BA 501 - Applied Strategy: Business Consulting Project
Syllabus – Winter 2008
Instructor: Rick McPherson
Class: Balmer 303, Sections A/C at 1:30pm; Sections B/D at 3:30pm
Office: Lewis Hall Room 111
E-Mail/Phone: firstname.lastname@example.org 425.818.8280
Office Hours: Mondays 11:30 to 1:15, every-other Wednesday 11:30 to 1:15 and by
Instructor will be available during times designated as “project team time”
Class website: Blackboard (http://uwbs.blackboard.com)
Class Materials: Casebook to be purchased by students
Other Materials will be posted on Blackboard
Other Resources: Faculty Advisors will be assigned to each project team
Faculty time for function specific questions/ideas
Leadership Fellows are available for team management discussions
Microsoft Project in Balmer Computer Labs
Consulting Projects 2
Method of Instruction 2
Work Expectations 3
Grading Standards 3
Course Deliverables and Grade Weighting 4
Role of Faculty Advisors 4
Course Schedule 5
Objectives: The objective of this course is to provide practical experiences for students to apply
concepts, strategic thinking and leadership skills to real business problems and/or new
opportunities. This will be accomplished through:
A significant project assignment-pairing student teams with specific companies and real life
projects. The outputs from these projects will be a presentation and written report to the assigned
client executives. Students are expected to individually invest approximately 100 hours of time
outside of class on this project and will have an additional 20 hours of scheduled class time
available to work in their groups. You will be working in an unstructured team environment where
you will need to manage your efforts and time with your teammates to deliver successful
outcomes. While your group will be serving your client company as an external consultant, these
projects should give you experiences in how internal company projects would work as well, under
the direction of upper management “clients.
Classroom times designed to present and discuss skills and models to help businesses and
organizations to analyze the issues, opportunities and alternative solutions.
Classroom time designed to discuss and share knowledge (Information Sharing Sessions)
regarding approaches and alternative solutions to the various consulting teams.
From these experiences students should be able to improve the following skills while also building
on their experiences in utilizing various concepts and tools taught in the MBA Program:
Strategic thinking – asking the right questions, solving for root causes, identifying creative
opportunities, applying appropriate concepts and tools and then integrating across the enterprise.
Leadership – inspiring and empowering others utilizing teamwork, shared leadership and
managing conflicts both within your teams and with your company clients.
Communication – within teams, with company clients and in presentations. Utilizing both face-
to-face meetings and “virtual meeting” communication avenues.
Project Management – managing scope, resources (360 degree management) and
stakeholders to meet project timelines, quality expectations, status communication and resource
commitments to achieve a successful outcome.
It should be noted that your work on these projects teams will directly reflect on the reputation and
quality of the MBA Program at the UW Foster School of Business.
Consulting Projects: Projects will typically be focused in one of the major functional areas such
as Marketing, Finance, Operations, Strategy, Human Resources or others. While the projects will
have a primary focus, the integration with the rest of the organization’s functions and goals should
be considered (for example, by utilizing the McKinsey “7S model”). As an example, a marketing
initiative must still be operationalized into the organization (requiring processes, people and
policies), typically requires the allocation of scarce resources (finance and HR issues) and may
have implications on the long term strategies of the business. Projects by definition are
unstructured in that the outcome and steps required may be different than originally thought as the
analysis unfolds different root problems or opportunities (e.g. a perceived marketing problem may
manifest itself as a process problem or quality problem).
Team assignments will be based on the following:
1. A list of the projects available with short descriptions will be published by December 14th to the
2. Students will form their own teams of 4-6 students (students can use the “core teams”). The
only restriction is that the team members must all be from the same Class Session (Winter
Quarter BA 501 Sections A&C are in one Class at 1:30pm, Sections B&D are in the second
Class at 3:30pm).
3. Students can work on forming teams over the winter break or wait until they begin classes in
January. There will be on-line discussion forums established to allow students to communicate
with each other during this time.
4. Student teams should be made up of a diversity of backgrounds (experience, education,
cultural) and business specialization (accounting, finance, marketing, management, etc.)
5. Each student team will identify 5 projects that they are most interested in working on, prioritized
in order of preference.
6. The Instructor and the Director of the MBA Field Study Programs will assign teams to the
various projects based on preferences, team diversity and team skills match.
