Office Hours:Tuesday & Thursday, 3:30-4:00PM and by appointment
Unixnewsgroup: sunyab.mgs.616

Course Outline

  • Textbooks
  • Prerequisites
  • Objectives
  • Design
  • Cases
  • Readings
  • Reading Presentations
  • List of Readings
  • HomeWork
  • Final Exam
  • Final Term Paper
  • Grading
  • Ethics
  • Suggested Questions for Cases
  • FMC Corporation: Ground Systems Division
  • Xerox: Outsourcing Global Information Technology Resources
  • J.C.Penney: Fashioning a Retailing Nervous System for the Future
  • KPMG Peat Marwick: The Shadow Partner
  • EXSYS Guidelines
  • Guidelines for Case Discussion & Writeup


  • I.
    Decision Support and Expert Systems, Managerial Perspectives by Efraim Turban, 5th edition, 1996, Prentice Hall
  • II.
    Harvard Business Cases, available at the Bookstore; "Reengineering the Organization," Nolan, Stoddard, Davenport, Jarvenpaa
  • III.
    Optional: Dr. Rao's MGS 616 Notes, Available at Making Copies

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    1. MGS 606 (absolutely imperative)
    2. Working knowledge of unix (you can to to the computing center to pick up the handouts)

    Note:MGS 606 - Students without the prerequisite will be automatically dropped from the course without notice.
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    The purpose of this course is to acquaint the student with the conceptual foundations of decision support and expert systems. Initially we shall focus on the broad aspects. Later we shall narrow our focus. Literature from decision making, artificial in telligence and cognitive psychology will be reviewed. Some Harvard cases on reengineering will also be discussed.
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    This course has been designed to integrate theoretical concepts with their practical applications so as to teach both the theory and the practice of information systems management. The emphasis on practice is important because in many areas of informatio n systems theory lags practice. In fact, it is the attempt of this course not only to understand current practice but also to contribute to it.

    There will be a variety of approaches undertaken to assist the integration process. In addition to traditional lectures there will be case analysis opportunities, opportunities to study selected readings from the MIS literature and a final project. Case preparation and what it entails are outlined in the section Guidelines for Case Discussion & Writeup"
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    Students will form teams of two to three members. (This will be decided in class.) Each member of the team will be responsible for a one-page typed, single-spaced position statement. You are free to discuss among yourselves but no duplication is allowed. The focus of your statement must be highlighted in yellow. The position statements mu st be handed in at the beginning of class. Late submissions will not be accepted. There will be a further discussion of the cases (1 case per class).

    Note: A useful way to prepare for the case is for each team member to be individually responsible for one or two questions, on the position statement and then share your position statements among the team members.
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    Click here for a list of the readings. These are available on the secretary's desk (Valerie) in room 325.

    Note: A straight forward summary of the paper will result in a grade of B-/B/B+. In order to get an A/A-, you need to have a "pleasant surprise" factor. This involves things like

    Applying conceptual material from the readings or the lecture
    Doing a bit of outside reading and applying it in the discussion
    Pulling together material from several places in the paper
    Drawing parallels from previous classes
    Tying in briefly an experience you have had that is relevant to the discussion

    Note: You will be responsible for four readings of your choice for the final exam.
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    Through the semester, I shall assign some homeworks. Some will be individual and others will be team-based assignments. Typically team-based assignments will require more time and may be substantially more complex than individual assignments. Late homeworks will be pernalized.

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    Final Exam

    This is a comprehensive final exam. Students can bring two 8-1/2 x 11 "crib" sheets. Both sides of the sheets can be used. Cribs must be written by hand--not typed--and signed. The cribsheet is turned in with the exam.

    NOTE: For the final exam, you will be responsible for all my lectures, the group paper presentations, the homeworks, and the cases.

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    Final Term Paper

    This is a team project. Team members can contact an organization (either private or a government body) and do an in-depth study of a DSS/ES/ Reengineering topic of their choice in the organization. Hopefully this should be useful to the organizat ion as well.

