IS 679 Management of Information Systems

Course Syllabus 2006

Murray Turoff


Note that CIS 455 Distance and Honor students are allowed into this course and will have almost all the same readings and assignments but graded on a different curve.  CIS 455 students in this course must have had CIS 350.


Information Systems Department

New Jersey Institute of Technology

University Heights, Newark, NJ 07102







This is a course in the management of the development, planning, and utilization of Information Systems within organizations.  The course focuses on the current literature in the Management of Information Systems.  Among the topics discussed are the approval and decision process for the development of systems, use of steering committees and various approaches to user involvement.  The course utilizes a number Harvard Case Studies and the student is expected to do a course project utilizing the professional literature.


Recommended Prerequisite:


A graduate student that does not have an undergraduate degree in a computing area (IS, CS, MIS, CE) must have completed their bridge requirements before taking this course.  The course is reading intensive and requires a number of written assignments.  If you are taking courses to make up a low TOFEL, it is recommended you complete those before taking this course.  Those undergraduate students taking a distance version of CIS 455 must have had CIS 350 and will be graded on a separate curve as well as having some different exam questions..




The readings and lectures make up the material for an exam that will be given about 3/4's through the course.  The lectures provide some different material and insights then those that are contained in the readings.  The readings are:


Text Books:


Kidder, Tracy, The soul of a new machine, ISBN 0-316-49197-7 (2000 PB)  This is a paper back book, A quick read to be done as soon as possible.  NJIT bookstore has copies and used copies are possible.


Yourdon, Edward, Death March, Second Edition, by Edward Yourdon, Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR; 2 edition (December 7, 2003), ISBN: 013143635X


Creating Business Advantage in the Information Age, 1st Edition

Lynda M Applegate, Robert D.  Austin, F. Warren McFarlan, Softcover,  432 pages, ©2002, ISBN 0072523670, McGraw Hill




These can all be found via the NJIT digital library.  The following are some classic professional articles that are also part of the required readings:


Keen, Peter, (1981), Information Systems and Organizational Change, Communications of the ACM, 24(1), January, 24-33.  This article deals with the conflicts that are introduced in organizations from the introduction of or changes to Information Systems.  It contains a wonderful morphology of the ways one can defeat the development of a new Information System while appearing to be supporting it!!!


Mowshowitz, Abbe, (1981), On Approaches to the study of Social Issues in Computing, Communications of the ACM, 24(3), March, 146-155.  This article provides a structure for understanding the other readings in this area and the underlying human biases of viewpoints that exist in computer and information systems.  You need this to guide your reading of professional papers.


Clemons, Eric K., (1991), Evaluation of Strategic Investments in Information Technology, Communications of the ACM, 34(1), January, 22-36.  A basic tutorial on how to look at IS from a corporate cost benefit view.  Extremely important you know the concepts of these methods


Oz, Effy, (1994), When Professional Standards are Lax: the CONFIRM Failure and its Lessons, Communications of the ACM, 37(10), 30-36, October.  One explanation of a well documented commercial sector disaster (ˇ°runaway or death marchˇ±).


Abdel-Hamid, Tarek, and Madnick, Stuart E., Lessons Learned from Modeling the Dynamics of Software Development, Communications of the ACM, Volume 32, Number 12, December 1989, pp. 1426-1438.  A good summary of different approaches to curing cost overruns in software development projects and their sometimes negative consequences.  It will give you a better understanding of the difficult choices facing software development managers.


Eisenstadt, Marc, My Hairiest Bug War Stories, Communications of the ACM, Volume 40, Number 4, April 1997, 30-37.  A discussion of the nature of difficult bugs.  This shows our growing limited ability to deal with this fundamental problem, let alone intentional bugs (viruses, worms, spyware, identity theft, etc.). 


The Communications of the ACM should be available in any college library in your area.  Any student registered for a course at NJIT may use the ACM digital library on the web through the NJIT library using your student UCID.  Go to NJIT library, go to journals and then at some point when you find an article you will be asked for you NJIT UCIT.


You should read the above papers as soon as possible.


A very significant source of other material may be found via and those of you who have not might want to consider student membership in the Association for Information Systems  I assume you already belong to ACM ( )


Review Article Assignment:


You may be required to find and review a PROFESSIONAL article about the Management of Information Systems.  This must be an article published in the last three years.  You need to find an article that is significant enough to be a candidate to add to the above list of required articles.  Part of the grade for your review will be based upon how significant the article is.  A professional article is one that carefully references the foundation material that led to the current article and is usually found in a professional journal.  A very large selection of relevant journals is in the NJIT digital library.


