Develop and recommend strategies for an organization's sustainable competitive advantage.

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Situation Audit

For this project, you will be creating a situation audit of your own organization. You will prepare to conduct your audit over the next 12 steps of this project, during which you will review various aspects of your organization, including its mission, goals, and values. You will be given the opportunity to submit different parts of your audit for instructor feedback prior to submitting your final situation audit. Read the full description of the final deliverable and the steps to completion.

Begin your situation audit by going to Step 1: Organize Your Work.

When you submit your project, your work will be evaluated using the competencies listed below. You can use the list below to self-check your work before submission.

· 1.3: Provide sufficient, correctly cited support that substantiates the writer’s ideas.

· 1.6: Follow conventions of Standard Written English.

· 6.3: Analyze an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses for strategic value.

· 6.4: Develop and recommend strategies for an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage.

· 8.1: Evaluate major business/organizational systems and processes and make recommendations for improvement.

· 8.3: Identify and distinguish among organizational structural types and their respective implications for performance.

· 9.1: Design organizational structures, systems, and processes that support the strategic goals of the organization.

· 9.2: Evaluate how human capital serves as a source of competitive advantage.

· 10.2: Analyze financial statements to evaluate and optimize organizational performance.

· 10.3: Determine optimal financial decisions in pursuit of an organization’s goals.

Step 1: Organize Your Work

Read the final deliverable instructions below and consider how you will approach an audit of your own organization.

Final Deliverable Instructions: A Situation Audit and Preliminary Analysis of Key Factors

Your boss has tasked you with preparing a situation audit that presents an overview of your organization (or an approved alternative). In this report, you’ll focus on analyzing several key internal factors that, taken together, provide a portrait of your organization. The information you will rely on for this report must be publicly available or available for review by faculty, as necessary.

Format Requirements

Use the Situation Audit Template provided below. Your audit will be 20 to 25 double-spaced pages, excluding a required cover page, a brief executive summary, and a list of references. See Executive Summaries for guidance on writing this section. You may also use appendices for helpful supplementary information, but these will not be included in the page limit for this report. Use APA formatting for in-text citations and references.

Academic Integrity

As you proceed through the steps to completion, be sure to read the materials provided in the embedded links—all are related to your project work. Cite any ideas you use from these materials in all course work you submit. By giving credit to the ideas of others in your work, you will build credibility in the minds of your readers and make your original thoughts stand out.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

—Sir Isaac Newton

Now that you have a better understanding of the project requirements, follow these guidelines:

· Read over these brief guidelines about conducting research on your organization. Discuss with your instructor any limiting factors you may encounter as you write this report. After you’ve discussed these issues with your instructor, if you believe it’s best for you to research an organization other than your own, please read this information about using an outside organization.

· If necessary, schedule any meetings in advance with your organization’s personnel to obtain the necessary information.

· Use the step-by-step Situation Audit Template as your outline and guide for the entire report, start to finish.

Next, proceed to Step 2, where you will write an overview description of your organization.

Step 2: Establish Key Organizational Facts

To start, write a brief overview description creating an organizational fact sheet of your organization, including the following information:

· when it was established and by whom

· legal forms of organization and tax status

· its current CEO

· its industry or industries

· its size

· its general purpose

Typically, such overviews in a report of this size are no more than one page (approximately 250 to 300 words).

Remember to apply the perspective of an outside consultant to your analysis. Be as objective as possible. Also, consider the audience for this report: key stakeholders including, board members, new employees, and anyone else who would benefit from this overview.

When you have finished your overview description, proceed to Step 3, where you will identify the mission, vision, values, and goals of your organization.

Step 3: Identify Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals

Now that you’ve identified the key facts about your organization, turn your attention to your organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals. Taken together, these elements can help drive organizational decisions, positively impact employee performance, and influence many of the other organizational components you’ll be examining for this report.

The mission, vision, values, and goals should be reviewed periodically to determine whether adjustments are needed in light of key environmental factors or changes in the organization’s performance or capacity.

Follow the steps below to analyze your organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals:

· Find your organization’s mission and look at whether and how it has changed over time. If it has changed, what process changed it?

· Analyze the extent to which your organization’s mission (1) is well understood, (2) continues to inform key decisions, and (3) is well aligned with what the organization is actually doing.

· If your organization does not have a formal mission statement, read deducing a mission.

· Analyze your organization’s vision and core values. Consider whether the vision and core values are in alignment with and supportive of the organization’s mission. Are the vision and core values widely understood and accepted within the organization?

· If you cannot find formal statements about your organization’s vision or core values, read Deducing Vision and Core Values.

