Analysis of competitive position, opportunities, and threats

This capstone course requires each student to construct a detailed and well-thought-out analysis of a

business employing all the relevant strategic analysis tools studied in the course. This project will take the

full term to complete. It is our sincere hope that you will find this project to be the most rewarding effort in

your educational career.


Project Overview

This course is designed to help you develop strategic skills that can be used in management. The

process of strategic planning is an iterative cycle of research and analysis, ending with a series of choices

about what will be attempted and how it will be approached. The most tangible output is the strategic

planning document. The most important output is the increased understanding that the participants

acquire. Accordingly, the assessment of the final project will be heavily dependent on the quality of the

strategic thinking inside that polished report. Students that focus on the expeditious completion of the

steps may find that they have shortchanged the important and time-consuming exploration and thinking

that is necessary to create a quality strategic case. Since not all tools can tell the planner which factors

and alternatives are important to consider, the planner should pull in as much diverse information and

perspectives as possible. Additionally, you should put yourselves in the competitor’s shoes and consider

how the “game” will play out. Your homework and subsequent improvements are intended to become a

primary basis for the exploration and questioning that drives your strategic understanding and creative

ideas. In addition, it is important to test your strategic thinking and your use of analytical tools in

preparation for your final project.


Tips for Selecting an Organization

As you select an organization for your class project, it is important that you select one that is interesting,

possibly useful to you in your career, industry, or interests, and allows you to explore strategic challenges

in a meaningful way. If you select the industry in which you currently work, you must address two critical

issues: (1) integrating and clearly citing existing information. (You will need to delineate work you’ve

contributed as opposed to pre-existing information), and (2) succinctly presenting existing information

while adding new insight, analysis, and plans that substantially add to strategy development,

implementation, and/or assessment of the organization. An organization or industry you are interested in

should give you better access to information although you need to pay careful attention to the points

made above.


Do not underestimate the degree to which you will need to be an expert in the selected industry and

related areas. It is impossible to create a strategy without understanding the terms, technologies, market

changes, and so forth in great depth. As soon as you select a topic, you should establish (or monitor)

news feeds from several major sources of business news to keep abreast of actions in your industry.


Public companies are preferred for these plans as SEC filings and investment analyses are available

through research. Some of the firm’s main competitors will likely be public so that you can research them

as well. Large, diversified, companies can be difficult for purposes of this course (unless their

diversification is relatively narrow, and largely in one “solutions space”). Large organizations (e.g. GE)

may file consolidated reports, and you may not have access to dis-aggregated information on the division

that you are analyzing. Additionally, it’s better to select a company/industry under “duress” or at least

struggling. The reason is its very difficult to add new strategic ideas for a company that is doing well.


You may select any form of organization including profit, non-profit, and government organizations.

However, please take into consideration that within these various organizations, the strategic thinking can

be quite different and some can pose challenges for the planner. Most organizations have some type of

customer base and opportunities for improvement. Charitable organizations compete against other

nonprofits for time and money. Educational organizations compete for students. Regulated utilities

compete for customers among themselves (e.g., gas versus electric) and in conjunction with governments



to attract new industry. Units of governmental entities may be the most difficult, but even those

organizations have customers who can choose to live in a different locality or elect government officials

willing to change the status quo. If you are undecided, medium or small-size competitive, profit-oriented

organizations may provide the best platform for applying course concepts.


Project Deliverables


Phase 1 – Modules 1-3 (Outline for Strategic Management Case)


• Introduction of the company (limit to a maximum of three single-spaced pages).

o Description of the firm and its products

o Company history (brief history, critical events, competitors, leadership), including strategic

elements of its history

o Vision and mission statement o Assessment of mission and vision

• External assessment o EFE and CPM with strategic implications

o Analysis of competitive position, opportunities, and threats

• Internal assessment o IFE with strategic implications o Financial ratio analysis with key

conclusions and implications for strategic choice o Overall analysis of internal capabilities

and implications for your strategic decisions


Module 1: Select company and secure instructor approval. Once approved, create plan outline, insert

current mission and vision.


Module 2: Complete an EFE and CPM for your company (including analysis and conclusions) and insert

in your working draft which you will hold until you submit Phase 1 during Module 3. .


Module 3: Complete an IFE and calculate financial ratios (including analysis and conclusions) for your

company and insert in your plan to submit at the end of Module 3.


Submit all of Phase 1 to the Dropbox no later than Sunday 11:59 PM EST/EST of Module 3. (This

Dropbox basket is linked to Turnitin.)


