analyzing decisions 1

This assignment is a decision making project, not a research paper. You must analyze a real-life business problem that needs to solved.

This project applies the methods of this course to analyze a business decision problem. Examples of appropriate business decision areas include process improvement or re-engineering, facility siting, new ventures, new products/services, acquisitions, divestments, capital expenditures, lease-buy, make-buy, technology choice, and research/development planning.

Previous Project Examples:

  • Whether to buy new copiers, lease copiers, or outsource copiers
  • Whether to hire full-time employees, part-time employees, or per diem employees
  • Spending marketing dollars to increase sales on a product, delete products, or leave as-is
  • Selection of a contractor or supplier
  • Type of health-care program to institutionalize
  • Selecting a new business location

    The project must use the decision analysis methods that we are covering in class. At minimum, the decision problem must have (1) at least three alternatives, (2) at least three evaluation measures, and (3) significant uncertainty about some important element of the decision. You must consult at least two outside expert data sources for information. These sources must include written material. While these requirements are minimums, the real requirement is that the decision problem be defensively analyzed. That is likely to require more extensive analysis than the minimums.

    There are three deliverables: 1) a written proposal, 2) an interim report, and 3) final presentation and executive summary. The deliverables are cumulative, and much of what you prepare for each assignment can be used in later assignments.

    Proposal: Less than two double-spaced typewritten pages, excluding tables or figures, and includes: (1) Background – a summary of the problem background to be analyzed, (2) Problem Statement – a problem statement (3) Evaluation Considerations & Evaluation Measures – a preliminary list of considerations and evaluation measures, the criteria used for the objective (4) Alternatives – a preliminary list of alternatives to be considered, and (5) Resources – a proposed list of resources to be utilized / consulted to assist in making your decision.Each section of this proposal MUST be labeled.

    Interim Report: The interim report contains all the information needed to complete the analysis of the decision problem except that it does not have to include the final numerical calculations and conclusions. This report provides the student with a chance to update their project.Each section of this report MUST be labeled.

    Use the following outline for the interim report:

  • Background: Briefly describe the history of the problem including its cause(s) and the result of any previous attempts to solve this or similar problems.If the problem affects more than one stakeholder, describe each of them and the basis for their concerns.
  • Problem Statement: This should be redefined from your proposal.Overview of the decision problem and the major considerations in analyzing it.
  • Objective(s): What is the objective of the decision concerning the problem?List all of the objectives and place them in categories.These categories are values (save money, improve sales, increase productivity, etc.).
  • Decision Alternatives: Describe the process used to determine alternatives (Nominal Group Think, brainstorming, meetings, research, etc.); including a discussion of other alternatives that seem relevant and the reasons these were not analyzed. Describe the final set of alternative (What are your choices?) used in the decision analysis.
  • Evaluation Considerations and Evaluation Measures: Describe the process used to determine evaluation considerations and evaluation measures, including a discussion of other evaluation considerations that seem relevant and the reasons that they were not included. What is important to the decision maker, (the person who will ultimately implement your recommendations)?Weigh the various items (for example – “office supplies” – what is more important to the decision maker – cost, time or quality?Relocating a company may include: distance to the customers, cost of various locations, impact on sales etc.
  • Executive Summary & PowerPoint: The Executive Summary and PowerPoint presentation include (perhaps with corrections) the material in the interim presentation and extend this to complete the numerical evaluation of alternatives. Please use PowerPoint for your presentation and highlight the main points of your summary.

    The length of the Executive Summary must be less than ten double-spaced typewritten pages, excluding tables or figures. With the exception of the Conclusions section, the audience is the same as for the interim presentation. Address the Conclusions section to a less technical audience, as discussed below.

    You must use the following table of contents for the written report and label each section:

  • Problem Background
  • Problem Statement: The same as the corresponding section in the interim report, except for any updates or changes.
  • Objective(s) The same as the corresponding section in the interim report, except for any updates or changes.
  • Decision Alternatives: The same as the corresponding section in the interim report, except for any updates or changes.
  • Data Collection and Evaluation Measure Scores: Similar to the corresponding section in the interim presentation, except for any updates or changes. Provide references for data sources (where did you get your information from), including interviews with experts, in standard bibliography style.
  • Value Calculations, Scenarios and Analysis: Present the value calculations/analysis for the alternatives for each scenario. Briefly describe how these computations were done, but you do not have to present the actual computations. Include the spreadsheet/chart for your analysis as an appendix to your report. Conduct and present a systematic analysis (what you measured and how).
  • Conclusions: Present your recommendation based on the analysis in the preceding sections, including a qualitative discussion of the reasons the preferred alternative is best. The goal of this section is that someone who does not understand the details of decision analysis methods will find your Conclusions section to be a convincing argument for the preferred alternative. That is, the analysis should not be a mysterious procedure, but rather a way of developing insight about the key factors in the decision and how these lead to selection of the preferred alternative. Each section of the summary MUST be labeled.

    The primary basis for grading the written final report is the degree to which the work, as presented in the report, is complete, accurate, and defensible, and, in addition, how well your results are explained in lay terms in the Conclusions section. Clarity and accuracy of presentation are graded to the extent these make it difficult to judge the quality of the analysis. Examples of common problems in report presentation include 1) failure to include the required information as listed above, 2) failure to follow the specified outline, 3) failure to reference figures, tables, or appendices in the text, and 4) failure to include references for data sources.

    The presentations are graded on clarity, accuracy, and completeness of the presentation, as well as appropriate use of PowerPoint, and ability to respond to questions about the analysis. Each presentation should be sufficiently detailed for the listener to judge the quality of the analysis, but the level of detail should also be adjusted to the available time so that the typical listener is not buried in so much detail that he or she cannot keep up with the presentation.

    The presentations should be self-contained and directed at someone who understands the material presented in this course, with the exception of the Conclusions section for the final presentation. The Conclusions section should be directed at presenting a convincing case for the preferred alternative to a lay audience. Examples of common problems in presentations include 1) failure to present key elements of the analysis, 2) inclusion of so much material in the visual aids that the viewer cannot absorb this material in the available time, and 4) failure to direct the Conclusions section at a lay audience.

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