BA 301 – Research & Analysis of Business Problems


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BA 301 – Research & Analysis of Business Problems

BA 301 – Research & Analysis of Business Problems

Homework Assignment #1

Format/Requirements

  • Hand this in at the beginning of class, not by email.
  • Use Times New Roman, 12-point font, 1-inch margins.
  • Make sure you show your name on your work.

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Assignment Overview – Write A Situation Analysis For Your Company

Before you can investigate or identify problems in a company, you must have a solid understanding of that company and all of the factors which impact it.  Since questions 9 and 10 of this assignment might help you with the first 8 questions, you might consider doing those two questions first.

Use (1) the library databases (i.e., IBISWorld, Business Insights: Global, Mintel and other relevant library sources) and (2) company filings (i.e., 10K, 10Q, annual reports, etc. and similar public information from the company) along with (3) trade journals and other published info and (4) the company web site and similar company info to provide an overview and synthesis of your company’s current situation by answering the questions below.  While you are researching information for this assignment, be especially alert for issues which reflect weaknesses or shortcomings in the company’s performance or challenges (you will need this information for homework 3 and for your term paper).

Your answers to these questions should not be just a regurgitation of your research; they should be a synthesis and summary of all that you’ve found.  Every sentence should deliver some kind of information.  There is no room for fluff.  A key part of each question is to go beyond just stating the facts your research turned up and to describe how the company is impacted.  If you do a great job on this, it will provide a strong basis for the first section of your term paper.

In preparing your answers to these questions, make sure that you properly cite (using MLA) the facts that you present and use word choice, grammar, and organization which are appropriate to a formal business document.

NOTE: the questions listed are EXAMPLES of the kinds of information which you might start with.  However, because every company is different and their situations are varied, it’s important for you to recognize that what is relevant to one company and their situation, is not relevant to another.  It is your job to determine what information is key just as you would in a typical business situation.  There is no “cookie cutter” solution to performing this assessment and, as a business professional, you will be expected to demonstrate judgment and insight in determining what is important and what is not and communicating that information in an efficient, concise manner to your audience.

 

  • Discuss the mission, vision, and values of the company. If any of these elements are not published, use your research skills to infer what you believe they would be. Go beyond just copying or stating these elements to give examples which show how they have or have not served to guide the company.  Do their organizational actions reflect them (especially their stated values) or are they just “window dressing?”
  • Describe the company’s business strategy. Again, this may or may not be published and, if it’s not, use your critical thinking skills to infer what you believe their strategy is. Does their strategy align with their vision?  Provide a few examples of actions which reflect their strategy.
  • Describe key stakeholders / stakeholder groups who are impacted by the company’s current situation. How is each of these impacted?
  • Describe the current financial situation of the company and any relevant trends over recent years in such overall indicators as sales, net income, operating cash flow, debt levels, etc. Are there other financial measures that are relevant to the company or its industry (for example, current ratio, inventory turnover, sales per employee or other productivity measures, return on assets, gross margin, etc)? Is their financial situation a strength or weakness for the company?  Does it impose any limitations on them?
  • Describe the company’s market position. Who are their key competitors and what share of the market does each hold? What about a SWOT analysis of the company?  What key comparative strengths or weaknesses does the company have compared to key competitors?
  • Describe the industry as a whole. What is the future outlook for the industry? What direction is it headed or what trends or changes are happening?  How might these impact the company in the future?
  • Are there important external influences such as regulatory directions, technology developments, changes in social expectations (CSR) or similar issues which need to be considered? What about other factors like legal actions the company may be involved in or reputation issues?
  • Along with the answers to these questions, include a works-cited page of sources used (at least 5) in MLA format (make sure to use MLA citations within the body of your homework as well as the bibliography). Note that while this question asks for at least 5 sources, doing well on this assignment typically requires a broad selection of more than 5 sources including company internet pages, business and trade journals, new articles, database articles, and financial reports.
  • Using the library web site locate the Databases and Articles link then access the Mintel database of market reports (note that you will have to set up a free account to use this database). Find the most recent market report for Pet Supplies.  Spend a few minutes reviewing the various types of information which the Mintel report covers thinking about how a Mintel report might help with your term paper research.  In Market Factors locate a February 2015 chart which describes trends in pet ownership and, in a single sentence, describe how pet ownership relates to home ownership.
  • Again using the library collection of databases find the Business Insights:Global database then do a search for Sysco Corporation.  If your search turns up a large number of results, try searching for Sysco by their stock tinker symbol (SYY).   Again, spend a few minutes looking over the various information links that could help you research and learn about Sysco.  Next locate a May 4, 2015 trade journal article which appeared in the Los Angeles Business Journal and, in 1-2 sentences, describe why some Sysco competitors were unafraid of the potential merger of Sysco and US Foods.

 

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