Project 1: starting an external environmental analysis assignment

Instructions

Purpose 

This project is the first of four projects. This project provides the first steps in completing an external environmental analysis of your focal company’s strategic management plan. You will use tools and apply concepts learned in this and previous business courses to demonstrate an understanding of how organizations develop and manage strategies to establish, safeguard and sustain their competitive position in the 21st century (rapidly evolving/shifting/changing), uncertain hyper-competitive business environment. 

Completing a company overview and assessing the general environment is key in performing an external environment analysis. This project allows you to evaluate the competitive position of one of the organizations listed below and integrate that information into the beginning of an external environmental analysis. 

The company you will be analyzing operates within the global market. Therefore, you will assess the company in terms of the global industry. Industries differ widely in their economic characteristics, competitive situation, and future profit potential.

In this project, you are presenting a report document. The expectation is that the report provides details to help the audience grasp the main topics and understand the business climate. 

“Analysis” is the operative word. In analyzing the external environment, you are expected to thoroughly research the company. As part of that effort, you will need to take that research and break it into small parts to understand better what is happening in the external environment of the business. In researching an industry, it is important to understand that every company within an industry is different, so gathering information on one company does not mean that the collected information is relevant to other companies. When researching, parsing the material is critical to an accurate analysis. Avoid presenting just any information as that may lead to using irrelevant information.

You will then write the report in your own words to share the external analysis. You are expected to present information with supporting ideas and reasoning using the course material and your research. You will not lift any information from source documents without properly citing and referencing. For the technical analysis aspect of the project, you must create the technique on your own and may not use any source material that you happen to find. No work from a clearinghouse or similar website may be used or cited as a credible source. 

Outcomes Met With This Project

  • Utilize a set of useful analytical skills, tools, and techniques for analyzing a company strategically;
  • Integrate ideas, concepts, and theories from previously taken functional courses including accounting, finance, market, business, and human resource management.

Instructions

In completing the report, you will use the chapters in the eBook and other course material. Moreover, you will research the company and its industry before responding, in narrative form, to the information provided in the steps (see below). 

Step 1  Specific Company for All Four Projects

In this project, you will complete a Company Overview, an Evaluation of the General Environment, and a conclusion.

You will be assigned by your instructor one focal company to complete the analysis. The assigned company must be used for all four projects in this course. You cannot write a report on any other company different from the company specifically assigned by your instructor. If a company other than that assigned to you is used, a zero will be assigned.

The instructor will assign you a company from the list below. (Students may not select the company).  All companies can be found on Statista.

  • Pfizer
  • Tesla
  • Twitter
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation

Students must complete the project using the assigned company. Deviating from the assigned company will result in a zero for the project. You will look for the company assigned to you in the Announcement area of the classroom.

*****My assigned company is Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM)******

Step 2  Course Materials and Research

  • You are required to research information about the focal company and the external environment for this project. You are accountable for using the course materials to support the ideas, reasoning, and conclusions made. Course material’s use goes beyond defining terms and explains the ‘why and how’ of a situation. Using one or two in-text citations from the course materials and then relying on Internet source material will not earn many points on the assignment. A variety of source material is expected, and what is presented must be relevant and applicable to the topic being discussed. Avoid merely making statements but close the loop of the discussion by explaining how something happens or why something happens, which focuses on importance and impact. In closing the loop, you will demonstrate the ability to think clearly and rationally, showing an understanding of the logical connections between the ideas presented from the research, the course material, and the question(s) being asked.

Note: Your report is based on the research results performed and not on any prepared documentation. What this means is that you will research and draw your own conclusions that are supported by the research and the course material rather than the use of any source material that puts together any of the tools or techniques whether from the Internet, for-pay websites, or any pre-prepared document, video or source material. A zero will be earned for not doing your own analysis.

Success:  The analysis is based on research and not opinion. You are not making recommendations, and you will not attempt to position the focal company in a better or worse light than other companies within the industry merely because you are completing an analysis on this particular company. The analysis must be based on factual information. Any conclusions drawn have to be based on factual information rather than leaps of faith. To ensure success, as stated above, you are expected to use the course materials and research on the focal company’s global industry and the focal company. An opinion does not earn credit, nor does the use of external sources when course materials can be used.  It is necessary to provide explanations (the why and how) rather than making statements. Avoid stringing one citation after another, as doing so does not show detailed explanations.

Library Resources (Required for Company Research)   

  • Statista – All the information needed for your assigned company must be obtained from one of the library’s suggested online company research databases. To use these resources, go to the main navigation bar in the classroom, select Academic Support and then select Library. Next, select Databases by Title (A – Z). Since your primary online company research database is Statista, select S from the alphabet list, and scroll down to select Statista Online.
  • Dun and Bradstreet’s Hoovers Database, among others, is another excellent source for company research, competitor, and industry information. 
  • You can find relevant and significant additional information required for company project research by using https://libguides.umgc.edu/business-research

Additional Library Resources

  • Research for Company Financial Ratios: Financial Research.
  • Research for Industry Financial Ratios: CSI Market. 
  • Use “OneSearch” to find scholarly articles by clicking Library under Academic Support on the classroom main menu bar and checkmark “Scholarly Journals Only” prior to starting a search.  

