Every Decision Support System (DSS) consists of at least data management, model management components, user interface and end users. A few advanced DSSs also contain a knowledge management component. What does each component (subsystem) consist of?
Data Management Subsystem.
A DSS data management subsystem is similiar to any other data management system. It contains all the data that flow from several sources and that usually are extracted prior to their entry into a DSS database or a data warehouse. In some DSSs, there is no separate database, and data are entered into the DSS model as needed (i,e., as soon as they are collected by sensors)
Model Management Subsystem
A model management subsystem contains completed models and the building blocks necessary to develop DSS applications. This includes standard software with financial, statistical, management science, or other quantitative models. An example is Excel, with its many mathematical and statistical functions. A model management subsystem also contains all the custom models written for the specific DSS. These models provide the systemâ€™s analytical capabilities. Also included is a model-based management system (MBMS) whose role is analogous to that of aDBMS.
The User Interface
The term user interface covers all aspects of the communications between a user and the DSS. Some DSS experts feel that the user interface is the most important DSS component because much of the power, flexibility, and ease of use of the DSS are derived from this component. For example, the ease of use of the interface in the Guinness DSS enables, and encourages, managers and sales people to use the system. Most interfaces today are Web-based and some are supplemented by voice.
The user interface subsystem may be managed by software called user interface management system (UIMS), which is functionally analogous to the DBMS.
The person faced with the problem or decision that the DSS is designed to support is referred to as the user, the manager, or the decision maker.
The user is considered to be a part of the system. Researchers assert that some of the unique contributions of DSSs are derived from the extensive interaction between the computer and the decision maker. A DSS has two broad classes of users: managers, and staff specialists (such as financial analysis, production planners, and market researchers).
When managers utilize a DSS, they may use it via an intermediary person who performs the analysis and reports the results. However, with Web-based systems, the use of DSSs becomes easier. Managers can use the Web-based system by themselves, especially when supported by an intelligent knowledge component.
Many unstructured and semistructured problems are so complex that they require expertise for their solutions. Such expertise can be provided by a knowledge-based system, such as an expert system. Therefore, the mode advanced DSSs are equipped with a component called a knowledge-based (or an intelligent) subsystem. Such a component can provide the required expertise for solving some aspects of the problem, or provide knowledge that can enhance the operation of the other DSS components.
The knowledge component consists of one or more expert (or other intelligent) systems, or it draws expertise from the organizational knowledge base.
A DSS that includes such a component is referred to as an intelligent DSS, a DSS/ES, or a knowledge-based DSS (KBDSS). An example of a KBDSS is in the area of estimation and pricing in construction. It is a complex process that requires the use of models as well as judgemental factors. The KBDSS includes a knowledge management subsystem with 200 rules incorporated with the computational models.