An executive support system is a reporting software that transforms organizations' data into summarized and executive level reports. These reports are helpful to managers to access the reports from other departmental levels such as staffing, scheduling, cost accounting, and billing. Executive support system provides tools for analysis that are used in prediction of performance outcomes by use of input data. The system is essential for the executive as it offers quick references and results that help in decision making (Kou et al., 2011). The reporting tools and possible outcomes of an executive support system depend on its developers and which industry is it intended to be used. For example, an executive support system developed by Meditech is entirely different from that developed by Cambridge systematics which integrated its system with an investment plan.
An organization's survival heavily depends on the decisions that its executives make. These decisions could lead to the success or failure of the organization. Since its inception in the early 1980's various organizations have implemented to assist the executives in making decisions. An executive support system can be referred to as an interactive and customized DSS used by executives to obtain updated knowledge and information. Executive support system focuses on assessment and interactive tools. The end users can use these tools. It filters information and insight into essential tools and indicators. The system works on the problems and opportunities to improve the working process. Software development plays a significant role in ESS and DSS in general. However, its analysis focuses on people's thinking and ability to make decisions (Laudon & Laudon, 2016). Executive support system induces changes that can lead to the success of an organization if they are desired and perceived from the beginning.
The primary purpose of this system is the support of top executives of an organization, the interaction of the organization with the external environment and work process. With this system, senior executives can make a better decision and ask informed questions. Bonczek, Holsapple, & Whinston, (2014) affirms that companies using administrative support system achieve better results than those that do not use ESS. However, these results are if the system was designed to promote top executives learning. In instances where ESS was intended to maintain the executive models, the executive was less effective. ESS allows access to timely information, this information contained in the administrative support system can be obtained by the decision makers through traditional methods. However, the time required in obtaining and manually compiling this information in different formats hinder the executives from getting this information.
With ESS, executives' attention is directed to specific problems or areas in an organization. These enable easy identification of the root causes of issues and appropriate mechanisms devised to solve the problems. Attention on strong departments of the organization allows the executives to focus on the sector to foster effective performance.
The executive support system is also referred to as an executive information system. Administrative information systems emphasize easy to use interfaces and graphics displays. With executive information systems management can analyze, highlight trends, and compare essential variables to monitor performance and identify problems and opportunities. Supervisory support systems replace the paper reports and provide information from both internal and external sources promptly, with easy accessibility and processed data (Turban et al., 2010).
Executive support systems were developed initially as mainframe computer-based programs. It was meant to package data from companies and provide market research statistics to help in decision making (Benlian and Hess, 2011). The software is also available to personal computers and not only at corporate hierarchies. The components of the system are hardware, software, user interface, manufacturing, marketing, financial analysis, applications, and telecommunication.
The hardware is meant to meet the executive's needs. Before equipment is selected, the management's requirements are clearly defined. An executive support system's hardware is made up of components that include; data entry devices that allow for the executive to enter, verify and update data, the CPU which controls the computer system, output devices which provide a platform for the executive to read and store files that are used to save relevant information.
A software is imperative in the design of a functional executive support system. The components and integration of data are vital for the functioning of the system. ESS software contains the following elements; a database which helps in accessing internal and external data, a model base which includes financial, statistical and quantitative analysis, graphics base which translates text and turns it into visual information and text-based software.
The role of the marketing executive in an organization is to create the future of the organization. With the available resources the executives are supposed to shape a more effective future, and therefore, there is a need to make a judgment on the uncertainty of the project in the future. With ESS executive can make informed decisions about the future. For instance, the system provides sales forecast which can be compared with the previous sales before making decisions. In venture analysis pricing can be evaluated about the possible competition. ESS software provides for manipulation of data through performing audits, calculation of variance, changes and ratios thereby informing decision making.
Manufacturing involved the transformation of raw materials into finished products. The main idea of this process is the focus on efficiency and effectiveness. Operational control in manufacturing deals with the daily operations in an organization.
Executive support systems identify data and gather information and to gain understanding. The executive information system can distinguish the importance of the data and frequency of use. Therefore, able to track different activities which can be used in an organization or company's evaluation. Due to the efficiency and effectiveness of EIS, there has been its broad application in various sectors including marketing, manufacturing, and finance.
To make capital investment decisions, the executive make use of financial analysis to estimate the ratios and trends. Given that ESS is responsibility oriented, it integrates budgeting with the control of performance reporting which helps the executives in making decisions. It focuses on financial performance and accountability in developing quality information for the executive.
The user interface makes the executive support system efficient in obtaining data and information used in decision making. The user interface provides for the interaction between people and the machine. The outcome of the association is the human control of the computer and machine feedback which is used in making informed decisions (Demirkan & Delen, 2013). The user interface in ESS includes software and hardware components. The user interfaces provide input means that allows humans are interacting with the system to manipulate it and output means which enable the system to communicate the output to the user.
Telecommunications plays a vital role in sharing and transmission of data from one place to the other. Telecommunications within ESS accelerates the access for transmitted data.
The characteristics that distinguish executive support systems from other systems include the following: it provides trend analysis, drill down capabilities and exception reporting. It integrates both internal and external data. It summarizes, obtains and filters detailed data. The data which is often presented in the form of reports and graphs can be used in consideration on when making an important decision.
Execute support system is easy to use since it does not require comprehensive knowledge on the computer to operate. The system can analyze in a fast way and provide information within a short time hence reliable even with a limited timeframe. The information and knowledge provided are safe because it is proper, relevant and valid.
Executive support system application in an organization has its challenges. They include; it limitations in functionality by design. Implementing the system costs high. The system at other instances may become large and hard to manage thereby minimizing its efficiency. Sometimes the system leads to data insecurity data that may be unreliable in making decisions. Given that the executives feed the system with data for analysis and wait for information, some of the executives may overload it.
The use of executive support system enhances improved performance in management, availability of data and information. The organization is also able to view and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses and be able to improve its effectiveness. ESS is a useful tool in companies and organizations, its role in decision making cannot be overemphasized. Operational decision making is a function of timely, relevant, accurate and complete information that is produced by the support system.
Benlian, A., & Hess, T. (2011). Opportunities and risks of software-as-a-service: Findings from a survey of IT executives. Decision Support Systems, 52(1), 232-246.
Bonczek, R. H., Holsapple, C. W., & Whinston, A. B. (2014). Foundations of decision support systems. Academic Press.
Demirkan, H., & Delen, D. (2013). Leveraging the capabilities of service-oriented decision support systems: Putting analytics and big data in the cloud. Decision Support Systems, 55(1), 412-421.
Kou, G., Shi, Y., & Wang, S. (2011). Multiple criteria decision making and decision support systems-Guest editor's introduction.
Laudon, K. C., & Laudon, J. P. (2016). Management information system. Pearson Education India.
Turban, E., Sharda, R., & Delen, D. (2010). Decision Support and Business Intelligence Systems (required). Google Scholar.
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