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BUSN495: Required Assessment Assignment: – Case Study

Assesses Course Learning Outcome #2 Justify strategy selection, goals, forecasts and tactics using research and financial .

Assesses BBA Outcomes

Comprehensive Case Study Assignment Guidelines: (use the analysis process

outlined in the assignment description, which is adapted from the American

Management Association 8 Step Case Analysis)

Paper Outline

Note: The paper should not exceed 6 pages (not including the cover page).

  1. Introduction: a brief overview of the topic and how you plan to proceed with your discussion.
  2. Case Facts and the root cause of the problem
    • Identifying and listing relevant case facts
    • Identifying and describing the root cause of the problem
    • Identifying and describing the problem components
  3. Analysis & Decision Making
    • Generating alternatives
    • Evaluating alternatives
    • Choosing and supporting alternatives(s)
  4. Action Planning: Describe how you will turn your solution or decision into action, how, when and what.
  5. Measurements: Recommend measures that will evaluate performance.
  6. Conclusion: a summary of the key points of the case analysis.

Case Analysis Assignment Description

Case studies present you with real life scenarios and situations that help to develop your critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills in the relatively safe environment of the classroom. Whether the situation described in a case is fairly straightforward or is highly complex, the entire problem solving process involves 4 phases and eight steps outlined below.

The analysis process will involve four phases:

  1. Problem identification and definition

The process of identifying and defining the problem involves three steps:

i) Reviewing the case and identifying and describing the relevant facts.

This step allows you to identify the key facts (the most relevant ones) so that you can

figure out what is going on before making a decision. Identify and stating the key facts

helps you identify the most important facts.

Provide a list of the most relevant case facts. These facts should be organized around

external forces (external environment) that affect an organization including but not

limited to: political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, legal and competitive; or

internal factors such as management problems, staffing issues, financial, or marketing

challenges.

ii) Determining the root or cause of the problem

This step expands on the previous step by identifying the facts in the case that are

contributing to the problem and/or are symptomatic of the problem. In this step, a simple

question that might guide the discussion is: what are the current challenges faced by

XYZ company? Identify all the challenges that the company is facing to include

international/global business decisions and ethical/social responsibility issues.

iii) Identify the problem components

This third part of the problem identification fully identifies the problem and the key components of the problem.

An example of part ii) and iii) is below:

The current challenges facing XYZ are how to remain competitive and profitable,

improve productivity and maintain good employee relations. A number of factors are

contributing to this situation. First, the government has recently passed laws to

deregulate the industry. This is causing competition in the industry to increase. Second,

widespread adoption of telecommunications and the internet means customers are

finding it much easier to shop around and compare prices. This is also stimulating

competition and is driving down prices industry-wide. Lower prices have led to lower

profits in the industry and the 1% fall in XYZ’s net margin is reflected in the $1,000 000

decline in net profit. Consequently, XYZ has been downsizing and recently laid off 10%

of its workforce in an effort to cut costs. A recent company survey indicated that

downsizing has adversely affected employee morale which the management believes is

responsible for the 2% decline in productivity. (XYZ, pp 214-215).

  1. Analysis and decision making

Most business cases involve decision making. For instance, some might need a

decision on questions such as, “What strategy or strategies should company XZY

pursue in the future? This decision can be made after an analysis of the company’s

strategy and situation. The final decision will vary based on the data available and the

perceived consequences. Analyzing the various dimensions of the decision requires

three things: decision options or alternatives, decision criteria, and providing relevant

evidence (Case Analysis Guideline, n.d). These three steps are below:

  1. Generating alternatives (options)

Since the case assignment or question requires a solution, a decision or an opinion then

you need to consider all the options. Brainstorming will help you generate a list of

possible alternatives.

Some questions that are being considered in this case that you must discuss and answer or list as alternatives in this section:

a) How could the organization solve the primary challenges and problems problems

identified in the case and any case questions? List as many alternatives for each

challenge as possible.

b) In addition to the challenges identified propose specific alternatives for the

following questions:

a. What are the organization’s options for future growth in global markets? What

might be potential markets?

b. Given the organization’s current financial situation and keeping in mind any

potential impact on return on investment capital to investors, what are the organization’s

strategic options for environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility

initiatives?

