What Is a 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 amounts of data, and compile information that can be used to solve problems and make better decisions.

Decision support systems allow for more informed decision-making, timely problem-solving, and improved efficiency for dealing with problems with rapidly changing variables.

Understanding Decision Support Systems (DSSs)

A decision support system is an information system that gathers and analyzes data and other information so companies can make important decisions about operations, planning, and even management.

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

The DSS can either be completely computerized or powered by humans. In some cases, they may combine both. The ideal systems use and analyze information to make decisions for the user. Typical information used by a DSS includes target or projected revenue and sales figures, sales figures from different time periods, and other inventory.

A DSS can be tailored to be used in any industry or domain including the medical field, governments, the corporate world, and agriculture.

What Can a DSS Analyze?

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

For example, a DSS may be used to project a company's revenue over the upcoming six months based on new assumptions about product sales. Due to a large number of variables that surround projected revenue figures, this is not a straightforward calculation that can be done manually. 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.

Presenting Information with a DSS

The primary purpose of using a DSS is to present information to the customer in an easy-to-understand way. A DSS system is beneficial because 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 to Use a DSS

As technology continues to advance, data analysis is no longer limited to large, bulky mainframe computers. 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 users who travel frequently. This gives them the opportunity to be well-informed at all times, which provides them with the ability to make the best decisions for their company and customers at any time.