Managers and their support staffs need to consider what information and analyses are actually needed to support management and business activities. Some managers need both detailed transaction data and summarized data. Most managers only want summaries of transactions. Managers usually want lots of charts and graphs; a few only want tables of numbers. Many managers want information provided routinely or periodically and some want information available on-line and on demand. Managers want financial analyses and some managers want primarily "soft", non-financial or qualitative information.
In general, an Information System can provide business transaction information and it can help managers understand many business operations and performance issues. For example, a computerized system can help managers understand the status of operations, monitor business results, review customer preference data and investigate competitor actions. In all of these situations, management information and analyses should have a number of characteristics. Information must be both timely and current. These characteristics mean the information is up-to-date and available when managers want it. Also, information must be accurate, relevant and complete. Finally, managers want information presented in a format that assists them in making decisions. In general, management information should be summarized and concise and any support system should have an option for managers to obtain more detailed information.
Decision Support Systems need to provide current, timely information that is accurate, relevant and complete. A specific DSS must present information in an appropriate format that is easy to understand and manipulate. The information presented by a DSS may result from analysis of transaction data or it may be the result of a decision model or it may have been gathered from external sources. DSS can present internal and external facts, informed opinions and forecasts to managers. Managers want the right information, at the right time, in the right format, and at the right cost.