What are Decision Support Systems?

Malcolm Tatum

Decision support systems are software tools that are developed for the specific purpose of assimilating pertinent data and generating a detail analysis of a given situation. The results of the decision support system, or DSS, can then be utilized in making an informed decision regarding just about any action or set of circumstances.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Typical decision support systems are designed for easy use by end users who may or may not be comfortable with using computer technology as part of the decision making process. Often, the software will be make use of formats such as spreadsheets or databases that work with the use of fields to enter data. The process of entering data into the program is usually very straightforward, and often includes tips and other forms of assistance as the data is entered into the fields. Once the information is entered, it is possible to query the system with a series of questions that can allow the user to project not only a range of possible courses of action, but also get some idea on the possible outcomes associated with each option.

In terms of dealing with many managerial and executive decisions that are made daily in the workplace, decision support systems can be a great tool for supervisors, department heads, and site managers. The system can be configured to work within just about any area that involves dealing with labor issues. Human resource personnel can make use of decision support systems that include data about all applicable local and federal laws governing the rights and protections relevant to employees, making the process of administering promotions, dealing with a leave of absence, or developing an equitable approach to disciplinary action much easier. Supervisors can also use decision support systems as part of the identifying strengths and weaknesses among employees in their charge, which can take a lot of the guesswork out of performing period employee evaluations.

Over the last few years, decision support systems have become better known as Business Intelligence systems. However, many persons who have made use of the software for a number of years still tend to make use of the identification of decision support software, which has led many producers of the software to continue use of the DSS identification.

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