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How to Analyze a Business Case Study



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this presentation is about how to

prepare a business case study you will

learn how to read a case and how to

write up or discuss your thoughts with

others cases test your creative thinking

and analytic skills can you see the big

picture and the dirty details can you

use the available information to analyze

and present your case I'll present ideas

that help you answer these questions

what do I mean when I say getting the

most out of a business case I mean that

with a serious approach you can learn a

lot from a business case you learn to

identify and assess issues and to better

solve problems based on the data

available to you there are several ways

to get the most from a case first

prepare you can expect to spend two to

three hours preparing a case it takes

that amount of time to read understand

and analyze many cases though your

mileage may vary participate in the

conversation we will interact online

during class each week plan to bring

your ideas forward share be prepared to

share your thoughts and to listen to

those of others sharing with each other

is an invaluable way to learn about

business case problems from multiple

perspectives relate what you are

learning to what you do or have done in

your career the goal is to transfer the

learning to a new context and build your

memory of the ideas finally be conscious

that you are improving your

decision-making focus on how you are

making decisions to learn how you can

improve even more now let's focus on the

case itself what do you do first when

you sit down to work on your case first

read the case quickly like a magazine

article

scanning the first and last paragraphs

and each paragraph topic and conclusion

sentence throughout the case the goal is

to get an initial idea of what the case

is about next read the appendices note

what data are provided their case

writers usually include only things that

are useful identify how each item in the

appendix could help you often there will

be tables either in the case itself or

in the appendices identify the value of

each table and how it can help you with

the issues in the case

having scanned the case identify what

type of case it is a problem decision or

evaluation we will look at these more

closely in a minute once you have gotten

a good overview of the case then it is

time to sit down and go through it

carefully as you read study the

situation get a sense of the situation

you are facing and describe the exact

problem decision or evaluation that you

must address next begin to develop

hypotheses that consider what may be

causing the situation in the case then

build support for your hypothesis by

extracting and analyzing the data found

throughout the case and identify what

you are going to do about the situation

lastly evaluate the options you have

considered and make your recommendation

state which option is most likely to

succeed and identify potential

weaknesses in your chosen option and how

you could address them

there are a few general principles for

how to discuss or write up a case

analysis first state your conclusion

what is the outcome to address the

situation in the case then discuss the

data and analysis that support your

conclusion build a story from the data

to make the case then discuss a detailed

action plan explain what you will do

first when you will do it and what the

outcomes are expected to be problems a

problem is a situation in which there is

a significant outcome or performance but

no explicit explanation for it something

happened but it is not clear why define

the problem specifically search for the

cause of the situation in the case using

relevant tools from various business

disciplines if you use marketing you

would use frameworks like the four PS

the three C's and so on similarly you

might use discounted cash flow analysis

from finance or your ability to analyze

a balance sheet using principles from

accounting and so on across the

disciplines decisions although nearly

all cases contain decisions this case

type is focused primarily on an explicit

decision that must be made for instance

build versus buy then identify decision

options and decision criteria and apply

the evidence to the criteria evaluations

an evaluation is your judgment about how

well a particular act or outcome turned

out for example evaluating a particular

decision that has already been made

develop your own criteria to apply in

judging the situation these may come

from within the case business discipline

frameworks its

cetera evaluate both the positive and

negative sides of a situation to offer a

view from both perspectives I have

developed slides for how you can read

and prepare and write or discuss each

type of case problems decisions and

evaluations in the interest of time I'm

going to focus on the decision case this

is the type of case we will face most of

the time I refer you to the notes for

details on problem and evaluation cases

first you study the situation this means

identifying decision options evaluating

their strengths identifying the risk of

each option including doing nothing

creating criteria for evaluating the

options and then identifying the most

important criteria next select the

strongest criteria and evaluate the

options this will help to expose

strengths and weaknesses for each option

then focus on the hypothesis option you

are most confident about consider that

option from multiple viewpoints and

consider the protagonists role and the

implications of their making the

decision next you move to proof and

action gather evidence about your top

hypothesis and be sure to assess your

option quantitatively using the data in

the case and your own analysis identify

the actions that you could consider

given the data analysis and create a

statement of what you will do and when

you will do it

the final step is to evaluate the

alternatives here you are going to

challenge your chosen option by finding

the biggest risks and downsides to your

recommendation then you turn around and

describe how you would handle the risks

and downsides next you identify the

strongest evidence against your option

to be aware of how others might

criticize your plan finally take the

position of advocating for the major

alternative hypothesis and find support

for it when it comes time to discuss the

case or write about it

you take the analysis and work you did

in preparation and organize it to make a

strong presentation first state the

decision you recommend in a single

sentence then add several critical

reasons for your decision you will

support these reasons with data next you

make your case present the options you

considered and the decision criteria

that you used to evaluate the options

explain how the decision criteria fit

the recommended option and show how the

same criteria did not support other

options finally acknowledge any

potential disadvantages to your

suggested option then you state your

action plan clearly explain what you

would do in the short medium and long

term and define any potential risks and

how you would respond doing all the

actions described for preparing a case

will give you what you need to present

your ideas in class or in writing this

approach also provides a template

you can use for analyzing any decisions

you may face there is similar guidance

for problems and evaluations that

describe how to approach those kinds of

cases you can read about that on your

own and that brings us to the end of

this presentation on preparing business

cases