MPM703 Business Strategy and Analysis
In this assignment you are going to prepare a Strategy Report for a business unit, and you are going to do this in four parts to make the learning clearer and easier.
Part 1: First you must prepare a one-page Research Proposal in which you will outline the task ahead of you and how you intend to go about it. It must include your first thoughts on what is the major strategic question or questions facing a particular company. This one-page Research Proposal must be submitted by the end of Week 2 of the Trimester. This Part comprises 10% of the total mark for the Assignment.
Part 2: This is the first half of the assignment proper, and in it you will outline the internal and external environments of the company and analyse these environments for their strategic significance to the company. Part 2 should have about 1500 words and it must be submitted by the end of Week 5. This Part comprises 40% of the total mark for the Assignment.
Part 3: This is the full Strategy Report, in which you will add recommendations for strategic actions by the company, a full justification for these recommendations, and an Executive Summary at the beginning. This Part should have about 2000 words. You will submit both the work from Part 2 – unaltered – and this Part 3 as one complete Strategic Report. It must be submitted by the end of Week 9. This Part comprises 40% of the total mark for the Assignment.
Part 4: The final part is a set of PowerPoint slides for a presentation of your findings. This is a maximum of 5 slides that you would use as the basis for an oral presentation of your Strategic Report to the Board of Directors of the company. This must be submitted by the end of Week 10. This Part comprises 10% of the total mark for the Assignment.
More details of each Part are provided below.
The focus of this assignment is on the business unit level of analysis (rather than on corporate or operational levels). Therefore, if you select a diversified company you must make sure you focus on only one of the company’s business units. The report must be specific and applied to the business unit. In other words, you must apply the relevant concepts and tools of business strategy to the particular conditions and circumstances of the business unit you have chosen. General statements and references to theories and models that are not applied to your specific business unit will not add value to your assignment. Similarly, data about the business that is not analysed and presented from a strategic perspective – using the relevant concepts and tools of strategy – is of little value. To help you in this exercise, consider the position of the CEO of the business. Assume that he or she will be reading your report and will be looking for a strategic analysis and a set of recommendation that is practical and specific to her or his business. The CEO does not want to read a broad analysis that could apply to any number of organisations and does not ‘speak’ to his or her business. As early as possible in the Trimester, you must select a real, existing business unit as the subject of your assignments for this Trimester. The business unit can be a part of a publicly listed company in Australia, or it may be a large private or family business unit located in Australia. It could also be a government agency or a non-government organisation, so long as it has an internal organisation and has some form of annual reporting. If you are in any doubt about the suitability of any organisation, please ask me. Do not use or refer to assignments completed by students for this unit in previous trimesters. (A record of past assignments is kept.) Note also that the requirements of the assignment change from trimester to trimester.
More details of each Part follow.
Part 1 – Research Proposal (10% of Assignment mark):
Once you have chosen a company, you must write a one page (we will not look at anything on a second page) Research Proposal. This should be formally presented and have the following sections:
Introduction: one sentence identifying and describing the company you have chosen
Situation Report: one or two short paragraphs briefly describing the major strategic issue or challenge facing the company
Proposed Methodology: one or two short paragraphs outlining the research methodology you propose to use, and (if you can) identifying important tools that you plan to use. Note: you will
not be required to use the methods and tools you give here. This Part is to start you thinking: you may well change your mind once you start work on the report proper.
Deliverables: one or two sentences outlining what you expect the final report to contain.
This Research Proposal must be submitted online by 2359 on Sunday, 22 July – this is EARLY in the Trimester so get cracking!
Part 1 due date:
2359 (11:59pm), Sunday, 22 July 2018
Part 2 – Strategy Report first part (40%): (1500 words)
This is the first half of your final report. The presentation of your report is a critical aspect of this assignment. It is essential that your report is formatted appropriately, and carefully edited and re-edited to achieve a professional standard. Your submission should be a serious business report, not a promotional document or a just a description of a company. It should be a critical analysis. Allow time to draft and re-draft both parts of your assignment prior to the due dates in order to improve the quality of writing and presentation. It is a good idea to plan on having each part of the report finished two or three days before the due date to allow time for further refinement and editing.
You must follow the report structure and requirements set out below, unless you have very good reason for doing otherwise (and explain why). You may also want to revisit the advice on writing assignments given in Lecture 1.
- Title Page
In the title page, you should include:
- Title of the report, e.g. ‘Company X: A Business Strategy Report – Stage 1’.
- Your name and student ID
- Off campus or on campus status.
- [Table of Contents – do NOT include this yet. This will be added in Part 3, and it is described under Part 3 below.][Executive Summary – do NOT include this yet. This will be added in Part 3, and it is described under Part 3 below.] <<no need for table of contents>>
Introduction (At most 400 words)
This section provides some background and context to your report. Your introduction should include:
- A brief description of why we undertake this study, i.e. the value of undertaking a strategy review of the business and how will it be beneficial for the business.
- An introduction to the business, its industry, and its macro environment,
- A brief outline of the following sections of this report and their contents, and
- Any serious limitations or restrictions on the report.
- Strategic Analysis
5.1 Methods (Approximately 200 words)
Provide a brief description of the data collection and analysis used in this section, including an outline of the sources used to gather the data upon which the report is based. Data may be collected from sources within the business (business documents, questionnaires, interviews) and from industry reports, media sources, the internet and database searches. It is important to describe the types and quantity of your data sources so that the reader can evaluate the breadth, quality and validity of the data on which your analysis is based. At least eight data sources should be collected and analysed.
5.2. External analysis (Approximately 950 words)
Conduct a PESTEL analysis of your business’s macro environment, evaluating whether each of the PESTEL factors is positive, neutral, or negative for the industry. Provide an overall evaluation of the impact of these factors on growth and consumer demand in the industry.
