Syllabus - Term III 2009

MBA 631 Operations Management

Stout home

MBA 631 home



Lecture notes

Instructor: Donald E. Stout, Jr.

Phone: Campus 360.438.4587

Voicemail: 360.438.4587

Email: (I prefer you communicate with me via e-mail when possible).

Web site:

Office hours: Please call for an appointment or stop by room 370, "Old Main".

Required text:

Meredith and Shafer, Operations Management for MBA's, 3rd edition, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2007.

Various Harvard Business Review articles.  A complete collection of Harvard Business Review is available in the periodical section of O'Grady Library. If going to the library is not your "thing", you may purchase downloadable copies of assigned readings from Harvard Business Review online. See the course schedule for specific article details.

Supplemental reading:

Various readings from Harvard Business Review, the Journal of Operations Management, or Production and Operations Management. Find your journal articles either online or in the periodical holdings of O'Grady Library.

Course description:

This course focuses on those business processes, procedures and strategies used to transform various inputs into finished goods and services. The course consists of two main components: a body of knowledge component which is disseminated through the text and lecture material, and a critical thinking component which is acquired through case analysis, discussion, and project work. This course is designed for an intensive study of the strategy, design, and operation of productive systems. Several quantitative techniques are reviewed, solved with Excel, and practiced with the short cases in the text. Class sessions are three hours in length and meet twice weekly for eight weeks. 

Course objectives:

This course seeks to improve your understanding of operations management. I want this course to cause you:

  • To develop an understanding of how operations can provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • To develop a knowledge of the issues related to designing and managing operations and the techniques to do so.
  • To improve your oral presentation skills.
  • To improve your quantitative reasoning ability.
  • To increase your facility with spreadsheets.

Teaching strategy:

Material will be presented by a variety of teaching approaches including lectures, in-class exercises, multimedia cases, short videos, web site exercises, homework, case analysis and presentation, and class discussion of assigned readings. When possible a cooperative, student-centered learning approach will be utilized to enable a high level of student involvement.

Course outline

Strategic aspects of operations


Up-front planning aspects of operations

Process planning and design
Process and quality improvement
Capacity and location planning

Ongoing operational aspects

Schedule management
Supply chain management
Inventory management
Enterprise resource planning
Lean management
Project management

Grading: Your grade in this course will be determined by both individual and group activities. Your grade will be determined by your performance in the following areas:

Examinations and quizzes: (40%) Points will be split between a final examination and quizzes. A comprehensive final examination which includes a presentation component will be administered during the last class session. Unannounced quizzes (5%) on reading assignments and problems may be given periodically. Quizzes will be made up of questions and problems taken from lecture material, case readings, assigned readings and the text.

Participation: (10% + 5%) I expect you to be prepared to take part in constructive class discussion. Class participation includes answering questions related to assigned problems, cases, or readings. You will earn a participation score for each class session. Missed sessions earn scores of 0.

Case analysis and presentation: (25%) You will earn a grade based on the quality of your oral presentation and the quality of your case write-up.

Case oral presentation and write-up guidelines: You are to become the class "expert" on your assigned case study.  You should:

Know the case.
Do outside research.
Fully explain the case to the class. Provide sufficient background information to fully inform an "uninformed" audience.
Assume the audience is "the decision maker".
Formulate appropriate alternative courses of action.
Offer your "expert" opinion and recommendation for solution.

Your case write-up should include an introduction, statement of the problem, analysis and discussion, and a conclusion. (You need not explicitly answer the case study questions.)

Homework: (20%) Homework assignments and their due dates are indicated on the course schedule.  Homework submitted past the scheduled due date will be downgraded for lateness. Therefore, if you must be absent, submit your homework early. Please submit all homework typewritten.

Journal article review/critique: (5%) You will be required to review and critique one article of your choosing found in either the Journal of Operations Management or Quality Progress. You will write and submit a one-page review and critique  of the article. Your submission should include a recommendation. Model your recommendation after those found in Choice. Your review/critique MUST not exceed one page. You should model your article review/critique after articles found in Choice: Publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a Division of the American Library Association.

Class attendance:  I recommend you come to each class session. I appreciate your presence and active participation during each class period. Your willingness to share your personal work experiences and insights enhances course value for all students.

While I take daily attendance, attendance is not mandatory in the same manner as passing the exams, reading the course material, and doing the homework is not mandatory. But, if you miss a class, it may be the class I hand out a pop quiz or we complete a graded in-class assignment. Missed quizzes and assignments earn scores of 0. 

Keeping in touch with me:  First, ask questions in class (it helps you and may help others). Alternatively, visit me during my posted office hours. Slide a note under my office door ("Old Main" room 370). Call me (360 438-4587).  Or, send me an email (

Special assistance: The Learning Center offers individual learning consultations, study group assistance, handouts and books on study skills, and free peer tutoring in the following subject areas: math, chemistry, physics, economics, accounting, Spanish, French, and Japanese. The tutoring schedules are posted outside the door in Old Main, room 212. To learn more about resources available through the Learning Center you are encouraged to drop by room 208 or visit their website:

Special needs:  If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have medical and/or safety concerns to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.

Contact Information:

Room 370 "Old Main"