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3 DSS Myths Exploded

Written By: Jorge Garcia
Published On: December 2 2009

Making a decision related to your own business or the company you work for is not simple: modern business models have too much information to be analyzed by one person without the right tools. Examples of frequent but complex decisions include developing new business models, broadening investments on technology, expanding the number of stores, or even deciding whether it’s the right time to downsize the company.

To make an informed decision, it’s necessary to collect the right data, manage it properly, and present it to the right person in a clear fashion.

Some organizations still make decisions based on experience, intuition, or information gathered using tools that were originally not intended to be used for supporting decision making. They will make investment decisions using data stored in dispersed spreadsheets documents, or select enterprise software by considering only the vendor product demos.

This is dangerous, and the consequences—particularly for enterprise software selection—can range from inconvenience to disaster.

What Is a DSS?

A decision support system (DSS) is software created to help you make the best possible decision given complex constraints and alternatives.

A robust DSS should be composed of the following elements:

1. An information repository (knowledge base) where source data is stored. For example, TEC’s software selection DSS contains knowledge bases of all the major software types, including ERP, BI/BPM, CRM, PLM, POS, etc.

2. A model or methodology that describes the criteria and paths to consider when carrying out an evaluation. TEC’s best-practice selection methodology, for instance, was developed specifically for complex software selection projects.

3. A tool or communication medium between the system and the end user (the interface) that performs the calculations related to a decision problem. For instance, TEC’s ebestmatch-powered interface.

4. Information workers who have the business knowledge and experience to carry out a software evaluation and selection project.

Top 3 DSS Myths
Here are 3 misconceptions related to DSS use, along with 3 corresponding truths:

Myth #1: I will lose control of the decision-making process if I use a DSS.
Truth: The important thing to remember is that a DSS will not make a decision “for you.” It will simply provide you with the information and structure required for you to make a decision.

Myth #2: A DSS might be able to help make a “logical” decision, but just because a decision is logical  doesn’t mean it’s the right one for us humans!
Truth: People sometimes have a hard time accepting that a DSS can help when it comes to subjective criteria (such as “ease of use,” for example). However, a robust decision methodology will allow you to measure such criteria in a way that allows you to rank them.

Myth #3. I know exactly which enterprise software package we should purchase. I don’t need a DSS to tell me what I already know.
Truth: Even if you’ve already decided which software application suits your organization’s needs, you still need to negotiate a price with the software vendor. Given the complexities of licensing, installation, support, and so on, you need to be sure that you’re negotiating from a position of strength—and  by strength, I mean knowledge. Only a sophisticated DSS will allow you to compare one ERP system’s 4,000+ features with another’s on an apples-to-apples basis—and determine what constitutes a fair price.

I welcome your thoughts and questions—leave a comment below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
 
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