Business 787 - Information Resource Management

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



Sept 11 (1-4 pm)

Models of Management

pp 1-20

Tale of Two Airlines (p21)

Sept 12

 IT & Business Advantage


Taco Bell (p297)

Sept 19

IT & Business Models


Quicken Insurance (p79)

Sept 26

Networked Businesses


American Express Interactive (p374)

Oct 3

Peter Drucker’s view of IT

(see web site for materials)

Internet Securities Inc. (p342)

Oct 10

Organizing IT


Harley Davidson (p617)

Oct 17

IT Outsourcing


Xerox – outsourcing (p655)

Oct 24

IT Projects


National Logistics Management (p165)

Oct 31

IT Security


IPremier Company (p491)

Nov 7

IT infrastructure


Ford Motor Company (p500)

Nov 14

IT Infrastructure


Postgirot Bank (p519)

Nov 21



[Thanksgiving Break]

Nov 28

Global IT Issues

Course web site (p191)

Dec 5

Global IT Issues

Course web site

Nepal Pashmina (online)

Dec 12

Industry Presentations






This course presents the management responsibilities of information technology leaders.  It centers on the responsibilities of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and includes such topics as project selection, risk assessment, IT infrastructure analysis, IT organizational approaches, and strategic planning.  An important part of the IT manager’s job is to understand the views and needs of other corporate executives and to make decisions understood and supported by them. To do this you will 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 assess emerging information technologies.




Case Presentation (3 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?



Written case analyses (10 pts each, 60 total)


You will submit 6 cases for grading.  Please do not submit more than 6 cases; additional case write-ups will not be graded.  You are responsible for choosing the cases that you will submit from the list in our syllabus.  Please don’t take the last five.  At least two of your papers must be submitted before the fifth class meeting. Do not write up the first case – A Tale of Two Airlines – it is just a short sample case.


Each case analysis should be in the form of a two-page memo addressed to senior management at the company described in the case.  Your memo should have this outline:







Executive summary

The first paragraph should serve as an executive summary; that is, it should briefly summarize the entire memo so that senior management can immediately see the issues and recommendations that you are bringing forward

Problems and Opportunities

These cases are complex and present many problems and opportunities.  Of all the problems and opportunities facing management, which are the 1-3 that you think should be drawing management’s immediate attention.  Why?  Describe each in a short paragraph.


Since you raised 1-3 problems and opportunities, it is now your job to explain how each should be addressed.  In one paragraph per recommendation, explain how your recommendation would be accomplished and explain why it would work.  Sell your idea! 


The entire memo should be single-spaced with at least one-inch margins on all sides.  Use 12 point type.  Use headings between sections (Summary, problems and opportunities, recommendations).  No memo should exceed two pages.  If it does, I will simple stop reading after two pages. 


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.


Rewrites:  It is important to get things right the first time, since, obviously, once you have sent a memo to your boss, you rarely have a chance to do it over.  But I will allow 1 rewrite in case you hand in a real disaster.  But only one case paper can be rewritten.  If you do a rewrite, attach the original case paper to the rewrite when you turn it in.


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


4 Interviews (7.5 pts each, 30 pts total)

The best way to learn about IT management issues is to talk to someone who is involved in IT projects.  Each of these papers is to be 2-3 single-spaced pages.  As you will see, they correspond to a particular chapter we will be studying the week the paper is due.  My hope is that by conducting these interviews you will be able to bring a practical perspective to our class discussion that week.


  1. IT requirements for Networked Businesses.

Whether on the supply side or on the distribution side, every business now has a large number of connections to other businesses.  You are to take a close look at one such connection.  An example might be the access your company has to a supplier production schedule, or the information you receive from independent distributors.  Conduct an interview with a person knowledgeable about that connection and create a detailed description of the technology necessary to support that link.  What protocol is being used?  Who supports the routers?  How is security managed?  Explain the technical aspects of that connection, then close with your evaluation of that link – your appraisal of its strengths and weaknesses.  Due Sept 26


  1. Organizing Information Technology

Chapter 8 provides one model for organizing an IT shop.  Pick an organization of your choice and compare the model in Chapter eight to the model used by that company.  Explain the similarities and differences between the two.  Close by evaluating the company organization.  If you were CIO, what would you keep and what would you change?  Due Oct 10


  1. Managing Outsourcing

Cost pressures are leading many companies to outsource everything from janitorial tasks to warehousing.  But each task conducted by another firm still has to be managed by the contracting firm.  Contact a company of your choice and in three pages tell two stories:  one IT outsourcing project that worked, and one that didn’t.  What were the lessons learned?  How are these projects managed differently now than they were in the past?  Due Oct 17


  1. Analyzing IT Project Risk

Interview someone who has recently completed an IT project and determine what risk factors they had determined for the project.  How were those risk factors addressed?  Do you agree with their assessment and their response?  Did their risk assessment differ from the approaches suggested by Chapter 10?  What would you have done differently? Due Oct 24


7 pts - Online participation


This kind of course assumes regular participation by students.  I would expect to see 3-5 substantive messages each week.  Here is how I will grade this aspect of the course:


7 pts                            Early contributor each week, helps with week-end

summaries, leads discussion threads.

5-6 pts                        Active contributor each week, responds substantively

to the comments of others

4 pts                            Active contributor

2-3 pts                        Contributions don’t seem connected to the main

threads, limited interaction

0-1 pts                        Fewer comments, little substance, limited value to

others in the class



Grading scale

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


On-line classes

Those of you who have taken an on-line course before know the chief advantage of this medium – convenience.  You don’t need to commute to class, nor do you have to worry about business travel taking you out of town during the semester.


There is a second advantage – varied participants.  With a regular class you have classmates who live within commuting distance of the class.  An on-line course can draw people from all over the world, so you can read a much broader range of opinions on a topic.  This course will include students from several states and will involve a group of university students from Germany.  We should have a much richer discussion than we could have face-to-face in Oshkosh.


But there are disadvantages.  A “class” gives you a three-hour block of time that is dedicated to one topic, and it gives you a deadline for doing class projects.  With no special time for class, it is easy to put class off.  Some students find themselves falling further and further behind, and a few drop out.  Some people need the structure of a class.


Additionally, on-line courses involve a lot of reading.  You will probably find this course actually takes more of your time than a regular class.  Rather than cutting off discussion after three hours, discussions can go on for days.  No doubt you will find this class to be very demanding.


On-line activities -- What will we do each week?


Monday of each week I will create a new announcement in D2L listing the resource materials I will be using that week, such as web sites.  I will also post my lecture notes to the course web site (


Those who are presenting the week’s case will email me their outline so I can also put that in the course web site. 


Tuesday to Friday

The case presenters will begin the discussion of their case, using the Panel Discussion area of D2L.  They will make a general statement about their main findings, and then respond to class members.  They can expect to spend two to three hours online during the day and evening answering emails.  Other class members should expect to spend one hour reading the discussion threads and presenting their views on the case.


I will lead the discussion of the lecture material.  I will be on-line frequently all four days.  Class members should expect to “visit” the site for about an hour to read the materials, ask questions, and present examples from their own companies.



I will ask for volunteers to summarize the discussion of the week.  We will want 3-5 “take-aways” that are most valuable to management.


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.