Generally, Individual student papers will be between 4-8 pages in length. FOR GROUP CASES Student teams (not to exceed three people) will submit a 4 to 6 page Executive Summary analysis of the company using a prescribed format. The MEMO MUST BE UPLOADED IN BB.
The presentations should use the following outline:
(1) Identify presenter(s), the audience, the date and the subject
(2) Provide an executive summary (note: an EXEC SUMMARY IS NOT AN INTRODUCTION OR BACKGROUND INFORMATION, it is a summary of the key points of the report)
(3) Define the problem or opportunity to be analyzed
(4) Develop a relevant and balanced analysis
(5) Identify viable alternative solutions
(6) Analyze alternatives in context with defined criteria
(7) Selects a recommended alternative and discuss how it would be implemented and issues which might arise in implementation.
The cases may have specific questions posed, but these should only guide thinking; the objective of the assignment is to use a decision making process to identify opportunities and to support recommendations.
Although each case is different, student’s case analysis skills will develop more effectively if a standard approach is used by students using a similar framework. In performing the analysis, the following framework is offered as a method of approach. The basic steps, which will be covered extensively in the course, include:
- Decisions: What are the key decisions that have to be made by the focal decision maker? Students often isolate/focus on relatively minor decisions; students will need to develop analysis so that a full decision scope is identified.
- Objectives: What objectives is management trying to achieve? These often take the form of growth, market share, profit or cash goals. Do these make sense, given analysis?
- Market Analysis: What is known about the market size, growth, presence/evolution of market segments? What markets for other products forms impinge upon the market being considered?
- Environmental Analysis: What are the key imperatives and/or changes taking place outside of the industry that affect both the firm and its competitors? Examine the economic, technological, social, regulatory, political, and legal environments.
- Industry Analysis: What is happening in the industry? What is the state of competition between existing competitors? To what extent are new firms entering the market? What is the level of competition from products made with different technologies? Are suppliers integrating forwards, laterally? Are our customers integrating backwards?
- Customer Analysis: Who are the customers? What sets of benefits do they require?
- Competitor Analysis: What are the strengths and weaknesses of competitors? What are their strategies? Will their strategies change? If so, how? What strategies might be expected from new entrants?
- Firm Analysis: What are the firm’s strengths and weaknesses? What strategies have been pursued in the past? How successful had these been?
- Economic Analysis: What does the economic analysis show? Given the set of decisions and objectives facing the decision maker, what is the nature of the consequences of the decision in economic terms?
- Assumptions: As students reflect on their analysis, it will be critical to state the key assumptions upon which the strategy is based.
- Alternatives: What are the two or three major courses of action that could be followed to reach the firm’s objectives? For each alternative identified, lay out pros and cons (this can be done as a table for conciseness, but students should be prepared to defend their positions).
- Action Plan: What is being recommended? Lay out a broad strategy and identify specific action steps as well as a rough plan for implementation. Consideration of investments/costs must be made.
A special note about EXECUTIVE SUMMARIES:
Case assignments include a request for an EXECUTIVE SUMMARY; as indicated in class, this is written AS THE LAST PHASE of the writing process however it appears FIRST in the report or memo.
An EXECUTIVE SUMMARY is SINGLE SPACED and is a one-page (or for our cases, one paragraph) statement of the problem, the purpose of the communication, and a summary of the results, conclusions, and recommendations. THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY does not have to appear on it’s own page; it can precede the balance of the report on the first page.
An Introduction provides an orientation for the reader, it explains the PROCESS of development of the content and provides the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions: What is this? Why is the reader reading it? What do you want the reader to do?
The Background offers general background information of a particular issue in order to help the reader understand the basis of facts.