· Next, determine whether your organization practices strategic goal setting. Analyze whether these goals are explained clearly and whether they make sense given the organization’s mission, vision, and values. In other words, look for alignment of mission, mission, values, and goals.

When you have completed Step 3, submit your organizational overview and fact sheet and your organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals for review and feedback in the dropbox located in the last step of this project. Then proceed to Step 4.

 

Step 4: Analyze Organizational Strategy and Objectives

While it is important to have a clearly defined and well-understood mission, along with key goals, vision, and values, success is unlikely without corresponding actions guided by an organizational strategy with measurable objectives.

Your audit should include a brief overview of your organization’s strategy. Remember, this report will be used in part to orient new employees to the company, so you don’t need to conduct a detailed analysis. You will, however, have a chance to do a more thorough examination of these elements in future projects.

Follow the guidelines below while working on this part of your report:

· Find and analyze your organization’s organizational strategy. For publicly traded companies, this should be relatively easy to locate, whichmay not be true for the organization where you work.

· If possible, confirm the process used in creating, reviewing, and revising these objectives, as well as who contributes and how.

· Include a preliminary evaluation of success in achieving objectives.

· Cite the tools and methods you used to reach your conclusions, such as the balanced scorecard and key performance indicators (KPIs).

When analyzing your organization’s strategy and objectives and their implications for performance, it is useful to consider critics of strategic planning who point out that very successful ventures sometimes result from a series of unintended or unexpected activities. Therefore, you will also want to be on the lookout for evidence that some of the successes realized by your organization may not be the result of a rational strategic planning process.

Next, proceed to Step 5, where you will examine strategy types and competitive advantage.

Step 5: Identify Strategy Types and Competitive Advantage

Now that you have reviewed your organization’s strategy and objectives, it is time to critically analyze the type or types of strategies your organization may be using, and include that analysis in your audit.

Business Unit and Corporate Strategies

First, review the major types of organizational strategies. Then, figure out which apply to your organization.

Competitive Advantage

Even if your organization is successfully implementing its strategic and financial objectives, its activities may not be contributing to competitive advantage.

Try to identify what your organization’s sources of competitive advantage are (if any) and present a preliminary assessment of the relative value of these advantages. You will have an opportunity to examine competitive advantage in greater depth later in your MBA program.

Also, see if you can identify your organization’s core competencies and reach any supportable conclusions about whether they are used to achieve competitive advantage, and how.

After your review of strategy types and competitive advantage, continue to Step 6, which examines organizational size and structure.

Step 6: Determine Organizational Size and Structure

Like strategy types and competitive advantage, organizational size and structure also have implications for accomplishing the organization’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives (MVGOs).

Organizational Size

Review your organization’s size and determine how much it has changed over the last five years. Include in your audit an analysis of how your organization’s size impacts its ability to accomplish its strategic objectives.

Organizational Structure

Organizational structure refers to the pathways that define who reports to whom. It is most easily discovered by studying an organizational chart. If your organization does not have a chart, or if the chart doesn’t reflect reality, read Organizational Structure for help constructing an organizational chart. Having a chart for your organization will be helpful in determining which of the numerous structural types best apply.

Include in your report an analysis of whether the current structure aligns with and impacts the organization’s MVGOs and, if not, the likely consequences.

When you have completed Steps 4, 5, and 6, submit your organizational strategy and analysis for review and feedback in the dropbox located in the last step of this project. Then proceed to Step 7.

Step 7: Analyze Critical Resources

Now that you’ve examined your organization’s big picture—MVGOs, size, and structure—you’re going to analyze the critical resources of your organization for inclusion in your report.

Critical Resources

As you analyze your organization’s critical resources, follow the guidelines below:

· Consider whether your organization has the critical resources needed to accomplish its MVGOs, whether these are being used effectively, and whether they are being leveraged for competitive advantage.

· Read about resource-based theory and resource dependency theory to learn more about how and why certain resources may serve as a source of strength for an organization.

· Consider whether your organization has valuable, rare, inimitable, and nonsubstitutable (VRIN) resources (characteristics of resources) that it can use toward a competitive advantage, and whether these are sufficient given the market or markets in which your organization is operating.

Types of Critical Resources

For each of the items below, prepare an easy-to-understand, high-level description of the organization’s situation that will be helpful for people new to the organization. Depending upon your personal and professional interests and priorities and the characteristics of your organization, you may opt to limit the scope of your overview and analysis of these resources. Be sure to consult with your faculty if you have questions about how to handle this part of the project.