Phase 2 – Modules 4-6 (includes revisions to Phase 1 based on the instructor’s feedback)


Internal assessment (continued from Phase 1—include IFE and financial ratios) o

Current strategy (brief description of the firm’s current strategies), including current

use of technology

o SWOT matrix with strategic implications for the company o BCG matrix with strategic

implications for the company o Space or other matrices with strategic implications for

the company o Possible strategic alternatives

o Evaluation of current organizational structure

o Recommendation changes (if needed) to the structure, culture (including values), processes,

rewards, or technology


Module 4: Integrate instructor feedback from Phase 1.


Module 5: Develop SWOT, BCG, SPACE, and IE matrices with strategic implications for the company.


Module 6: Develop alternative strategies for your company with strengths and weaknesses of each.


Submit all of Phase 2 to the Dropbox no later than Sunday 11:59 PM EST/EST of Module 6. (This

Dropbox basket is linked to Turnitin.)





Phase 3 – Modules 7-8 (includes revisions to Phase 2 based on the instructor’s feedback)


Strategic analysis, choices, impact, and measurement o

Product-positioning map

o Evaluation of strategies and objectives to achieve most favorable market position o

Description of how you would implement your strategies o Milestones (steps for

each major initiative with their timelines

o Specific results you want to achieve including market, financial, and product or service goals

o Financial projection (minimum three years) o Presentation with audio – see below

o Executive summary – see below


Presentation with audio

The final submission for your project includes developing a PowerPoint presentation with

embedded audio files. Each slide must contain an audio file in which you offer insight to the

material in the slide and key points the professor should take away from the visual

information in the PowerPoint. You should minimize repeating points made in the slide other

than emphasizing important components. To put this simply, please do not read the slides

verbatim but make sure to add value to what is presented on the slide to improve the

understanding of your work. The presentation with audio is a significant component of the

final submission, so please makes sure to offer your best work, speak clearly, emphasize the

strategic implications of your work, and engage the viewer.


Executive summary (compiled with concise and critical elements from the detailed work)

While done as a last step, this goes in front of the report, after the index. A final and

allencompassing analysis is presented, along with the recommendations that you would

make to the firm’s board of directors. This includes identifying what you recommend, and

briefly outlining alternatives considered, key implementation steps, and the impact of the

implementation on the company’s performance and competitive position.


Module 7: Develop a product-positioning map with strategic implications for the company.

Conduct final evaluation of alternative strategies and detailed description of selected strategy.


Module 8: Develop detailed implementation and assessment plan.

Complete financial projections.

Create presentation with audio.

Complete the executive summary and insert into the plan.

Complete all editing, verification, and citing of all sources, and insert graphs and illustrations.


Submit all of Phase 3 to Chalk and Wire no later than Thursday 11:59 PM EST/EST using the link in

the Module 8 folder. Students that do not submit the assignment to Chalk and Wire will receive a

zero. This is a key program assessment; the results are used to ensure students are meeting program

goals. Video and PDF instructions can be found on the course home page. PDF instructions are also

located in the Start Here folder. (Chalk and Wire is linked to turnitin).


Project Submission

Please do not jeopardize completing your MBA! Before you begin, read the plagiarism policy in the

syllabus and catalogue. There is zero tolerance for plagiarism in this course. Any case of plagiarism will

be taken seriously. All assignments will be submitted to Turnitin and be subject to additional validation by

the professor. Work from prior classes cannot be used in this course without prior, written permission

from the professor.




Project Evaluation

All sections of the plan are evaluated based on:

1. Correctness and completeness: models/matrices used in the case are reasonably sound/accurate

and thorough.

2. Strategic analysis and conclusions: points made are insightful and clear with relative importance

distinguished (not just a “rehash” of the facts).

3. Logical sequence and continuity of writing: the reader can seamlessly move from paragraph to

paragraph or section without losing his or her train of thought.

4. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure are at the graduate level.

5. External sources: the ability to integrate and interpret external sources of information. As a

capstone class, the external research is extensive, relevant, and informative to the company’s

direction, its competition, industry, and choices.

6. Language: the effective use of standard business terms especially those emphasized in the David

text and prior business courses.


See the full grading rubric in the Start Here folder.


