BIP2 report writing
This section tells the reader how the rest of the report will unfold and provides some basic context for everything else that follows in the document.
It should be concise but contain adequate detail to ‘set the scene’.
In this section you can include:
In this section you should give a clear description and explanation of the issue (or issues) on which the report is based. Obviously then, the issues need to be directly connected to the aim(s) of the report. In other words, the reason for writing the report is to attempt to deal with one or more of the issues discussed as they relate to the chosen company.
For example, if you were examining the use of social media by a certain company to explain why it has been so effective, then you might discuss…
This list would obviously change depending on the nature and focus of the project.
Another example – if you were examining the CSR practices of Ryanair and the effects on their business, then in this section you might include:
So the aim could be to evaluate Ryanair’s CSR as best practice and use that as a ‘success formula’ for other low cost airlines…or to evaluate Ryanair’s CSR as ‘worst practice’ and use that as a formula for other low cost airlines to avoid.
In this section you should clarify the exact and specific purpose of the report. Remember that the two basic formats for reports are:
You can repeat the title of the report in this section (which should either be the question or the problem mentioned above).
You must be very careful and specific with the wording of your business question or problem. For example, if your report was about the lack of profitability of Spotify, then the reader would expect to see:
There would be no point mentioning profitability if you failed to evaluate/analyze the factors that affect profitability – because you would not have answered the question. The analysis you carry out must link directly to the precise question/problem in your report title.
The aim of the report should be clear, concise and focused. Well-considered, specific wording will make the report easier to write because it will provide specific focus for your research and a clear direction for the academic models/frameworks you should use for your analysis/evaluation.
In this section you should also explain how you plan to go about achieving your report aim. For example:
Title: How can Spotify improve its profitability?
To achieve the aim of the report, the business model of Spotify will be analyzed as well as the business strategy and pricing used to date. In addition there will be an examination of the company’s costs and a comparison with similar services. An attempt will be made to identify and explain the key factors affecting the current and potential profitability of the business.
The aims of the report must be justified using the issues identified in the previous section. In other words, you must use the issues from the previous section to explain why the aim of the report is necessary/interesting/worth investigating.
This is the section where you identify the academic models and frameworks you will use in the report and explain specifically how they will help to achieve the aims of the report – in other words, how will using these frameworks to carry out the analysis help to solve the business problem or answer the business question. In other words you cannot simply provide a list of models and/or a generic explanation of their purpose.
In this section you are expected to identify the academic models/frameworks that you intend to use to carry out the critical evaluation/analysis – these will be applied in your ‘Analysis/Evaluation’ section.
For example, if you were investigating how Under Armour (sports brand) has become so successful in the last five years then you may choose to explore the four P’s of their marketing. In this situation you would explain that evaluation of UA’s four P’s – products, prices, promotions (marketing communications mix) and place (distribution channels) – will, in theory, reveal some of the competitive advantages that have led to increased sales.
If for example you were exploring why Amazon has failed to secure significant market share in China, you may decide to use Porter’s Five Forces and then explain how this framework will reveal the market attractiveness and competitive conditions of the e-commerce market in China and Amazon’s place or position within it. You could then explain how using this model would enable a deeper interrogation of existing rivals and the power of buyers as well as the challenges and barriers faced by new entrants into the market, including Amazon as a relative newcomer.
The number of frameworks or models you use will depend on the nature of the project and of course the word limit.
In this section you may also wish to include some definitions of academic terminology used in the report. For example, if the report was focused on ‘competitive advantage’ then you may wish to cite several authors who define the term ‘competitive advantage’ in ways that clarify how you will discuss this concept in the report. If the report examined the digital marketing activities of a company, then you may wish to provide a definition of digital marketing that might include – website, social media, email marketing, online advertising, e-commerce, online research, etc.
This section of the report is used to bring the reader up to date with the current status of the issue and how it relates to the organization being analyzed.
(This section is optional and if the student chooses to cover some of the content below in their ‘Introduction’ section, then there is no point in duplicating it here).
It does not necessarily need to contain any in-depth analysis; that takes place in the “Analysis/Evaluation” section of the report.
