Your final assignment for this class is a report for decision making (or what is sometimes called a recommendation report). Your report will aid a reader in solving a problem by presenting the results of research and your evaluation of the significance of the findings. The recommendations will suggest specific actions to solve the problem. Your research methods will include primary means of information gathering and possibly library (or secondary) research. This assignment will take place in two parts:
- The Completion of a Proposal Memo (Project 2)
- The Final Report (Project 6)
As part of your completion of Project 6, you will present your report to the class. One “winning” group will be chosen and will receive a bonus point on their final grade as well as the coveted 3050 Awesome Project Award!
Look for a project with practical application; that is, be able to define how a specific reader will use your report. The problem must be real and local rather than theoretical. Choosing a familiar organization is helpful. The recommendation must involve the application of organizational analyses detailed in this class (organizational structure, organizational culture, etc.). The project will require the investigation of at least two criteria for decision making in at least two of three categories: technical, managerial, and social.
Technical criteria include all issues that determine whether something can be done
(Examples – Legal restrictions, Physical space, Dimensions, Capacity, Compatability with existing systems, Adaptability, Ease of manufacture, Reliability, Warranty, Ability to be upgraded, Strength of materials, etc.)
Managerial criteria relate to day-to-day operations
(Examples – Costs: materials, equipment, renovation, maintenance, financing, licenses, salaries; Income: fees, grants, interest; Market: demand, need, interest, competition; Taxes; Consistency with organizational goals; Organizational impact: personnel, morale, image, distribution of resources, effect on other projects; Staffing: number and qualifications; Training; Policies; Schedule; Quality of written instructions, etc.)
Social criteria relate to values and the impact of the decision on people
(Examples – Human safety: manufacturers, operators, bystanders; Gender; Race; Age; Quality: product and service; Environmental impact: long term and short term, disposal, habitat; Human impact: jobs, morale, employment benefits; Access: who benefits and who is excluded; Social and cultural issues; Ethical issues such as conflicts of interest; Convenience; Comfort; Aesthetics, etc.)
This report will likely require a large amount of primary research and the use of such techniques as letter of inquiry, questionnaire, interview, and site inspection.
Format of Final Report (Project 6)
Your final report (due at the end of the semester) will include the following elements:
- letter of transmittal
- title page with descriptive abstract
- table of contents
- list of visuals (if you have more than two)
- glossary (if necessary)
- executive summary
- discussion section organized according to criteria for decision making
- conclusions, recommendations
- appropriate documentation, according to the style used in your field
- appropriate supplements (e.g., copies of research instruments, such as survey forms)
- visuals (tables, graphs, drawings, photos); at least one visual is required
- How can an IT department improve its ordering process?
- How can Wayne State eliminate its reliance on students’ social security numbers?
- How can Wayne State’s Student Government improve its organizational structure?
- How can a clothing e-retailer reduce shipping and handling expenses?
- How can a cabinetmaker better keep track of its inventory?
- How can Wayne State’s alumni website improve its competitive edge and membership
- How can a manufacturer of dental files improve its quality inspection process?
- How can a growing Internet security firm reorganize its corporate structure and culture to improve efficiency and collaboration?
The Proposal Memo (Project Two)
The first step toward the decision making report is to draft a short (two to three page) memo (in standard memo format) that will provide the following details:
- Who is going to undertake this research?
- Who will the final report be addressed to (i.e., who has the power to implement your solution)?
- What is the problem you are going to examine?
- What kind of research do you think this problem will necessitate?
- Why have you chosen this project (does it relate to your major, other course work, a personal interest, etc.)?
- What kind of format do you see the final report following (feasibility study, cause-effect analysis, comparative study, etc.)?
- What is your schedule for completing this project?
- What kind of criteria will be involved in making your final recommendation (be specific: do not just list the broad categories of social, technical, and managerial nor should you simply state obvious criteria such as “feasibility” without identifying how/by what standard this will be measured)?
The Proposal is due by 11:59 pm Tuesday, September 30. It is worth 150 points, roughly 15% of the semester grade.
Additionally, in order to stay on track with the Final Report (Project Six), your team will post THREE informal progress reports on the chosen blog page for your Team. These progress reports will be assigned at random times (i.e., you will only be given 24 hours advance notice), and they should provide details about what your team has accomplished since the proposal (Project Two), or since the last progress report (for the subsequent entries). The progress report should be WRITTEN AS A MEMO FOLLOWING FORMAL MEMO FORMAT (e.g., with appropriate headers, headings, etc.) and be 1-2 pages in length.
I am especially interested in matching up your progress on the project to the goals set out in the proposal. So, for example, if you scheduled research and information gathering for the first two weeks of the project, then a progress report filed during the third week should provide – in detail – what you learned in your research. If you proposed an interview for week five of the project, then your progress report following that week should indicate what you learned in that interview, etc. If you encountered some problem in your schedule that prevented you from accomplishing some task at the scheduled time, you should indicate that in your progress report (i.e., “We were unable to complete the interview with Gregory Francone as scheduled, because he had to cancel.”), AND explain how you will solve that problem (i.e., “We have rescheduled the interview for November 16.”). If you encounter problems that cannot be easily solved, you should indicate an alternative approach.
You may divide the work on the informal progress reports however you like. You will be graded as a team for the informal progress reports, so claiming some ownership of each report is in your personal interest, even if you delegate the write-up to a particular team member.
A printable version of this assignment is available here and on BlackBoard.