TOOL ANALYSIS RESEARCH PAPER

Purpose

This project is the second of four projects.  It also represents the second part of the external environmental analysis that is part of a strategic management plan.  You will use the tools and apply concepts learned in this and previous business courses to demonstrate an understanding of how organizations develop and manage strategies to establish, safeguard and sustain its competitive position in the 21st century’s (rapidly evolving/shifting/changing), uncertain hyper-competitive business environment.

Monitoring competitors’ performance is a key aspect of performing an external environment analysis.  This project provides you with the opportunity to evaluate the competitive position of one of the organizations listed below and integrate that information in a partial SWOT (OT), Porter’s Five Forces, External Factor Evaluation (EFE) matrix and Competitive Profile Matrices (CPM).

In this project, you are presenting a report document.  The expectation is that the report provides the level of details to help the audience grasp the main topics and to understand and complete the External Environmental Analysis.

Analysis is the operative word.  In analyzing the external environment, you are expected to thoroughly research and take that research and break it into small parts to gain a better understanding of what is happening in the external environment of the business.  In researching an industry, it is important to understand that every company within an industry is different so gathering information on one company does not mean that the collected information is relevant to other company within that industry.  When researching, parsing the material is critical to an accurate analysis.  Avoid presenting just any information as that may lead to using irrelevant information.

You will then write the report in your own words to share the external analysis.  You are expected to present information and support the ideas and reasoning using the course material and your research.  You will not lift any information from source documents without properly citing and referencing.  For the technical analysis aspect of the project, you are required to create the technique on your own and may not use from any source material that you happen to find.  No work from a clearinghouse or similar website may be used or cited as a credible source.

Skill Building

In this project, you are building many different skills including research, critical thinking, writing and developing analytical skills related to various financial analysis tools and strategy tools used in business.

Outcomes Met With This Project

  • utilize a set of useful analytical skills, tools, and techniques for analyzing a company strategically;
  • integrate ideas, concepts, and theories from previously taken functional courses including accounting, finance, market, business and human resource management;
  • analyze and synthesize strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to generate, prioritize, and implement alternative strategies in order to revise a current plan or write a new plan and present a strategic plan

Instructions:

Step 1Specific Company for All Four Projects

The companies that your instructor has assigned to you for Project 1 is the company you will use for this project.  The assigned company must be used for this project and in subsequent projects in the course.  Students must complete the project using the assigned company.  Deviating from the assigned company will result in a zero for the project.

After reading the course material, you will complete the steps below.

Step 2:  Course Material and Research

Although you are required to research information about the focal company and the external environment for this project, you are also accountable for using the course material to support the ideas, reasoning and conclusions made.  Course material use goes beyond defining terms but is used to explain the ‘why and how’ of a situation.  Using one or two in-text citations from the course material and then relying on Internet source material will earn few points on this assignment.  A variety of source material is expected and what is presented must be relevant and applicable to the topic being discussed.   Avoid merely making statements but close the loop of the discussion by explaining how something happens or why something happens, which focuses on importance and impact.  In closing the loop, you will demonstrate the ability to think clearly and rationally showing an understanding of the logical connections between the ideas presented from the research, the course material and the question(s) being asked.

Note:  Your report is based on the results of the research performed and not on any prepared documentation.  What this means is that you will research and draw your own conclusions that are supported by the research and the course material rather than the use any source material that puts together any of the tools or techniques whether from the Internet, for-pay websites or any pre-prepared document, video or source material.  A zero will be earned for not doing your own analysis.

Success:  The analysis is based on research and not opinion.  You are not making recommendations and you will not attempt to position the focal company in a better or worse light than other companies within the industry merely because you are completing an analysis on this particular company.  The analysis must be based on factual information.  Any conclusions drawn have to be based on factual information rather than leaps of faith.

To ensure success, as stated above student are expected to use the course material and research on the focal company’s global industry and the focal company.  Opinion does not earn credit nor does using external sources when course material can be used.  It is necessary to provide explanations (the why and how) rather than making statements.   Avoid stringing one citation after another as doing so does not show detailed explanations.

Library Resources

On the main navigation bar in the classroom select, Resources and then select Library.  Select Databases by Title (A – Z).  Select M from the alphabet list, and then select Mergent Online.   You may also use Market Line and should be looking at the focal company’s Annual Report or 10K report.  You are not depending on any one resource to complete the analysis.  It is impossible to complete a Porter’s Five Forces, competitive analysis or OT by using only course material.

You should not be using obscure articles, GlassDoor, or Chron or similar articles.

Research for Financial Analysis:  Financial Research

Research for Industry Analysis CSI Market

UMUC library is available for providing resources and services. Seek library support for excellence in your academic pursuit.

Library Support

Extensive library resources and services are available online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at https://www.umuc.edu/library/index.cfm to support you in your studies.  The UMUC Library provides research assistance in creating search strategies, selecting relevant databases, and evaluating and citing resources in a variety of formats via its Ask a Librarian service at https://www.umuc.edu/library/libask/index.cfm.

