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From Decision Support Systems to Decision Management Systems

September 26, 2012 No Comments

I am often asked about the difference between decision support systems and decision management systems. This is an interesting topic and one that is central to the value proposition of decision management systems so I thought I would revisit it.

All decisions involve a choice, a selection of a course of action from a set of alternatives and generally result in an action being taken, not just knowledge being added to what’s known. Decision Management Systems, unlike Decision Support Systems, are focused on taking or recommending this action.

Decision Support Systems are focused, obviously, on helping (supporting) someone make the decision, not necessarily on the actions to be taken. This distinction is critical to the difference between the two classes of systems. If you want or need a system to make a decision (because there is no human present as in a web site or kiosk, because there is no time for a human intervention or just because the people available don’t have the skills to make a good decision), you need a Decision Management System. If you have the option, though, to do either it is worth considering 5 additional ways in which the two kinds of system differ:

  • Defined and known actions
    In general the available actions, the range of possible actions from which an action is selected, is implicit in a Decision Support System, with the user having an idea of the range of options even though this is not generally coded into the system. In contrast a Decision Management System has an explicit, defined, known set of possible actions coded into it. This means that the outcome is more predictable, more likely to be within expected bounds, critical for operational decisions.

Read More of James Taylor’s Article on EDM

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