Saturday, 7 March 2015

Need of Decision Support System (DSS)

Question Format: Why it is necessary to install Decision Support System in today's organization for better decision making process. OR If you are technical personnel, how will you convince your top management to implement Decision Support System in your organization?

Today, decision making is more difficult. The need for decision-making speed has increased, overload of information is common, and there is more distortion of information. 

On the positive side, there is a greater emphasis on fact-based decision making. A complex decision-making environment creates a need for computerized decision support. 

Research and case studies provide evidence that a well-designed and appropriate computerized decision support system can encourage fact-based decisions, improve decision quality, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of decision processes.

Most managers want more analyses and specific decision-relevant reports quickly. Certainly, we have many and increasing information needs. The goal of DSS is to create and use better information. 

Today, there is a pressing need to use technology to help make important decisions. Decision makers perform better with the right information at the right time. In general, computerized decision support can help transfer and organize knowledge. 

Effective decision support provides managers more independence to retrieve and analyze data and documents to obtain facts and results, as they need them.

From a different perspective, cognitive decision-making biases exist and create a need for decision support. 

Information presentation and information availability influence decision makers both positively and negatively. Reducing bias has been a secondary motivation for building DSS. 

Most managers accept that some people are biased decision makers but often question if a proposed DSS will reduce bias. 

For example, decision makers ‚anchor‛ on the initial information they receive and that influences how they interpret subsequent information. In addition, decision makers tend to place the greatest attention on more recent information and either ignore or forget historical information.

Changing decision-making environments, managerial requests, and decision-maker limitations creates a need for more and better decision support. 

We should consider building a computerized decision support system when 

(a) good information is likely to improve the quality of decisions and 

(b) potential DSS users recognize a need for and want to use computerized support.

Introducing more and better decision support in an organization does create changes and challenges for managers. 

Using a smart phone with decision support applications or a Tablet PC with wireless connectivity to the Internet and corporate databases requires new skills and new knowledge.

Components of Decision Support System (DSS)

Question Format: Write a short note on Architecture of Decision Support System in detail. OR If you are MIS specialist then how will you design architecture of DSS in needy organization? OR Write a short note on DSS software system.

Decision support systems consist of three main components, namely database, software system and user interface.

1. DSS Database: 

It contains data from various sources, including internal data from the organization, the data generated by different applications, and the external data mined form the Internet, etc. 

The decision support systems database can be a small database or a standalone system or a huge data warehouse supporting the information needs of an organization. 

To avoid the interference of decision support system with the working of operational systems, the DSS database usually contains a copy of the production database.

2. DSS Software System: 

It consists of various mathematical and analytical models that are used to analyze the complex data, thereby producing the required information. 

A model predicts the output in the basis of different inputs or different conditions, or finds out the combination of conditions and input that is required to produce the desired output.

A decision support system may compromise different models where each model performs a specific function. 

The selection of models that must be included in a decision support system family depends on user requirements and the purposes of DSS. 

Note that the DSS software contains the predefined models (or routines) using which new models can be built to support specific type of decisions.
 Some of the commonly used mathematical and statistical models are as follows:

Statistical Models: They contain a wide range of statistical functions, such as mean, median, mode, deviations etc. 

These models are used to establish, relationships between the occurrences of an event and various factors related to that event. It can, for example, relate sale of product to differences in area, income, season, or other factors. 

In addition to statistical functions, they contain software that can analyze series of data to project future outcomes.

Sensitivity Analysis Models:
These are used to provide answers to what-if situations occurring frequently in an organization. 

During the analysis, the value of one variable is changed repeatedly and resulting changes on other variables are observed. The sale of product, for example, is affected by different factors such as price, expenses on advertisements, number of sales staff, productions etc. 

Using a sensitivity model, price of the product can be changed (increased or decreased) repeatedly to ascertain the sensitivity of different factors and their effect on sales volume. Excel spreadsheets and Lotus 1-2-3 are often used for making such analysis.

