With the exposure to all the above information systems, let us find out the differences between DSS and MIS. Table-1 enlists some basic differences between Decision Support System, Management Information Systems and Executive Information System. As the name implies, the later two are the systems that provide information that may or may not be used for making a decision whereas the support information provided for deciding on the policy, planning or implementation is the basic component of DSS.

Let us find out the characteristics of the three systems : 


– DSS generally provide support for unstructured, or semi-structured decisions (decisions that cannot be described in detail).

– DSS problems are often characterized by incomplete or uncertain knowledge, or the use of qualitative data.

– DSS will often include modelling tools in them, where various alternative scenarios can be modeled and compared.

– Investment decisions are an examples of those that might be supported by DSS 


  • MIS is generally more sophisticated reporting systems built on existing transaction processing systems
  • Often used to support structured decision making (decisions that can be described in detail before the decision is made)
  • Typically will also support tactical level management, but sometimes are used at other levels
  • Examples of structured decisions supported by MIS might include deciding on stock levels or the pricing of products

 Table-1 : Difference between DSS, MIS and EIS

Dimension DSS MIS EIS
Focus Analysis, decision Support Information processing Status Access
Typical UsersServed Analysts, professions,managers (via intermediaries) Middle, lower levels, sometime senior executives Senior Executives Expediency
Impetus Effectiveness Efficiency
Application Diversified Areas where Managerial Decisions are made Production control, sales forecasts, financial analysis,human resource management Environmental scanning, performanceevaluation, identifying problems and


Database(s) Special Corporate Special
Decision SupportCapabilities Supports semi-structured andunstructured decision making; mainly ad-hoc, but sometimes

repetitive decisions

Direct or indirect support, mainlystructured routine problems, using standard operations,

research and other models

Indirect support, mainly high level andunstructured decisions and policies
Type ofInformation Information to supportspecific situations Scheduled and demand reports; structured flow, exception reporting mainly internal operations News items, external information oncustomers, competitors and the environment
Principal Use Planning, Organizing, staffing and control Control Tracking and control
Adaptability toIndividual User Permits individual judgment, what-if capabilities, somechoice of dialogue style Usually none, standardized Tailored to the decision making styleof each individual executive, offers

several options of outputs

Graphics Integrated part of many DSS Desirable A must
User Friendliness A must where nointermediaries are used Desirable A must
Treatment ofInformation Information provided by theEIS/or MIS is used as an input

to the DSS

Information is provided to adiversified group of users who then manipulate it or summarize

it as needed

Filters and compresses theinformation, tracks critical data and


Supporting DetailedInformation Can be programmed into DSS Inflexibility of reports, cannot getthe supporting details quickly Instant access to the supportingdetails of any summary
Model Base The Core of the DSS Standard Models are available butare not managed Can be added, usually not included orlimited in nature
Construction By users, either alone or with specialists from IS or IC departments By vendors or IS specialists By Vendors or IS Specialists
Hardware Mainframes, micros ordistributed Mainframes, Micros ordistributed Distributed system
Nature ofComputing


Large computationalcapabilities, modelling

languages and simulation,

applications and DSS


Application oriented,performance reports,

strong reporting capabilities, standard statistical, financial, accounting and management science models

Interactive, easy to access multiple databases, on-line access, sophisticated DBMS capabilitiesand complex linkages


  • EIS support a range of decision making, but more often than not, this tends to be unstructured
  • EIS support the executive level of management, often used to formulate high level strategic decisions impacting on the direction of the organization
  • These systems will usually have the ability to extract summary data from internal systems, along with external data that provides intelligence on the environment of the organization
  • Generally these systems work by providing a user friendly interface into other systems, both internal and external to the organization


Let us now explore differences among the three information systems based on the dimensions (Table 1).

In the following sections, we shall be studying various components of a DSS, building simple architecture for DSS and GDSS.

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