7. Team assignments (Company projects) will be announced on January 14th. Teams will then
meet with their client group either at the evening reception or at a separate time.
Method of Instruction: The course and the project will be performed during the Winter Quarter.
Class time will be allocated as follows:
5 Education Sessions used for general information and education.
9 Information Sharing Sessions used for collaboration on functional specific areas and for
Final Presentation Practice (must attend 3 of the 9 sessions – other 6 sessions for Group Project
Work). Students will sign up to attend sessions, with a balance of attendance between the days.
5 Project Team Sessions to be used by teams to work on projects, meet with clients, etc.
(Instructor will be available during these times to discuss projects and issues)
See Schedule for details and assignments.
Work Expectations: You are expected to perform professional, insightful and creative work during
this course. Your work products (presentations and reports to clients) should consider the
Employ strategic thinking – insightful, creative, integrated across business functions.
Use logical structures in presentations and papers. Build credibility by making your points
clearly and employing a logical flow of information.
Translate complex data and issues into understandable and actionable information.
Keep the presentation and reports concise and relative. Be prepared to answer questions to
clarify and provide back up materials in appendices.
Use charts, graphs and tables appropriately to help the audience/readers understand the
material and make comparisons to appropriate “benchmarks”.
Use pictures and videos to make a point, not to be cool.
Double check that calculations are correct. Make sure that columns or rows total correctly.
Properly source intellectual property material and research information.
Properly identify data sets with the source, timeframe and identify known inconsistencies.
Carefully edit documents. They should be free of basic spelling, grammar and other errors.
Make the document or presentation easy to follow – use page numbers, exhibit numbers, etc.
Make sure any electronic documents are ready for printing (few executives are used to looking
at material on screens).
Grading Standards: This course will be graded on the 4 Point scale. Most business and
organizations evaluate the performance of employees based on a “meets expectations” basis.
Employees only receive top ratings (outstanding or excellent) when they “exceed expectations”.
Therefore grades for group projects and individual work will be based on this concept and the
following scale for group and individual work will apply:
95% and above: Significantly exceeds an assignment requirement by offering unique and
insightful analysis, advanced critical thinking, applicable additional outside research or other
efforts that show higher than average comprehension, concept applications and efforts.
90%: Meets and exceeds some assignment requirements or expectations
85%: Meets assignment requirements or expectations in all aspects.
75%: Does not meet all assignment requirements, but shows good effort was attempted.
These scores will be converted to a numerical scale with a course average of 3.4 out of 4. The
course average will be adjusted if overall results of the class clearly demonstrate that the average
should be higher or lower.
It is recognized that some of the consulting projects will have different outcomes than originally
expected due to changes in the environment or other situations. Student teams will then be
evaluated on efforts made, appropriate escalation of issues and delivery of valuable information
given the situation. The status reports and action plans should reflect these issues.
Note that the majority of the work will be based on team efforts. There can be an adjustment to
individual grades for the 90% of course deliverables which are completed in teams based on
contributions to the team (positive or negative). Adjustments will be based on project team peer
feedback collected at the end of the course on:
• Fair workload: team member takes on his/her share of the overall workload and accepts
personal responsibility for meeting commitments (timeliness and quality of work)?
• Strategic Thinking: insightful, creative, integrated across business functions.
• Teamwork: actively participates, values alternative perspectives, builds on ideas of others,
treats others with respect and effectively resolves conflicts.
• Leadership Skills: initiates ideas and actions when appropriate, provides constructive feedback,
draws out strengths of others, exhibits integrity.
• Communication Skills: active listener, communicates ideas clearly, clearly writes assignments
and gives effective presentations.
There is 10% of the grade that will be based on individual work product and class participation.
Grading will incorporate feedback from clients and faculty advisors when appropriate, however the
instructor will be issuing the final grades for the various assignments.
Course Deliverables and Grade Weighting:
Deliverable (Project team deliverable unless Due Date: % of Grade
1. Project Plan including scope of work, initial January 16 5%
problem/opportunity definition, tasks, preliminary
milestones and stakeholder management.
