Decision support systems (DSS) deal with semi-structured problems. Such problems arise when managers in organisations are faced with decisions where some but not all aspects of a task or procedure are known. To solve these problems and use the results for decision-making requires judgement of the manager using the system. Typically such systems include models, data manipulation tools, and the ability to handle uncertainty and risk. These systems involve information and decision technology (Forgionne, 2003). Many organisations are turning to DSS to improve decision-making (Turban, McLean, & Wetherbe, 2004). This is a result of the conventional information systems (IS) not being sufficient to support an organisation’s critical response activities—especially those requiring fast and/or complex decision-making. In general, DSS are a broad category of IS (Power, 2003). A DSS is defined as “an interactive, flexible, and adaptable computer-based information system, specially developed for supporting the solution of a non-structured management problem for improved decision-making. It utilises data, it provides easy user interface, and it allows for the decision maker’s own insights” (Turban, 1995). There is a growing trend to provide managers with IS that can assist them in their most important task—making decisions. All levels of management can benefit from the use of DSS capabilities. The highest level of support is usually for middle and upper management (Sprague & Watson, 1996). The question of how a DSS supports decision-making processes will be described in this article. This article is organised as follows: The background to decisionmaking is introduced. The main focus (of this article) describes the development of the DSS field. Some future trends for the DSS field are then suggested. Thereafter a conclusion is given.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Structured Problem: The intelligence, design, and choice phases are all structured and the procedures for obtaining the best solution are known.
Semi-Structured Problem: Only some of the intelligence, design, and choice phases are structured and requiring a combination of standard solution procedures and individual judgement.
Unstructured Problem: None of the intelligence, design, and choice phases is structured and human intuition is frequently the basis for decision-making.
Expert System: An IS which provides the stored knowledge of experts to non experts.
Pooled Interdependent Decision-Making: A joint, collaborative decision-making process whereby all managers work together on a task.
Decision-Making: A three-stage process involving intelligence, design, and choice.
Management Science: An approach that takes the view the managers can follow a fairly systematic process for solving problems.
Decision Support System: An interactive, flexible, and adaptable computer-based information system, specially developed for supporting the solution of a non-structured management problem for improved decision-making.