    Note:Guidelines will be handed out in class. Appendix A

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    Cases15 points (Position statements - 5 points)
    Readings10 points (Peer grading)*
    Homeworks20 points
    Final Exam20 points
    Final Project25 points (Presentation - 5 pts) (Peer grading)*
    Class Participation & Discretionary10 points
    Click here to see the peer guidelines

    Grades: This is a required SOM option course. This means that S/U or P/F grading is not permitted if you are using it in the option or as part of your MBA work. Final grades will be given in the form of A, A-, B+, B, B-, etc. Incomplete grades will only be considered for extenuating circumstances. You must be passing the course, as evidenced by your work, to receive, via written (typed) request, an "I" grade.

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    Students are expected to do their own work. Please refer to the chapter in the MBA Student Handbook which covers the Code of Ethics and Grievance Procedures, for an elaboration on the School's position on this subject. The above is tentative and I reserve the right to change.

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    Suggested Questions for Cases

    FMC Corporation: Ground Systems Division

    The FMC Corporation Case describes a reengineering project within the purchasing area of the Ground Systems Division. The case presents the situation encountered by Mike Tanda, a new purchasing manager who must decide how to implement a new purchasing system. Two consultants have made proposals to design and implement the new system, and Tanda must decide between the two proposals.

    1. What challenges does FMC Ground Systems Division face at the time of the case? What is the nature of FMC's competitive environment?
    2. Evaluate the two approaches. Assess the risk of the projects using the McFarlan risk framework.
    3. If you were a consultant to Mike Tanda, what would you recommend that they do? What role should Dave Shehan and the MIS department play as they move forward with OMAR?

    Some interesting links
    FMC Corporation
    FMC Corporation: Ground Systems Division

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    Xerox: Outsourcing Global Information Technology Resources

    The case provides an overview of the tumultuous growth of Xerox as a small, one product $40 million company in 1960 to the $13 billion, high-tech, financial services conglomerate it became, and now to a more rationalized and focused "document" processing company that it is trying to become.
    1. Identify the key events leading up to outsourcing at Xerox.
    2. Would you have made the same decision to outsource IT at Xerox? Why? Why not?
    3. Sketch a management framework to assist senior management to appropriately think about the alternatives, and the pros and cons of IT outsourcing for different situations.
    4. What are the key management challenges of ensuring that the Xerox/EDS outsourcing agreement is successful?

    Some interesting links
    Xerox - The Document Company

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    J. C. Penney: Fashioning a Retailing Nervous System for the Future

    The case provides a historical account of the technical information systems architecture in general and the use of data communications in particular at Penney. The case illustrates how, in early 1993, the Penney company invested so as to be TCP/IP-enabled; however, the applications to take advantage of the new capabilities are only beginning to emerge.
    1. Describe and evaluate the information technology architecture of Penney.
    2. What would you recommend Penney do now? How should future IT infrastructure projects be approached?
    3. What are the types of strategic uses of technology that Penney should plan for?
    4. What is Dave Evans' role and that of his organization in planning for these strategic uses?
    5. What are the likely short-term and medium-term effects of the emerging electronic retailing revolution on Penney's business and IT operations?

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    KPMG Peat Marwick: The Shadow Partner

    This case shows how KPMG Peat Marwick, a large professional services firm, addressed the application of information technology (IT) to respond to overcapacity in its traditional audit business and to develop new value-added advisory services.
    1. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages to KPMG of the shadow partner project.
    2. If you were a member of the US Operating Committee, in February 1991, in which the project is being presented for a decision on funding, how would you vote? What would be your rationale in explaining your position to the partnership as a whole?
    3. Critically evaluate the approach that was taken to develop the shadow-partner initiative. Would you have proceeded differently? If so, be prepared to describe why your approach might be preferred to the one taken.
    4. How can a project like the KPMG shadow partner be successfully implemented?

