Case studies are used in several professional training programs, primarily in business schools, to present real-world situations to students and assess their abilities to analyze important aspects of a given problem. In general, a case study should include in order: a context of the business environment, a description of the company or business in question, the identification of a key problem, the steps to to resolve the problem, your assessment of the response to this case study and suggestions for a better business strategy.
Step 1. Examine and describe the relevant business environment for the case study
Describe the nature of the organization being considered and its competitors. Provide general information about the market and the basic consumer. Indicate any significant changes in the business environment or other new initiatives that the company is launching
Step 2. Describe the structure and size of the primary business being considered
Analyze its management structure, employee base and financial history. Describe the annual income and profits. Provide employment data. Include details of private property, public property, and assets. Provide a brief overview of the leadership of the company and the chain of command
Step 3. Identify the key problem in the case study
Likely, there will be several different factors at play. Decide which one is the main concern of the case study by looking at the data that speaks to the main problems of the business and the conclusions at the end of the study. Examples: expanding into a new market, responding to a competitor's marketing campaign, or changing customer base
Step 4. Describe how the business is responding to these issues or concerns
Based on the information gathered, develop a chronological progression of actions taken (or not taken). Cite the data included in the case study such as increased marketing spending, new property purchase, change in revenue streams, etc
Step 5. Identify the success and failure aspects of your response
Indicate whether or not each aspect of the response served its purpose and whether the response was overall well designed. Use number cues, such as desired customer retention, to show whether goals have been met, analyze broader issues such as personnel policies, to talk about the response as a whole
Step 6. Indicate successes, failures, unintended results and inadequate actions
Suggest alternative or improved actions that could have been taken by the company, using specific examples and backing up your suggestions with data and calculations
Step 7. Describe the changes
Discuss the changes you would make in the business to arrive at the measures you have proposed, including changes in organization, strategy and management.
Step 8. Conclude your analysis by reviewing your findings
Emphasize what you would have done differently in this case. Present your perception of the case study and your business strategy.
- Always read the case study several times. First, you need to read just to notice the basic details. With each subsequent reading, look for details about a specific topic: competitors, business strategy, management structure, financial loss. Highlight sentences and sections related to these topics and take notes.
- In the early stages of a case study analysis, no detail is insignificant. Larger numbers can often be misleading, and the goal of an analysis is often to dig deep and find otherwise unnoticed variables that are driving a situation.
- If you are analyzing a case study in an interview with a consulting firm, be sure to address your comments on the issues the firm is addressing. For example, if the purpose of the business is marketing strategy, focus on the marketing successes and failures of the business. If this is a financial consultant position, analyze how the company maintains its books of account and its investment strategy.
- Business school professors, potential employers and other evaluators, through the case study analysis, seek to know if you understand the aspects of the business in question in the case and not to assess your capacities to reading. Always remember that what is most important is the content of the case study, not the way the information is presented or the peculiarities of its style.