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A decision support system is an internal business element that provides owners, executives, and other employees with information for making informed decisions. Common characteristics of decision support systems include facilitation, interaction, and task-oriented activities within the system. Other characteristics may also exist, such as ancillary options or measures of decision impact. Most effective decision support systems will have these features readily available. Those who create and implement the system are often responsible for measuring its effectiveness and proper application.
Facilitation helps ensure the system provides the correct data and information for upcoming decisions. The decision-making activities and processes must coincide when using a support system. A decision process typically defines the individual activities one must use when making decisions. The support system facilitates information through each individual activity so that the decision maker does not spend too much time gathering data. Multiple individuals can also use the support system to pass information through the pipeline in order to shorten the lead time spent on making decisions.
Interaction also represents important characteristics of decision support systems. Many of these systems in current businesses make extensive use of technology, primarily personal computers and decision-making software. When multiple individuals are able to access the software and input information for the decision-making process, interaction occurs. In some cases, decision makers may have regional restrictions that do not allow visits to all of a company’s locations. Therefore, the only interaction during the process is the decision support system and the data contained therein.
Task-oriented activities are also common elements of decision support systems. This element means that the support system can handle more than one activity at a time, which is essential. Many companies provide inputs for multiple outcomes related to one or a few different decisions. Therefore, the multiple tasks in the system must be able to handle all this information. The choice among the various alternatives here can represent the decision one must make for a company.
Companies can define their own characteristics of decision support systems. While some companies may design their own mix of computerized and manual systems, others may use a third-party package. A third-party package often has customizable aspects that allow a company to change various aspects in the system. In short, the characteristics can match the needs and wants of a company.
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