the question is a term paper where you will need to look at a company and anlyze for different sectors of the company with specific details.
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BUS 497A – CAPSTONE SPRING 2020 TERM PAPER OUTLINE
REVISED APRIL 17, 2020
Pursuant to the COVID-19 Crisis
This outline contains the areas to cover in your term paper. Each firm is unique, and you
are responsible for adapting your paper to fit the circumstance.
Learning Objective: to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a firm; and, to
determine the core competence that can be built on to establish a competitive
Method: Firm analysis and the development of an abbreviated business plan to ensure
long-term survival within the competitive environment. Compare your firm to a better
performing firm within the same industry, or to the industry trends that you created in the
Maintain your focus on the segments addressed. Provide conclusions for each section
Where quantitative analysis is required, provide numbers expressed as ratios. Use five
years of data to establish trends. Where qualitative analysis is required, provide
citations to support your arguments. Assumptions and common knowledge are not
Continuity: Be sure that if you make a declarative statement in one section, you do not
contradict yourself in another. Please number pages, and use section headings and
CONSULT THE GRADING RUBRIC. This is a research paper intended to represent
your ability to do critical analysis and apply cognitive reasoning skills with respect to the
concepts learned not just in this class, but throughout your academic career.
Use Oviatt Library resources discussed in our orientation. Here is the link to the page
that Charissa Jefferson, our Subject Specialist Librarian put together specifically for this
I. Current Situation
A. Brief firm history.
a. In what industries and industry segments is your firm involved? Your
company may have several NAICS and/or SIC Codes because they may
have several divisions or SBU’s. Before you start, you will need to decide
on which one of these you will want to focus. Perhaps the easiest place to
find this information is in the company’s most recent 10K filing where they
summarize their business. For example, The Walt Disney Company,
together with its subsidiaries, is a diversified worldwide entertainment
company with operations in four business segments: Media Networks;
Parks, Experiences and Products; Studio Entertainment; and Direct-toConsumer & International (DTCI).
b. Identify your firm’s most immediate competitor. If you look up the industry
information in IBIB World, you will find the companies that are prominent
in that business. Choose the one that you feel matches your firm’s
c. Provide a statement of the current position or situation of your firm within
the industry and with regards to their competitor. (i.e., how goes it).
B. Strategic Posture.
a. What is the current vision and mission? Did you have to deduce them, or
was it stated. Is there a clear point B (an objective that we can quantify)?
You should be concerned with both the quality of the vision and mission
statements, and their appropriateness for the competitive environment.
C. What is the Corporate Level Strategy?
a. At the Corporate Level, How diversified is this firm? Related or unrelated?.
D. What is the current (Porter’s generic) Business Level Strategy?
a. This pertains to the division, SBU, subsidiary you choose. Is this strategy
consistent with the mission, appropriate for the environmental context,
being followed by management?
II. SWOT Analysis (of both your firm and the competitor you choose)
As excellent resource for this is Business Source Premier (EBSCO),
ABI/INFORM Complete (Pro Quest), the firms’ 10K report where they list the risk factors
(look for things that are EXTERNAL to the organization for this part), and the Bureau of
Labor Statistics. You might also want to consider reading industry analyst reports as
they often opine on external environment threats and opportunities as well as internal
strengths and weaknesses.
A. External Environment (Opportunities and Threats.)
a. General Environment: This is also know as a PESTEL analysis. Consider
all the dimensions in the broader society that influence an industry and the
firms within it: (You may present this information as an embedded chart as
opposed to a lengthy narrative.) What is trending? Don’t just look at the
numbers, what is the trend????? Which present, current, or future threats
or opportunities are important to your firm?
b. Industrial Environment Conduct an analysis of the five forces (Porter’s) in
the immediate environment. IBIS World and Mergent Online can be good
resources. (You may present this information as an embedded chart as
opposed to a lengthy narrative.)
Threats of New Entrants (Barriers to Entry)
Bargaining Power of Buyers
Bargaining Power of Suppliers
Threat of Substitute Products or Services
Rivalry Among Existing Competitors
Which of the above present current or future threats or opportunities
important to your firm?
c. Competitive Environment You will need to do the Internal Analysis before
you complete this section. Your comments on the Competitive
Environment will be included in the Internal Analysis (III) and SWOT
Analysis Summary (IV) sections. See the green section in the very
center of the image below to note specifically that for which you will be
looking. (Pay no attention to where the arrow is pointing – that’s the 5Forces!)
III. Internal Environment (Strengths and Weaknesses)
This is also the area where you compare financial position and the strengths and
weaknesses of your organization and the strengths and weakness of their competitors.
