Decision Making in IT Ventures (IT 496)

George Mason University

Catalog Description

The course introduces students to the decision making processes involved in leading IT companies. Topics include: the role of major IT applications in strategic, tactical, and operational decisions; assessment and justification of IT ideas and investments; methodologies to predict decision outcomes; how to measure IT investments performance; strategies to inspire, influence and organize the workforce to accomplish key business goals.

The course is offered as an Advanced Topics course in Spring 2014, and will be offered as a regular course (IT 496) in Fall 2014.

Course Goals

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:


MSOM 301

Course Format

The course will employ lectures, in class-quizzes to assess progress, assignments, role-playing activities, discussions, cases, hands-on applications, and a final exam. Students will be required to complete a team project on a topic previously approved by the instructor.

Textbooks and Reading Materials

Required Textbook

Information Technology Investment

Information Technology Investment: Decision-making Methodology, 2nd Edition
Marc J. Schniederjans, Jamie L. Hamaker, and Ashlyn M. Schniederjans
ISBN-13: 978-981-4282-56-7
ISBN-10: 981-4282-56-1
World Scientific Publishing Company, 2010

Recommended Readings

Below is a tentative list of recommended readings.

Additional readings, business cases, and lecture slides will be made available by the instructor before class.

Course Outline

Below is an outline of the 15 weekly class meetings.

  1. Introduction to the course - Lecture 1: Overview of the IT industry and its peculiarities – critical success factors
  2. Lecture 2: Overview and trends in IT evolution
  3. Lecture 3: How to evaluate the feasibility of IT ideas and investments
  4. Lecture 4: Organizational planning and the role of IT investment decision-making - Review session
  5. In-class quiz n. 1 - Lecture 5: Decision analysis: overview
  6. Lecture 6: Decision-making under certainty
  7. Lecture 7: Decision-making under risk
  8. Lecture 8: Decision-making under uncertainty
  9. In-class quiz n. 2 - Lecture 9: Synchronizing IT and strategy
  10. Lecture 10: Implementing IT decision-making
  11. Lecture 11: Evaluating IT investments performance
  12. Lecture 12: How to identify, attract, and retain talented workforce
  13. Lecture 13: How to inspire, motivate, and organize the workforce - Review session
  14. Student presentations
  15. Final exam

Course Tools

The following tools will be used in this course.

Additional Resources & Information

Below is a list of additional and useful resources.

Grading Policy

Grading will be based on class participation, in-class quizzes, assignments, team project, and final exam. Points for course activities will accrue as follow:

Activity Points
Class participation 150
In-class quiz n.1 75
In-class quiz n.2 75
Graded assignments (3 @ 50 points each) 150
Team project 250
Final exam 300
Total 1,000

Final letter grades are assigned as follows. Breakpoints may be adjusted depending on overall class performance.

Point % range Letter grade
97% - 100% A+
93% - 96.9% A  
90% - 92.9% A- 
87% - 89.9% B+
83% - 86.9% B  
80% - 82.9% B- 
77% - 79.9% C+
73% - 76.9% C  
70% - 72.9% C- 
67% - 69.9% D+
63% - 66.9% D  
60% - 62.9% D- 
  0% - 59.9% F  

Students who wish to recover credits lost in other course activities can volunteer to give short presentations (4-5 content slides, 8-10 minutes) on a topic of their choice. Each short presentation will earn up to 30 points, for a maximum of two presentations per student during the entire course. Students must notify the instructor in advance of their intention to give a short presentation. Time and topic of the presentation must be approved by the instructor.

Regular attendance is strongly recommended. Students will be held responsible for all material covered in class. Exams are given on the dates specified on the course schedule. Absence from taking any exam will result in a score of zero, unless cleared in advance with the instructor and arranged for a makeup session. Excusable absences are normally related to unavoidable and documented emergency situations.

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