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The difference between decision support systems and services

The difference between decision support systems and services

Decision support services are  different from decision support systems. Effective decision support requires both and if you have one but not the other, you have neither.

The idea of decision support is a simple one. All decisions are made upon information that we believe is relevant and important. We gather our information in many ways including our parents, community, science, expert advice, the internet, friends and family. Therefore, in a world of information overload, the information we use when making big choices is very important. The choices of business are important because of the impact they have on other people. Those who are responsible for such choices, should do so with the best available information.

The role of decision support

Decision support plays a critical role in business because it enables people to consider knowledge, comparisons and trends, that may not otherwise be obvious. For example, if you’re trying to decide which is your best performing product, a useful DSS will inform you of units sold, total volume and gross profit margin in the past quarter.

Decision support systems

A decision support system is a computer-based system for collecting, analyzing and presenting information. It informs a person about the circumstances in which they’re operating. It is the machine that data into decisions. The most useful systems provide information that:

  1. could not be otherwise created.
  2. represents some real world situation.

Decision support services

A decision support service is the ‘wrapping’ that enables the system to have real-life impact. The service ensures the continual improvement, upgrades and upkeep. It creates the necessary alignment between organisational structures and the decision making culture in which the decision maker works. Services help people to move through the inevitable learning curve that is necessary to get the best out of the data.

A key fact about decisions, particularly in organisations today, is that context is always changing. There’s a constant feedback between the decisions we make and what it at stake. When somebody makes a decision, that changes the current situation.  The current state of our world becomes the future state, when we make decisions. Choice changes everything!

Systems are not capable of changing on their own. Without a service to maintain it, even the most advanced and powerful system will go out of date. Sooner rather later, the data needs to be amended or the operating system has been upgraded. Mobile devices and the computer technology that they operate with are constantly improved over time. Accordingly, the upgrade and improvement of the system is a key task for every decision support service.

Services and systems together!

Decision support services and systems are two very distinct and different things.

When creating a system, the focus is on technology. Software development methods and capabilities are key determinants for a first-class outcome. But when creating a service, the focus must be on people. It must consider how decision makers interact with the system, be customer focused and enabled with appropriate change management.

So while they are different, one without the other is a wasted investment. You need both. The system to present useful and timely information. The service that ensures the system is always working and relevant to the users needs. Consequently with both, you can unlock one of the best source of information for making big decisions in business.

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Carl Sudholz is the founder at AGContext and specialist in the integration of information technology within organisations. He holds two degrees, is a certified Business Analyst and a Director of the Australia Chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis. Carl’s expertise and experience spans 15 years serving public, private and non-for-profit organisations to take control over technology.