What is your firms’ competitive advantage? What is the competitor’s competitive
For each of the sections below, answer the question: Which company, yours or the
competitor seems to have the advantage? You can make this into a chart instead of a
narrative so long as the chart also reflects your conclusions.
o These are a part of the operational and administrative procedures. This
includes disorganized or inaccurate record keeping. It could be limited
access to natural resources. Interruptions to your supply chain and
outdated or faulty IT systems are also factors you should evaluate. If you
do not overcome these, your customers might see you as unreliable. You
can also lose all your data.
o Look for clues of strengths and weaknesses in the Primary Activities of the
image below. Again, look at the strengths and weaknesses in the SWOT
analysis. In the firm’s 10K risks, do they mention any INTERNAL risks?
o What is the Corporate Level Strategy of both firms? Does that strategy
allow them to act effectively in their Business Level Strategy?
o Can you get access to the organizational chart? If so, how are the
functions structured? Does it look like a flat, empowering structure, or a
top down, bureaucratic structure? What impact could that have on the
functioning of the business.
o Mission and Vision. Is their vision clear? Is it vague, or do the firms seem
to have a true direction? Does their current Mission seem like it supports
the vision of the future? Also, look to the company’s website. Sometimes
they list goals and objectives.
o Often a company website will tell you about the culture. Of course, they
will paint a bright outlook, so also check antidotal sources like employee
blogs and sites like Glassdoor to fact check what the companies are
saying about themselves. Is there a well-defined or emerging culture
composed of shared beliefs, expectations, and values? Is the culture a
source of support or hindrance to achieving the mission/strategy of the
corporation? Are there substantial differences in the cultures of the two
o To be honest, I do not know what the author of the image had in mind with
the category of Power!!
o Your business needs innovation in order to keep up with competitors. It is
essential to get one step ahead. Innovation does not only mean new or
improved products. Innovation could come in the form of marketing. It
could also be through promotional initiatives in the marketing plan, staff
training, and welfare. Embracing new technology is the best way to keep
up with technological advancements. A lack of innovation can pose a
serious risk to a growing business. No innovation will cause a company to
remain boring. The company will become dull, stagnant and irrelevant.
Look at the status of the companies’ intellectual property: patents,
copymarks, trademarks, as well.
o Financial resources include things like funding, investment opportunities
and sources of income. It can also be assets like physical resources such
as company’s location, equipment, and facilities.
o Create a chart comparing each company’s financials. You might want to
add a column showing industry averages (IBIS World) since the goal is
above industry average performance. This will give you a great
perspective of how each company stands industry-wise. The more
categories in which your company is above industry average, the better.
Return on Stockholders’ Equity
Earnings Per Share
Return on Equity
Anything else you think important
o Employees are vital to business success. But, there are risks associated
with them. For a firm with a union, strike action could lead to a lot of
problems. Look at antidotal information found in business magazines
about the working conditions at the firms. Also, check out if there are any
lawsuits, settled or pending, by employees.
o Are the Boards of directors diversified? Is the Chair also the company
CEO? Are there any shareholder lawsuits or controversies?
o Is the top management of the business segment of the firm that you are
profiling diversified and seemingly competent? Have there been any
recent scandals or serious business issues that were handled poorly?
IV. SWOT ANALYSIS SUMMARY
Strengths are the features of your business which allow you to work more effectively
than competitors. Your specialist technical knowledge could be your strength. You will
have to consider your strengths from own point of view. You should also give
importance to customers’ and clients’ view. Weaknesses are the areas which have
scope for improvement. Find out if your business is new products or skills. Also, try to
find if you have a lower productivity or higher cost base than your competitors.
A comprehensive SWOT analysis will help your organization optimize performance,
maximize potential, manage competition, and minimize risk. (This can be presented as
an embedded chart as opposed to a lengthy narrative. Just be sure it is
a. It is imperative that you analyze your strengths (and weaknesses) in
relation to your competitors. In other words, what are the unique
features of your company–a well-established company with
established brand trust, lower production costs, superior customer
service, stronger web presence, etc.–that will provide a competitive
advantage? Identify those and you’ve identified your strengths.
a. One way to think of weakness is the absence of strength. Therefore,
the items of your business model you did not identify as strengths
above are the first place to look for weaknesses. Cash flow, brand
recognition, marketing budgets, distribution networks, age of your
company, etc. are all places to consider when assessing weaknesses.
The idea here is that you’ll turn these weaknesses into strengths.
Doing so, however, requires an honest assessment of where your
company needs to improve.
a. Here is where you identify the opportunities for growth, greater profit,
and larger market share. Again, assessing opportunity in relation to
competition is imperative. Drawing from external dynamics, what
opportunities are there for you to distinguish your company from your
competitors? What opportunities can you identify to offer a similar
service or product at a higher quality or at a lower price than your
competition? What are the needs of your customers that your field
does not currently address?
b. Technology is an external factor that always presents new
opportunities and new threats. What technological innovations open up
new opportunities for your business to lower costs, speed up
production, market more effectively, or improve customer service?
a. Lastly, in which areas is your company at risk? Is your competitor
developing a product to compete with one of yours? Is there a new or
bigger company poaching your best employees? These are all threats
to your business.
b. The Harvard Business Reviews defines “Threats” as “possible events
or forces outside of your control that your company or unit needs to
plan for or decide how to mitigate.” What about new legislation? Does
a new law or proposed law threaten your production costs? What
about new tax laws? A yes to any of these equals a threat.
c. Lastly, just as technological innovation may provide an opportunity, it
can also issue a threat.
d. Threats to the business now include lawsuits over insurance liability,
legislation proposing banning the service, and higher profit-margins at
Summarize the information you have identified in your research, including addressing
the following questions:
What is it that you do well?
What benefits do you have over your competitors?
What makes you stand out from the competitors?
What are you bad at?
Is there anything you could be better at?
What should you avoid?
What leads to problems or complaints?
Based on your analysis, on which OPPORTUNITIES is your firm in a position to
capitalize? What must they do to minimize the THREATS you have identified. Point out
specific strengths and weaknesses when discussing both final questions.
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