When you have determined what article you plan to review you should put the complete reference (author, title, journal, volume, issue, date, pages) in the class conference I will set up for posting your candidate for a review article, along with a one paragraph statement as to why you think it is significant and also include a link to the article if it is on the Web.  This will reserve the article for you (first come, first served).  No student can duplicate another student's choice.  There will be another special conference where you will enter your final review.  When you enter the planned article in the conference, you must hand or mail me a copy of the original article.  If I do not reject that choice within one week of putting the reservation comment in the class conference, it is accepted as your review article.


The review should focus concisely on the following points:


Introduction: Objective of the article and what is the findings or approach that it is based upon.

Results: What are the important observations, conclusions, findings, etc?  Include any important details relevant to the individual findings.  How well are the results supported by data and observations?

Issues: What open questions or issues are still unresolved?

Critique: How confident are you in the results of the article and why?


The article must relate to the subject of management of IS and not be an article that is purely about the technology.  You may choose an article that will be one of the references for your project so this and the project overlap.


Article references should always contain all the following information:


author(s) (last, first names), (year of publication), Title, journal name, volume, issue, month, page range (#-#) and web URL if appropriate.


Course Notes:


I will load the course notes in our WEBBOARD for this course (  Since I will be redoing the lectures they will not all appear at the beginning of the semester.


Case Study Assignments:


We will do a case study about every two weeks.  I will enter a series of questions in the class conference about each case study which must be answered within a one week period I will designate.  The results of your answers must be handed in class or mail to me in hard copy form.


You may team up with two to four others to work collaboratively on the answers and your understanding of the case studies.  All the members of a team get the same grade.  You may as an individual withdraw from a team up to the point before the team case study is handed in.  However, you have to hand in a report of your own on time.  I consider it a useful beneficial experience to discuss these cases in study groups.  Those of you working together as a team may ask me to set up a private conference in our discussion board we are using for the course. 


After the case study is due there will be an on line discussion based upon a summary question I will ask.  Case studies must be on time or they receive no credit once the discussion by the class has started.  If you miss this due date for any VALID reason, than I will try to give you a makeup assignment.  However, you must alert me before the due date as to why you can not have your case study result in on time.


You will find the detailed case study assignments and associated questions in our class conference.  Each question should not take more than one page double spaced.


I will give you sort of practice case study with only a few questions to be answered online as an individual assignment.  You may wish to wait till you have seen that before forming teams. 


You will find the questions for the first case study in our class discussion board.


Advice on doing a case study:


1. Read the chapter associated with the case.


2. First, skim the case trying to determine broadly what is the case about and what types of information are you being asked to analyze.


3. Next read the case very carefully, underlining key facts as you go.  Try to determine the basic problems and the key issues facing the managers involved.


4. Note the key problems on scratch paper and review the case again sorting out and noting the relevant considerations for each problem.  You should have created your own conceptual map of the case on scratch paper at this point.


5. Now, go back to the questions and utilize your notes and the case to try to prepare answers.  You may have to modify your map at this point.


6. If you are working as part of a group make sure everyone has done the above before getting together to reach agreement on the answers to the questions.  Do not divide up the questions by group members or you will certainly do poorly as a group.  If you are using a conference, you should at least post your raw notes before starting discussion or you should hand out copies to each of the other members through email.  This insures everyone has done this very important step to be able to contribute to the group results.


Groups are only useful if everyone contributes and everyone's brain power is focused on all the considerations.  However, a group working together with everyone contributing is a very good way to handle case studies and you may form groups of no more than three individuals to work on any or all of the case study exercises.  You may also set up a private conference for the group to do their work so groups may be made up of students form the face to face and the distance sections.


Now that many software development groups are internationally dispersed and work together electronically you should could consider this a good experience for your future work as a team member in software development groups.




One of the first things we will do online is introduce ourselves, pointing out backgrounds and interests in the course.  I suggest that individuals wait until this and the first formal discussion exercise is well underway before deciding on teams.  In some cases, I may add students unable to find teams to existing teams or form new teams.