    Some interesting links
    KPMG's Virtual Office
    KPMG Online

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    Reading Presentations

    The team presentations impact major aspects of the course:
    1. They complement the lectures in class. In some topics, my lectures give a broad overview, but do not go in-depth. In some others, the lectures focus on a very narrow scope, while not accounting for the breadth. The articles have been chosen to balance the lectures.
    2. The book is outdated by the time it comes to press. The articles give you an excellent overview of the current state of the art.
    3. By lecturing to the class you hone your presentation skills specific to the MIS area, the area that most of you are either majoring or minoring in.
    4. Finally by doing the presentations on a group basis, (in front of an audience) where two of you collaborate with each other (along with me (for pointers, etc.)) you grasp the subject matter better, develop your collaborative social skills as well as intellectual skills. You carry out a process of interpreting, questioning, creating, synthesizing, doubting, comparing, and doing myriad other sorts of intellectual activities. Thus the collaborative learning exercise has the potential to unleash a uniq ue intellectual and social synergy.

    Remember that summarizing the papers is a minimum requirement for the presentations. In addition, could you comment on the managerial impacts, both in normative and behavioral terms. You are certainly welcome to use the conceptual frameworks discussed i n the MGS 606 "Intro to MIS" course, or other courses such as organization theory, operations management, etc. to understand the impact of the systems. You can address broader concerns as well, such as the impact on economic growth, or address the sociol ogical and human concerns, such as the impact of the systems on the work place.

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    Click here for a list of the papers.

    Note that you can use any of these papers as references for your final project report if necessary. The fact that a paper has been presented in class does not preclude its use in your project report.

    All these papers are available on Valerie's desk in 325 Jacobs.

    Reading List

    1. Ramesh, R. and H. R. Rao, "Software Reuse: Issues and an Example," Decision Support Systems, Vol. 12, 1994, pp. 57-71.
    2. Cosares, S., D. Deutsch, L. Saniee, O. J. Wasem, "SONET Toolkit: A Decision Support System for Designing Robot & Cost-Effective Fiber-optic Networking," Interfaces, Vol. 25, I, Jan-Feb 1995, pp. 20-40.
    3. Etzioni, O. and D. S. Weld, "Intelligent Agents on the Internet: Fact, Fiction and Forecast," IEEE Expert, August 1995, pp. 44-
    4. Martinsons, M. G. and F. Schindler, "Organizational Visions for Technology Assimulation: The Strategic Roads to Knowledge-based Systems Success," IEEE Trans on Eg Mgmt, 1995.
    5. Mykyhyn, K., P. Mykyhyn and C. Slinharan, "Expert Systems: A Question of Liability?" MIS Quarterly, March 1990.
    6. Gill, T. G., "Early Expert Systems: Where Are They Now," MIS Quarterly, March 1995, pp. 51-
    7. Ballou, R. H., "Reengineering at American Express: The Travel Services Group's Work in Process," Interfaces 25, 3, May-June 1995, pp. 22-
    8. O'Hara, M. T. and R. T. Watson, "Automation, BPR and Client Server Technology," in Business Process Change, Reengineering Concepts, ed. Grover, J and Kettinger, W., 1995.
    9. Galliers, R. D. and S. H. Baker, "An Approach to Business Process Reengineering: The Contributions of Socio-Technical and Soft OR Concepts," INFOR, Vol. 33, No. 4, Nov. 1995.
    10. Hansen, G., "A Complex Process," OR/MS Today, August 1994, pp. 34-

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    EXSYS Guidelines

    Each student team is expected to develop a prototype expert system (ES). A paper describing the developed system as well as the diskette containing the developed system should be submitted.

    Project Development Scenario: You are the manager of the Research and Development section of the IS division of your firm (pick one of your choosing or the firm you are choosing to study). As managers you have to demonstrate the viability of introducing ES technology within the firm. As a first step you are going to develop a prototype ES in a specific domain (of your choosing), discuss its features, costs, advantages and the rationale for adopting the technology firm wide. The constraints you will be working under and the paper requi rements are as follows:

    Software Constraints: You have the choice of using one of two development approaches: 1. Use the student version of Exsys Pro which is in the lab. It is limited to 50 rules. The tutorials on disk are adequate to get you going. 2. Use a programming language of your choice. If you are planning to go this route, the program you develop should have all the features that are associated with an expert system developed using an expert system development shell, i.e. interactive, abil ity to explain etc.

