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  1. 1. IT 674 Final: Firm Analyses (Spring 2006) (My evaluation of your ability to understand course material and use it effectively!!) Introduction This final is all about analyzing a single firm in your industry and creating new strategies for the firm to achieve competitive advantage. Therefore, you want to pick a firm that is not the strongest in the industry but which has the potential for changing its status. You also want to choose a firm that you have enough information about its operations so you can critique the firm today and then use what the firm has as the basis for your new strategies. You will be creating two types of strategies here, 1) a business strategy and 2) an IT strategy to support the business strategy. Basic Requirements Writing should be at the graduate level (grammatically correct, well organized and readable). You will generate most of the text from your own head but you will need to support your conclusions about the firm with references (ex: [Smith, 1999]) and so you will need a bibliography (including online references). Corporate Strategy Analysis (10 pts) 1. First, read over all the information you have about the firm and try to find anything that resembles a strategy, mission statement, values statement, strategic move, etc. This represents the firm's strategic choices today and maybe into the future. 2. Second, use the business models covered in class, to analyze the firm's situation (internal/external). SWOT for example is a business model. Describe your methodology in a paragraph or two so that I can tell what you did and why. 3. Summarize the disadvantages of the firm’s strategies. You should discuss each of the following types of strategies (market, innovation, people, organization design, and growth), but some strategies may be more in-depth because they are more critical to future success for your firm. For example, maybe the firm's growth strategy is fine, so just say this and tell why. For each of the different strategies, some questions are included below to help guide your thinking. You do not have to use these questions, pick questions that fit your industry. Market Should the firm focus on the same customers? strategy Make the same products? Find other ways to add value for the customer? Move into new markets, get out of old ones? Innovation Should the firm innovate more, less? More often? strategy Should the firm be more selective in its innovation? People Does the firm need to change its reward/controls? strategy Does it need to change its human resource strat? (recruit, select, train) Does the firm need to change its culture, mgt style? Organization Is there a need for restructuring (downsize, change reporting structure)? design Should the firm do more partnering with other firms (virtual co, jt venture, strategy etc)? Growth Has the firm been growing successfully (built the right things, acquired the strategy correct firms, merged with others well?) Is the geographic growth of the firm appropriate? Other Must be approved by Dr. Mann strategy
  2. 2. IT 674 Final: Firm Analyses (Spring 2006) Corporate Strategy Recommendation (10 pts) 1. Create a strategic vision for your firm (what strategic moves should it be making to correct the flaws found in the critique and enhance the firm’s already successful strategies). There should be some text under each of the strategy types in the table on page one. There may be some strategies, however, that you have decided no or minimal change is needed. It is ok if a couple of the strategies don’t need to be changed but you should justify your choice. The other strategies should have a description of what strategy you would want them to do and a justification for your decision. 2. Explain how these strategies might be accomplished given the firm's situation. Be sure to use material from class or readings, be creative but realistic (strategies should be doable and fit the environment). Support your opinions and justify your choices. 3. Do NOT focus on IT at this point and if you bring in IT at all, do so in a business strategy sense only (ex: they need a web presence that allows the firm to …) IT Strategy (10) In this part, you are the CIO of your firm and we are assuming you were an active participant in creating the strategic direction and vision above. Now, you need to create a strategy for the IT department. Use one of the models below or create your own (dangerous, check w/ me first) to create a set of choices that you feel the IT department in this firm should use as a guideline for its operations. The alternatives selected should be chosen based on the premise that IT shop products and services need to be aligned with the business direction and its strategies. First, create an overall mission/vision statement for the IT department to guide strategy making and to show end-users (especially mgt) that you understand the firm well. Then for each of the strategies below you need to explain what you are going to do and justify how it will support the firm's business strategy. Model 1: The IT shop is a business within a business. Describe the strategy that the IT shop should follow in each of these areas 1. Market strategy -- what IT products, services should be provided if we assume employees are our customers? 2. Innovation strategy -- what level of innovation in IT is required (risk orientation), proactive/reactive stance, how best to create innovation? 3. Organization design strategy -- where locate IT resources, reporting relationships, division of labor, overall sizing issues (grow, shrink), outsourcing strategy (who provides the products, services?) 4. People strategy -- mgt style, culture, reward/control modifications, strategizing for getting and keeping IT talent 5. Growth strategy -- how to best grow the infrastructure and IT dept with the rest of the organization Model 2: Assume the IT shop has strategies that are unique to IT 1. Strategy for using IT to support business strategies (ITP) 2. Hint: how can IT improve supply or value chain activities or support customer/supplier life cycle? 3. Strategy for an organizational information infrastructure (hardware, networking, data) that is aligned with the business direction 4. Outsourcing and IT human resource strategy that is both effective and cost effective 5. Strategy for achieving corporate IMP/IBV 6. Strategy for application development/acquisition and support (note: there process and organizational design issues here)
  3. 3. IT 674 Final: Firm Analyses (Spring 2006) Model 3: From IO Book 1. Determine the strategic priorities of your firm, its emergent strategy, capability mix and critique them 2. Determine which information leadership is critical (competitor, customer, operations) 3. Identify ways IT resource could achieve important leadership roles and improve firm's competencies (enhance, save) 4. Create strategy for building these new IT resources+infrastructure to support the firm 5. Build a strategy to make the IT department effective Undergraduate Students: Statement of Intentions If you are non-IT student, assume you will eventually be a VP for a functional unit or the head of a product division of a firm (any firm that hires you). If you are an IS or CIS student, assume you will eventually be the CIO. First describe the career path you would take up to executive level. Explain how you would achieve each of the following as you move up the career ladder. How would you… 1. Help organization create strong IBV 2. Create strong IMP systems 3. Align IT Strategy with Business Strategy 4. If IT major, improve the IT Shop’s reputation 5. If non-IT major, improve your functional area’s relationship with the IT shop Graduate Students: Corporation Analysis of the Future (10 pts) 1. Analyze the degree to which the firm's environment is competitive (low competition, medium, high, or hypercompetitive). 2. Given this environment and using concepts from lecture describe how your business strategy would give a competitive advantage 3. How sustainable is the competitive advantage of your suggested business strategy? 4. What suggestions would you have for the firm to help them sustain advantage for longer?
  4. 4. IT 674 Final: Firm Analyses (Spring 2006)