A business case is a detailed and factual description of a business situation or a business dilemma faced by business managers in a given context. This description of the situation is used by students as ‘raw material’ for analysis of the situation (Note: case description and analysis are two different things). The analysis is usually followed by recommendations (short term and long term).
There are the steps involved in analysing and writing a case analysis:
Pre Write up Phase
In the pre write up phase, or before beginning the ‘writing up’ of the analysis, I recommend that each group member ‘skims’ the case and tries to grasp the main theme/dilemma of the case. In the next step, each student should thoroughly analyse the case at individual level, importance should be paid to numbers (if any) in the case, and an attempt should be made to get to the heart of the problems/ dilemmas. This means making an attempt to distinguish symptoms from problems. For example, decreased sales could be a symptom for a more profound problem with the brand image etc. Let your ‘individuality’ come into play. You can analyse the situation with or without a marketing framework. Using SWOT comes in handy most of the time at this stage. After analysis, a clear decision should be made by you about the future course of action for the manager(s) involved.
In the next step, group members should hold a meeting and share their analysis, and their decisions. Each group member should try to defend his/her stance, but in the end, as a team, the group members should try to form a consensus. Most of the times, reaching a consensus becomes difficult, but remember, there is no right or wrong answer to a business situation. So if your group decides to go in a different direction than what you had suggested, don’t worry too much and take it as a learning experience. Every decision is worthy of consideration, as long as it is substantiated and argued well.
The Write Up Phase
I recommend that the written part should be done by only one team member, fully. Alternatively two or more members might want to contribute during the writing part, but only one group member should take the responsibility for writing/editing a cohesive and holistic narrative.
In the beginning of the report (before presenting your analysis) it is always a good idea to write either an ‘introduction’ or an ‘executive summary’. In ‘introduction’, you write some background of the situation, and crystalize the single most important problem/decision being faced by the management, and then give a ‘flow’ of what is going to follow after the introduction. For example, you may say that the following section presents ‘this’ and the section following that section presents ‘that’ etc….. In case of executive summary, you do not give this ‘flow’. Instead, you summarize the problem and overall recommended action. It is targeted towards top management, who might not have the time to read full analysis and recommendations. They are looking for overall summary.
You then present the analysis. At this level, it is best to write an analysis by using SWOT framework and analysis of Micro and Macro Environment etc. You might like to include Macro and Micro environment analysis within the SWOT framework. The choice is yours. As we progress in the course you can include some other/advanced concepts/frameworks. Here, I would like to add that what really makes an analysis rich is the depth of ‘thinking’ involved in it. Take SWOT as a serious framework, and try to give equal importance to all four aspects. This forms the backbone of your recommendations afterwards.
Having SWOT in a table format helps the reader as well as the author for structuring of thoughts. You may include the table format in the appendix/exhibit. You may write the issues in ‘point form’ in the SWOT table, but make sure that the points are elaborate. You must also elaborate the important issues in the main…