Theoretical and Empirically Based Explanations Related to Strategies

In this document we present an example of the structure, content, and sources of information for the assignment. In
addition, we mention the typical mistakes done by the students to prevent this from happening again. It is up to
each student to present his or her own design and choices according to the particular facts of their cases and the
approach they decide to link theory and information (e.g. Introduction, Strategic Context, Company Initiative, Critical
Success Factors and Conclusions). This structure could not be applicable in some cases.
Although the assignment requires the use of very numerous theoretical references in the main body of the
text and in the list of references, the student does not have to occupy much space explaining them. The crucial
point is to include them at relevant places of the text, reference them, explain them very briefly (if necessary)
and apply them correctly to make sense and interpret the information of the cases. An exception to that is the
part related to CSF in which we expect a balance between theoretical and empirically based explanations. As IS
cut across different functional areas, relevant theories from other modules are also welcome but only as minor
complements to the main ones of the module. The references in the assignment must be from English language
Content (350 words approx.) Sources of information
• Focus of the assignment
• Background information of the firm
o Sector
o Products/Services
o Brief history of the company
o Number of employees
o Locations
o Main business partners
o Market positioning/share
• Main strategic objective/need for the IS
• Specific IS initiative and implementation year
• Brief description of sections of the assignment
• Etc.
• Website of the company
• Annual reports
• Customer success stories of the IS
supplier (in the website of the IS
• Etc.
Strategic Context
Content (700 words approx.) Sources of information
Include multiple academic references related to
strategy, e.g. Fahey and Narayanan (1986), Luftman
(2003), Porter (2001, 2008), Hamal and Prahald (1993),
Timmers (2001) and so on. Theories from other
modules are also welcome but just as a minor
complement to strategy related theories.
Examples of some aspects to discuss/explain are:
• PESTEL framework
• 5-forces of competitive position
• Generic strategies
• Value chain analysis
• Resource-based view of strategy
• Strategic scenarios
• Etc.
• Annual reports
• Customer success stories of the IS
supplier (in the website of the IS
• Industry/government reports
• Reports of analysts
• Any industrial sector information
• Brochures of the applications
• Etc.
Newcastle University
Example 1: … numerous suppliers for this industry are
located in emergent economies, also the internet has
enabled companies to transact world-wide (PESTEL)…
big retailers have bargaining power over small
suppliers, above all with more suppliers and having the
opportunity to interact electronically (5-forces) … this
retailer saw all this as an opportunity to reduce costs
further (generic strategy) … retailers can reduce costs
by streamlining the supply-side activities, for example
in the cost of products and inventory operations. They
benchmarked those costs against the best indicators in
the industry and… (value chain analysis)
Example 2: … the monopoly came to an end in the
country to allow more telco service providers to enter
to the market (PESTEL) … this increased the bargaining
power of customers (5-forces) … the company was in
the need to apply service differentiation to build loyalty
with its current customers (generic strategy) … the
company realized that they could increase the service
experience by personalizing it and making it faster.
They compared their processes with the best practices
in the sector and… (value chain analysis)
Company Initiative
Content (1300 words approx.) Sources of information
Include multiple academic references depending on
the type of IS applications you will write about (i.e.
ERP, e-CRM, e-SCM, and/or e-Commerce). You could
start by reading the bibliography recommended in the
corresponding chapter of the core book (e.g. about e-Commerce in the chapter about that). Theories from
other modules are also welcome but just as minor
complements to the IS related theories.
The section must include the following:
• Decision of the company
• Explanation of IS-strategy alignment
• Brand, if the applications were bought or
• Role of the implementers
• Description of the business process
• Include internal and external links in the
business process with external parties, if
• Figures or illustrations to support the
explanation of business processes
• Insertion of explanations of the benefits of the
IS in different parts of the description of
business processes, mostly, to better
understand the whole
• Etc.
Example 1: … the big retailer implemented an internet
Supply Chain Management system and pushed small
suppliers to connect their systems to it in order to
receive products only when they were needed and save
• Customer success stories of the IS
supplier (in the website of the IS
• Brochures and videos of the
• Customer testimonials
• Website of the company
• Annual reports
• Any Internet information of the stories
(e.g. news, blogs, specialized websites,
• Reports of analysts
• Use the system yourself, if it available
in the website of the company
• Etc.
Newcastle University
costs in physical space and manipulation in the
warehouse (e.g. D’Avanzo et al 2003, Arun et al 2006) …
the Supply Management system was SAP, part of its
suite a, which was implemented by company b … the
detail of the business process that were automated was
[x, with this data the y feature does z] … note that z
generates just-in-time deliveries which reduces the
costs [in this way and this way] (Taiichi 1988)… another
part of the business processes works [like that]… which
creates [another benefit] because of… , etc.
