frequently. This gives them the opportunity to be well informed at all times, providing the opportunity to make the best decisions for their business and their customers on the go or even on the spot.