RECOMMENDATION MEMOS for IS Projects

RECOMMENDATION MEMOS for IS Projects

A recommendation memo is a routinely used document in leading firms, and you may be writing such memos as part of an internship. Therefore, it is essential that you gain some practice at writing them. The purpose of a recommendation memo is to concisely recommend a course of action and provide rationale supporting the recommendation. This note describes how your team should approach writing a recommendation memo for the case assignments. The second part of this note gives you a sample memo that you should use to write your own memos for these assignments. Note that the format of the memos may vary from company to company. Therefore, while following the memo format as given in this note, bear in mind that the goal here is to expose you to memo writing rather than force a memo format on you.

WHAT IS A RECOMMENDATION MEMO?
The recommendation memo is a one-page document (not including exhibits) that recommends your course of action and rationale. This format promotes a concise and clear strategic thought process. Equally importantly, it mimics managerial practice. If your memo exceeds 1 1/4 pages, it is TOO long!

ELEMENTS OF A RECOMMENDATION MEMO

1. FIRST PARAGRAPH

This paragraph expresses your intent or action (This recommends……).

· Topic overview (the “what”, not “when” or “how”): costs, funding, etc.

· Ends with the hook: selling idea, the “why” or payoff: this part reveals the author’s point of view.

Checklist

· Is there a clear purpose, objective?

2. BACKGROUND

This paragraph explains why we are talking about this today. It lays out the story.

· Historical: not “new” news (i.e., none of your case analysis will appear here).

· Highlights what brought us to this moment, why we are in this position, what brought about the need to make this decision.

· Dimensionalize the importance to the organization (e.g., important profit goal).

· Constraints – such as budget, capacity, technology, people, etc.

· This section is both brief and factual.

Checklist

· Is the background clear, concise, and easy to follow?

· Does it explain why action is needed now?

· Does the appropriate sense of urgency come across?

3. RECOMMENDATION

Here, you detail what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

· The details of “what”, “when”, and “how”. NO “why”.

· This section should be very specific (100% clear). It must be actionable (How much will it cost, when, how, who). The reader should be able to read this and know how to carry out this recommendation.

· Some cases will require more than one recommendation.

Checklist

· Is the recommendation clear and actionable? Could someone else implement it?

BASIS FOR RECOMMENDATION

Here the reader learns WHY each recommendation is the UNIQUE right thing to do.

· 2-3 solid reasons are typical. Any other action should seem less appealing.

· This section flows from the opening “hook”; links to the original recommendation.

· Support includes impact on profit, share, AND anything else affecting long-term business goals.

· Analysis should address applicable quantitative issues such as NPV, break even analysis, pro forma statement of project budget, sensitivity analysis; as well as qualitative issues, such as, technology consistency, architectural conformance, innovation potential, etc.

· Appeals to precedent and anecdotal evidence in absence of data, but only in limited, carefully constrained manner.

· Shows how the recommendation will put the firm at a competitive advantage or is simply a competitive necessity.

· The goal is to read the basis and conclude the recommendation.

Checklist

· Is the recommendation an inescapable conclusion of the basis?

· Does the basis for recommendation appropriately consider:

1. Core competencies and consistency with mission?

2. External customers and internal clients?

3. Competitors?

4. Attractiveness – quantitative measures if applicable (e.g., NPV, ROI, break-even, payback)?

· Are all assumptions explicitly stated (e.g., needs, technology trends)?

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