Solving Case Problems

Solving Case Problems

MIS 499Case Analysis GuidelinesPage 1 of 6

Solving Case Problems

Case problems present a unique opportunity to view computers and automation in a somewhat “real-world” setting. Cases, due to their basic nature of constant adjustment and change, are never really solved. At best, the student can only offer the most logical and reasonable solutions. There is not a right or wrong answer that is “set in concrete”.

Systems Approach to Cases

By following this general step-by-step approach to case analysis, all factors and variables should emerge. Each case may “fall into place’ a little differently, but in most instances, the systems approach ensure that all parameters have been considered.

  1. Recognize the problem
  2. separate problems from symptoms
  3. Gather information
  4. start where the symptoms were discovered and then move to the big picture
  5. Define the problem
  6. consider the objectives of the organization
  7. Generate alternative solutions
  8. alternatives aid in solving the case
  9. Evaluate each alternative
  10. each must be economically, technically and organizationally possible
  11. Design the systems
  12. consider the best alternative and briefly offer a basic design
  13. Plan the implementation
  14. what actions need to be taken, by whom, what resources are needed, are time and money available
  15. Evaluate the design and implementation plan
  16. look for flaws and needed adjustments

Checklist for Case Analysis

Action Skills Reinforced by Cases

  1. Think clearly in complex, ambiguous situations
  2. Devise reasonable, consistent, creative action plans
  3. Apply quantitative tools when applicable.
  4. Recognize the significance of information.
  5. Determine vital missing information.
  6. Communicate orally individually or in groups
  7. Write clear, forceful, convincing reports
  8. Apply personal values to organizational decisions.

Student Responsibilities in Case Learning

  1. Experience case situation
  2. Enjoy yourself
  3. Enter the case discussion
  4. Help manage the group discussion
  5. Attend class regularly.
  6. Master the facts before the discussion starts.
  7. Respect the opinion of other students.

Initial Dissatisfactions with Case Learning

  1. cases have no unique answer
  2. information is ambiguous and contradictory
  3. the issue is not stated
  4. information is redundant and irrelevant
  5. the case is not solved
  6. note taking is difficult
  7. instructor only directs

Do’s for Case Discussions

  1. Prepare before class
  2. Push your ideas
  3. Listen to others
  4. Keep an open mind
  5. Relate special problems to the class
  6. Relate outside experiences
  7. Relate past cases in course.
  8. Be provocative
  9. Bring outside research
  10. Summarize
  11. Prepare special issues
  12. Recognize flow of discussion
  13. Be constructive
  14. Be brief
  15. Take the offensive when necessary
  16. Evaluate your own participation
  17. Learn from other students

Don’ts for Case Discussion

  1. Do not make sudden topic changes
  2. Do not repeat yourself
  3. Do not repeat others
  4. Do not use unfair hindsight
  5. Do not be put off by a bad experience
  6. Do not overplay on theme

Problem Identification Advice

  1. Do not confuse symptoms with problems
  2. Do not make premature evaluations
  3. Do not blindly apply stereotypes to new problems
  4. Do not accept information at face value
  5. Consider multiple causes

Problem Statement Advice

  1. State problem explicitly
  2. Aim at significance
  3. Distinguish short-run and long-run aspects

Implementation considerations

  1. Limitations of personnel
  2. Control systems
  3. Motivation behavior
  4. Contingency plans

Behavioral Issues in Case Analysis

  1. Examine individuals
  2. Difficulties encountered in group decision-making
  3. Power and control in groups

Organization of Case Report

  1. Analysis of case should be as follows:
  2. Background materials and facts
  3. Statement of problem
  4. Analysis
  5. Solution and implementation

Using Case Worksheets

Consider the following breakdown as you read through the case. After the worksheets have been completed and provided you with some “brainstorming”, answer the five questions that are offered with the case.

  1. Identify the Problem

Separate the symptoms from the problems

Focus on reasonable areas to be addressed

Set boundaries

Look for underlying causes

  1. Relevant Information

Single out “distracters”

Consider customer/clients

Identify competition

Separate fact from fiction

Identify missing or incomplete information

  1. Environment Analysis

Uniqueness of situation

Set versus variable factors

Locations, time, culture should be considered

Type of organization or business

Legal, political, economic variables

  1. Main Problem Areas

Further define the problems

Identify the most critical areas that should be addressed first

Prioritize problems from high to low

Eliminate minor problems

  1. Alternatives

Offer several viable alternatives

Give pros and cons of each alternative

Each alternative should lead to solution

Brainstorm various alternatives

  1. Possible Solutions

Evaluate tangible and intangible factors of each solution

What are the “people problems” involved

Offer advantages and disadvantages of each solution

Rate solutions in terms of economics, technical resources, feasibility

Dream “big” but settle for “realistic”

  1. Recommendations (The Bottom Line)

Select one alternative to be designed and offer justification

Plan the implementation

Describe actions to take, resources needed, sequence of tasks, time table, available personnel and training

Plan for evaluation and updates

Is the problem solved or merely “bandaided” or postponed?

Forcht, K.A., (1994), Management Information Systems: A Casebook.Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace & Company.