Decision Support System

Posted on May 15 2009

A Decision Support System is a Multi-Objective Planning Tool that helps with the age-old problem of how to choose between alternatives when there are trade-offs between time, money, direct & indirect consequences.

Decision Support is a method that helps user make decisions. It supports multiple objectives when there are many and conflicting objectives. A decision support system contains databases, GIS, simulation models, economic analyses, decision models and GUI. It can also be referred to as LP , decision theory, expert systems, discussion groups.

DSS is different things to different people, so beware of imitations

Decision Support Systems Organization

Why would one need a Decision Support System (DSS)? It is required when a structured approach to problem solving is needed. It helps to summarize information, integrate many information sources and deal with trade-offs: social, economic, biophysical, and legislation. Finally, it helps to identify preferred options for further discussion.

For example, let’s say you are in a dilemma. You want a new car. How much will it cost? Can it tow your boat? Carry your camping gear? Will the family be happy with your selection? What should I buy so that I can use it to enjoy the outdoors? What size should I get? Rent or lease?

The first step is to resolve what you really want. Write it in form of a goal statement: To have a vehicle that the whole family will like and is big enough to carry camping gear and boat for a weekend trip.

The next step is to identify options and criteria. List options and criteria. Criteria are such items as cost, capacity, safety, family-friendly, ownership. Options are buy new, lease, buy second hand, do nothing.

This was an example of a fairly everyday generic decision. Our DECIDE GUIDES include many more detailed questions and tools that can be used to determine the best outcomes.

Often, DSS is required by business for much more complex decisions. In these cases, items such a statement of issue, identification of stakeholders, resource use options, criteria identification, issue matrix, ranking criteria, and analysis are some of the steps that would be included in the process.

See our Decision Making Tools to see information on other tools available to use in making decisions.

For specific step-by-step guides in your decision making issues, see our DECIDE GUIDES section and choose something to make your decision painless and time-saving.

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