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Launching Krispy Natural: Cracking the Product Management Code

by Frank V. Cespedes Heather Beckham

Pemberton Products is a U.S. market leader in the cookie and bakery snacks segment of the sweet snack market. Looking to expand into the salty snack market, the company acquires Krispy Inc., a maker of salty snack crackers located in the southeastern U.S. To compete with premium cracker brands, Pemberton plans to reformulate and re-launch the Krispy brand as "Krispy Natural," which offers natural ingredients, improved taste, and revised packaging. Market tests in Columbus, Ohio show market share results that are double the company projections while results in 3 cities in the southeastern U.S. fall well below expectations. The marketing director must interpret the market test results, consider possible competitive responses to the new brand, and present his recommendation for a national rollout to the VP of sales and marketing.

Ron Ventura at Mitchell Memorial Hospital

by Heide Abelli Frank V. Cespedes

Mitchell Memorial Hospital is a 750-bed regional academic medical center in Ohio. Andy Prescott, Chief of the Cardiovascular Center, is reviewing the performance evaluations of his star vascular surgeon Ron Ventura. The evaluations, the result of a 360-degree performance review cycle the hospital had recently put in place, were much more critical than he had anticipated. Ventura, with a national reputation as an accomplished vascular surgeon, had improved the vascular surgery practice enormously in his short tenure at Mitchell Memorial and generated much new case flow for the hospital. Ventura is also, as the evaluation packet made clear, sharp-tongued, impatient, and abrasive. Prescott knows that the Cardiovascular Center needs team players, but he also has a responsibility to improve the performance of the vascular surgery practice, and Ventura is critical to that effort. Now Ventura's contract is up for renewal. Although Prescott recruited Ventura and gave strong support in his first months, other surgeons are now considering leaving the hospital, HR is getting complaints from the nursing staff and the residency programs, and many point to Ventura's behavior as the cause. Prescott wonders whether Ventura's actions violate Mitchell Memorial's cultural norms focused on teamwork and collaboration and whether or not his contract with the hospital should be renewed. Students must consider approaches to the upcoming performance feedback interview between Prescott and Ventura.

Olympic Rent-A-Car U.S.: Customer Loyalty Battles

by John Deighton James Kindley

The marketing and operations managers for Olympic Rent-A-Car meet to decide how to respond to changes in the loyalty rewards program at the market-leading competitor. The competitor's program gives awards based on dollars spent instead of days rented and eliminates blackout dates. Olympic expects the program to capture more of the valuable business traveler segment, which rents cars more frequently and generally pays higher premiums than the leisure traveler segment. At the meeting, the team reviews the financial performance of the firm and the firm's reward program, called Olympic Medalist. They consider whether they can afford to match the competitor's loyalty program terms as they have done in the past and also consider how the competitor's actions will affect the entire car rental industry. Ultimately, they must respond with a truly distinctive strategy. Students must perform a quantitative analysis of each possible response and consider the value of customers in loyalty programs.

Southfield Packaging

by Michael Beer Alisa Zalosh

Southfield Packaging provides packaging materials and services to medical device manufacturers. The case examines the relationship between a corporate vice president, Mark Sanders, and one of his direct reports, Regional Manager Frank Belby. Sanders' preparation for Belby's annual performance review provides a foundation for discussing the common challenges and difficulties associated with performance reviews. Specific issues include the need to clearly define criteria for evaluation and the question of whether Belby's physical health should play a role in his performance review. Overall, is Southfield's appraisal process a fair and effective way of evaluating employee potential?

Wendy Peterson

by Linda A. Hill Alisa Zalosh

Wendy Peterson was recently promoted to Vice President of Sales at the Plano, Texas, office of AccountBack, an accounting software and services company. To penetrate a perceived market niche, Peterson hires Fred (Xing) Wu, whose familiarity with and access to Chinese business leaders in Plano is valuable. Wu was born and raised in China, partly educated in the U.S., and immigrated to the U.S. in 2005. Within 12 months, he had signed his regional team's largest client, but Peterson has reservations about Wu's performance and is uneasy about their working relationship. Wu has requested an assistant-unprecedented within AccountBack's flat organizational structure. Peterson reflexively perceives the request as unreasonable, but in responding she must take into account the implications her decision will have on the rest of her sales team, as well as her own career. This case is ideal for courses on managing performance, managing conflict, leadership, cross-cultural differences, conflict and negotiation, employee development, and performance evaluation.

