While some of you may have significant experience analyzing and preparing business cases, others may be new to the process. Both groups can benefit from the guidelines provided on the following pages. In particular, be sure to follow the format guidelines outlined in Writing and Formatting section below.
6-step Case Analysis Process
Step 1. Management Dilemma. The dilemma is a signal of an underlying problem. It is not what you need to do or the company’s problem. It is the event or indicator (metric) that led you to think that there was a problem? Although there may be many dilemmas in the case, I want you to focus on one. Examples of a management dilemmas are decreasing profits, lack of competitive advantage, slow market growth, etc.
Step 2. Situation Analysis. A situation analysis is an analysis of the key factors in the case -- it is not a summary of the key factors in the case. The SA represents an opportunity to integrate key points and apply course theory. The goal of the SA is to identify the core problem behind the management dilemma that you identified in Step 1. Try to avoid falling into the trap of confusing symptoms with problems. Declining sales, increasing costs, low morale are symptoms that are commonly identified as problems. You need to figure out why these symptoms are occurring. Also, do not make recommendations in the SA.
Step 3. Decision Point. A decision point is like an actionable problem statement. It should be connected to the SA and the MD. For example, if the core problem behind decreased sales is "The firm's pricing strategy does not match its stated positioning strategy", your decision point may read "How can the firm reformulate its pricing strategy so that it better reflects the market position goals and increases sales?" Thus, your DP is always in the form of a question and must flow logically from your situation analysis and management dilemma.
Step 4. Identification of Alternatives. You must briefly discuss three alternative solutions for dealing with your DP. Each of these alternatives should be realistic and meaningful. That is, do not throw in alternatives that have no value just to make three alternatives. Also, do not combine two alternatives to make a third alternative. It should not be hard to come up with three distinct alternatives.
Step 5. Decision Criteria. In this section you will discuss the key criteria used to select between the three alternatives. Similar to the DP, these criteria should flow logically from the SA and the Dilemma section. For example, if you identify decreased profit or revenue as symptoms of the identified problem in the SA, then profit and revenue are likely candidates for decision criteria.
Step 6. Analysis of Alternatives and Decision. Using the decision criteria identified in Step 5, you will discuss the pros and cons of each alternative and then select the most appropriate one. If you use a decision matrix and/or scales to quantify fit of each alternative with the decision criteria you must explicitly discuss the meaning of the numbers. That is, if you assign a 5 to alternative one on the profit criteria, you must be clear on what "5" represents. For example, does this mean alternative one does a good job of satisfying the profit criteria? Furthermore, if you are going to assign numbers to alternatives, include an explanation for why the number assigned for one alternative differs from the number assigned to another alternative.
Writing and Formatting Instructions
This case analysis is limited to three double-spaced pages plus a cover page. Appendices are not allowed. You must use 12 pt. font for all text, including headings. Please use headings to separate the main sections. Please note that you need an extra space before each new primary or secondary heading. Use 1" margins on all sides and left justification. You do not need a reference page. If you cite an article that was discussed in...
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