The exam covers the readings, including the articles, and the lecture notes.  I expect you to know terms and associated concepts and be able to synthesize across different concepts.  The sorts of things I expect you to remember are those things you should know if you are ever in a management position dealing with the development or use of information systems.  The exam occurs about 3/4's through the course, it is more than a midterm but less than a final in counting toward the grade.


Sample Exam Questions:


Describe a major management issue, policy issue, or planning problem associated with the introduction in to an organization of software to create collaborative Hypertext documents.  It should be something specific to the technology rather than general.


What the danger signs or primary conditions that could lead to a software development project getting into serious trouble and becoming a "runaway?"


What do you consider the most promising three approaches to increasing software productivity and why?


How would you define a strategic information system?  Give an example of a possible new one for each of NJIT and AMAZON.COM and specify why each is strategic.


In the class conference, you will be shown a complete earlier exam.


Exam Question Assignment:


Everyone in the class must suggest a potential exam question based upon the readings or the lectures.  It should require a synthesis across different concepts and not be merely a repeating of what was heard or read.  After the questions have been gathered everyone will have a chance to indicate their preferences for which questions might be included.


Discussion Questions


There will be a number of on line discussion questions.  These are usually in two parts.  Everyone first independently expresses their view and then all the views are exposed to the whole class.  At that point, everyone must pick a view that no one has yet replied to and either lend support to it or argue against it.  Once you have replied to an initial position you may discuss any other entry that already has at least one reply.


Course Project:


There is a project rather than a final exam.  This project must be done on an individual basis, no teams.  You can choose an individual and specific area of changing technology that might be further specified by an industry area it is impacting.  You may also choose technology that is clearly related to management in the IS area, e.g., Measurement systems for software production productivity or forecast estimation.


To choose a topic you must put in the designated class conference a comment that has:


1) Title and Abstract

2) Top level outline for Table of contents of your report

3) Five professional literature references to go with the topic.


The first one to choose a topic, in the conference set up for that purpose, by supplying the above information has that topic and no other student may take it.  You should have picked your topic no later then week ten of the course.  Your report is to cover in equal depth two aspects of this topic.  These are:


Part 1:

This is a description of the functionality of the technology in the application area that is written for managers and executives, not for technical individuals.  This part is intended to supply managers with an understanding of what the technology can do in the application area they are concerned with.  This should not focus on just what is in the market right now, but what the technology will be like in the next five years with respect to performance and cost.


Part 2:

This section of the report is the implications for management of this technology.  What should be the approach of management to the introduction and utilization of this technology?  What management policies, practices, and decisions will be changed or impacted by this technology within the specific applications area?  What are the potential dangers or possible disadvantages of the technology?  (Reports that follow Mowshowitz's Techniques viewpoint will not be graded high.)


I expect the two parts to be about equal in terms of effort put into them for the project report.


This paper will can be done as a professional paper or it can be done as a formal class lecture on the topic in the form of overheads and written notes for the talk in the power point handouts.  It should utilize anywhere from 10 to 20 professional literature references.  References should be noted directly in the text in the form (author, year).  The back of the paper or the presentation notes should contain a complete list of references with all the details on the reference (title, authors, year, journal, volume, issue, pages).


The easiest way to find current articles about a topic is to identify a classic paper on the subject that is five to ten years old and then go to a library that has the Citation Index.  This may then be used to find recent papers that reference the older paper.  There is s citation index on the Web for the computing literature and I will reference that in the course.


This paper will be due on the last meeting day of classes.  Not the week following which is finals week.


You will be required to enter a one to two page executive summary in a class conference set up for the purpose and also put your paper or presentation in as an attachment.  This is for the benefit of the other students who might want to learn about the topic.  You will also have to send or hand me a hard copy.  Mailed copies need to be sent to my home address.  In addition, a copy must be placed in ˇ°turnitin.comˇ± which carefully checks for plagiarized material form anything on the web including all the projects in this course and similar courses at other universities from the past five years.  You must put the report in your own words and any copying with out the use of quote marks will be considered cheating which means an automatic F in the course and filing an action with the dean of students.


There are prior examples of projects in this course on my website under the CIS 679 link and older notes for this course.




Your participation in class discussion and/or discussions in the on-line conference counts for 20% of the grade.  10% is for your answers and replies in any assigned on line discussion.  10% is for spontaneous discussion such as answering another students question before I have to or volunteering insightful information that was not required.


