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The Capstone Project tackles a strategic issue. However, it is important to examine not only the strategy, but also the different functions of the company. In this respect, participants are encouraged to conduct two types of analyses:
a. functional analysis
Participants are required to provide 5 appendixes relevant to the main line-functions of the organization:
For Type-1 and 3 topics (as per above):
• Marketing: product mix, customer segmentation, distribution, competition….
• Finance: P&L and balance sheet analysis, cash-flow analysis, debt & equity structure …
• Operations: production processes and related cost and capital employed structure
• Human resources: employee structure, turnover, pyramid of age, expertise, remuneration policy, etc.
• Organization and processes: organization chart, reporting processes, etc.
Each appendix should clarify how the organization performs within these main functions, and indicate to which extent they contribute positively, (or negatively), to the competitive advantage of that particular organization.
For Type-2 topics:
The equivalent of these 5 appendixes will be relative and will describe how these main line-functions should be structured and evaluated in the new start-up.
b. strategic analysis
The strategic analyses must address the following dimensions:
• Identify the organization’s core businesses;
• Analyze the industry;
• Analyze the organization’s capabilities & strategies;
• Assess its competitive advantage for each of its business(es).
These issues will be covered during the strategy courses (Business Strategy, Corporate Strategy and Strategic Implementation & Business Performance Management). Participants are encouraged not to undertake the strategic analysis portion of their Capstone Project before completing these strategy courses. However, conversely all relevant data should be collected before the beginning of these courses in order to be able to quickly conduct the analysis during the relevant modules.
2. Assessment of available strategic options
Based upon the main outcomes of the previous analytical phase, participants should investigate which are the different strategic options available to the organization so that it may successfully respond to the identified strategic challenge before making their final strategic recommendations.
These options should be clearly identified and weighted against different criteria, external (competitors reactions, time to market, etc.) and internal (shareholders ambitions, financial capacities, employees degree of acceptance, etc.)
Participants must thereafter explain which option is the most appropriate.
- Implementation Plan
Each report must include an action plan covering the following aspects: 8
a list and schedule of actions needed to effectively implement the recommended strategy
• financial forecasts; to determine what is the return on investment of the considered strategy
• key performance indicators to be implemented to monitor how effectively the targeted outcomes are achieved,
• leadership and change management considerations to be taken into account to guarantee a successful implementation of the recommended action plan,
• Risks analyses and corresponding mitigation plans, as required.
The final deliverable is a 30-page (plus annexes) report, written in English.
The Participants should be acting as an independent strategic consultant capacity
It is a comprehensive exercise. Its purpose is threefold: (i) to apply the concepts and techniques acquired throughout Leadership, Financial and Managerial Accounting, Marketing Strategy, Corporate Finance, Managerial Economics, Operations Management, Information Systems, Business Environment, Business Strategy, Corporate Strategy, Strategic Implementation, Business Stimulation, Strategic HR Management and business performance management to a project of significant magnitude, (ii) to demonstrate the ‟ ability to address and analyse an issue of particular strategic importance to not-for-profit organization from a top management view point and (iii) to enable to undertake a potentially career-shaping activity.
Not-for-profit organizations are eligible provided they operate (or will shortly do so) in a competitive environment and rely on independent customers, beneficiaries, and/or donors to recoup costs and to assure their sustainable development.
The topic must address an issue that is of strategic importance to the selected organization and that will allow participants, either individually or collectively, to support their “what should be done” recommendations with:
• enough market / competition data substantiating evidence;
• internalorganization‟s data (commercial, financial, operational, etc) to develop sufficiently-detailed action plans, financial forecasts, and risks analyses thereby allowing a deciding body to make a rationale go / no-go decision.
• If and when the topic does not pertain to the redefinition of an overall organizational strategy, it should at least allow the participant(s) to (i) make clear why and how the issue they want to address will significantly contribute to the success of the current strategy adopted by the organization and (ii) to explain the rationales of this current strategy.
This exercise can assist participants in the following areas:
• establish concrete links between the teachings/learning from the program and current real-life strategic and managerial issues;
• learn to make feasible and sustainable business decisions;
• confirm that they gained the right set of skills to successfully hold senior management positions,
• boost their career by demonstrating their newly acquired set of skills and expertise to current employers,
• Develop both written and oral skills in presenting their findings.
• further assess whether becoming an entrepreneur is a feasible option in their future,
The final written report must be an all-inclusive document incorporating the participants‟ analyses, diagnoses, and recommendations as to how, and with which means, the strategic issue should be tackled.
The document must include:
• A 1-page Executive Summary outlining the main issue addressed, recommendations, and the key outcomes resulting from such decisions,
• The table of contents,
• 30 pages maximum of Core Content
• An additional 25 pages maximum of appendixes. These must include 5 mandatory appendices, addressing the following subjects: (i) marketing, (ii) finance, (iii) operations, (iv) human resources, (v) organization and processes. For existing companies (type 1 or 3 – see above), these appendixes are intended to give a snapshot of how each line-function is run in the organization and an appreciation of its performance level. For topics pertaining to new individual or joint ventures (type 2), these appendices must describe how each line-function is intended to be organized and what are the intended performance matrices.
The written report should be written using a font size of 11, and be single-spaced. Margins should be 2.5cm for all sides of the page (top, bottom, left and right sides)
The thesis should include conclusions and recommendations for the future: strategic recommendations, feasibility analyses, and action plans covering financing, organization, control criteria, as well as leadership and change management considerations.
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