BUSN460 Senior Project
Final Report and Presentation Guide
The object of this course and this project is to provide you with a realistic situation that you are likely to face in the real world business environment. You’ll be working with limited information, limited support from your client, within a limited time frame – and yet, you have to get up to speed in a new area quickly, and make informed professional recommendations based on your research and analysis.
You and your team have been hired by CanGo as consultants to help them improve their fast-growing business. The management team at CanGo is busy, not entirely organized and somewhat overwhelmed by their success. They are looking to you as an objective, intelligent, experienced business person – and to your combined experience as a team to help them figure out what they should do in several areas of their business. CanGo can provide very little guidance to you – if they knew what they were doing they wouldn’t have asked you for help! CanGo is your customer, and they are paying you a great deal of money, so the tone of your work on the project should be that of information addressed to the Board of Directors of this company, and it should be the best professional work of your (academic) career. You should approach this project as if your job depended on it – as if it were paying your mortgage and grocery bill. This project is your new job.
In previous courses you have been given specific guidelines, templates and rubrics, but in this course it is up to you to put together the best approach to each project and challenge brought to you by your client. You should draw on all of your past classes to thoroughly address the requirements of this project – marketing, accounting, finance, human resources management, composition and business writing, business policy, information technology, etc. Your efforts should show that you are using all of the tools in your toolbox.
The board at CanGo is looking for well supported recommendations, backed up by solid, high quality research, analysis and numbers that support your guidance. They are looking for facts, not opinions. They are looking for objectivity, not ad copy from a vendor’s website. They are looking for your best work, because they really need your help.
Final Presentation and Report
This final report will outline your team’s observations and analysis of CanGo as revealed by all of the videos viewed during the course. Based upon this input, your team will include in its final definitive report a description as what you believe are CanGo’s notable challenges and the team’s recommended solutions to those challenges.
You have 7 weeks to learn about the CanGo situation, and simultaneously work to build your substantive recommendations for making it better. This is a real world work situation that analysts face every day, where we have been contracted for a tidy sum to help objectively steer a company toward the next step in their evolution by delivering the most thorough, in-depth and incredibly competent analysis possible, given the time and space allowed. Customers don’t provide templates, rubrics and hints in the real world, they look to us, the educated, trained professionals, for that structure – and they definitely expect to get their money’s worth. We’re not here to summarize, we are here to provide strategic INSIGHT, based on everything you’ve learned in your various experiences (DVU classes).
The final paper draws from what you’ve learned that over the course of the videos and resulting analysis reports, but takes it to a higher level with market research, competitive analysis, financial analysis, and strategic recommendations. Telling me a great deal of what I already know as the client (recapping what is presented in the class) is not a good idea. The team video analysis reports provide a basis of fact from which to work on the final paper and presentation, which are to be completely separate documents from the analysis reports, i.e. the final paper cannot be an amalgamation of previous analysis reports.
The final report should be an insightful piece of work that takes what you’ve learned about CanGo, what you’ve researched about the market, the industry, the competition, etc., what you’ve analyzed in terms of options, risks and rewards, and delivers meaningful, actionable observations and recommendations to help improve the client’s business. How the team uses the information gathered in the weekly team analysis reports is up to you – you’re the highly paid consultants, and on the other side of the desk here at CanGo, I can only provide limited guidance. Use your imagination, be creative and professional and have fun with it!
Recommendations from the board: Make sure your final presentation makes us feel good about the $100,000 check we wrote to you a few weeks ago. The board and our investors are looking for insights, research, well supported and accurately sourced facts, not the obvious conclusions or easily-reachable opinions that we get from our disorganized employees. We expect numerous sources on your reference page, and corresponding citations throughout the paper so that we know when you are speaking and when you are presenting information from a source. We want to see professional quality analysis and business advice that makes a real difference and takes us to the next level. We expect and require the investment in your team to pay off.
1.) Teamwork: This is a good time to reinforce the importance of teamwork. You’ve been hired as a team, and each individual on the team has a responsibility to do their fair share of the work for the team qualitatively and quantitatively. This means attending all team meetings, meeting all deadlines set by the team, and being an active contributor at every level to the team effort. Students who fail to contribute equally to the team effort can receive a different lower grade than other team members, and in extreme cases, be removed from the team, making it very difficult to pass the class. Supporting your team members should be your first priority – you are in this together, and everyone must do their fair share for the team to succeed.
2.) Research: The final paper and presentation goes beyond any of the individual issues seen with employees and managers over the last few weeks. Your research should be strategic in nature, looking at the size of current and potential markets, competition, legislation regulation, changes in technology – whatever you think is most important on a strategic level to help this company stay on track and move to the next level.
3.) Team Video Analysis Reports and the Final Project: The team video analysis reports are for your education, that is, to help you stay up to speed with the information presented in the course. The analysis reports cannot be recycled into the final project. Start the final project with a clean sheet of paper, using the analysis reports only for general reference.
4.) Formatting: Your team paper must support your PowerPoint presentation. Present your findings in a concise paper (2,000-2,500 words – exceed the minimum!) using Times New Roman, 12-point font, double spaced, no unnecessary spaces between sections or paragraphs, 1 inch borders, with an appropriate table of contents and executive summary at the beginning of the paper and supporting data in the remaining body of the paper. This may include diagrams, graphs, Gantt charts, appendices, etc. Appendices in addition to the core five pages are permissible as long as they support your recommendations. As always, accurate APA citation is required for all sources.
5.) Presentation: Because the presentation will be given online in a web conference, your presentation should be very legible, that is all text and graphics should be very clear. Avoid using small text or graphics that are not very sharp, as they won’t show up very clearly in the web conference environment. Additionally avoid the use of the following as they may not function reliably in the web conference environment:
a. Unnecessarily complex slide backgrounds
b. Animations/animated GIFs
c. Slide transitions
d. Sound effects
e. Video clips
f. Anything that moves. Keep your presentation clean, simple clear and legible
g. Each team must ask at least 2 questions of other teams
6.) Common mistakes made in previous classes:
a. Referring to the videos or individual employees. Assume this is a real-life environment, and that the board members are not aware of the day-to-day issues of the individual employees.
b. Talking points: Assume your audience can read! In a professional presentation environment, few things are more grating than having someone read bullet points off of a presentation word for word. The bullet points on your presentation should be talking points, your presentation material should add depth and color to those talking points. I recommend developing a script based on the presentation points but takes the material to a higher level.
c. Technical issues: Practice working in web conferences continuously throughout the course so that you are familiar with your microphone and speaker levels, and how the software works. Login to the final exam session well before the start time, as your team may be selected to go first. It can take several minutes for web conferences to load – don’t be late to the meeting!
d. Directions during the presentation: The instructor may provide directions through the chat window during your presentation. If we can’t hear you, or there is some other issue, look for those directions in the chat window.
e. Practice, practice, practice! When presentation day comes it is very easy to tell which teams have practiced giving their reports in dry run sessions together and which teams have not. Your presentation should come off as a polished well rehearsed effort, clearly spoken, with smooth, pleasant professional transitions between each team member section, with a clear beginning and a clear end. Be prepared for a Q&A session from the instructor and your peers at the end of the presentation, and be prepared to answer any question that is asked, calmly and professionally.
f. Not asking questions: Take notes while the other teams are presenting and be prepared to be called on to ask your (intelligent, thoughtful) questions by the instructor.
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