Decision Support Systems
Course Syllabus

Fall 2001

Instructor:"Your Name"Phone Number
Course Time:Room #
Office Hours:Fand by appointment

[Text] [Catalog Description][Course Overview] [CourseObjectives] [Grading Process]
[Exams] [Assignments/Exercises][Attendance and Class Participation]

Text and Readings:

Our primary text is:

Power, D. J. Decision Support Systems: Concepts and Resources for Managers.

An MS Excel text like: Parsons, J., D. Oja, R. Ageloff and P. Carey, New Perspectives on Microsoft Excel 2000 - Comprehensive Enhanced, Course Technology, ISBN: 0-619-04427-6, 2001.

You will probably want to subscribe to DSSResources.COM. The subscription cost is $10 for 1 month or $20 for 4 months. The subscriber zone has support materials that you may find useful.

Catalog Description:

A study of decision support systems and applications. Topics include: decision support framework, decision processes, design and development, architecture and networking, web-based DSS, evaluating DSS projects

Course Overview:

This is a specialized course in information systems and information technology (IS/IT) for undergraduate MIS majors. The course is targeted to senior MIS students who want more expertise in developing, managing and using Decision Support Systems. This course will examine the design, development and implementation of information technology based systems that support managerial and professional work, including Communications-Driven and Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS), Data-Driven DSS, Model-Driven DSS, Document-Driven DSS, and Knowledge-Driven DSS.

In general, Decision Support Systems are used by people who are skilled in their jobs and who need to be supported rather than replaced by a computer system. The broadest definition states that Decision Support Systems are interactive computer based systems and subsystems that help decision makers utilize data, models and/or communications to solve problems and make decisions. Data-Driven DSS emphasize using data and include Executive Information Systems (EIS); Model-Driven DSS emphasize using models to support decision making. A Communications-Driven or Group decision support system (GDSS) is an interactive computer-based system intended to facilitate the solution of problems by decision makers working together as a group and includes groupware. Knowledge-Driven DSS attempt to capture the knowledge of a human expert in a computer system. This computer system can then be used by less expert users. Document-Driven DSS access and display text and multimedia information to support decision making.

Today, business information systems are a primary channel for communicating, storing and retrieving product orders, accounting records, and other business data. In your information systems foundation course, you learned that information systems support most tasks and functions of an organization. Also, you learned most managers are involved with using and managing information. You should have developed some knowledge of how computers, software, networks and information systems support business decision making and operations. You probably realize that some of what you learned is already dated or obsolete. We are studying complex, rapidly changing systems and technologies. For all of the above reasons, managers need to continually learn more about IS/IT and they need to develop a positive partnership with Information Systems professionals.

Managers and IS professionals must share responsibility for the effectiveness of information systems and share responsibility for dealing with the problems and opportunities presented by rapidly changing information technologies. Managers must consider both information systems and information technology issues when they design jobs, supervise subordinates, work with customers and suppliers, formulate strategy, develop goals and plans and implement management controls.

The primary focus of this course is developing intellectual capabilities related to design and development of decision support systems and Web-based information systems. We will also explore the role of DSS in supporting organization goals and the impact of information systems on organizations.

Course Objectives

As a result of our work together in this course, you should:

  1. To review and clarify the fundamental terms, concepts and theories associated with Decision Support Systems, computerized decision aids, expert systems, group support systems and executive information systems.
  2. To examine examples and case studies documenting computer support for organizational decision making, and various planning, analysis and control tasks.
  3. To discuss and develop skills in the analysis, design and implementation of computerized Decision Support Systems.
  4. To examine user interface design issues and evaluate the user interfaces and capabilities of Decision Support Systems.
  5. To improve hands-on skills using HTML, Microsoft Access and Excel, and JavaScript for building state-of-the-art Decision Support Systems, especially Web-Based systems that use advanced computing and networking technologies.
  6. To understand that most Decision Support Systems are designed to support rather than replace decision makers and the consequences of this perspective for designing DSS.
  7. To discuss organizational and social implications of Decision Support Systems.
Grading Process

Most of our class sessions are oriented to lectures and company examples, discussion of reading material, and hands-on computer lab sessions. The material will introduce you to the most significant problems faced in using and managing information and decision support systems and information technology.

