Are we imposing any constraints on the situation?

In less than two weeks, an accounting system user’s conference is scheduled to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana on September 13–16, 2005. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina has struck the city leaving a wake of destruction. Based on what you see on television, the hotel and the city cannot possibly accommodate this or any conference for the foreseeable future.

Approximately 200 attendees are scheduled to attend, flying in from all over the country. All attendees prepaid their registration fee for the conference.

With a lot of competition in the marketplace, getting the users to participate in the annual user’s conference is critical to retain current customers. During the conference, several product enhancement ideas are developed by the users, and this input is often used in future releases of the product.

Potential new customers are invited to the event, and their involvement often leads to securing new contracts for the accounting system as they gain confidence in the system, seeing others use it.

As head of the group that puts on the conference, you are faced with making a determination of what to do with this year’s conference. You are getting calls from the registered attendees asking what to do.

Senior management feels that the conference is critical to ensure continued customer engagement and fears that cancelling the conference altogether will lose the momentum the company has developed over the past few years.

Other considerations:

Keeping the original dates and moving to a different city may drastically increase costs due to the short advanced notice. Will people cancel because of the higher hotel costs? If the date is changed, will the speakers and attendees still be able to attend? Having worked with the local Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and the hotel, you worry about how their businesses will survive with all of this destruction and wonder what you can do to help.

MGMT530—Conference Decision Case Analysis For this week’s Case Analysis:

Define the decision problem. As part of defining the decision problem, the following questions should be addressed. What is the general nature of the problem? What event triggered the situation? Are we imposing any constraints on the situation? What are the underlying elements of the problem? Are there dependencies on other decisions?

Submit your definition of the problem in a MS Word document to the Week 1 Case Analysis Dropbox. Input your responses in the ATTACHED template found here.