Identify and explain the two most significant influences in your analysis that are likely to be the main drivers of change in the future.
Using Porter’s five forces framework, evaluate and briefly describe two key forces at work in the industry environment of your business.
Draw a strategy canvas for your business and for two main rivals (see Figure 3.8 in the text). Describe briefly the three most critical success factors for your business (see pp. 85-86). The three most critical success factors are a subset of the total critical factors impacting business
Evaluate the influence of innovation on the industry.
Part 2 – the first part of your complete business strategy report – must be submitted online by 2359 on Sunday, 12 August.
Part 2 due date:
2359 (11:59pm), Sunday, 12 August 2018
Part 3 – Complete Strategy Report (40%): 2000 words
Part 3 of the assignment is the second half of the complete strategy report. You must submit part 2 together with part 3. You are advised to take into consideration the comments provided in part 2 when you develop part 3. To compile your complete report you must develop part 3 of your report and submit part 2 and part 3 as one comprehensive report.
For part 3 you must develop the following:
2. Table of Contents
Include all the headings and subheadings used in your report, together with page numbers.
- Executive Summary (At most 300 words)
This is a summary of the findings of the complete report in only one page, written as a series of short paragraphs, outlining your key findings and your recommended strategic options. Although this comes first in the report, it should be written last to include all findings.
5.3. Strategic capability (Approximately 500 words)
- Apply the ‘VRIO’ criteria to describe, evaluate and assess the strategic capabilities of your business. VRIO matrix is a must.
- Present a SWOT analysis in table form with an interpretation of the significance of your findings. The factors listed in this analysis should be rated for their level of significance.
5.4 Strategy and culture (Approximately 300 words)
Briefly evaluate the relationship between the culture and strategy of the business. Drawing a cultural web of the business may assist with this. Be sure to include only elements which are specifically to this business.
5.5 Competitive strategy (Approximately 500 words)
Identify and describe the most viable competitive strategy for the business. To undertake this task, refer to Figure 7.2 on p. 211 and the relevant discussion. Explain how your chosen competitive strategy enables the business to:
- Respond effectively to the industry and macro environments described in your external analysis, and
- Match the capabilities and strengths of the business to the opportunities in the environment, described in your earlier analyses, to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
- Select a competitive strategy based on your study and the factors considered above.
This competitive strategy may be the same as the strategy the company is currently using, or it may a strategy that you have developed that you think is more appropriate.
5.6 Business strategy statement (Approximately 350 words)
Describe the mission, vision, objectives, scope, and advantages of the business as it currently operates (see section 1.2.3 in the text, on page 8). Summarise these descriptions into a clear and compelling strategy statement in 35 words or less. Your strategy statement should be based on your analysis and competitive strategy. (Do not use the existing vision and mission statements. Formulate your own based on the situation and study conducted.)
- Conclusion (Approximately 250 words)
This section is written in paragraph form to provide a summary of one key finding from each of the report’s sections from 5.2 to 5.6 above. Highlight the recommendations or suggestions for growth and sustainability of the business based on your study.
List all of the references referred to in the report. Please note that appendices are not allowed.
Part 3 – your complete business strategy report – must be submitted online by 2359 on Sunday, 16 September 2018.
Part 3 due date:
2359 (11:59pm), Sunday, 16 September 2018
Format requirements for Parts 2 and 3:
Word limit: 3750 (excluding the title page, table of contents and the references, but including everything else)
Line spacing: 1.5
Font size: 12
References: to be cited using the Harvard convention
- Assignments comprising more than 3750 words will not be marked. Your assignment should be in the range of 3250 – 3750 words.
Assignment submission rules
- All assignments are to be submitted in the assignment folder set up in MPM703 in DeakinSync.
- Extensions to the due date will not be considered unless a written request is submitted to and negotiated with the Unit Chair at least three days prior to the due date.
- Assignments submitted late will receive a penalty of 5% of the maximum grade per day late.
- Please read the notes on plagiarism in the Unit Guide.
Part 4 – Board Presentation (10%):
So now you have completed your Business Strategy Report. But the CEO of the company you have reviewed wants to hear about your review. You have been asked to give a short presentation to the CEO and the Board, summarising the major findings of your report. As Part 4 of your assignment you now need to produce and submit a maximum of five Powerpoint slides that you would use for your presentation to the Board.
You will need at least one introductory slide, to introduce your report. You will need at least one conclusion slide, to conclude your message and to reinforce the most important recommendation from your analysis. In between, it is up to you. You do not have to have five slides – that is the maximum. Your slides should be clear and well-presented, but they do not need to be fancy or elaborate. You will get marks for clarity and relevance, not for decoration.
Part 4, your Board Presentation, must be submitted to the Unit website by 2359 on Sunday, 23 September 2018. You submit only the Powerpoint slides – you do not make an actual oral presentation.
Part 4 due date:
2359 (11:59pm), Sunday, 23 September 2018
Some guidance on writing assignments will be given in Lecture 1 of the Trimester, which will be delivered on Monday, 16 July, and which should be available as an Echo recording late that day or early on Tuesday. When the assignments are being marked, it will be assumed that you have taken note of this guidance in writing your own assignments.
You will also find some excellent advice on planning and writing assignments in the paper on ‘Your Rights and Responsibilities as a student of this Unit’ on the Unit Information and Introduction page of the Unit’s DeakinSync site. We urge all students to look at this document.
You are also very strongly urged to make use of the ‘Assignment Planner’ that is included in that document. To find it, go to ‘Section 4. Support and Services’, and then to the third paragraph in the first part headed ‘Study Support’. Click there on ‘assignment planner’.
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