Contents :
  1. Introduction of Group Decision Support System.
  2. Advantages of Group Decision Support System.
  3. Disadvantages of Group Decision Support System.
  4. Features of Group Decision Support System (GDSS).
  5. Components of Group Decision Support System (GDSS).

What is GDSS ?

GDSS is the abbreviation for Group Decision Support System. It is a system that supports decision-making and has been designed and structured in such a way so that the members constituting a group can interact with each other to arrive at a particular decision. It provides support for various group decision-making activities such as file sharing, integration of the individual opinions with that of the group, communication, modelling of group actions and any other action which requires interaction of the group members.

The decision support systems that have been mentioned till now facilitate a single person to take decisions by providing computerised support. These decisions fall into the unstructured or semi-structured category. Most of the decisions that have to be taken in the organisation are generally a group effort rather than taken by a single person.

The main characteristic of the Group Decision Support Systems or GDSS is to support exchange and flow of information and ideas seamlessly between various members of the decision-making group. It also maintains the privacy of the members. There are also many other terms that have been introduced for the use of information technology in decision-making within a group. Some of the popular terms that are in use include Group Support System (GSS), Computer-Supported Co-operative Work (CSCW), computerised collaborative work support and Electronic Meeting System (EMS). Groupware is the term that has been coined for software used in such a scenario. 
Thus, a computer-based system is interactive in  nature and helps in solving problems that are unstructured in nature when a group of decision makers are working in collaboration with each other.

Advantages of GDSS :

1) More Information in Less Time : 
It is possible to gather huge amount of information in a very short time period as GDSS facilitates the members of the team to work parallel.

2) Greater Participation : 
The risks associated with conformity pressure and groupthink is greatly decreased when the members of the group work in a GDSS because the members are able to express their thoughts freely. This is due to the anonymity feature extended by GDSS.

3) More Structure : 
In a GDSS environment the discussions are much more concentrated and focused. Irrelevant degradations are greatly reduced.

4) Automated Documentation : 
Comments are preserved forever and the system provides the result without any delay. Excellent graphics makes viewing more attractive.

Disadvantages of GDSS :

1) Cost :
A significant amount of cost may be associated with putting up the infrastructure consisting of the room, network connectivity and the software.

2) Security : 
This risk arises when the facility for setting up GDSS has been rented. There are chances that information gets leaked to the peers by a low level employee.

3) Technical Failure : 
The system must be properly implemented to reduce the risk associated with loss of connectivity and power loss. It is highly dependent on LAN/WAN infrastructure and bandwidth.

4) Keyboarding Skills : 
If the members get frustrated they might participate less.

5) Training : 
There is variation in the learning curve of the user in various situations.

6) Perception of Messages : 
MIS-interpretations may occur in case the members communicate less verbally.

Features of Group Decision Support System (GDSS) :

1) Ease of Use : 
It consists of an interactive interface that makes working with GDSS simple and easy.

2) Better Decision Making : 
It provides the conference room setting and various software tools that facilitate users at different locations to make decisions as a group resulting in better decisions.

3) Emphasis on Semi-structured and Unstructured Decisions : 
It provides important information that assists middle and higher level management in making semi-structured and unstructured decisions.

4) Specific and General Support : 
The facilitator controls the different phases of the group decision support system meeting (idea generation, discussion, voting and vote counting, etc.) what is displayed on the central screen and the type of ranking and voting that takes place, etc. In addition, the facilitator also provides general support to the group and helps them to use the system.

5) Supports all Phases of the Decision Making : 
It can support all the four phases of decision making, viz intelligence, design, choice, and implementation.

6) Supports Positive Group Behavior : 
In a group meeting, as participants can share their ideas more openly without the fear of being criticized, they display more positive group behavior towards the subject matter of the meeting.

Components of Group Decision Support System (GDSS) :

A group decision support system (GDSS) is composed of 3 main components, namely hardware, software tools, and people.

1) Hardware : 
It includes electronic hardware like the computer, equipment used for networking, electronic display boards and audiovisual equipment. It also includes the conference facility, including the physical set up – the room, the tables, and the chairs – laid out in such a  manner that they can support group discussion and teamwork.

2) Software Tools : 
It includes various tools and techniques, such as electronic questionnaires, electronic brainstorming tools, idea organizers, tools for setting priority, policy formation tool, etc. The use of these software tools in a group meeting helps the group decision-makers to plan, organize ideas, gather information, establish priorities, take decisions and document the meeting proceedings. As a result, meetings become more productive.

3) People : 
It compromises the members participating in the meeting, a trained facilitator who helps with the proceedings of the meeting, and an expert staff to support the hardware and software. The GDSS components together provide a favorable environment for carrying out group meetings.