OPM 9500 Syllabus and General Information

(The syllabus can be found here.)

This course will show you how to analyze a wide array of planning and decision making problems involving data with the help of spreadsheet models. We provide a framework for quantitative decision-making, optimal design, effective resource allocation and economic efficiency.

Our framework will be used in the center of many business-related disciplines, including operations management, economics, marketing, finance, and accounting. The class will focus both on modeling the decision problems and on analyzing the designed models over data.

In the modeling approach, we seek to describe the essential structure of a decision problem in terms of objectives, decision variables, uncertainties, outcomes, choice criteria, and feasibility. Powerful and easy to use spreadsheet tools have been developed to assist in this process. Those covered here include:

  • Optimization tools (e.g. Solver add-in): extracting maximum value from resources and activities; exploring complex combinations of possibilities to achieve desired goals;
  • Decision making tools (e.g. Decision Tree): A rigorous way of comparing alternatives in single or multi-stage decision making, incorporating notions of risk and utility.
  • Simulation tools (e.g. Crystal Ball add-in): valuing and managing complex portfolios of risks.

These decision technologies have enabled many organizations and businesses to improve their routine activities, but also identify long-run decision opportunities and sometimes rethink the whole of their activities. In this sense, decision models have tactical and strategic value; they are an important factor of value creation. In this class, examples will be drawn from budgeting, production planning, resource allocation, advertising, portfolio optimization, revenue management, and risk management, among others.

The material is approached from a managerial rather than technical perspective, that is, with a focus on how to apply decision technology, and how to interpret the results for guiding management action.