Business 754 - Information Systems in Organizations

Course Syllabus




William Wresch, Ph.D.

(920) 424 – 4151 (office)

College of Business Administration

(920) 231 – 2789 (home

Clow Faculty 231

800 Algoma Blvd

Oshkosh, WI 54901




Applegate, L., McFarlan, F. W., and McKenney, J., Corporate Information Strategy and Management: Text and Cases, 6th. Ed., McGraw-Hill, Irwin 2003


Weekly Discussions



Discussion Topic



Jan 29

The Impact of IT on Business Basics


Taco Bell (p297)

Feb 5

 IT & Emerging Business models


Quicken Insurance (p79)


Feb 12

IT & Value Chain Models


National Logistics Management (p165)

Feb 19

Enterprise Systems

Web site

Cisco Systems (p601)

Feb 26

Global Systems

Web site (p191)

March 5


Student Presentations

Web site

Internet Securities (p342)

March 12

IT Management


Tektronix (p 637)

March 26

Organizing IT


Harley Davidson (p617)

April 2

IT Security


IPremier Company (p491)

April 9

IT Outsourcing


Xerox – outsourcing (p655)

April 16

IT Projects


Ford Motor Company (p500)

April 23

IT infrastructure


Postgirot Bank (p519)

April 30


Web site


May 7

Student Presentations





This course has two principle objectives.  First, IT is changing both the way we do business and the very models for business.  You can now be in more businesses than you could be a decade ago.  We want to explore those possibilities.  Second, the IT systems we use every day have to be managed.  We will walk in the shoes of IT managers to see what problems they face and what approaches they take to manage the IT function. 


This course will help you learn how to assess technical and business opportunities and risks, how to achieve a fit between business strategy and information technology architecture, and how to optimally organize the corporate IT function.




Case Presentation (10 pts)

Once during the course you will be one of two people who will lead discussion of a case.  A sign-up list will be circulated during the first class period.  Your description will have three parts:


History – Each case will include a description of the circumstances of the company.  You are to select the events that are most important and describe their significance.  Be selective.  You don’t need to repeat the entire story of the company.  Show that you have a sense for which events in the history of the company had the greatest impact on their current circumstances.  Please don’t list every event on the history of the company.


Problems and opportunities -  Of all the things currently happening with this company, what are the biggest problems management faces?  Where are the opportunities?


Recommendations – If the executive team of this company called you in as a consultant, what would you recommend?  Why?



Executive case analyses (5 pts each, 40 total)


You will submit 8 cases for grading.  Each case analysis will be one page (single spaced) in length, and will be an analysis of which events/problems/opportunities presented in the case should be looked at by the CEO. 


Begin with this premise – any executive is constantly being bombarded by well-meaning people with lots of ideas for improving the company.  But no person can do everything.  Having just read the case, what 1-3 things do you think should make it to the top of the CEO’s to-do list?  (Ideally, these would be things the CEO might not already have considered.)  Describe each in a short paragraph.  Explain why your problem or opportunity is the most important.




2 Interviews (10 pts each, 20 pts total)

The best way to learn about IT issues is to talk to someone who is involved in IT projects.  Each of these papers is to be 3-4 single-spaced pages. 


  1. IT possibilities

Look around your business – or a business you know and respect.  What have they done with IT that has enhanced their business, either by cutting costs significantly, or by opening up additional revenue streams?  Find someone who was involved in that project and conduct an interview.  How was the innovative project conceived?  How was it evaluated?  How was the project staffed and led?  How was it managed?  How do people on the team feel about the project now that it is completed?  What would they do differently?  Finally, add your own analysis of the project.  What do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the project?  Due Mar 5


  1. Managing the IT function

During the second half of the course we discuss such IT areas as operations, infrastructure, security, and project management.  Interview an IT manager and find out how that manager has addressed all the topics we considered.  Ask which requires the most management time.  Which is growing in importance?  Be sure to also ask how the IT function is linked to the rest of the organization and how its priorities are set.  Once you have a good feel for how this manager approaches this set of management challenges, present your own view.  If you were CIO, what would you keep and what would you change?  Due May 7



2 summary papers (15 points each, 30 total)


Our course really has two halves. The first half addresses general implications of how businesses are being changed by the application of IT.  The second half addresses how the IT resources of a company should be managed.  Your job is to write a summary paper for each half.


Each paper will be 4-5 pages in length and will explain how you would apply the concepts you are learning to a company you now work for or have worked for in the past.  The material you gather from the interview should be helpful, and you may include ideas from additional outside reading.  Format each paper as if you were giving a 15 minute presentation to your CEO explaining how you think a company can take advantage of IT business opportunities, and (in the second paper) explaining how you think IT should be managed.  You might also think of these papers as the presentation you might give if you were being interviewed for a promotion.  You will present a summary (5 minute version) of your paper during one of the scheduled evening sessions.  The first paper is due March 5 and the second is due May 7.


General comments about written work:

Work should be single-spaced with at least one-inch margins on all sides.  Use 12 point type.  No work should exceed page limits.  If it does, I will simply stop reading after the page maximum.  Learn to be concise. 


Spelling and grammar are important.  Your grade will be lowered if your English is poor.  Write complete sentences and paragraphs.  Bullet points are also useful to highlight lists of ideas, but such bullets should be used judiciously.  Keep your sentences short and avoid business jargon (please don’t tell management to “be proactive”).  Use a spelling and grammar checker.


Important:  No late work will be accepted.  All written work is due at the start of the class where the case is discussed.


Grades:  What am I looking for?  Creativity and specificity.  In the cases, you need to find the biggest issues facing management.  If you distract the CEO with minor issues, it will hurt your grade.  Explain why the issues you name are the primary issues for his/her attention.  Provide support for your position.  It should be clear that you know enough about business to help a CEO find the central problems or opportunities that move a company forward. 


Submitting work:  I will accept papers in class, but it is usually easier and faster if you just email work to me so I can comment on it and email it right back.


Grading scale

A= 93-100, A/B = 88-92, B = 83-87, B/C = 78-82, C = 72-77


Contacting me

Use email (  I have an answering machine on my phone both at work and at home, so you can try me that way, but it is usually easier on both of us if you just email when you have time, and I answer when I have time.  I check my e-mail once or twice an hour.