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MPM703 Business Strategy and Analysis
In this assignment you are going to prepare a strategy report for a business.

FIRST, you must decide whether to do the Assignment alone (which counts as a group of just one student) or as a member of a group of up to three students. The Assignment is a lot of work and we do not recommend doing it alone, particularly if you do not yet have much experience of assignment writing at Deakin or if English is not your first language.

SECOND, once you have formed your Group, of one person if you are doing the Assignment alone or of 2 or 3 people, you must register your Group and all its members in the Groups tab under ‘More’ on the Unit’s DeakinSync webpage.

Remember, you MUST enrol in a Group even if you are doing the Assignment alone: if you don’t register you won’t be able to submit your assignment and the system won’t let us give you a mark!

Your group (of one, two or three) have been asked to prepare a strategy report for a business.

After completing the two steps above, the next step is to select a real, existing business as the subject of your assignment. The business can be a publicly listed company in Australia or overseas which is of interest to you or to other members of your group, or it may be a large private or family business located either in Australia or overseas. It could also be a government agency or a non-government organisation, so long as it has an internal organisation and has some form of annual reporting. If you are in any doubt about the suitability of any organisation, please ask the Lecturer. Do not use or refer to assignments completed by students for this unit in previous trimesters. (A record of past assignments is kept.) Note also that the requirements of the assignment change from trimester to trimester.

The focus of this assignment is on the business level of analysis (rather than on corporate or operational levels). Therefore, if you select a diversified company then make sure you focus on only one of the company’s business units. The report must be specific and applied to the business. In other words, you must apply the relevant concepts and tools of business strategy to the particular conditions and circumstances of the business you are studying. General statements and references to theories and models that are not applied to your specific business will not add value to your assignment. Similarly, data about the business that is not analysed and presented from a strategic perspective – using the relevant concepts and tools of strategy – is of little value. To help you in this exercise, consider the position of the CEO of the business. Assume that he or she will be reading your report and will be looking for a strategic analysis and a set of recommendation that is practical and specific to her or his business. The CEO does not want to read a broad analysis that could apply to any number of organisations and does not ‘speak’ to his or her business.

Group or individual submission
This assignment may be completed either as a group submission (two or three people) or as an individual assignment (one person only). Either way, you must sign up in one of the group assignment spaces online. The Assignment is time-consuming, and we strongly suggest that you do it with some colleagues rather than alone.

Marking will be done without regard to whether the assignment was a group or individual submission. In other words, an individual assignment should be of a similar standard and quality to that of a group assignment. For group assignments all members in the group will share the mark equally. Therefore:

1. Allocate the various tasks among your group members and agree on interim due dates for the stages of work. Make sure your interim due dates allow for drafts to be circulated and edited so that the final submission is of the highest standard.
2. Each group member must make a relatively fair and reasonable contribution to the report, in whatever form or shape that might take, in order to share equally in the mark. In the rare event that there are any issues you should contact me two weeks prior to the report due date so that a resolution can be reached.
Report format and requirements
The presentation of your report is a critical aspect of this assignment. It is essential that your report is formatted appropriately, and carefully edited and re-edited to achieve a professional standard. (But remember, it is a serious business report, not marketing razzle-dazzle.) Allow time to draft and re-draft your assignment prior to the due date in order to improve the quality of writing and presentation. It is a good idea to plan on having the report finished two or three days before the due date to allow time for further refinement and editing.

You must follow carefully the report structure and requirements set out below, unless you have (and explain) very good reason for doing otherwise.

1. Title Page
In the title page, you should include:
• Title of the report, e.g. ‘Company X: A Business Strategy Report’.
• DeakinSync Group number (whether you are a group of one or more).
• The names and student IDs of all of your group members.
• Off campus or on campus status.

2. Table of contents
Include all of the section headings and subheadings used in your report, together with page numbers.
3. Executive summary (Less than 300 words)
This is a summary of the findings of the report in only one page, written as a series of short paragraphs, outlining your key findings and your recommended strategic option.

4. Introduction (Approximately 400 words)
This section provides some background and context to your report. Your introduction should include:
• A brief description of the reasons for undertaking the study, i.e. the value of undertaking a strategy review of the business.
• An introduction to the business and its macro environment and industry, and
• Any serious limitations or restrictions on the report.

5. Strategic Analysis
5.1 Methods (Approximately 200 words)
Provide a brief description of the data collection and analysis used in this section, including an outline of the sources used to gather the data upon which the report is based. Data may be collected from sources within the business (business documents, questionnaires, interviews) and from industry reports, media sources, the internet and database searches. It is important to describe the types and quantity of your data sources so that the reader can evaluate the breadth, quality and validity of the data on which your analysis is based. At least eight data sources should be collected and analysed.

5.2. External analysis (Approximately 750 words)
1. Conduct a PESTEL analysis of your business’s macro environment, evaluating whether each of the PESTEL factors are positive, neutral, or negative for the industry. Provide an overall evaluation of the impact of these factors on growth and consumer demand in the industry.
2. Identify and explain the two most significant influences in your analysis that are likely to be the main drivers of change in the future.
3. Using Porter’s five forces framework, evaluate and briefly describe two key forces at work in the industry environment of your business.
4. Draw a strategy canvas for your business and for two main rivals (see Figure 2.10 in the text). Describe briefly the three most critical success factors for your business (see pp. 58-59 in the text).

5.3. Strategic capability (Approximately 400 words)
1. Apply the ‘VRIO’ criteria to describe, evaluate and desxribe the strategic capabilities of your business.
2. Present a SWOT analysis in table form with an interpretation of the significance of your findings.

5.4 Strategy and culture (Approximately 400 words)
Briefly evaluate the relationship between the culture and strategy of the business. Drawing a cultural web of the business may assist with this.

5.5 Competitive strategy (Approximately 500 words)
Identify and describe the most viable competitive strategy for the business. To undertake this task, refer to Figure 6.2 on p. 193 and the relevant discussion. Explain how your chosen competitive strategy enables the business to:
1. Respond effectively to the industry and macro environments described in your external analysis, and
2. Match the capabilities and strengths of the business to the opportunities in the environment, described in your earlier analyses, to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

5.6 Business strategy statement (Approximately 300 words)
Describe the mission, vision, objectives, scope, and advantages of the business as it currently operates (see section 1.2.3 in the text). Summarise these descriptions into a clear and compelling strategy statement in 35 words or less. Your strategy statement should be based on your analysis and competitive strategy.

6. Conclusion (Approximately 250 words)
This section is written in paragraph form to provide a summary of one key finding from each of the report’s sections from 5.2 to 5.6.

7. References
List all of the references referred to in the report. Please note that appendices are not allowed.
Word limit: 3500 (excluding the references only)
Line spacing: 1.5
Font size: 12
Contribution to your final mark: 40%
Due date: 11:59pm, Friday, 29 April 2016

NB. Words in excess of 3500 will not be marked.

Assignment submission rules
1. All assignments are to be submitted in the assignment folder set up in MPM703 in DeakinSync.
2. Extensions to the due date will not be considered unless a written request is submitted to and negotiated with the Unit Chair at least three days prior to the due date.
3. Assignments submitted late without an extension being granted will not be marked.
4. Please read the notes on plagiarism in the Unit Guide.
You will also find some excellent advice on planning and writing assignments in the paper on “Your Rights and Responsibilities as a student of this Unit” on the Unit Information and Introduction page of the Unit’s DeakinSync site. I urge all students to look at this document.

I also very strongly urge you all to make use of the ‘Assignment Planner’ that is included in that document.

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