For example, if the report was investigating the recent decline of the Marks & Spencer clothing and food business, then in this section you may wish to include:
This section should be concise and will be mostly descriptive. It should include enough information to provide a strong, relevant context for all of the critical analysis and/or critical evaluation that will follow in the next section. This is a good section in which to use charts, graphs and other visual communication tools to present ‘need to know’ information.
This is the section where you apply the models and frameworks you mentioned in the ‘Clarification of theoretical context’ section.
In this section you choose a logical order for the academic models, frameworks and tools you will use and apply them to carry out in-depth critical analysis/evaluation.
What is a logical order? Well, if the results of analysis from one framework provides useful material to include in a subsequent framework, then that would be a logical order. In other words, if one is contingent on the other.
Remember that some elements of a business may not fit neatly into a framework but are still important to analyze in order to answer the business question or solve the business problem. These elements should still be included in the report.
Analysis and evaluation will require some description in your writing but ultimately the point of analyzing or evaluating anything is to explain it.
So this section of the report should contain a lot of explanation. . (You should be answering the ‘how’ and ‘why’)
For example, if you were using PESTEL analysis and you identified what you thought was a threat to the company, it is not enough to simply state that it is a threat or that you believe it is a threat. You must offer a deeper explanation for example the nature, severity, potential longevity and possible consequences of the threat if not managed.
Each section of analysis may need its own mini-conclusion. For example, if you carried out a Porter’s Five Forces analysis then it may be advisable to summarize overall the extent to which you believe the industry you analyzed is attractive and for whom. You would also summarize the competitive conditions overall.
Once the different types of analysis have been carried out, you should be examining the possible links and inter-relationships between your all of your analyses to see if this guides you in drawing conclusions about the true causes of a business problem (or the most plausible answer to the business question).
In this section you should revisit the aim(s) of the report and then draw conclusions from your analysis/evaluation of the previous section to express the extent to which the aims have been achieved.
Again, this section should be mostly explanation.
The explanation should be focused on what – in your opinion – the analysis/evaluation is telling you. Remember, to do this properly you will often have to link (or judge if there are links) between different aspects of your analyses.
For example if you were examining the lack of profitability of Spotify, you may conclude that this is mainly due to flaws in the business model but also linked to pricing. It is crucial that you draw specific and well-considered conclusions, especially if you are doing the ‘problem & solution’ format of report, because the conclusions will naturally lead to the recommendations.
In this section you should put forward what you believe are the best solutions to deal with the business problem you have identified and analyzed in the report.
Obviously this depends on the aim of the report. If the aim of the report is not about suggesting /recommending something because of the specific wording and focus, then this section is not necessary.
Similarly, depending on the business question you asked, you may also need to offer recommendations. Some business questions may only invite a conclusion and not recommendations. It depends on the exact wording of the question.
Your recommendations must be linked to the analysis that you have carried out in previous sections. (That was the whole point of doing the analysis!). Of course, the recommendations must also be linked to…and follow on from the conclusions you made in the previous section of the report.
Your recommendations cannot be limited to what you think are ‘good ideas’. They must be justified. They must be specific. They must relate directly to the question or problem you have been discussing throughout the report and they must tackle some (or all) of the challenges or opportunities you have identified in your earlier analysis.
Therefore they should ideally be evidence-based. One of the best ways to justify your recommendation(s) is to research and analyze evidence that will support the specific recommendation you have offered. This could take the form of academic principle and/or real word data that supports your point of view.
For example, if you might recommend that Spotify introduced another service tier with a lower fee than the Premium service but slightly less features and benefits in an attempt to upgrade more free users to paying customers. In this case you would need to find evidence that this type of approach has had (or is likely to have) a positive effect on revenue and ultimately profitability. Looking for related examples can be helpful to support your rationale. The justification is what attracts additional marks.
If word count permits, then perhaps you could show that you have considered several possible solutions and through evaluation of them, you have selected what you consider to be the optimum one. This would demonstrate greater business acumen and provide the opportunity to demonstrate further academic knowledge and application as well as critical thinking.