Sterling Household Products Company

by William E. Fruhan Craig Stephenson

Sterling Household Products manufactures and markets a broad line of consumer goods from laundry soap and cosmetics to cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing products. The company has many highly regarded brand names and consistently reports impressive sales and profits to the investment community. Despite a record of success, a deeper analysis of financial measures reveals that growth rates for unit volumes, sales, and profits are low. Looking to expand into new markets with strong growth potential, the company considers acquiring the germicidal, sanitation, and antiseptic product unit from Montagne Medical Instruments, a company in the health care industry. This acquisition seems like a natural extension of Sterling's experience and expertise in the market for household cleaning supplies. Both parties reach a tentative agreement on price and Sterling considers whether the proposed investment adds value given the risks involved. Students must perform a comprehensive investment analysis and examine both the qualitative and quantitative issues associated with evaluating a strategic acquisition before making a final recommendation.

Robin Ash and Printzhof Press

by Frank V. Cespedes Lynda St. Clair

Robin Ash has just been promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Printzhof Press and Vice President of its parent company, Education and Entertainment Holdings, Inc. Her first objective is to create an action plan that will achieve two seemingly contradictory corporate objectives: transform Printzhof into an aggressively competitive 21st century educational publisher while maintaining its close-knit and collaborative culture. Because of new technologies changing how information is delivered and used in higher education, the need for the company to evolve along with the publishing industry is obvious to Ash and other company leaders. However, Printzhof's history of success has resulted in resistance to organizational change among many longtime employees and senior managers. Still, Ash must revitalize Printzhof without destroying employee morale and loyalty. How far and how fast should she move on the critical priorities she has identified?

Andrew Ryan at VC Brakes

by Frank V. Cespedes Sunru Yong

An aftermarket brake component manufacturer, VC Brakes, is bought out by a global automotive parts corporation after the 2008 financial crisis. Unlike its previous parent company, the new owner attempts to change VC Brakes' autocratic management style and finger-pointing culture with a Total Quality Management (TQM) program. Andrew Ryan is a senior manager at VC Brakes. With the guidance of a strong mentor and a reputation as a successful change agent, he is selected as a TQM site instructor. His initial excitement turns to concern when organizational challenges cause the quality initiative to falter. A subsequent restructuring puts Ryan on the wrong side of politics, and he must decide whether to leave VC Brakes or stay with the losing initiative.

New Earth Mining, Inc.

by Wei Wang William E. Fruhan

New Earth Mining is one of the largest producers of precious metals in the U.S. While the firm operates mines primarily in the U.S. and Canada, it has also made substantial investments in gold exploration projects in Australia and Chile. New Earth has been very successful and has a large amount of cash on the balance sheet, a simple debt structure, and a reasonable leverage ratio with liquidity risk. With a strong financial position, the firm considers reducing its dependence on precious metals by diversifying into base metals and other minerals. An investment opportunity for mining iron ore in South Africa looks promising but still carries substantial risk. A high risk of civil war in neighboring countries along with strong fears that the South African government will nationalize mining operations combine to create an unstable political environment. The tentative financing package is complex and creates challenges for determining a value for the project. Students must complete a quantitative analysis of 4 proposals with different valuation methods before making a final recommendation.

Brannigan Foods: Strategic Marketing Planning

by John A. Quelch James Kindley

The soup division at Brannigan Foods contributes over 40% of the firm's revenue. The general manager is concerned that the soup industry is declining and that the soup division shows declining profits and market share, especially among the important baby boomer segment. Hoping to reverse these trends, he asks four key managers to review a consultant's analysis of the soup industry and recommend a turnaround strategy. Each manager presents a different plan, from investing in core market segments and products to acquiring new product lines and customers. Students must perform a quantitative analysis of each proposal while considering the feasibility and risks associated with each option before making a final recommendation.

Delwarca Software Remote Support Unit

by Roy D. Shapiro Paul E. Morrison

Delwarca Software provides business software to large corporate clients around the world. The firm serves customers who prefer to assemble corporate solutions using a combination of software programs from various suppliers rather than implementing a single enterprise resource planning system. Consequently, Delwarca must provide telephone support services for complex software-hardware interaction and performance problems in addition to the typical software support issues around software installation and upgrades, malware attacks, and processing failures. The manager of the remote support unit implemented a new triage program for customer calls hoping to reduce customer wait time, improve customer satisfaction, and reduce costs. After one year, customer dissatisfaction is at an all-time high and he must perform a quantitative analysis of the current process, considering wait times for customers as well as cost per call, before making a final recommendation. This case can be used in a first-year MBA course in Service Management or Operations Management or a course in industrial engineering. It can also be used to introduce simple queuing theory.

