This article will help you to make comparison between Management Information and Decision Support System.
Managers at all levels require information to be provided to them with speed, brevity, precision and economy to enable them to carry out their functions effectively. This need is satisfied by means of a management information system.
A Management Information System (MIS) is a system that gathers comprehensive data, organizes and summarizes it in a form that is of value to functional managers, and provides them with information they need to carry out their work.
MIS is used to transform data into useful information in order to support managerial decision-making with structured decisions or programmed decisions. In simple words, a MIS is a computer-based information system which assists managers in decision-making and control and in planning more effectively.
The typical MIS is made up of four major components – data gathering, data entry, data transformation and information utilization. The modern MIS is based on a centralized database of raw data. Data is stored in the database in such a way that parts of it may be selected, altered, used in calculations, and transformed into useful information that can be used in a wide variety of applications.
MIS offers a wide spectrum of services at all levels and for all functional areas of the organization. It provides the top management with information pertaining to the external environment. To the middle management, it provides information useful for operational plans and to the first-level managers; it provides internal information useful for operations control.
A decision support system (DSS) is an interactive computer system that can be easily accessed and operated by people who are not computer specialists. It helps them to plan and make decisions. In other words, DSS is a computer-based information system that supports the process of managerial decision-making in situations that are not well structured.
Such systems do not actually provide “answers” or point to optimal decisions for managers. Rather, they attempt to improve the decision-making process by providing tools that help managers analyze the situations more clearly.
Thus DSS does not replace managerial decision-making but supports it and makes the process more effective. DSS has become increasingly popular because of advances in computer software and hardware.
A typical DSS consists of the following elements:
i. An MIS that supports several methodologies for accessing and summarizing data
ii. A sophisticated database that allows information to be accessed in various ways
iii. A user-friendly interface that allows the user to use simple commands rather than technical computer terms when communicating with the DSS
iv. A database built from both external and internal sources so that the manager can relate internal events to external forces
v. Rapid response time, which makes DSS an easy and rewarding system to use.
A DSS must provide information to managers whenever it is needed in a form they can easily understand. A typical DSS places the information under the manager’s direct control.
According to Hogue and Watson, the unique executive user configuration of the DSS is based on the following characteristics:
1. Executive Decisions are the Focal Points:
The data for the DSS and associated models are organized around the executive’s decisions rather than around existing databases.
2. Specialize in Easy-to-use Software:
The DSS specializes in easy-to-use software that uses simple English commands rather than technical computer terms
3. Employs Interactive Processing:
The rapid response time of a DSS permits interactive processing.
4. Use and Control Rests with the User:
The use and control of the DSS rests with the user and not the central information management department.
5. Flexible and Adaptable:
The DSS is flexible and adaptable to change in the executive’s style or in the external environment.
An MIS is a DSS if, and only if, it is designed with the primary objective of managerial decision support. Thus, a DSS is a specialized MIS designed to support a manager’s skills at all stages of decision-making, namely identifying the problem, choosing the relevant data, selecting the approach to be used in making the decision, and evaluating the alternative courses of action.
Although there are similarities between a MIS and a DSS, there are also certain differences. In comparison to a MIS, a typical DSS provides more advanced analysis and greater access to various models that can be used by managers to examine a situation more thoroughly. Moreover, a DSS tends to be more interactive than a MIS.
It enables managers to communicate directly (often back and forth) with computer programs that control the system and to obtain the results of various analyses almost immediately. Finally, a DSS often relies on information from external sources as well as from the internal sources that are largely the domain of the MIS.