How to analyse a business case
Step 1: Understand the business and the industry
When you're researching a business and its industry, these tools and frameworks can help you consolidate information and analyse it properly:
- the 5Cs (context, competition, company, consumers, collaborators)
- PEST analysis
- Porter's Five Forces
- SWOT analysis
- financial and internal analysis
- the 4Ps (product, price, place, promotion).
Step 2: Understand the business issues
Summarise the current position and critical factors facing the organisation. List the most important issues that the business needs to address. Issues fall into three broad types:
- industry issues - challenges that face the whole industry, not just the organisation you're researching
- organisational issues - particular challenges facing the organisation
- functional area issues - specific challenges facing one part of the organisation, such as marketing, finance, policy, communication or human resources.
Once you've identified the issues, sort them into categories then find out what connects them. From there, match up how your solution addresses critical factors and solves the issues you've identified.
Step 3: Explore options and solutions
Business case competitions are fun and challenging because there's never just one answer. It's your job to consider a number of different solutions.
You should list all reasonable solutions, based on your:
- research and analysis
- knowledge of other organisations
- approaches to business.
In your team, you then need to justify the strongest solution, which will become the focus of your recommendation.
Step 4: Make a recommendation
In making your recommendation you should:
- clearly and concisely state your solution
- provide justification for your solution
- make it clear that your solution addresses one or more issues
- explain how your solution will be implemented (timeline and budget)
- outline the impacts of your solution.
How to present your case
To create the best report possible:
- use the suggested format and sections
- stick to the page limits
- use headings and formatting to guide the reader
- use text, tables, diagrams and images
- review and edit, then review and edit again
- write in a clear, concise, compelling and convincing voice.
When presenting at the finals:
- tell a story and identify the key points you want the audience to remember
- use pauses and pace yourself so the audience has time to take the story in
- don't use palm cards - know your content and use PowerPoint to support you
- smile and engage the audience, even when you're not presenting
- work to the strengths of each team member.
Advice from our BlueShift judges
Professor Larry Neale - QUT Business School
Somewhere, perhaps in a completely different industry, a company is likely to have faced the issue you are analysing. What can you learn from them?
Develop a systematic approach to evaluating all of the options that you're considering.
Rob Wilson, Client Partnership Manager, CareSuper
Allow your team to think outside the square with your idea.
Question everything. This is the opportunity to really dissect the business and the problem without any preconceived thinking.
Sometimes the best solutions are the simple ones.
Test the idea with others in and outside of the team.
Research the business and the environment it operates in. Surveys can help. Speak to industry participants. Then show this to the judges.
Professor Larry Neale, QUT Business School
Be professional in your presentation but not too formal. Imagine you are having a business conversation with the judging panel.
Your presentation is not a mystery novel - don't leave it until the end to present your recommendations. Rather, state them up front then show the analysis that led to the recommendations.
Dr Dean Preddy, General Manager, Iglu Brisbane City
Presenting with confidence is a very valuable skill – but skills can be learnt and perfected.
From the very beginning, teamwork is essential. Make sure your team shares the workload for the research and recommendations. Then as a team, bring it together so it is a cohesive, easy to follow presentation.
Engage with the audience and judges and take them on the journey of how/why you came up with your recommendations.
While this is an important business proposal you are presenting, make sure you have fun doing it.
Professor Peter Green, QUT Business School
Up-front, clearly introduce each member of the team and what they are going to contribute to the story.
Don't read from notes. Have dot points but look up often to the audience to engage them in your messages.
Be animated, and speak confidently as though you really believe in your proposal and you know what you are talking about.
Carolyn Gibbs, Sponsorship Coordinator, RACQ
Engage your audience by telling a story. The presentation should not simply be verbal repetition of your report.
Introduce your ideas early and then use data to explain why they would work.
Be aware of your actions even when you are not speaking. You are always on display even when your colleague is speaking.
Share the knowledge and passion you have for your plan. No-one in the room has more expertise than you.
Finalists will be invited to compete at QUT at our Gardens Point campus in Brisbane.
As a finalist team, you'll present your business case solution in person to a panel of judges including QUT Business School academics and alumni, students from our international case competition team, and industry professionals.
You should wear a school uniform or business attire to the finals.
Gardens Point is our inner-city Brisbane campus, located next to the Brisbane River, the Botanic Gardens and Parliament House.