Participation is not based upon quantity except in the negative sense (e. g., none is of course poor), but upon quality.  Participation can be based upon asking good questions as well as having good insights.  Participation considers your response to other students in the class and not just to items solicited by the instructor.  I will usually delay responding to a comment or answering a question until there has been an opportunity for others in the class to respond.  It may also be based upon describing relative experiences you have had in your own work or in providing references you have run across that might be useful to other class members.  Helping other class members and thereby reducing the amount of writing I have to do is a very good thing and allows me to concentrate my effort on the insights that usually I can only make.


If there is something sensitive, you wish to say you may enter comments anonymously.  Sometimes you may not wish to identify your company when describing a prior experience relevant to our class material.  If you would like credit for the anonymous comment, you should message me that you were the author of the comment.




On-line assignments will be due the same time for all students and mailed in assignments must be post marked on the due date. 


Any physical mail should be sent to my home address as going through the university adds extra days to the physical mail.


Murray Turoff

19 Meadowbrook Rd

Randolph, NJ, 07869


Do not send or mail material in any way that I am forced to sign for it, as this would delay its delivery and cause me considerable inconvenience and lost time.


We will be using a Webboard system at you may go to that location, choose the CIS 679 board for the current semester.  If you have already an account on this WebBoard you may use that.  If not, when you are asked for your log in and password you can click on the button to establish/create a new account.  It is important that you use an email in filling out your profile that you will regularly use during the course as I will send any needed email to you using that.  In addition, some company firewalls may prevent you from using Webboard till you get the domain approved for going through the firewall and setting cookies.


You may send me private mail using the address  However, questions that would be interesting to other students should be entered in the conference and not sent as a private message.  Only send me email mail if for some reason you cannot get into our discussion board or have a private problem or question you need help with.  You can also put question in the conferences anonymously if you feel it might appear too simple.


There will be a private conference for the CIS 455 students to deal with questions related just to their course and grading for it.


The class conferences is the place to ask any questions you have on the readings or any points you want me to elaborate on.  My lectures augment the readings and are different from the readings.  Unless you ask questions, I can only assume you understood the readings or the lectures.


Travel or work commitments are not acceptable excuses for handing in assignments late.  Neither are such things as lack of backup to a crashed disk.  Late assignments will result in lower grades.  If you have travel commitments, you have to do your assignment ahead. 


Computer Mediated Communications:


You need to get familiar with using WEBBOARD and expect to check in at no less than twice a week.  If you let weeks go by without checking in you will find it very difficult to keep up with the material that has been entered.


If you do not have an account yet on Webboard from another class, carry out the New Account process to get yourself an account as soon as possible.  Be careful to use an email address for your account that you will always be checking because that is the only way I can send you important private messages.  To change the current email you have you must contact the WebBoard administrator (bottom of that page) and request a change.  You are not allowed to change your email as part of modifying your profile. 


Do not ask me questions in private messages unless you feel you would be embarrassed to ask them in front of the class.  In addition, if it is truly something private you may ask me in private. 


There will be a ˇ°Practice and Caf¨¦ˇ± conference and you may use that to practice being used to the system and to try such things as creating attachments, etc.


The following conferences (titles) will be set up just for questions so that it will be easy for others to find questions and answers that might interest them later


Questions on Assignments

Questions on the text books (two conferences)

Questions on the course lectures

Questions on required professional paper readings

Questions other than above


Expected grade point distribution:


Project 25%

Cases 30% (5% each)

Exam 20%

Review 5%

Participation 20%


These are subject to some change for any particular offering due to various changes that might occur.


Instructor Instructions:


One of the first conferences you will see on line is called ˇ°instructor instructions.ˇ±  This is read only as only I can enter things and it will have all the ˇ°must readˇ± material for the course entered as the course develops.  In addition, the very first root item in any other conference will always be my explanation of how that conference is to be used.  So these roots are also ˇ°must readˇ± as well.


Final Comment:


This is a highly interesting topic and it can be fun if everyone does their part.  I have been active in this field since 1958 and have had practical experience as an employee, designer, developer, manager, and consultant.  I have had work experience with IBM, a non profit and the US government before I entered Academia and my vita is also accessible from my homepage.  I enjoy trying to guide students to a better understanding of this topic.  It is not always as logical as programming.


This is the end of the CIS 679 Syllabus


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