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A Decision Support System (DSS) is an interactive computer-based system or subsystem intended to help decision makers use communications technologies, data, documents, knowledge and/or models to identify and solve problems, complete decision process tasks, and make decisions.

Decision Support System is a general term for any computer application that enhances a person or groups ability to make decisions. Also, Decision Support Systems refers to an academic field of research that involves designing and studying Decision Support Systems in their context of use.

DSS assists managers in their decision making specifically in semi-structured and unstructured fields. DSS supports and enhances, rather than replaces, managerial decisions. DSS improves the effectiveness of the decision rather than its efficiency. DSS combines the use of models and analytical techniques with conventional data access and retrieval functions.

DSS ahs enough flexibility to accommodate changes in the environment, the approach and the needs of the users. DSS supports managers at all levels that take decisions. DSS is user initiated and user controlled. DSS supports the personal decision making styles of individual managers.

A DSS consists of essentially three components or modules. They are: 1. Database Management Module 2. Knowledge or model management Module 3. Dialog or User Interface Module

The typical advantages of the database approach and the powerful functions of the DBMS are important to the development and use of a DSS. A partial set of capabilities required in the database area is: the ability to combine a variety of data sources through a data capture and extraction process; the ability to add and delete data sources quickly and easily;

the ability to portray logical data structures in user terms so the user understands what is available and can specify needed additions and deletions; the ability to handle personal and unofficial data so the user can experiment with alternatives based on personal judgment; and the ability to manage this wide variety of data with a full range of data management functions

A very promising aspect of a DSS is its ability to integrate data access and decision models. It does so by imbedding the decision models in an information system, which uses the database as the integration and communication mechanism between models.

The key capabilities for a DSS in the model subsystems include: ability to create new models quickly and easily the ability to catalog and maintain a wide range of models, supporting all levels of management; the ability to inter-relate these models with appropriate linkages through databases; the ability to access and integrate model "building blocks" and the ability to manage the model base with management functions analogous to database management.

Much of the power, flexibility and usability characteristics of a DSS are derived from capabilities in the user system interface. Bennet (1977) identifies the user, terminal and software system as the components of the interface system. He divides the dialogue or interface experience into three parts:



The action language The display or presentation language The knowledge base

The desirable capabilities for a DSS to support the user system interface includes:

ability to handle a variety of dialogue styles; the ability to accommodate user actions in a variety of media; the ability to present data in a variety of formats and media the ability to provide flexible support for the users knowledge base.

Improves personal efficiency Speed up the process of decision making Increases organizational control Encourages exploration and discovery on the part of the decision maker Speeds up problem solving in an organization

Facilitates interpersonal communication Promotes learning or training Generates new evidence in support of a decision Creates a competitive advantage over competition Reveals new approaches to thinking about the problem space Helps automate managerial processes