Scholarly Research in OneSearch is allowed.

To search for only scholarly resources, you are expected to place a check mark in the space for “Scholarly journals only” before clicking search.

Step 3:  How to Set Up the Report

Use this template to complete the project: Project 2 Template.  The document has to be written in Word or rtf.  No other format is acceptable.  No pdf files will be graded.  Use 12-point font for a double-spaced report.  The final product cannot be longer than 8 pages in length, which includes all tables and matrices but excludes the title page and reference page.  Do no use an Appendix.

Step 4:  Industry Analysis

  • Perform a Porter’s Five Forces analysis on the organization’s industry and the focal company in particular.  The industry is the global industry.  Use the course material to identify the five forces and what components make up each force. The analysis of each force must clearly discuss ‘why and how’ and conclude with the effect of the given force on the fortunes of the industry (industry profitability) and/or industry dynamics; that is whether the effect of the force on the industry is weak/modest/average/moderate or strong/severe and also on the focal company.  You may not use a Porter’s Five Forces analysis that is already completed and available on the Internet.  A zero will result if used as the analysis has to be the result of your research and your own development.

Step 5:  Competitive Analysis

  • Perform a Competitive Analysis using the focal company’s closest three competitors plus the selected company.  Analyze the competition’s products and services explaining features, value, targets, etc.  What are the competition’s strengths and weaknesses and what is the market outlook for the competition?
  • Identify and discuss at least eight (8) key success factors (critical success factors).  Each industry has different key success factors so make sure the success factors fit the industry.  Review the Competitive Profile Matrix Example under week 3 Content for clarification.
  • Develop a Competitor Profile Matrix (CPM).  Explain how you developed the matrix.  Make sure to support your reasoning.

Step 6:  Partial SWOT Analysis 

A SWOT analysis is a tool used to assess the strengths and weaknesses (internal environment) and the opportunities and threats (external environment) of an organization.  You will complete a partial SWOT analysis only completing an analysis on the OT (Opportunities and Threats).  The information presented is not based on your beliefs but on fact-based, data-driven information.  The items used in the OT are factors that are affecting or might affect the focal company or those companies within the identified industry.

You will:

  • Develop an OT table using your research to identify at least five (5) opportunities and five (5) threats that influence the industry and the focal company.  Make sure to cite the elements within the table.
  • Perform an OT analysis (separate from SWOT table).
  • You may not use a SWOT analysis that is already completed and available on the Internet.  A zero will result if used as the analysis has to be the result of your research and your own development.  NOTE:  A matrix is a table.  It is not an analysis.

Step 7:  External Factor Evaluation (EFE) Analysis

The External Factor Evaluation (EFE) matrix will allow you to use the information from the industry analysis and the competitive analysis to assess whether the focal company is able to effectively take advantage of existing opportunities while minimizing the identified external threats that will help you formulate new strategies and policies.  You will use the opportunities and threats from the OT analysis.

  • Using the information gathered for the OT analysis, develop an EFE matrix using five (5) opportunities and five (5) threats.  Discuss how you developed the EFE matrix and the outcome.  Make sure to support your reasoning.

Step 8: Conclusion

Create a concluding paragraph.  The Conclusion is intended to emphasize the purpose/significance of the analysis, emphasize the significance/consequence of findings, and indicate the wider applications that are derived from the main points of the project’s requirements.  You will draw conclusions about the findings of the external environment analysis.

Step 9:  Submit the Report in the Assignment Folder

Submitting the project to the Assignment Folder is considered the student’s final product and therefore ready for grading by the instructor.  It is incumbent upon the student to verify the Project is the correct submission.  No exceptions will be considered by the instructor.

Report Requirements to Follow

In writing the report,

  • Use the grading rubric while completing the project to ensure all requirements are met that will lead to the highest possible grade.
  • Third person writing is required.  Third person means that there are no words such as “I, me, my, we, or us” (first person writing), nor is there use of “you or your” (second person writing).
  • Contractions are not used in business writing, so do not use them.
  • No direct quotes except for mission statement and vision statement.  For all other source material used in the analysis, you will not use direct quotation marks but will instead paraphrase.  What this means is that you will put the ideas of an author or article into your own words rather than lifting directly from a source document.  You may not use more than four consecutive words from a source document, as doing so would require direct quotation marks.  Changing words from a passage does not exclude the passage from having quotation marks.   If more than four consecutive words are used from source documents, this material will not be included in the grade and could lead to allegations of academic dishonesty.
  • Use in-text citations and provide a reference list that contains the reference associated with each in-text citation.
  • You may not use books in completing this project.
  • Provide the page or paragraph number in every in-text citation presented.
  • You may not use Fern Fort University, Ibis World or any other for-fee website.
 
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