In this step, you do not need to be judgmental; virtually any idea goes but if you do not

list it, you cannot then choose it as the best option. A few examples of company XYZ’s

alternative solutions:

  • Close XYZ down – the future is bleak
  • Do nothing – the company has already cut costs enough
  • Increase productivity- to reduce unit costs
  • Employ more sales people- to increase sales revenue
  • Run some extensive advertising campaigns- to increase sales revenue and product awareness
  • Discontinue company benefits – to reduce costs
  • Continue to lay off staff as needed – to reduce costs
  • Implement voluntary redundancy/retirement and a hiring freeze – to reduce costs.
  • Ask employees to pay a proportional cost of medical benefits – to reduce costs.
  1. Evaluate alternatives

Once you have listed all your alternatives, the next step is to narrow them down to those

that seem most plausible; much like whittling down a long list of new cars to a few

potential makes and models. After you’ve screened your list, take the relevant facts that

you gathered in step 1 and apply them to each of the remaining alternatives. This

provides you with the necessary supporting evidence to reject most of the remaining

alternatives and decide on the best. A few examples are provided below:

  • Deregulation and consumer shopping habits mean competition is likely to be a fact of life for a long time to come– doing nothing is, therefore, not an option. The company must look for more ways to cut costs
  • Increasing productivity would help the company but without the commitment of the workforce this is unlikely to be successful.
  • Employing more sales people is an option but would increase costs without any real guarantee of success
  • The company already advertises regularly – doing more would push costs up higher than the industry average making it more uncompetitive unless revenues greatly increase as a result. This seems unlikely with the advent of increasing competition.
  • Discontinuing company benefits would decrease costs but may damage employee morale still further, However, it is a longer term possibility as employees have indicated they would rather pay for benefits than lose their jobs.
  1. Choose an alternative

After evaluating all your options, choosing the best alternative is usually a straight

forward next step but it is also one that is often skipped, even by business

professionals. So, make sure that you state your preferred solution simply and clearly.

Keep in mind that your readers aren’t as familiar with the case as you so, even if you

think the reasons for your solution, decision or opinion are obvious, you must still

explain which facts led you to that conclusion. Imagine that you had decided to do

nothing because you think things will settle down.

It is not enough to say, “XYZ could close down or spend a lot of money on advertising

and promotion to boost sales but the best solution is to do nothing, I think things will

settle down.” Support your recommended course of action using the

evidence/information from the case, other research and your experience to clarify your

reasoning.

For example:

“Although management believes that the recent 10% reduction in staff has reduced

costs sufficiently to allay the effects of competition for the next 3 years (XYZ), they

cannot afford to stand still or do nothing further because competition is increasing and is

here to stay (XYZ). Increasing promotional activity would also increase costs with no

guaranteed results and more job losses would result in a further decline in morale and

productivity. Bearing all this in mind, XYZ’s best option, therefore, is to introduce

employee healthcare contributions. This will save the company $1, 500 000 per annum

and employees have already indicated that they would be willing to accept this option in

preference to further job losses (XYZ) so, productivity is likely improve once the

changes are communicated and implemented.”

Note: Your chosen alternative(s) must be supported by an integration of facts emanating from business concepts such as finance, management, marketing, operations, human resource, etc. They must also be supported using the results of the environmental analysis or case fact highlighted in section 1 (i).

  1. Action planning

The first two stages of the case analysis process focus on identifying and making

decisions about the big picture. In this last stage, steps 3 & 4 call for you to define how

you will turn your solution or decision into action, how, when and what you will monitor

to ensure things are working out as planned and what you will do if they are not.

In our XYZ example, we have decided to introduce a new benefits program to reduce costs. Let us assume that the benefits team in the Human Resources department will be responsible for communicating changes in the benefits program to employees. This communication must be complete by mid- May so that employees can make informed selections in the open enrollment period during the last two weeks of May.

Communication Plan for New Benefits Program

Action Required

Action by

Time required/Deadline

Identify volunteers for focus groups to identify appropriate communication methods

Benefits Director

1 week/ 31st Jan

Conduct focus groups

Benefits Team

2 weeks/14th Feb

Prepare communication & enrolment forms in formats identified by focus groups

Benefits Director & PR Consultants

4 weeks/14th March

Send draft communications & documents to printers

PR firm

1 week/21st March

  1. Measurements

Finally, as with any plan, it is very important to build in measures so that you can

periodically monitor whether it is working. Therefore, you need to state HOW, WHEN

and WHAT you will measure, for example: quarterly reviews of new accounts opened,

sales volume or number of units sold, increases in customer awareness or satisfaction

levels, gross profit margins or net profits. You must also have a contingency plan in

case things do not go as expected. Will you make modifications to your existing plan?

Will you start the process over? Will you choose some other alternative that you’ve

lready identified?

 
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