The Beginner's Guide To A Decision Support System

How This Can Help Survive and Thrive In Any Crisis, Including A Pandemic Jenny Mae Talaver Posted on August 19, 2021

For any business, every action should be decisive and precise. It can be a daunting task, with all the different challenges every day. But you should adapt your decisions to the real-time data from your business and environment.

Yes, it can be overwhelming to make business decisions. Fortunately, there is a tool that business executives can use to hone their decision-making skills. Such a tool is a decision support system or DSS.

Today, I’m going to show you how to use a decision support system to thrive amidst all challenges, including a pandemic.

And in this no-nonsense guide, I’ll show exactly how having a DSS takes your business to its fullest potential.

Decision-making struggles during the pandemic

During the pandemic, what struggles do businesses face exactly?

The Coronavirus forced the whole world to change. It pushed governments to lock down and close off borders. They imposed long curfews. And limited the number of people who can go out of their homes.

In the process, businesses had to adjust the way they work. The needs of their workforce, customers, and suppliers changed wildly. These changes led to financial and managerial challenges. Government restrictions on freedom of movement and social gatherings gave rise to new ways of doing business. Amidst all these changes, business executives might wonder about a tool that provides insights on better decision-making.

COVID impacted all industries. Some like the healthcare manufacturing industry have fared well. Whereas other industries such as the restaurant industry struggle with the constantly shifting norms of the areas where they do business.

Among the different struggles of businesses within this pandemic are shifting consumer demands, overpressured global supply chains, and uncoordinated market and government responses to the crisis. All companies need to adapt to the uncertainty of the world markets.

Despite fighting this pandemic for more than a year, nobody can predict how this will all end. You might find some normality within a few weeks. Or the situation will spiral out of control within days. The only certainty right now is the economic fallout of the pandemic. Businesses have closed, most permanently. Even those who have reopened struggle to survive. Millions lost their jobs. Overall, this pandemic will leave a resounding negative legacy on the world economy.

COVID-19 Impact on Businesses

The Coronavirus impact on business is tremendous and complex. McKinsey estimates the overall loss from this pandemic to be between $16 trillion and $35 trillion by 2025. Industries broke down from the whiplash of new norms.

The wild changes in societal and market conditions produced new financial and operational risks. These include high inflation, supply chain disruptions, and capacity constraints. Prices for commodities such as steel and lumber fluctuated. So companies had to plan and operate their business with data-driven supply chain finance and engineering.

To name a few, COVID destroyed the travel, hospitality, and restaurant industries. Airlines, in particular, lost half a million trillion dollars of revenue in 2020. Short-term rentals suffered along with the hotels. Most hotels, to survive, result in accepting business from quarantined individuals or groups, It’s very difficult to navigate these days, especially on ever-changing quarantine status.

Business suffers mainly from changing government regulations. Governments had to solve countless, competing priorities. The toughest of these needs is keeping the economy going while protecting citizens from outbreaks. Hence, you get quarantines and lockdowns of varying severities. In the process of trying to slow the spread of the virus, governments forced businesses to limit operations or close everything down.

Governments categorized businesses into two classifications: essential or non-essential. Businesses essential to fulfill the human basic needs include the medical care sector, food manufacturing and retailing remained open. But they suffered from the pressure of consumer demand. Other sectors, including recreational businesses, became non-essential. They had to close temporarily or operate remotely.

With more people staying at home, innovative technology enables businesses to succeed. They can run with most, if not all, employees working at home. And brick and mortar stores shifted to e-commerce to follow customers. Digitizing your business has proven to be a fine edge that helped many stay afloat amidst fluctuating quarantine protocols.

Go digital for decision making

The whole world was unprepared to handle the massive disruption of this pandemic. Business decisions caused more stress for all stakeholders. Executives and management juggle between pursuing business commitments or freezing everything.

The best thing for business executives to do is to keep calm. Assess which things you cannot change (i.e quarantine protocols). Accept them and move on. Focus on the things you can control to ensure long-term success. Take advantage of the freedom to choose how to react to the crisis.

Your business’ survival depends on how fast you can respond to the changes. The best advantage to responding to any market changes is your business data. You must have the right information at the right time. And you must harness your data to get to the right business decisions.

Digital transformation is more important for business in the era of the pandemic more than ever. Business leaders who leveraged their business data in digital systems find themselves in better positions, compared to their contemporaries who stuck to their ways. Digital systems provide smart, accurate insights based on changing data within and beyond the business.

It can be tempting to hold back on digital transformation in your business continuity plans. While it will preserve cash flow for the short-term, it is not beneficial in the long run. Lack of digital presence and poor data analysis will fail your business. Accelerate business transformation efforts now to put yourself in a better position after the pandemic dissipates.

Are you a business leader who’s making decisions every day based on changing data and several uncontrollable factors? Then you need a decision support system. This will help you make making decisions based on facts and react to future changes faster. The changing socio-economic landscape requires dynamic flexibility for businesses to survive.

Having a decision support system is like having a trusted adviser who gives you the exact advice you need to make the best business decisions. If you don’t have this yet, there's no better time to start than now.

