Guide to Case Analysis
What is a case study?
Why do we use case studies?
How do I complete a case study?
Practise your questioning skills by asking yourself questions such as the following:
- What are the causes of the problem?
- Are there one or two root problems that cause other problems?
- Which problem should be dealt with first?
- Does this case illustrate one or more general issues?
2. Write a clear definition of the problems, based on your analysis of the facts of the case.
3. List as many solutions as you can for each problem, and consider the consequences of each solution.
4. Consider the appropriate criteria for the decision. These vary from case to case but could include measures like profitability, cost, customer satisfaction, or quality (among many others). It is also important to keep in mind that multiple measures may be important but prioritizing among these measures is necessary.
5. Recommend the best alternative, and justify your choice with specific references to evidence from the case material.
6. Decide how you will assess whether your recommendations would have solved the problem. Consider any important consequences of your recommendations.
7. One way to speculate on possible outcomes is to include if/then statements. Perhaps you have heard a meteorologist use this type of statement: “If the high-pressure cell comes this way, then it will snow.”
8. Complete your written report. It should include the following sections:
· This one-page summary of your report focuses on your recommendations and what the organization will achieve by implementing your recommendations.
· The Executive Summary should stand on its own (separate from the remainder of your report).
· It is critical that you know exactly what you are being asked to solve or do, or else you may set yourself on the wrong track from the beginning.
· Identify the key concern(s), opportunity(ies), challenge(s), decision(s), or problem(s) facing the organization or individual.
· Keep in mind that issues can be categorized based on urgency and importance. Obviously, high urgency, high importance issues are those that should take an organization’s attention first.
· Analysis of causes and consequences
· Objectives or goals setting
· Identify the sources of the problem; describe the situation that will occur if the problem is not solved.
· Define the objectives in a concise, but thorough manner. Keep in mind that the objectives are the criteria to later evaluate the option you choose.
· Make sure to draw upon course material in your analysis.
· Use both quantitative and qualitative analysis, as appropriate.
· Identify constraints and opportunities that present themselves in the case.
· Identify any assumptions you are making in your analysis and justify these. Assumptions should be reasonable given the case and its context.
· Identify reasonable alternatives that might be considered and describe your analysis of each of these alternatives.
· Evaluate the pros and cons of the alternatives and select the best fit.
· Consider the costs as well as the benefits of each.
· Try to be unbiased in your evaluation of each alternative. Don’t be too quick to choose one.
· Identify and justify the decision criteria that will be used in selecting one alternative.
· Identify and explain your recommendation.
· Make sure you emphasize the strengths and weaknesses of this recommendation and identify any potential risks that may come with this recommendation.
Action and Implementation Plan
· Lay out a reasonable implementation plan using the information from the case and the knowledge you bring from the course.
· Be sure to include any risk mitigation steps you feel might be necessary.
How can I improve my analysis?
Weigh your evidence. Some pieces of evidence are more important than others. State how much importance you are attaching to each.
Be thorough. Remember to analyze the fundamental problem, not just its symptoms or parts. Introduce as much evidence as you require, and list as many alternatives as you can.
Check to see that your recommendations follow from the evidence in the case. Recommendations that are not supported by evidence are worthless. Recommendations should also be supportable based on the appropriate decision criteria.
Make a clear set of recommendations, without a great deal of qualification. Do not recommend passing the problem on to consultants.
Ensure that the organization has the resources to be able to implement your recommendations and that there are no insurmountable or costly barriers to their implementation.
Include the consequences of your recommendations, including any further problems you anticipate.
How can I improve my written assignment?
Do not simply repeat phrases from the case or text. Show that you have correctly interpreted the facts. Paraphrase to show that you have understood the concept presented. Note that plagiarism (presenting someone else’s words and ideas as your own) is serious academic misconduct.
Draw upon information and concepts from the course. As this is a course assignment, markers are looking for your response to show you have learned the material.
Watch for inconsistencies in your argument and leaps of logic.
Avoid the passive voice. The easiest way to do this is to put the subject first, then the verb, then the object. For example, “The president fired the manager” is more active than “The manager was fired by the president.”
Leave out jargon, even if the case includes it. For example, write “pay cut,” not “salary downsizing.”
Vary the length of your sentences to add interest.
Spell consistently. For example, do not write “analyse” in one sentence and “analyze” in the next. Choose a dictionary and stay with it.
Check for typographical errors and spelling mistakes. Look up spelling whenever you are unsure.
Rewrite until you are satisfied with your assignment. Count on at least one draft and a final rewrite but plan for more.
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