Optimization Analysis Models:
They are used to find optimum value for a target variable under given circumstances. They are widely used for making decisions related to optimum utilization of resources in an organization. 

During optimization analysis, the values for one or more variables are changed repeatedly keeping in mind the specific constraints, until the best values for target variable are found. 

They can, for example, determine the highest level of production that can be achieved by varying job assignments to workers, keeping in mind that some workers are skilled and their job assignment cannot be changed. 

Linear programming techniques and Solver tool in Microsoft excel are mostly used for making such analysis.

Forecasting Models: They use various forecasting tools and techniques, including the regression models, time series analysis, and market research methods etc., 

To make statements about the future or to predict something in advance. They provide information that helps in analyzing the business conditions and making future plans. These systems are widely used for forecasting sales.

Backward Analysis Sensitivity Models: Also known as goal seeking analysis, the technique followed in these models is just opposite to the technique applied in sensitivity analysis models. 

In place of changing the value of variable repeatedly to see how it affects other variables, goal seeking analysis sets a target value for a variable and then repeatedly changes other variables until the target value is achieved. 

To increase the production level by 40 percent using the backward sensitivity analysis, for example, first, the target value for the production level can be set and then the required changes to made in other factors, such as the amount of raw material, machinery and tools, number of production staff, etc., to achieve the target production level.

3. DSS User Interface: 

It is an interactive graphical interface which makes the interaction easier between the DSS and its users. It displays the results (output) of the analysis in various forms, such as text, table, charts or graphics. 

The user can select the appropriate option to view the output according to his requirement.

A manager, for example, would like to view comparative sales data in tabular form whereas an architect creating a design plan would be more interested in viewing the result of analysis in a graphical format. 

The present-day decision support system built using the Web-based interface provides its users some special capabilities like better interactivity, facility for customization and personalization, and more ease of use.

Types of Decision Support System (DSS)

Question Format: Write a short note on types of decision support system. OR Enlist the types of DSS and explain how they used in organization for better decision making?

There are a number of Decision Support Systems. These can be categorized into five types:

Communication-driven DSS

Most communications-driven DSSs are targeted at internal teams, including partners. Its purpose are to help conduct a meeting, or for users to collaborate. 

The most common technology used to deploy the DSS is a web or client server. Examples: chats and instant messaging software, online collaboration and net-meeting systems.

Data-driven DSS

Most data-driven DSSs are targeted at managers, staff and also product/service suppliers. It is used to query a database or data warehouse to seek specific answers for specific purposes. 

It is deployed via a main frame system, client/server link, or via the web. Examples: computer-based databases that have a query system to check (including the incorporation of data to add value to existing databases.

Document-driven DSS

Document-driven DSSs are more common, targeted at a broad base of user groups. The purpose of such a DSS is to search web pages and find documents on a specific set of keywords or search terms. 

The usual technologies used to set up such DSSs are via the web or a client/server system.

Knowledge-driven DSS

Knowledge-driven DSSs or 'knowledgebase' are they are known, are a catch-all category covering a broad range of systems covering users within the organization setting it up, but may also include others interacting with the organization 

For example, consumers of a business. It is essentially used to provide management advice or to choose products/services. 

The typical deployment technology used to set up such systems could be server systems, the web, or software running on stand-alone PCs.

Model-driven DSS

Model-driven DSSs are complex systems that help analyze decisions or choose between different options. 

These are used by managers and staff members of a business, or people who interact with the organization, for a number of purposes depending on how the model is set up - scheduling, decision analyses etc. 

These DSSs can be deployed via software/hardware in stand-alone PCs, client/server systems, or the web.

Definition and Basic Introduction of Decision Support System (DSS)

Definition: "A Decision Support System (DSS) is a computer-based information system that supports business or organizational decision-making activities."

DSSs serve the management, operations, and planning levels of an organization (usually mid and higher management) and help to make decisions, which may be rapidly changing and not easily specified in advance (Unstructured and Semi-Structured decision problems). 