Sugar Bowl

by Richard G. Hamermesh Alisa Zalosh

Shelby Givens, a recent business school graduate, returned home to Raleigh, North Carolina to help rescue her family's ailing and outdated bowling alley, Westlake Lanes. Although she cut costs and addressed inefficiencies, moving the business from near-bankruptcy to profitability in nine months, market conditions threatened the long-term viability of the business. Givens then sold her family on a new, more youth-oriented concept, an urban lounge called Sugar Bowl that could generate sizable revenues from the food and beverage businesses already embedded in Westlake Lanes. The case follows Givens as she builds Sugar Bowl into a turnaround story through shrewd decision-making in finance, operations, and marketing while contending constantly with challenging surprises and disappointments. The case also captures Givens's reflections on how the entrepreneurial drive that has motivated her. Sugar Bowl may be taught alone or after "Westlake Lanes" (4431), which follows Givens through the initial turnaround process.

Luotang Power: Variances Explained

by Robert L. Simons Craig J Chapman

The general manager of Luotang Power, a coal-fired power plant located in central China, reviews annual results before a meeting with the board of directors. He thought the company performed well during the year and both plant availability and fuel economy had improved over the previous year. However, the positive performance does not show in the financial results and he must investigate before presenting to the board. He considers performing a variance analysis to better understand plant performance compared to the previous year. He also examines the contractual arrangement the plant has with the provincial power company for a minimum purchase of electricity to supplement regional demand. The company had been successful at selling excess electricity to the power plant but over the past 12 months, demand has decreased. Students must complete a quantitative analysis of the plant's performance and prepare recommendations to improve reporting and evaluation of the plant's performance. This case can be used in an introductory managerial accounting course to explore variance analysis and incentives in contracts.

Winfield Refuse Management, Inc.: Raising Debt vs. Equity

by W. Carl Kester Sunru Yong

A small, publicly traded company specializing in non-hazardous waste management considers a major acquisition in the Midwestern U.S. The acquisition can provide entry into the region, help the firm compete in a competitive industry, and improve its cost position. The company has a long-standing policy to avoid long term debt and until now has made a series of small acquisitions using only internal financing. The chief financial officer wants the board of directors to reconsider the policy and suggests funding the acquisition through a bond issue. Several company directors disagree and prefer that the firm issue common stock. Students must analyze the costs of issuing either a bond or common stock before making a final recommendation for financing the acquisition.

Jess Westerly at Kauflauf GmbH

by John J. Gabarro Colleen Kaftan

Jess Westerly is the assistant product owner of CRM applications for computer and office supply wholesalers and retailers at Kauflauf, a fast-growing provider of subscription enterprise software headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany. Only months into her job, outsider Westerly tries and fails to implement a change in field consultants' sales call patterns. Westerly had introduced the changes to the sales organization via a memo that outlined her directive and explained the reasons behind it. Field consultants immediately complained about the infringement on their decisions about how to spend their time and the insensitivity to the relationship-oriented nature of developing business. Three months later, sales statistics show little difference in calling patterns. After explaining, defending, and reshaping her stalled initiative, Waverly presents her amended proposal to key senior executives and is given three weeks to produce an implementation plan. If the plan is deemed acceptable, she will be asked to implement it.

Danshui Plant No. 2

by William J. Bruns Jr. Julie H. Hertenstein Kelvin Liu

Danshui Plant No. 2 in southern China has a one-year contract with Apple Inc. to assemble 2.4 million iPhones. In the first three months of the contract, the plant is unable to assemble as many phones as expected and is operating at a loss. The plant manager must analyze the budget and prepare a summary of monthly operations to help identify the source of performance problems. The plant has had difficulty hiring enough workers despite raising wages over 30%. In addition, the assembly process for an iPhone is complicated, with 140 steps involving over 100 components. The plant manager considers whether a flexible budget would be more useful for uncovering problems than the static budget currently being used. Students must perform break-even and flexible budget analyses and calculate price and usage variances as they consider solutions for the plant's problems with the iPhone contract. This case, which explores the challenges of outsourcing manufacturing, can be used as an introduction to managerial accounting.

ARISE: A Destination-for-a-Day Spa

by Michael Beer Lynda St. Clair

A new Dallas-based health and beauty spa aims to use a highly distinctive human resource system as the foundation of its competitive strategy. By encouraging employees to act as "personal wellness coaches" (PWCs) with high commitment and broad responsibilities, the leadership intended to provide a level of client service that would justify premium rates. However, the system is not working. Issues include: tips are lower than expected, reducing expected compensation; scheduling issues create bottlenecks; and the level of commitment varies among PWCs. The result is a high employee turnover rate, and departing employees take an average of 35% of their client base with them when they go. Now, with financials for the spa's second year completed, the VP of spa operations, the VP of business operations, and the CEO must evaluate what is and what isn't working.