Tips for Completing the Project

You should expect to build up a large mass of analyses before you can put together a coherent case. In

the end, a great case will always look “simple” relative to the countless hours going down many different

paths in order to build understanding. The volume of material generated can distract from the creative

part of the process. The following suggestions are designed to serve as a reminder for things not

identified distinctly in the assignments, the syllabus, or the textbook Plan preparation guidelines.


1. Company and industry background

Use your own judgment to determine the amount of background to include. Over-detailed

company history is usually irrelevant and rarely improves the report. On the other hand, a history

of strategic moves and competitive reactions might be very illustrative. Decide what to include

based on whether that information is important to understanding the future environment and

strategic choices. Market share, financial strength, brand image, and the like are always relevant



2. Address uncertainty

In your strategic analysis, make sure to state any assumptions related to your business. If you

believe there is going to be high risk, describe contingency plans or alternate scenarios.


3. Discuss the things that create organizational culture and behavior necessary to support

the strategy

a. What operational and motivational processes create the culture (acting your way into a new

way of thinking, identity orientation, incentives, etc.)?

b. What organizational structure fits the mission/vision, the operational approach, and the need

for adaptability or stability?

c. Make sure to delineate your ethics standards including values the company lives by.


4. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and internal/external (IE) matrices

Some of you may think that the BCG and IE matrices are not relevant to your project since your

organization only reports one business segment. First, these exhibits are important to think

through and are required even if they only have one product line. Second, there are often more

segments in any organization than meets the eye. The reason to break up the business into

component parts is to shed some light on the strategic positioning and future potential. Ask

yourself, are there segments that behave differently (different customers, competitors, growth

rates, success factors, etc.)? You can be sure that Wal-Mart is looking at grocery, clothing,



pharmacy, electronics, toys, garden, and automotive all separately, and possibly even separating

seasonal items. For purposes of this class, approximations can be used whenever necessary to

separate a subunit. Pushing the analysis down to a more detailed level forces you to recognize

what you know and what you do not know. I am more concerned with strategic thinking than with

availability of detailed data. You can put estimated numbers in your plans as long as a note is

added explaining the basis, reasoning, and level of uncertainty.


5. Implementation

Your implementation strategy must show how it is aligned with your strategic objectives. The

strategic-level implementation questions are mainly resource-related (where the money/people

come from) and timing issues (when are initiatives expected to happen). In addition, if there is

something specific mentioned in the analysis (e.g., a trend, a weakness, concerns about the

competitive response) that affects implementation, then you need to include the relevant part of

the implementation approach mentioned as part of the strategy. If there is not anything notable in

these kinds of areas, then specific content is not required in the report.


6. Overall assessment of the strategy

As you prepare your strategies, it will be helpful to review Rumelt’s four criteria: a.


i. Strategy should not present inconsistent goals and policies.

ii. All of the pieces of your overall strategic approach should be aligned.

b. Consonance

i. Strategy should examine sets of trends.

c. Feasibility

d. Advantage

i. Strategy should include creation or maintenance of competitive advantage.


7. Sources

Follow APA style guide to write the case. Cite within the body of your case and include a

reference list. This is particularly true for any source data that will come from financial reports and

corporate websites.


Project Grading

Eighty percent (80%) of the course grade will be determined based on the Strategic Management Case

as distributed below:


1. Phase 1: Proposal and initial analysis (20% of course grade)

2. Phase 2: Substantive draft (20% of course grade)

3. Phase 3: Final Case (40% of course grade)


Example Outline and Structure for the Strategic Plan (Headings)

The outline below is an example and should be modified to adapt to your company. The primary headings

are good ways to organize your work into logical sections (e.g., internal analysis, external analysis, etc.).


Cover Page




Executive Overview


Introduction of the Company

Description of the firm

Company history



Vision and mission statement

Strategic elements of the history

Overall assessment


External Assessment


Analysis of competitive position, opportunities, and threats


Internal Assessment

Financial ratio analysis


Analysis of internal capabilities and implications for your strategic decisions to follow

Current strategy, including current use of technology

Possible alternatives

SWOT matrix

BCG matrix

Space or other matrices

Description of core values you would use to create the desired culture

Evaluation of current organizational structure

Recommendation changes (if needed) to the structure, processes, rewards, or technology


Strategic Analysis, Choices, Impact, and Measurement

Product-positioning map

Evaluation of strategies and objectives to achieve most favorable market position

Description of how you would implement your strategies

Milestones (steps for each major initiative with their timelines

Specific results you want to achieve including market, financial, and product or service goals, and

how and when they will be measured Financial projection (minimum three years)

Presentation with audio