Guidelines for Case Analysis A critical element in our learning is the interaction provided by discussing business decision-making. This sharpens our communications skills and analytical skills – and we learn a lot at the same time. Case analysis provides an excellent forum for us to learn. Here are some suggestions that should help you in this course. Please note that all professors are different as are their expectations for case analyses – do not assume that what one professor accepted is acceptable here.
• Preparing for Cases • Do’s and Don’ts of Case Analysis • Case Brief Requirements
Preparing for Cases 1. Read the case quickly by yourself to get an overview and understanding of the:
a. Company, Industry, and Supply Chain Members b. Exhibits
2. Visually map the company’s supply chain (provides a more holistic view of the supply chain).
a. Identify and draw a representation of the key entities (e.g., companies, suppliers, customers, third parties)
b. Draw and label the relationships among the key entities
3. Next, read the case more carefully – maybe 1-2 days later a. Identify key aspects of the situation analysis related to SCM b. Highlight and distinguish important information, omissions, and questions
4. Identify the problem in the case. a. Focus on Supply Chain Management b. Distinguish symptoms from deeper underlying problems c. What analysis questions will inform the issue? d. Can the data provided be worked further? e. What aspects of the situation analysis are relevant? Why?
5. Make a decision — take a stand and be prepared to defend it! a. Develop recommendations with logical support based on facts as well as your intuition b. What are the pros and cons of the recommendations?
6. Flesh out an implementation plan of the recommendation(s).
a. Give specifics even if you feel like you are “stretching” beyond the explicit information provided in the case. i. Phased/timed steps (timeline of steps)
ii. Costs, benefits, organizational functional responsibilities iii. How will performance be assessed for each phase/step?
7. Test the plan and analysis with others you may have at your disposal (co-workers, etc).
8. Keep in mind that the best possible template is one that you develop on your own. Use this one as
a starting point and adapt it to best fit your needs.
Do’s and Don’ts of Case Analysis There are a number of common problems and issues that often arise in case analysis. The following apply to your analysis, write-ups, and in-class discussion (four Don’ts and then seven Do’s).
1. Don’t rely on any stated questions provided in the case as the case problem. Cases are often written to address different business problems, and the cases in this class may target more than just SCM issues. Don’t assume that because a question is posed at the beginning or end of the case that that is the problem you are trying to solve. The case problem in this class will be related to SCM and a topic recently covered in the class.
2. Don’t rehash the facts of the case. It is critical to understand (and include in a write-up or discussion) the “key” facts of the case that drive subsequent recommendations. But I have read the case, so it is not necessary to spend too much of your valuable space (you only have two pages in a write-up) with tangential case details.
3. Don’t bring in information from outside the case. Our case discussions and your write-ups should be based upon the information presented in the written case. When you add outside information – that is only known by a few people – you add confusion to our discussion. Although you may know or find out what the company actually did in a particular situation, this does not necessarily make it the decision right.
4. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have enough information. The ability to manage ambiguity is undoubtedly critical for managers to advance their careers. The rapid changes that happen to organizations require managers to become comfortable acting when uncertainty and change are constants, and timely decisions need to be made even when not all the variables are known. This course, particularly the use of cases, is designed to help you do just that!
5. Don’t have unstated or unreasonable assumptions. In making case decisions (as in the real world) you will never have all the data you would like. Your analysis and recommendations will therefore have to draw on assumptions – be sure to state these where appropriate and be sure they are reasonable.
6. Do critically evaluate data and issues. One of the objectives of this class is to prioritize important information. The “facts” provided in the case may be more/less relevant, more/less important, and more/less valid. As you interpret the data from the case, be sure to critically evaluate each. Consider the SCM problem you have identified and whether and how the facts are relevant to that problem. Also, be sure to consider the data being presented – was the data collected in a reasonable manner, consider the actor and the context before taking what an actor says as “truth.” Be sure to qualify conclusions when the data you rely upon is more suspect.
7. Do provide a strong analysis. The analysis or rationale should: a) be focused on the key problem you identify in the case, b) consider evidence that favors and opposes a particular alternative, c) be correct in analysis and not making inappropriate assumptions, and d) draw upon relevant principles, concepts, and tools from class and readings.
8. Do offer strong recommendations and implementation plans. Make sure your recommendation and implementation plans are: a) specific, b) practical – considering costs, timing and implementability, and c) a solution to the problem identified in the case.
9. Do remember that there is no correct answer. One thing about business is that there is rarely a single right answer – there are many paths to success. In my evaluations of our discussions and your write-ups, I will heavily weight the logic and rationale used to come to your conclusions. Still there are many wrong answers – those that are not well supported by analysis and logic.
10. Do Proofread. Briefs should be carefully edited and of the quality you would submit to a manager.
11. Do make your Exhibits comprehensible and useful, if you provide any (not required). Be sure any additional information provided is self-explanatory, and is helpful in justifying your arguments.
Name: Date: SC: Case Brief: Case Name
Use section headings provided, red font is meant to provide a description of what is needed for each section; also note that the quality (easy to read, well organized, follows format requirements, without grammatical or spelling errors) of the case brief is worth 5 points so be sure to proof-read your work] NOTE: The first case will be worth fewer points to learn the requirements with less risk. 1. Problem Statement (15 points) No more than two or three sentences that succinctly identifies the case problem. Consider the following: How clearly and concisely have you identified the problem moving forward? Is it precise? Did you identify a true problem and not just symptoms?
The problem may not be explicitly stated in the case. Is your problem statement focused on supply chain management (instead of other areas!!)? 2. Situation Analysis (20 points) 1-2 paragraph analysis of key case SCM factors related to the problem statement that support the identified problem statement is indeed the problem and analyze/get at solving the problem. Consider the following: Did you summarize and analyze the key factors most relevant to the case? Did you incorporate relevant course concepts? Does the analysis provide possible alternative solutions and the necessary background to lead to defining a reasonable recommendation to the problem and justify your problem statement? Is your situation analysis focused on supply chain management (instead of other areas!!)? 3.
Recommendation (25 points) 2-3 paragraph description of SCM recommendation(s) emerging from situation analysis and addressing specific problem statement, including pros and cons. Consider the following: Did you justify and support your recommended course of action? Is it supported by evidence (including course topics)? Did you critically evaluate the recommendation in terms of pros and cons? Does the recommendation make sense given your problem statement and situation analysis? Is it decisive? Are your recommendation(s) focused on supply chain management (instead of other areas!!)? If more than one, are your recommendations integrated? Do they complement each other?
4. Implementation Plan (10 points) 1-2 paragraph implementation description clearly describing how (tasks, steps, phases, timeframe, costs, benefits, responsibilities) it actually implements the specific recommendations provided above. Consider the following: How realistic is your implementation plan? Have you addressed the specific details of the implementation? Exhibits One page of exhibits supporting your analysis and recommendation(s) is allowed.