PLEASE NOTE BEFORE READING: 1) This report is based on a Case Study which is attached. 2) There is no required number of sources; please just include how many you want. 3) The page limit is 5 pages MAXIMUM; please feel free to go under this amount if you want but still make sure to fulfill every requirement. 4) There are a lot of instructions; please read them carefully. 5) As you will see in the instructions, you will have to include charts or graphs, but this information can probably be found online. Please cite as needed.
INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE PROFESSOR:
Read the case thoroughly before you begin the analysis. The assigned cases are intended to give you practice in assembling data to support a decision. It should be emphasized that the case method of learning does not provide an answer to the problem being addressed. In most case discussions, several viable “answers” will be developed and supported by various participants within the total group. It is usually the case that a single “best” course of action is not obvious at the time the decision has to be made; if that situation was common, business decision-making would be easier than it is! At the same time, some courses of action are better supported by the case facts than others. In addition, while what actually happened is sometimes known, in no way should this be interpreted as the correct or incorrect solution. What is important is to develop a framework that will lead you to recognize the best options available. In preparing the cases, don’t look for a single answer. Each case will raise a number of issues that need to be evaluated. A good recommendation is one that is based on solid analysis and considers multiple courses of action.
Basic Structure (10%)
– A cover page with your name, the case name, the date, the course name and number
– A 5-page maximum analysis that discusses the key strategic issue, alternatives, recommendation, and implementation/action plan
– Page numbers
– Appendix (additional to the 5-page limit): appropriate chars/graphs (always refer to the charts in your; bibliography
Problem Identification – (25%)
– Key Strategic Issue/Problem Identification Section (1/2 to ¾ page)
– A brief background of key relevant information/facts pertinent to the case (usually no more than 3-4 sentences). The goal here is not to provide a summary of the case but to identify the key information/facts presented in the case.
– 1-2 sentences succinctly describing the one primary key issue/problem facing the organization.
-The statement should be direct and actionable (i.e., the problem must be stated in some way that the organization can take action to solve the problem). It should also be strategically focused, not tactically or operationally focused. One way to determine whether an issue is strategic is to ask yourself “what happens to the organization within the next 3-5 years if the issue is not addressed?”
If your answer is “not much” then it is probably not a strategic issue.
3-5 sentences describing the best case, likely case, and worse case scenarios if the strategic
issue/problem is not addressed (i.e., no action is taken). 1-2 sentences for each scenario.
– An Alternatives section (25%)
o Provide an alternatives section to address the key issues (typically 1-1.5 pages). Alternatives must be strategic, and they must be mutually exclusive. For example, two alternatives for an issue could be to
a) buy the competitor, or b) not to buy the competitor – obviously the organization cannot do both. You will usually develop at least 2 alternatives in an analysis. Rarely, if ever, is “do nothing” or “continue to do what they are doing” a strategic alternative for a case.
– For each alternative briefly detail the alternative (1-3 sentences) and then:
– Discuss 2-3 strategic advantages of the alternative (1 to 2 sentences for each advantage)
– Discuss 2-3 strategic disadvantages of the alternative (1 to 2 sentences for each
– A Recommendation section (20%)
– A Recommendation section where you select 1 (and only 1) alternative from the list above as the recommendation (typically ¼ to ¾ page) – this answers the question of “what should the organization do?”
– Describe 1-3 key decision criteria and/or assumptions, with rationale, that will serve as the basis of the decision (2-3 sentences)
– State the recommended course of action (from your list of alternatives) and possibly provide a little more elaboration of the recommendation beyond its description in the alternative section (1-3 sentences)
– Describe why the recommended course of action is the best alternative and the weaknesses of the other alternatives that prevent them from being selected as the recommendation (2-4 sentences)
– Describe the goals and objectives of the recommendation (2-5 sentences). This must include 1) a stated time frame for achieving 2) appropriate specific goals (profit, market share etc) 3) expected costs and benefits
-Implementation/Action Plan (20%)
o A section discussing the Implementation/Action plan (typically 1.5-2 pages) – this answers the question of “how should the organization go about achieving the recommendation”. This is in many respects the most important part of the entire case analysis. This section describes how the organization should go about making the recommendation happen. This section needs to be described in as much detail as possible given the constraints in the case. When you are missing specific data, fill in using sound business judgement. Items to include (this is not necessarily a complete list):
– Description of specific activities that need to be undertaken
– Assignation of responsibilities
– Costs of each activity
– Time frames for each activity
– Measures of success/failure for each activity
-Possible coordination issues
– Possible obstacles/impediments that need to be considered/dealt with to successfully implement the recommendation
Some additional thoughts and comments –
1) Harvard cases must be limited to the time period in which the case occurs. Many people want to
employ solutions that might be appropriate today for a case that takes place in the early 1990’s. For
example, suggesting that the company establish CRM technology and utilize big data for solutions is
impractical for a case that occurred in the 1990’s. In general, the cases contain all the information
needed to conduct a case analysis- you should not step beyond the scope of the case in writing your
2) You cannot read a case once and try to offer a solution. Nor are the solutions “hidden” in the case.
You will have to do considerable research
3) Some cases contain an abundance of information, while others contain a dearth of information- just
like real world decision situations. One of the primary goals of case analyses is to force you to make
sound decisions with the information at hand. You will be graded based on the soundness of your logic
and business thinking. You will not be graded on whether you the “right answer” since cases rarely
have “one right answer”
4) It is expected that you will “fill in” details (i.e., make reasonable assumptions) in a case analysis as
long as you are exhibiting sound business thinking. It is not acceptable to simply create details that
have no basis in reality or that do not exhibit sound business judgment.
5) Be as specific as possible, especially with in the recommendation, implementation/action plan sections.
6) Another primary goal of writing case analysis is to communicate effectively and efficiently. Most
senior managers do not have the time to read a poorly stated/an or poorly thought-out analysis.
A 5-page analysis requires that you write succinctly and clearly. Every word counts.