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  • Issue Identification:Identification of the problem/issue that must be resolved or decision that must be made. Phrase the problem/cause in the most succinct way possible. Think about

  • Differentiating the immediate from the basic problem
  • The implications of the problem(s)
  • Identifying the root cause of the problem(s)
  • Determining the decision facing the key person(s)?

  • Identification of Key Success Factors: Identify the company-specific factors in point form that are absolutely critical to the success of the organization. These are the factors that, if ignored, will mean the project will probably fail. Include the following considerations

    • What factors must be managed successfully for the company to prosper?
    • Key success factors should reflect the top priorities of the organization in this particular case (e.g., quality, productivity, low cost leader, etc.)

    • These factors are part of the criteria against which you will evaluate solutions (along with basic criteria such as profit)

    • Identification of Alternatives: Identify alternative solutions. Only deal with feasible alternatives. In the next three sections, analyze all alternatives against criteria set out in key success factors and basic requirements (e.g., profitability).

    • Quantitative Analysis: Push numbers in an analysis that is relevant to the issue at hand. Differentiate between what is relevant and what is irrelevant.

    • Qualitative Analysis: Be sure to analyze qualitative issues – they need discussion in most cases. In particular, analyze alternatives in light of key success factors – will this alternative solve the problem and fit with our key success factors.

    • Recommendation:  State your recommendation. State briefly the justification for your recommended course of action. Make sure your recommendation flows out of your quantitative and qualitative analyses. Tie your recommendation back to the key success factors. The solution and implementation shout fit with problems and criteria identified above.

    • Circumvention of Potential Problems: If there could be problems with your recommendations, state them. As well, suggest ways to overcome these problems – a contingency plan to address potential difficulties.
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      THE CASE
      You are a Senior Consultant for the professional service firm, BUSI 2083 LLP. Your firm specializes in providing a wide variety of internal business solutions for different clients. It is your final week on the job and a Manager asks you for some help prior to your departure. Eager to leaving a lasting impression, you start reading the background information provided by the Manager.


      Lesley Donovan is the controller for the East division of Explorer Ltd. Jason Conner, head of plant engineering, has just left Donovan’s office after presenting three alternatives for submission in the capital expenditure budget for the fiscal year 2014. The budget is due to the CEO in two days and therefore Donovan realizes that time is of the essence.


      Conner has outlined the following alternatives to replace an outdated milling machine: (1) build a general purpose milling machine; (2) buy a special purpose numerically controlled milling machine; (3) buy a general purpose milling machine.


      Explorer Ltd. Is a well-established company. The company was set up about 30 years ago by two brothers Dan and Kevin Thompson, in Huntsville, Ontario, to produce accessories for the automobile industry. The Central division continues to serve the auto industry, and is the largest division in the company with sales of $35 million annually. Dan’s son is now head of this division. Kevin is still active in the company and is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). His office is located in Toronto.


      The parts division supplies seals to the mining and petrochemical industry from a plant in Toronto. This division is only ten years old and until 2010 was highly profitable. As a result of the downturn in the sector of the economy, sales in 2012 were only $12 million.


      The East division, located in Scarborough, is the engineering division. Full time employees tend to work approximately 2,000 in the division. Regular product lines include industrial fans, industrial cooling units, and refrigeration units for industrial users. The division is highly capital-intensive and sales tend to be directly related to general economic conditions.


      Each division runs independently and performance is based upon budgeted return on investment. Bonuses are paid if the budget target is achieved. Annually, each division prepares a detailed budget submission to Kevin, outlining expected profit performance and capital expenditure requests. The milling machine proposal is part of the capital expenditure request.

      Sales $22,364,000
      Cost of Goods Sold 14,760,240
      Gross Profit 7,603,760
      Selling and General Administrative Costs 3,578,760
      Allocated Costs (based on sales) 1,677,300
      Income Before Income Taxes $2,348,220
      Return on Sales – 10.5%  
      Return on Investment – 8.5%  
      Investment (Historical Cost) $27,626,118

      Jason Connor has pointed out to Donovan that the existing machine is not only outdated but maintenance costs are becoming prohibitive. Jason also noted that maintenance costs of new general purpose machines are only $26,000 while special purpose machines can save an additional $14,000 in maintenance. Also there would be a significant savings in insurance as the price for a general purpose machine would drop to $3,000 while a special purpose machine would be 67% higher than the general purpose machine. The machine has no market or salvage value and he is sure that its book value is now zero. The trouble is that he doesn’t know which proposal is best for the company. In addition to the cost and revenue date provided, Connor provided comments on each alternative below


      1)   Build a general purpose machine
      This machine can be built by East division. The division is below capacity at present as a major contract has just been completed. The division could thus produce the machine without affecting revenue-producing activity, but it will take six months to complete. The machine is expected to last five years and have no salvage value because removal costs will probably equal selling price.


      Connor believes that the division has the technical expertise to undertake the work. In 2012, the division produced a specialized drilling machine that has proven very successful. Connor pointed out that David Williams, chief engineer, loves the design challenge of new machines. Donovan sat down with Connor and produced the following cost estimates

      Material and parts $55,000
      Direct labor (DL$) 90,000
      Variable overhead (50% of DL$) 45,000
      Fixed overhead (25% of DL$) 22,500
      TOTAL $212,500

      Donovan argues that this job should also bear a proportion of administrative costs; she suggests $12,000.


      2)   Buy a special purpose machine

      The advantage of this special purpose machine is that only one operator is required and output per hour could increase by 25%. In addition, maintenance costs are significantly reduced because microchip circuitry is employed.


      Connor points out that this machine is state-of-the-art and would probably mean that new work could be taken on. A numerically controlled machine required extensive training of operators. In total, 26 weeks are spent in the supplier’s factory located in Florida. While the training is going on, the supplier provides an operator to work the machine without charge. Expected costs of this training period including hotel, per diem, and travel will cost $3,000 per week, excluding the operator’s labor which is set at $15 per hour.

      The machine costs $625,000, and the supplier guarantees the salvage value of $25,000 at the end of five years. It is available immediately. It is estimated the machine can generate sales of $243,750 annually at full capacity and require $19,500 in direct materials cost, which is equivalent to the general purpose machine.

      3)   Buy a general purpose machine:
      The purchase price of this machine is $295,000 and cost levels associated with the machine are expected to be the same as the general purpose machine built by the company because the technology is similar. The salvage value of the machine net of removal costs, is estimated to be $5,000 in five years. It can be delivered immediately.

      General comments: The required rate of return for this investment class has been set at 8% by Kevin Thompson.

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