Decision support systems can be either fully computerized, human or a combination of both.

While academics have perceived DSS as a tool to support decision making process, DSS users see DSS as a tool to facilitate organizational processes. 

Some authors have extended the definition of DSS to include any system that might support decision making. Sprague (1980) defines DSS by its characteristics:

  1. DSS tends to be aimed at the less well structured, underspecified problem that upper level managers typically face;
  2. DSS attempts to combine the use of models or analytic techniques with traditional
    data access and retrieval functions;
  3. DSS specifically focuses on features which make them easy to use by non-computer people in an interactive mode.
  4. DSS emphasizes flexibility and adaptability to accommodate changes in the environment and the decision making approach of the user.
  5. DSSs include knowledge-based systems. A properly designed DSS is an interactive software-based system intended to help decision makers compile useful information from a combination of raw data, documents, and personal knowledge, or business models to identify and solve problems and make decisions.

Typical information that a decision support application might gather and present includes:
  1. Inventories of information assets (including legacy and relational data sources, cubes, data warehouses, and data marts),
  2. Comparative sales figures between one period and the next,
  3. Projected revenue figures based on product sales assumptions.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Office Automation System Product: A big picture of 20 technologies

Question format: Write a short note on recent technologies are being used with help of Office Automation System (OAS) in organization

So far from this post you have come to know about the utility and users of Office Automation products and technologies. Now let’s see the bigger picture, an information-enriched explanation of automation products and technologies.

1. Internet Access and Control Systems:

Where there is Office Automation system in an office, it is ensured that the overall Internet access, connection maintenance, connection control are centrally done by that system. 

There is nothing to hide from the strict monitoring features of the system so that unwanted excessive use of computers, misuse of electricity and unauthorized viewing of network-stored data and information can be prohibited and found out. 

Internet access and control system is designed in such a way that the overall networking of the firm is running smoothly and no harm is done, at any level or degree.

2. Lighting Automation:

An office complex cannot run without electricity, it also cannot be run without lighting. A well-furnished office definitely has proper lighting. Lighting Automation is a part of Office Automation system which is a handy system here. 

It can be used as the solution to lightings around the office. Scheduled lighting, lighting in different departments or parts of the office, automatic lighting and so on” all of them ensure electricity-saving lighting solutions for the firm.

3. Networking:

If the office is supposed to be a cell, its networking automation facility is like the nucleus of it. In today’s ever changing world, an office without virtual network or its own network is a big mismatch. 

Whenever a company or organization intends to grow its business far and wide, it goes online and for that networking is a must. Networking not only refreshes the identity of a firm to its customers, it also helps in creating ease of work in the workforce. 

It improves efficiency to a big deal as the feasibility of work is ensured by it. This priceless addition of benefit from Office Automation has certainly brought about a revolution in firms around the world.

4. Telephoning system:

Telephoning system goes under telecommunication system of a firm. The whole office has a working telecommunication experience for it. Necessary and emergency calling, incoming calls from other countries are controlled by this very system. 

The usage of intercom system ensures frequent calling inside the firm. PABX system makes multi-telephoning easy as it lessens the load of calls received and dialed. In a word, to make sure the whole firm is communicable- this product of Office Automation works very effectively.

5. Security devices and technologies:

For security reasons, every firm needs to be careful. For this, monitoring on various necessary places in the firm is of immense importance. 

There are a lot of areas inside the firm where many important tasks are done or valuable resources are stored or situated. Not surprisingly, Office Automation system ensures the security of firms almost single-handedly with its various security-ensuring products, technologies or devices. 

Close-circuit Television Camera (CCTV), spy camera, metal detection device, Access Controlling system, fingerprint analyzer, face-recognizing technologies etc. are some of the vastly useful products and technologies rendered by it.

6. Automated Attendance controlling system:

Automation attendance controlling system leads to take care of employee attendance in the office. The identity cards of the employees are to be punched to the device which takes count of their attendance and the timing of leaving office also. 

