Knowing how to analyze a case will help you attack virtually any business problem. A case study helps you learn by immersing yourself in a real-world business scenario where you can act as a problem-solver and decision-maker. The case presents facts about a particular organization. You are asked to analyze the case by focusing on the most important facts and using this information to determine the opportunities and problems facing that organization. You are then asked to identify alternative courses of action to deal with the problems you identify. Included in each of the assigned cases are questions to help you understand and analyze the case. You should respond to these questions as well. You can answer them separately or incorporate your responses in the case study analysis. If you choose the latter, please respond to all parts of the question (if appropriate) and make it clear that you are answering the case study questions.
A case study analysis must not merely summarize the case. It should identify key issues and problems, outline and assess alternative courses of action, and draw appropriate conclusions. The case study analysis can be broken down into the following steps:
Identify the most important facts surrounding the case.
Identify the key issue or issues.
Specify alternative courses of action.
Evaluate each course of action.
Recommend the best course of action.
(Remember to also answer the case study questions located at the end of the assigned case.)
Each step should include the following.
1. Identify the most important facts surrounding the case.
Read the case several times to become familiar with the information it contains.
Pay attention to the information in any accompanying exhibits, tables or figures.
Many case scenarios, as in real life, present a great deal of detailed information.
Some of these facts are more relevant that others for problem identification. One can assume the facts and figures in the case are true, but statements, judgments, or decisions made by individuals should be questioned. Underline and then list the most important facts and figures that would help you define the central problem or issue. If key facts and numbers are not available, you can make assumptions, but these assumptions should be reasonable given the situation. The “correctness” of your conclusions may depend on the assumptions you make.
2. Identify the key issue or issues.
Use the facts provided by the case to identify the key issue or issues facing the company you are studying. Many cases present multiple issues or problems.
Identify the most important and separate them from more trivial issues. State the major problem or challenge facing the company. You should be able to describe
the problem or challenge in one or two sentences. You should be able to explain how this problem affects the strategy or performance of the organization.
You will need to explain why the problem occurred. Does the problem or challenge facing the company come from a changing environment, new opportunities, a declining market share, or inefficient internal or external business processes? In the case of information systems-related problems, you need to pay special attention to the role of technology as well as the behavior of the organization and its management.
Information system problems in the business world typically present a combination of management, technology and organizational issues. When identifying the key issue or problem, ask what kind of problem it is: Is it a management problem, a technology problem, an organizational problem, or a combination of these? What management, organizational and technology factors contributed to the problem?
To determine if a problem stems from management factors, consider whether managers are exerting appropriate leadership over the organization and monitoring organizational performance. Consider also the nature of