    Paper Requirements: The paper should at a minimum discuss the following:

    1. The problem area for which the expert system is developed.
    2. The rationale for choosing the problem area A justification for ES development in the area should be provided. 3. The ES developed, features and shortcomings.
    3. The tool used for development and its evaluation.
    4. Further enhancements possible with the prototype developed.
    5. Discussion relevant to the project development scenario.

    Note:Each paper should have an appropriate title, and should be organized into sections with appropriate section headings (Please keep in mind that the above directions are a specification of content and not Section headings). All papers shou ld have the following sections at the end of the paper:

    Timeline/Grading Basis for the EXSYS Project
    Problem Considered for ES Development [Due: 3/11] 10 pts.
    Modified Statement of Problem (only if the original statement was considered inadequate) -------- ----
    Specification of inputs, goals, sub-goals and relationships between them-------- 10 pts.
    Preliminary printout of rule set (5 rules) [Due 4/4] 10 pts.
    Final paper and diskette on which the ES is developed -------- 10 pts.

    Total 40 pts.

    The points specified above are for being on time with your submissions. You will be penalized 2 points per day for any late submissions. Please retain a copy of all submissions including the final report and program for your own reference.

    Points for the paper 90 Points for the developed system 70

    The following factors will be taken into consideration when grading the paper and the system:
    Creativity and features of the package utilized
    Ease of interaction with the developed system
    Validity of the developed system in terms of the queries asked by the system
    Solution proposed
    Complexity of the problem considered
    Clarity of the paper
    Structure and organization of paper
    Spelling and grammatical errors
    Style of presentation: lucid or obscure
    Points emphasized in the paper

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    Cases are the next best thing to being there. They provide a unique view of organizational processes, problems, and opportunities. Case analysis permits the assumption of various roles on the part of a discussant. Thus you can assume the role of a programmer in one instant and then take on the job of the chief executive officer in the next.

    There are instances where there does not seem to be enough data or information in a case to make a decision. A lack of information and uncertainty are the rule rather than the exception of organizational decision making. Assumptions must be made based on incomplete and sometimes conflicting data.

    The dialogue between class members serves as an important part of the learning process. The class becomes your fellow colleagues. Your group task is to explore the various strategies for making a decision. There will be disagreements. Sometimes there will be large contingencies who align against a minority. Such a situation should not be considered an attack but part of the social and political process of interchange.

    The following guidelines are presented for analyzing a case. Some of them will be useful in all cases.

    Preparing a Case The following approach is suggested in preparing a case for class. The modified SQR3 technique presented here has been shown to be effective in a number of analytical tasks.

    1. SURVEY: Read the introductory sentence, main headings, and glance at graphs and table headings. If there is a summary paragraph also read it. The objective of this stage is to get an overview of the context of the case and the problems facing the company.
    2. QUESTION: Try to formulate one or two questions regarding the context of the case. The Analysis Framework presented below may help you in framing the questions.
    3. READ: Read the case carefully and try to answer the questions you made earlier. Make notes on the major problems or ideas you see emerging.
    4. REVIEW: Recite the answers to the questions to yourself. Spend some time identifying the major problems in the case. The Analysis Framework and Potential Problem Areas should help you in problem identification. For each problem, come up with several preliminary solutions. Do not constrain the solution by adopting only one possible alternative. If you are working in a group, this is a good time to brainstorm. Encourage everyone to participate in problem resolution.
    5. RECOMMEND: Present a brief overview of the case touching on the major problems and your recommendations. If you are writing a report, this is referred to as an executive summary and should be no more than one page. Then present each recommendation followed by a rationale for the recommendation. Be sure to discuss potential pitfalls associated with embarking on a particular course of action. After the final recommendation, prepare some summary remarks concentrating on the limitations of your analysis and future organizational strategies to deal with similar problems.

      There are no right or wrong answers for a typical case. There are, however, good and bad case analyses. The way you marshal your arguments, the clarity of your writing, and the depth of your analysis are the key components of case write-ups.

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