What is a decision support system?

Your business data is one of the best assets in your business. To analyze and synthesize it in its entirety, you need a decision support system (DSS). It creates reports on revenue, sales, operations, and inventory management. Having the DSS can help you choose between many different outcomes based on your business data and external considerations.

A decision support system (DSS) is a computerized program that gathers and synthesizes your business data. They help make more informed decisions faster And your business will improve efficiency in dealing with issues through timely problem-solving.

Components of a Decision Support System

A decision support system consists of four components:

Input: You can input rules, problems, texts, or databases into the DSS so it can analyze the data.

Expertise: Some DSS require manual analysis, others don’t.

Output: DSS outcomes can be comparative or generic.

Decisions: DSS can offer suggestions or informational reports on data and solutions.

Why don't most businesses use DSS?

Given the stress of decision-making, businesses should use DSS. But most do not because they fear the technology or lack the expertise.

Many fear learning because it is admitting our lack thereof. There is also the fear of getting out of one’s comfort zone. It’s the hesitance of trying something new with extra effort. Most company leaders also hesitate in discarding traditional practices for innovative technology.

Implementing new technology can also be scary. It would require more training in upskilling. It could also lead to chaos that disrupts the whole workflow.

Types of Decision Support Systems

DSSs are categorized into five types:

Communication-driven DSS:  These DSSs focus on internal teams. They help set collaborative meetings. Such DSSs include instant messaging software, collaboration apps, and virtual meeting platforms.

Data-driven DSS:  This uses a data warehouse to analyze data for specific queries. Managers, staff, and suppliers use this to check business performance.

Document-driven DSS This looks up web content through keywords and terms.

Knowledge-driven DSS: Also known as knowledgebase, this DSS is the helpdesk of the business. It offers advice and guidance on the products and services of the company.

Model-driven DSS:  This is a complex system of analyzing decisions on business models.

Advantages of Decision Support Systems

Using a decision support system helps you more informed decisions based on actionable data insights. Here are many advantaging a DSS can provide for your business:

More Accurate Data: With a DSS, you waste less time on consolidating and data analysis. You eliminate human bias that can distort business decisions.

Shorter Decision Making Cycle: Time is crucial in any business process. The faster you respond to a crisis, the better your business’ position will be. A DSS can help you save time in solving issues by analyzing data and possible outcomes by itself. All you need to do is to choose and implement the solution that fits your situation.

Less Cost: You will no longer need to gather, sort, process and analyze data if you have a DSS. This frees up capital and the labor force to work on other things. Having a DSS will also cost less than employing technical personnel to do the data analysis and cleansing.

Makes you More Competitive: With a DSS, you can use your data to inject more efficiency into your business operations. Listen and analyze the behavior of your customers and the market. A decision support system will show you the best business actions that produce the highest value at the lowest possible cost. It helps your business become more successful than your competition when your value surpasses the cost it takes to do business.

All in all, a DSS can help your business be more responsive, agile, and proactive. You can set prices for your products and services with maximum profits and sales consistency. Use a DSS to guide your business to the right path.

Disadvantages of Decision Support Systems

A DSS is a tool in decision-making that offers actionable insights into data visualization. It’s meant to be easily consumable for business executives.

Amidst all advantages you get from having a DSS, there are also some things to beware of.

It doesn’t make decisions: A DSS relies on quantifiable data. So if you have intangible values, it’s still the call of the business leaders to make the final decision. Decision-makers still need to use subjectivity to assess the situation in the bigger picture.

System Design Failure: If you don’t consult with your stakeholders and partners, you might use a vague DSS. You risk getting incorrect results. What you need is a system designed for your business needs.

Information Overload: If not employed well, a DSS can lead to information overload. With so much data it analyzes, the decision-maker can be confused about which to consider and to discard.

Cost of Development: It is a high upfront investment to have a custom-made DSS installed for your business. But it will pay for itself in the long run.

Using DSS in business

A decision support system packs a lot of functionality for any business. Aside from compiling business data and synthesizing them into actionable insights, it can:

Project revenue: It integrates all variables and generates multiple outcomes based on historical sales data and current data.

Optimize product to market lead times: A DSS can help utilize all resources to design, manufacture, and launch products based on consumer demands. It helps you make timely decisions to find the most profits and competitive advantages.

Improve business impact analysis: This will help you identify the impacts of every business action, investigate past actions and analyze past and present trends for forecasting. A DSS will also show how you the best strategies to stay ahead of your competition. This will guide you to move towards your company vision and goals more efficiently. Plus, it also shows you possible stagnating parts of the business to fix before it’s too late.


To survive any challenges in business, you need a good decision-making partner. Such a partner is a decision support system. You can use digital transformative systems with human analysis to hone in the best courses of action.

With a DSS, you can create any business decision in a structured manner through actionable insights. Harness the power of your business data. Say goodbye to tedious, grueling, data cleansing work. Make a holistic solution for each crisis - from different perspectives of your business.

Move towards demand-driven operations to respond to rapidly changing consumer habits. Check out our data warehousing and analytics solutions for every industry.




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