Your final grade is a function of the following:

Spreadsheet DSS Project50
3 Excel Quizes90
3 Unit Exams240

Students receiving at least 92% of the points will receive an A; at least 82%, a B; at least 72%, a C. Plus and minus grades will be awarded. The curve may be adjusted downward at the discretion of the instructor.


I am planning to give 3 Unit exams in the class over lectures and reading assignments. The Unit exams will be a mix of questions, possibilities include short answer, short essay, mini-case analysis, and multiple choice questions. The Excel quizes may include multiple choice questions and hands-on skill questions. The actual format of the exam will be discussed in class prior to each exam. You will receive a study guide for the Unit exams.


You will be expected to complete a number of in-class and out-of-class assignments (100 points) and a Spreadsheet DSS Project (50 points). If you have problems that prevent you from following the class schedule, please let me know in advance and we will discuss how we might accomodate your situation. In class labs are open book and open notes. If the lab is submitted at the end of the lab session, then the student can receive 100% of the points. Lab exercises submitted within 24 hours of the end of a lab session can receive a maximum of 80% of the total points for the lab.

Attendance and Class Participation:

You are expected to participate in all class sessions. Active, consistent participation in class is an essential part of the learning experience. We will be discussing cases and readings both face-to-face and in an MIS Forum. You need to read the materials and prepare for the discussions.

Meaningful participation in the face-to-face and any on-line class discussions is valued and needed. Meaningful participation means making a contribution to our discussion, not merely talking or submitting messages, and it does not mean simply agreeing with what others have said.

I reserve the right to lower your grade for limited participation in course activities.

The MIS Forum/WebCT discussion will be evaluated based on the quality and NOT the quantity of your comments, the leadership you show in the discussions, your mastery of the technology, and whether your participation is active, consistent, regular and meaningful. I subtract points for repeated problems with spelling, grammar, and usage.


Course materials, syllabus and assignments may be updated, revised or altered during the course. Changes will be announced in class or by email with at least 2 weeks notice.

DSS Course Schedule

(subject to change with notice)

Year 2001
Aug. 27-31
Unit 1
Ch. 1 Supporting Business Decision-Making
Tutorial 1: Using Worksheets to Make Business Decisions
Sept. 5-7
Unit 2
Ch. 2 Gaining Competitive Advantage with DSS
Tutorial 2: Creating a Worksheet
Sept. 10-14
Unit 3
Ch. 3 Analyzing Business Decision Processes
Tutorial 3: Developing a Professional-Looking Worksheet
Sept. 17-19
Unit 3
Ch. 3 Analyzing Business Decision Processes
Tutorial 4: Creating Charts
Sept. 21
Unit 3
Excel Quiz #1
Sept. 24-28
Unit 4
Ch. 4 Designing and Developing DSSStart WebCT discussion
Oct. 1
Review Power DSS Chs. 1-4Unit Exam #1
(80 points)
Oct. 3-5
Unit 5
Ch. 5 Designing and Evaluating DSS User Interfaces
Tutorial 7: Developing an Excel Application
Oct. 8-12
Unit 6
Ch. 6 Evaluating DSS Architecture, Networking and Security Issues
Tutorial 11: Importing Data into Excel
Oct. 15-19
Unit 7
Ch. 7 Implementing Communications-Driven and Group DSS
Tutorial: Using Microsoft Netmeeting for Decision Support

Oct. 22-31
Unit 8
Ch. 8 Building Data and Document-Driven DSS
Tutorial 5: Working with Excel Lists
Appendix 2: Using Data Maps
Oct. 29
Unit 8

Excel Quiz #2
Nov. 2Review Power DSS Chs. 5-8Unit Exam #2
(80 points)
Nov. 5-9
Unit 9
Ch. 9 Building Knowledge-Driven DSS and Mining Data
Tutorial 9: Data Tables and Scenario Management
Nov. 12-15
Unit 10
Ch. 10 Building Model-Driven DSS
Tutorial 10: Using Solver for Complex Problems
Nov. 19-30
Unit 10
Ch. 10 Building Model-Driven DSS, continued
Tutorial 12: Enhancing Excel with Visual Basic
Dec. 3-7
Unit 11
Ch. 11 Building Web-Based and Inter-Organizational DSS
Tutorial 6: Integrating Excel with WWW
Appendix 4: Saving Pivot Tables in HTML format

Dec. 10-14
Unit 12
Ch. 12 Evaluating DSS ProjectsExcel Quiz #3
Dec. 17Monday, 8-10 amUnit Exam #3
(80 points)