DEFINITION of 'Decision Support System - DSS'

A decision support system (DSS) is a computerized information system used to support decision-making in an organization or a business. A DSS lets users sift through and analyze massive reams of data and compile information that can be used to solve problems and make better decisions.

The benefits of decision support systems include more informed decision-making, timely problem solving and improved efficiency for dealing with problems with rapidly changing variables.

BREAKING DOWN 'Decision Support System - DSS'

Operations management and planning levels in an organization can use a DSS to compile information and data and synthesize it into actionable intelligence. This allows the end user to make more informed decisions at a quicker pace.

What Can a DSS Analyze?

The DSS is an information application that produces comprehensive information. This is different from an operations application, which would be used to collect the data in the first place. A DSS is primarily used by mid- to upper-level management, and it is key for understanding large amounts of data.

For example, a DSS could be used to project a company's revenue over the upcoming six months based on new assumptions about product sales. Due to the large amount of variables that surround the projected revenue figures, this is not a straightforward calculation that can be done by hand. A DSS can integrate multiple variables and generate an outcome and alternate outcomes, all based on the company's past product sales data and current variables.

How Can a DSS Present the Information?

The primary purpose of using a DSS is to present information to the customer in a way that is easy to understand. The benefit to a DSS system is that it can be programmed to generate many types of reports, all based on user specifications. A DSS can generate information and output it graphically, such as a bar chart that represents projected revenue, or as a written report.

Where Can a DSS Be Used?

As technology continues to advance, data analysis is no longer limited to large bulky mainframes. Since a DSS is essentially an application, it can be loaded on most computer systems, including laptops. Certain DSS applications are also available through mobile devices. The flexibility of the DSS is extremely beneficial for customers who travel frequently. This gives them the opportunity to be well-informed at all times, which in turn provides them with the ability to make the best decisions for their company and customers at any time.

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