This is done by the software inscribed in the device. This product of Office Automation system helps managers to have clear ideas on the attendance report of the workforce.

7. Automatic door and window lock/opener:

Automatic door and window lock and opener ease and improve the office working environment. If this very technology is in use, there is no need of human effort to open or lock doors and windows. 

Motion sensing technology-enriched devices help the door to open whenever anything is about to pass through it and some doors can be programmed in such way that this feature won’t work without the password. This product of Office Automation system hardens inside security of the firm.

8. Barcode system:

Barcode system is, by now, a widely used system for product security. Mainly this Office Automation product prevents the product from being stolen. Also for product identification and in storage management, Barcode system is used.

9. Scanning & Printing Facility: 

Scanner & printers are, in this modern age offices, are two most common things. One cannot simply think of a firm without scanners and printers. 

As Office Automation lessens paper work, so many documents and soft copies of innumerable documents are needed daily to be printed, photocopied or scanned for different purposes. This is where the massive importance of the scanning and printing facility lies.

10. Motion detector:

Motion detector mainly influences in maintaining security issue of the firm. Unauthorized people detector system is the product here. 

For detecting people coming from outside the firm, to keep a track of their entrance and presence inside the firm, this system of Office Automation comes very handy.

11. Vehicle detection/GPS Technology:

Vehicle detection and GPS Technology takes care of vehicles inside the firm’s car parking lounge area. GPS (Global Positioning System) helps the most to keep track of vehicles like finding the exact location of them. 

For official vehicle tracking, fuel consumption, these two very needful products of Office Automation does splendid job.

12. Audio Control System:

Audio conference is greatly useful for communicating with the managers, any for previously decided meetings. This Office Automation product can be an emergency substitute or a last ditch means of holding any meeting or conference.

13. Video Conference System:

A firm’s another necessary feature is to have the ability for video conferencing. For this, that firm has to be equipped with the Video Conferencing System. 

It is needed badly for holding video conference between different offices or show-rooms. This Office Automation product ensures managers to be visible and actively present in meetings where they don’t necessarily don’t need to be present physically.

14. Air-conditioning system:

To keep a work-friendly temperature inside the office, air-conditioning system is of great utility. This adds to the comfort of all the employees working in the office. 

For keeping temperatures normal, this product of Office Automation system centrally controls cooling of air inside the firm.

15. Pool or spa controls:

Not every office has this facility of pool and spa. This Office Automation product works effectively in keeping an acceptable environment of the pool and spa areas which can control flow of water in the pool and water temperature, spa timing, spa cleaning, spa temperature, operate filter pumps etc. for the assurance of comfort of the customers.

16. Remote monitoring:

It is one of the advanced Office Automation products. It mainly deals with production issue. It is a different system that monitors the whole production infrastructure of the firm or factory.

17. Use Different types of Software:

Office Automation system has a lot of tasks to do. Thus it should be equipped with multi-tasking and reliable substitute Marketing Automation Software‘s so that in case any software’s failure, the other software’s can do the tasks.

18. Cash counter/Fake note detector:

Cash counting device and fake note detector are two immensely popular Office Automation products around the world. 

The first one makes counting cash easy as ever and the second one prohibits the firm from being deceived regarding cash-flow issues. Does not this help you have your money properly counted while in you are in your bank?

19. Fire protection System:

Fire protection system beggars no description why it is important for any firm. It is the ultimate security issue! An office on fire, it is never a pleasing sight. 

This doubtlessly important Office Automation system ensures proper protection for fighting the fire with fire alarm, immediate water pouring through different points set on the ceilings on different floors of the office. 

It saves the office, literally from being massively harmed by the fire and saves a lot of post-fire office rebuilding costs.

20. Electricity Backup System/IPS/UPS:

As we all know an uninterrupted supply of electricity is a must for any firm, electricity backup system is necessary for it to happen. In case of electricity failure, this system delivers the needed electricity and keeps the whole office working smoothly as before. 