Library Support Personal Assistance  

  • Extensive library resources and services are available online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at https://www.umgc.edu/library/index.cfm to support you in your studies. In addition, the UMGC Library provides research assistance in creating search strategies, selecting relevant databases, and evaluating and citing resources in various formats via its “Ask a Librarian” service at https://www.umgc.edu/library/libask/index.cfm.

Step 3  How to Set Up the Report:

The document must be written in Word or RTF. No other format is acceptable. Pdf files will not be graded. Use 12-point font for a double-spaced report. The final product should be 7 – 8 pages. It may not exceed 8 pages, including all tables and matrices, but excluding the title and reference pages. Do not use an Appendix.

  • Create a title page with the title, your name, date, the course number, and the instructor’s name.
  • Create Topic Headings that correspond to the exact sections of the project requirements. See these headings in red font below. Ensure that the exact section number and section title are used.

Step 4  Write the Report – Use the following Heading Numbers and Titles (this formatting requirement is mandatory)

I. Company Overview

  • Provide a company overview, which is an essential component of the strategic management process. The company overview includes the purpose(s) for the founding of the company (i.e., what problem(s) was it formed to solve and/or opportunities it was formed to exploit, who are the founders, home country or state, current management, employee headcount, last year’s revenue, etc.). Use company research for support.

II. Industry for Focal Company

  • Identify the main industry in which the company operates. This must come from Statista or CSI Market (csimarket.com). Use company and industry research for support.

III. PESTEL Analysis

  • Discuss the company’s general environment by developing a PESTEL analysis. 
    • First, use the course material to identify the elements of the PESTEL and what components make up each element. Use course materials for support.
    • Then, complete the analysis using research on both the industry and the focal company. Be sure to present and support the reasoning for what is presented thoroughly. Use both company research and industry research for support. You may not use a PESTEL analysis that is already completed and available on the Internet. A zero will result if used as the analysis has to result from your research and your own development. 
    • NOTE: A PESTEL analysis is not a table, and it is not a bulleted assessment.

IV. Six Key Trends for each PESTEL factor for INDUSTRY

  • Identify and discuss one key trend for each letter of the PESTEL for the industry (that you identified in section II). Key trends are separate from the PESTEL analysis. Use industry research for support.

V. One Key Trend for Company

  • Select one of the six trends identified in the previous section and discuss how that trend impacts the focal company. Use company research for support.

VI. Area of Uncertainty for the One Key Trend

  • Discuss key areas of uncertainty related to the identified trend for the focal company (from section V) that could potentially impact the company’s strategy. Use both company research and course materials for support.

VII. Strategic Analysis of Mission, Vision, and Objectives

  • Perform a strategic analysis of the company’s mission, vision, and objectives. Use company research and sources below for assistance.

VIII. Conclusion

  • Create a conclusion. The Conclusion is intended to emphasize the purpose/significance of the analysis, emphasize the significance/consequence of findings, and indicate the wider applications derived from the main points of the project’s requirements. Finally, you will conclude the findings of the external environment analysis. Use company research, industry research, and course materials for support.

Step 5  Review the Paper 

Read the paper to ensure all required elements are present.

The following are specific requirements that you will follow. Use the checklist to mark off that you have followed each specific requirement.  

Checklist

Specific Project Requirements

Proofread your paper.

Read and use the grading rubric while completing the paper to ensure all requirements are met to lead to the highest possible grade. 

Third-person writing is required. Third-person means that there are no words such as “I, me, my, we, or us” (first-person writing), nor is there use of “you or your” (second-person writing). If uncertain how to write in the third person, view this link:http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/first-second-and-third-person

Contractions are not used in business writing, so do not use them.  

Paraphrase and do not use direct quotations. Paraphrase means you do not use more than four consecutive words from a source document. Removing quotation marks and citing is inappropriate.  Instead, put a passage from a source document into your own words and attribute the passage to the source document. There should be no passages with quotation marks. Using more than four consecutive words from a source document would require direct quotation marks.  Changing words from a passage does not exclude the passage from having quotation marks. If more than four consecutive words are used from source documents, this material will not be included in the grade.  

You are expected to use the research and weekly course materials to develop the analysis and support the reasoning. Therefore, there should be a robust use of the course material. The material used from a source document must be cited and referenced. A reference within a reference list cannot exist without an associated in-text citation and vice versa. Changing words from a passage does not exclude the passage from having quotation marks. 

Use in-text citations and provide a reference list that contains the reference associated with each in-text citation. Note all citations in this course require a page or paragraph number (except videos and podcasts).

You may not use books in completing this problem set unless it is part of the course material. Also, do not use a dictionary, Wikipedia, or Investopedia, or similar sources.

You may not use Fern Fort University or any other for-fee websites.  

Provide the page or paragraph number in every in-text citation (except for videos and podcasts). For the eBook, provide either the page number or the chapter and section number. 

Read or View:

Mastering Strategic Management:

  •  Chapter 3: Evaluating the External Environment (Scroll down for link for chapter readings)

Other readings/videos:

Tools and Techniques:

You will be using the following tools/techniques in the projects (particularly Project 2). Make sure you understand their use and how to do the calculations.

EFE Matrix Overview

Creation of EFE Matrix

Other Tools for External Evaluation (Projects 1 and 2) (PESTEL and Porter’s Five Forces)