· human resources

· financial resources

· technology resources

· buildings and equipment (physical resources)

· other types of resources you consider important (e.g., information)

The amount and detail of the information you are able to provide about each of these critical resources may vary depending on your organization and how important you determine the information to be for new employees and board members, the main audience for your report. Each of the five sections above should be limited to a two- or three-page summary. Be sure to speak with your professor if you have any questions.

Briefly describe all resources, analyze their alignment with and support for MVGOs, and identify issues that may merit further attention.

When Step 7 is complete, submit your critical resources for review and feedback in the dropbox located in the last step of this project. Then proceed to Step 8.

Step 8: Examine Leadership, Governance, and Management

Now it’s time to shift your focus to the organization’s leadership. Management styles, leadership styles, and governance structures can have an immense impact on the daily experience of employees at all levels. Leadership can also positively or negatively affect the execution of all the elements you’ve studied thus far: strategy, resource allocation, competitive advantage, etc.

Read the resources below and prepare a summary and analysis of how each principle applies to your organization. (If you believe one of these topics is not relevant for your organization, you may be able to skip it. Before making this decision, consult with your professor):

· management and leadership styles and effectiveness

· management control systems

· organizational leadership

· governance

When your analyses are complete, prepare your findings for inclusion in your final report. Next, proceed to Step 9, where you will review the elements of a SWOT analysis.

Step 9: Evaluate Strengths and Weaknesses

An analysis evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, known as a SWOT analysis, is an important task when analyzing an organization’s situation, especially when the information is intended for use in strategy development and related decision making.

For the purposes of this report, however, your interest is in internal organizational factors, and you will therefore focus on strengths and weaknesses.

Review the elements of a SWOT analysis, concentrating on the S and W portions.

Then use the results of your analyses in Steps 2 through 8 to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of your organization.

When Step 9 is complete, prepare your findings for inclusion in your final report. Then proceed to Step 10.

Step 10: Explore Capacity for Learning and Change

The last step before working on all your conclusions and findings for this report is to examine your organization’s capacity to learn and change. Learning organizations are organizations that systematically measure their performance against sound criteria and metrics and then take concrete actions to change and make improvements.

However, organizations—and people—vary considerably in their ability to decide upon, implement, and manage change. Therefore, managing change is extremely important and often goes hand-in-hand with the desire to improve organizational performance.

First, analyze the extent of your organization’s ability to learn and change.

Then analyze any successes, failures, or both that your organization has experienced with implementing significant changes in the past five years.

For further guidance, read these resources on organizational change and learning organizations.

When Step 10 is complete, prepare your findings for inclusion in your final report. Then proceed to Step 11.

Step 11: Form Conclusions and Recommendations

It’s time to wrap everything up. At each step of the process, you arrived at various conclusions. You will now finalize your situation audit report by making recommendations based on the conclusions and research that you’ve done.

Once discussed with senior management, these recommendations and conclusions may form the basis of future strategic plans and objectives for your organization.

When you have finished this step, continue to Step 12 to submit your final situation audit report.

Step 12: Submit Your Work

Make a note of the recommended delivery dates in the table below and submit your situation audit report in the dropbox at the bottom of this page.

The final deliverable should include the work from all steps above and should reflect the feedback you’ve received from your instructor on the interim deliverables that you’ve submitted.

Step # Submission week Deliverable File-naming protocol
Step 3 Week 2 · Organizational overview/Fact sheet

· Mission, vision, values, and goals

· lastname_firstname_organizational_overview_factsheet.docx

· lastname_firstname_mission.docx

Step 6 Week 3 · Organizational strategy and analysis · lastname_firstname_org_strategy_and_analysis.docx
Step 7 Week 4 · Critical resources · lastname_firstname_crit_resources.docx
Step 12 Week 5 · Final situation audit report · lastname_firstname_audit_ final_report.mpp

When you submit your project, your work will be evaluated using the competencies listed below. You can use the list below to self-check your work before submission.

· 1.3: Provide sufficient, correctly cited support that substantiates the writer’s ideas.

· 1.6: Follow conventions of Standard Written English.

· 6.3: Analyze an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses for strategic value.

· 6.4: Develop and recommend strategies for an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage.

· 8.1: Evaluate major business/organizational systems and processes and make recommendations for improvement.

· 8.3: Identify and distinguish among organizational structural types and their respective implications for performance.

· 9.1: Design organizational structures, systems, and processes that support the strategic goals of the organization.

· 9.2: Evaluate how human capital serves as a source of competitive advantage.

· 10.2: Analyze financial statements to evaluate and optimize organizational performance.

· 10.3: Determine optimal financial decisions in pursuit of an organization’s goals.

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