The computers in the office should have UPS connected with it for the necessary backup. In addition, electricity generators mainly do the backup job for electricity failure. That is Office Automation product, all the way!

Features of Office Automation System (OAS)

1. Ubiquity: 

Office Automation is now a ubiquitous system. Firms around the world are ad office automation opting it eagerly because of its immense professionalism.

2. Automating manual tasks: 

This computer-controlled system focuses precisely in automating every possible task to bring furthermore comfort in working. 

Less labor yet ensuring efficient is of great utility for any firm which is rendered by the Office Automation system.

3. Lessening working-load: 

In today’s world the arena of work in firms are widening day by day to which this very system is quite well capable. Superior ability of handling load and increasing enjoyment in work is one of Office Automation system vital features.

4. Multitasking: 

There are so many types of customs that are performed in a firm. Office Automation system is there to handle this massively important custom of a firm, multitasking. 

From opening the entrance gate to controlling temperature inside the office complex and at the same time looking after all the necessary data processing steps and entries„an immense amount of work-load is handled by the system alone.

5. Ensured feasibility: 

Feasibility means practicability. Any work lacking feasibility remains questionable and doubtful. Office Automation system always has a close look at the confirmation of feasibility of work in an office. 

Time-to-time checking of entering input and measuring output makes the work acceptable for the managers to evaluate. Foundation of any greater effort or improvised tasks is mainly established through feasible results. 

In addition, taking correct, standard and up to the mark decisions is of great utility for managers to keep the smooth run of their firms among competitors. 

Feasibility of works and customs is essential to proceed here which is being ensured by the system. That makes a legitimate sense on how much important feature it is of the system.

6. Office environmental sustainability: 

The system is capable of making the workforce work on it, work with it. This is how it confirms its sustainability and adaptability with the office environment. 

If the system is not popular and manageable to use with the workforce, the system is on verge of failure and in this modern age of office lifestyle, Office Automation system’s failure deteriorates the harmony of order and tasks and leads the firm towards sheer drawbacks.

7. Scopes of competitive advantage: 

Competitive advantage means the forward-moving plus-point of a firm over other firms. A firm can start to think of reigning over other firms when it starts to increase the amount of competitive advantage. 

The immense positivity Office Automation system brings towards gaining competitive advantage over other firms is beyond uncertainty. 

It adds to the prosperity of firms and earns a greater assurance in surviving amid nail-biting competition in the market.

Characteristics of Office Automation System (OAS)

Office automation is a widely used term today. It generally means the application of computer and communication technology to improve the productivity of ‚knowledge works‛.

Office automation refers to the use of sophisticated electronic equipment and communication systems to carry out the ‚electronic tasks‛ the tasks include:

  1. Text processing,
  2. Data processing
  3. Information storage,
  4. Information retrieval and updating,
  5. Message distribution,
  6. Document transmission and reproduction,
  7. Teleconferencing

Office automation is a process that involves people, procedure and technology. Office automation technology include word processor, telecommunication, reprographics, e-mail, e-filing, facsimile transmission, micro-graphics and voice technologies.

Office automation involves the use of computers, in conjunction with other electronic-equipment to automate the basic secretarial and clerical the basic secretarial and clerical tasks of office.

Basic office automation consists of word processors connected to one another to means of a local area network.

Office automation should be designed as a multi-function information system to provide executives decision support tools such as:

On-line access to databases,

Model building and forecasted building and forecasting,

  1. Risk analysis,
  2. Sophisticated graphics,
  3. Integration of data and text,
  4. Data communication

Some office automation systems go far beyond the function of providing word processing on networks. PCs or workstations are connected to a network.

Office automation support a large number of software packages that could be used as decision support tools. Important ones are:

  1. Word processor, database management systems,
  2. Electronic spreadsheets,
  3. Graphics packages,
  4. Electronic mail systems

Benefits of office automation include increased productivity, greater accuracy, lower clerical cost, continuously decreasing cost, decreasing size and increasing capabilities, quality and flexibility of outputs, and ease of operations.