1. Read the Case. How this is accomplished is largely dependent on the individual’s reading style, it should combine at least the following three elements: (i) an initial skim of the case to become aware of its scope. (ii) a detailed reading to digest all key aspects of the case. (iii) a third reading where notes are made, key points are highlighted and relationships between the key points established through diagrams. 2. Analyse the Case. Identify the key facts, issues and potential problems. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is often a useful technique at this stage of the analysis in order to begin categorising the key internal and external issues. It may however be incomplete at this stage and may require further analysis in greater depth to finalise some areas of the “solution” to the case study. 3. Problem Identification. Arrange the issues of the case in order of priority so you can prepare a list of the major and minor problems that can be corrected. These will become the key focus of the analysis. Take care not to confuse ‘symptoms’ with real problems at this stage, nor to focus unnecessarily on peripheral or irrelevant issues. 4. Investigation of Problems. Examine in full all prioritised problems, utilising all of the material available in the case and any other relevant additional resources available (you may need to do some further research about the problem!). You may be required to undertake some quantitative or qualitative analysis. You may be required to use multi-disciplinary approach (such as marketing, management, human resource management, management information systems, psychology etc) to investigate the problem. Management Accounting 2 Semester 2, 2016 Page 2 of 2 5. Development of Alternative Solutions. Suggest alternative solutions to each of the problems, identifying financial and non-financial costs and benefits. Do not overlook the nonfinancial factors (qualitative factors), even if they are not considered to be important in the wording of the case study – they are often the most important aspects of any decision, especially if the decision has strategic implications. Identify the difficulties of implementing your solution(s) and potential consequences of different actions, quantifying their likelihood of occurring if possible. 6. Evaluation of Alternatives. Evaluate the alternative solutions and select the best course of action based on the available data/information. Some compromise will be inevitable, because it will not be possible to quantify all of the potential impacts arising from the different alternatives. Integrating complex and often conflicting alternative outcomes is difficult, however it must be done. It can help if you establish decision criteria such as: (i) Which outcomes must be satisfied? (ii) Which outcomes are desirable but not essential? (iii) Which outcomes are consistent with short and long-term organizational goals? (iv) Which outcomes are congruent with the strategic direction of the organization? (v) Which alternative is financially the most desirable? (vi) Which non-financial measures, if any, outweigh the financial measures in relative importance? Where the case study includes questions at the end, do not allow your analysis of the case study to focus unnecessarily on an attempt to answer these questions without familiarising yourself and assessing all of the information available in the case study, you may be limiting your understanding of the problem and the solving of the problem. Do not limit your analysis of the case study to providing answers to the specific questions.
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