5 Case Study Writing Tips MBA Students Should Know

Are you a grad/MBA student who has to write case studies on regular basis? In this article, we will show you some tips that will help you streamline your writing.

We love reading, however, we are not a casual reader. We read books so we can use them in life. Business cases are also something we read quite often and use at work.

The problem with most case study textbooks is that most of them only include some general company profile with basic or detailed financial statement. Sometimes, the interview of particular company's executives from various news sources is added. That's all about the case study.

From we stand, there are some better way to write and analyze case study which can be found as below,

1. Extract information from SEC Filing
SEC filing is basically a very detailed annual report submitted by each company to Security Trade Commission (SEC). SEC filing holds very useful information (other than financial statement or profit and loss) such as,

- Profile of key executives including education background, work experience and number of shares

- Detailed product segmentation including key customers and suppliers

- Operating expense and income of both goods and services

- SWOT analysis and risk assessment conducted by the company

- Major marketing and operations improvement initiatives

- Current investment and expansion plan

This kind of information can be a weapon in the hands of people who know how to use it.

2. Check company's issues from job board
Even though SEC filing is super useful, it's the information originated by the company itself to attract investors (which may contain some bias.) Information from job board such as Glassdoor is another source of information. You can determine the operational issues or human resources management issues from the feedback given by past employees. New job posting can also signal some new marketing initiatives that you can also investigate further.

3. Conduct best practice analysis
Best practice analysis is not a popular topic for general business students but it's so important for people in operations management field. Best practice analysis is the way to analyze how each company or department obtains better business performance or KPIs. Best practices are usually hidden in the company announcement, it's the thing that company wants outsiders to know. For example, when Apple Inc wants people to know that they try to cut down carbon emission, they make the announcement. Such announcement should be collected and compared with the company in the same or different sectors. If you see a similar thing somewhere else, that's probably the "best practice" that should be investigated further.

4. Conduct industry analysis
Industry analysis can be something simple and effective. Basically, you compare best practices (we mention earlier) between each company in the same industry and try to understand why a particular company chooses a particular strategy. For example, you can compare manufacturing practices of Zara, Adidas, Gap and other apparel retailers and also compare the impact of a particular strategy.

5. Determine company reputation
Reputation is a source of information that reflects customer's perspective. Since we are living in the age of customer centricity, customer's opinions are so important for the future growth of the company. You can conduct reputation research easily by,

- accessing website information from Alexa.com, here you can see the website traffic together with audience demographics such as gender, education and so on.

- determining company rating form Better Business Bureau, here you will find basic company profile together with customer's complaints and how a company responds to such complaints.

- checking review sites like Yelp and Google Reviews.

Do you think you can use these tips in your case study writing? Do you find them useful?