2. Industry and Company Situation Analysis January 16 5%
3. Project Update and Information Sharing Presentation January 30 – 5%
#1 –project plan and approaches to project. February 6
4. Project Update and Information Sharing Presentation February 20- 5%
#2 – alternatives and solutions, recommendations 27
5. Draft of Final Presentation and Report (Information March 3-5 Include in #7
6. Project Status Reports – 3 during quarter Multiple 10%
7. Final Presentation and Report to Client, including March 14 60%
Client and Faculty Feedback
8. Individual Feedback from team members Ongoing Adjustment
9. Lessons Learned Documentation (individual) Finals Date 5%
10. Class Participation (individual) Ongoing 5%
Role of Faculty Advisors
Each team will be assigned a faculty advisor to work with them in producing a successful project.
Each faculty advisor will be responsible for:
a) Attending client meetings for the final presentation.
b) Review the role and scope document after teams meet with Clients to ensure it is
reasonable and fits expectations.
c) Serving as a sounding board for the team regarding ideas, concepts and roadblock
d) Providing Quality Assurance – review project outputs to ensure they meet the quality of
work we expect at the UW Foster School of Business.
e) Monitoring team progress by reviewing Status Reports and communicating with the
team to help resolve any roadblocks.
f) Providing feedback to the instructor regarding team performance.
You are expected to keep all non-public company and organizational information confidential. This
includes work within your project teams and discussions held in the Information Sharing and
practice presentation sessions.
Applied Strategy: Business Consulting Projects Schedule
Subject to Change to Accommodate Current Conditions. Please keep all Class times available to meet (do
not plan to leave town or schedule other non-course related meetings)
Education - Classroom Instruction – All Attend
Information Sharing – Attend 1 each of Sessions 1, 2 &3
Project Team Time – individual meetings or meet with instructor in classroom
Day Date Class Activity Items Due:
WK 1 Thu 3-Jan Mini Case Competition
Fri 4-Jan Mini Case Competition
WK 2 Mon 7-Jan 1 Education - Class Intro, Critical Networked on Project Preferences and
Thinking, Models and Resources developing project teams, read 3 articles
Wed 9-Jan 2 Education - Project Management & Project Management Reading
Consulting Management Submit Project Team List and Project
WK 3 Mon 14-Jan 3 Project team Assignments (1/2 of Meet with firms before 1/23 (see 1/16)
Mon 14 Jan 3 Project team time (1/2 of class)
Tues or evening 3 1/2 Evening reception with Business Clients Meet with client group at reception,
Wed exact date to be determined.
Wed 16-Jan 4 Education (1/2 of class)
Wed 16-Jan 4 Project Team Time (1/2 of class) Sign Up for Information Sharing
WK 4 Mon 21-Jan None MLK Holiday
Wed 23-Jan 5 Project team time Have met with firms by today and have
set up a site visit
WK 5 Mon 28-Jan 6 Project team time Industry and Company Situation
Project Plan (scope, schedule,
resources, contingency) due
Wed 30-Jan 7 Information Sharing – Session #1 Presentation if presenting
WK 6 Mon 4-Feb 8 Information Sharing – Session #1 Presentation if presenting
Wed 6-Feb 9 Information Sharing – Session #1 Presentation if presenting
WK 7 Mon 11-Feb 10 Education – Leadership Development Status Report #1 Due
Wed 13-Feb 11 Project Team time
WK 8 Mon 18-Feb none President's Day Holiday
Wed 20-Feb 12 Information Sharing – Session #2 Presentation if presenting
WK 9 Mon 25-Feb 13 Information Sharing – Session #2 Presentation if presenting
Status Report #2 Due
Wed 27-Feb 14 Information Sharing – Session #2 Presentation if presenting
WK 10 Mon 3-Mar 15 Final Presentations Practice (Info Final Format Presentation if presenting
Session #3) and draft Report Draft of written report due
Wed 5-Mar 16 Final Presentations Practice (Info Final Format Presentation if presenting
Session #3) and draft Report Status Report #3 Due
WK 11 Mon 10-Mar 17 Final Presentations Practice (Info Final Format Presentation if presenting
Session #3) and draft Report
Wed 12-Mar 18 Project Team Time
Thu/ 13 to 14- 19 Study Tour Finals - Education (Lessons Presentations made to Client Group
Fri Mar Finals Learned Paper and Discussion) before March 14th
Mon/ 17 to 18- Hand in Final Presentation and Individual Lessons Learned Paper Due
FINAL Tues Mar Finals Project