Hill Country Snack Foods Co.

by W. Carl Kester Craig Stephenson

Hill Country Snack Foods, located in Austin, Texas, manufactures, markets, and distributes snack foods and frozen treats. The CEO is passionate about maximizing shareholder value and believes in keeping tight control over costs and operating the business as efficiently as possible. The company invests in additional capacity and new products only when attractive, low-risk opportunities are identified and can be funded internally. The firm's culture of risk aversion extends to financing decisions with a clear preference for equity finance over debt finance. The CEO believes a strong balance sheet with large cash balances provides the company with maximum safety and flexibility. Sales growth has been steady but unspectacular. As the CEO approaches retirement, investors and analysts speculate that the company will change to a more aggressive capital structure. Students must analyze the firm's current capital structure, explore three alternatives using debt finance, and determine the optimal debt-to-capital ratio.

Polar Sports, Inc.

by Wei Wang W. Carl Kester

Polar Sports, Inc. is a fashion skiwear manufacturing company in Littleton, Colorado. The company has a unique design for skiwear using a special synthetic material that improves insulation and durability. The ski apparel industry is highly competitive and the best way for companies to gain market share is by developing new fabrics and using innovative patterns. The firm generates over 80% of sales between September and January and relies on seasonal production to respond promptly to customer orders. During those months, the plant must rapidly increase production by hiring and training additional workers, often paying them overtime. The vice president of operations is concerned about the costs associated with seasonal production and presents a proposal to switch to level production. The change can reduce costs and improve efficiency but can also affect other aspects of company finance. Students must analyze potential cost savings and understand the financial risks involved before making a final recommendation. This case can be used in first-year MBA-level courses in finance or in advanced undergraduate finance courses.

Johannes Linden: Managing the Global Executive Committee

by Linda A. Hill Mark Rennella

Johannes Linden is the Director of the Washer and Dryer division of Fluss, a large Swiss appliance manufacturer. Soon after the company completes its revenue projections and bonus targets for the upcoming year, Linden shares some good news with his leadership team, the Global Executive Committee (GEC): an internal R&D effort to develop cheaper steel for the company's products has finished a year ahead of schedule. This will translate into a significant reduction in costs across the division. When Linden proposes readjusting revenue expectations and sales targets accordingly, he is surprised to find that the GEC does not agree with him. Among other issues, employee bonuses are involved. Linden, with a reputation for being open and knowledgeable yet sometimes intimidating, tries to convince the committee to come around to his way of thinking.

PV Technologies, Inc.: Were They Asleep at the Switch?

by Frank V. Cespedes Diane Badame

PV Technologies, Inc. is an industry-leading manufacturer of photovoltaic inverters used to convert the direct current output of solar panels into alternating current for the commercial power grid. In conjunction with a request for proposal, the company's largest customer performs a routine evaluation and ranks PV Technologies third behind two key competitors. The director of sales and marketing must weigh the possible consequences of the report on the company's reputation while considering an appropriate response. Students must complete a quantitative analysis of four possible courses of action and make a recommendation.

Performance Management at Vitality Health Enterprises, Inc.

by Michael Beer John B. Bingham

Vitality Health Enterprises, a medium-sized firm that manufactures health and personal care products, has experienced six straight quarters of strong revenue growth. James Hoffman, the new Senior Vice President of Human Resources, fears that the chain of success is shifting the company's focus away from effective performance management. Recently, Vitality has been faced with increasing turnover among the company's talented research scientists that may be due to a performance management system that leaves top performing employees slighted by the practice of uniform ratings. In an effort to retain top employees, the company institutes a forced distribution model of performance rankings, moving from an absolute ranking system to a relative one. Hoffman and his performance management evaluation team must assess the practical and strategic effectiveness of the new system and present their findings and recommendations to the Board.

From Little Things Big Things Grow: The Clontarf Foundation Program for Aboriginal Boys (B)

by F. Warren Mcfarlan Michael R. Vitale

This case focuses on the growth of an innovative non-profit institution that motivates aboriginal children to attend school by harnessing their love of football.

Mobilizing an Online Business

by Peter A. Coles Benjamin Edelman

Entrepreneurs starting online businesses often need to mobilize multiple sets of users or customers, each of whom hesitates to participate unless others join also. This case presents several challenges with similar structure.

Showing 5,876 through 5,900 of 15,902 results


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