Example 2: … the telco company decided to implement
a Customer Relationship Management system in order
to increase customer loyalty by giving customers
multiple service options as well as prompter and better
services (e.g. Chen and Popovich 2011, Saarijarvi et al
2013)… the Customer Relationship Management
system was Oracle, part of the suite a, which was
implemented by company b … the detail of the business
processes that were automated was [x, with this data
the y feature does z] … note that z allows personalized
responses which increase loyalty (Izogo 2017)… another
part of the business processes works [like that]… which
creates [this benefit] because of…, etc.
Critical Success Factors
Content (1200 words approx.) Sources of information
Include multiple academic references related to critical
success factors and that are relevant for your specific
case study. You could start by reading the bibliography
recommended in the last lecture slides of the session
on CSF (session 18). For example, Huang et al (2021),
Seht et al (2015), Leyh and Thomschke (2015), Sanad
et al (2010) and Nah et al (2001). Theories from other
modules are also welcome but just as minor
complements to the CSF related theories.
The section must include the following for each CSF:
• Selection of CSF
• Aspects that make the selected CSF especially
relevant for your case
• Explanation of those aspects
• Main stages of the IS life cycle in which the
CSF are present
• Stages that are finally affected
• Measures to address well the CSF
• Case specific and/or hypothetical examples to
illustrate any of your points
A general example: The inter-departmental integration
is a vital CSF for most [the type of system o the case]
applications (references)… for example, the work of
agents, technicians and warehouse personnel depends
on each other in exemplify a situation connected to the case… this can create conflicts in
terms of roles and responsibilities (references)… this
CSF would be determinant for the proper use of the
systems and the outcomes of customer satisfaction
• Any of the sources previously
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(references)… for example, [give another hypothetical
example related to the case]… to address the CSF,
companies could create multi-departmental teams to
accomplish the analysis and design of the IS in order to
explain the benefit…. This could be done
with the support of expert consultants as facilitators
(references), and the aid of industrial benchmarks
(references) with the aim of… Finally, managers could
compensate employees based on group achievements
in terms of customer satisfaction (references)…
Content (450 words approx.) Sources of information
Start by briefly summarizing in a paragraph all what you
did before. Then add critical comments and
explanations about a few interesting aspects. These
aspects must be backed by theoretical and/or empirical
references. Examples:
• The system is working properly because …
• The system is not working properly because …
• The firm got an increase in sales of …
• The firm doubled customer retention …
• There were not significant changes in
customer retention …
• The system is only working partially because …
• How IS could be part of the future of the
• The next stage of the project would
implement the modules a, b and c
• The next stage of the project would be to
expand the functionality of the modules x, y, z
• The next stage of the project would be to
deploy the system to other branches of the
company …
• Comparison with what competitors have been
doing in the same functional areas/business
processes …
• Competitors are now trying to copy …
• The work of the system is not easy to copy
because competitors would need …
• Competitors could easily copy the work of the
system because …
• Lessons learned …
• Etc.
• Annual reports
• Website of the company
• Customer success stories of IS supplier
(in the website of the IS supplier)
• Customer testimonials
• Any Internet information of the stories
(e.g. news, blogs and specialized
• Reports of analysts
• Websites and information about
• Etc.
Newcastle University
The table below shows some specific examples of sources of information. Again, the students could opt to use
different sources:
Source Type Examples
Customer success stories
of IS suppliers (in the
websites of the IS
suppliers) and
See the Ariba’s, Oracle’s and SAP’s book I’ll post on Canvas (success stories)
Try also with other software manufacturers such as NetSuite, Salesforce PeopleSoft,
Siebel, JD Edwards, MS Dynamics, Infor, Epicor, Lawson, SugarCRM, Amadeus, Sabre,
HubSpot and so on.
And other IT service providers like IBM, HP, Fujitsu, CSC, Accenture, NTT Data
Corporation, NEC, etc.
Any Internet information
of the stories (e.g. news,
blogs and specialized
For example, Google ‘Alpha natural resources Oracle’ or ‘Marriot international Oracle’.
I’ll explain it in the class
Brochure of the products.
Note, the assignment is
about business
applications (ERP, e-CRM,
e-SCM and/or e-Commerce), so take care
when you choose your
Industrial Sector
Website of the company
and annual reports
It’s better if you see several annual reports from a couple of years before the e-business initiative until the one of last year
reports, reports of
analysts, etc.
Newcastle University
Students should take into consideration all the aspects explained in the document Assignment – Instructions as well
as in this document. However, according to experience students typically make mistakes in the following points:
• No use of enough academic literature on IS and strategy, including the section on the IS initiative.
• Use of it but not included in the list of references.
• Too many irrelevant definitions (e.g. what IS is).
• Irrelevant use of academic references (e.g. to support what IS is).
• Too much explanation of theory instead of applying it (the section on CSF is relatively more theoretically based).
• Reference more than twice Laudon and Laudon in the main body of the text.
• Reference the lecture slides or seminars in the main body of the text.
• Not including a very brief 1-paragraph introduction in the sections on strategy, the IS initiative and CSF.
• Not specifying the year(s) of the implementation of the initiative in the Introduction section.
• Not follow in a disciplined way the analytical path of strategy based on PESTEL/5-forces/generic strategies/value
chain in which one concept informs the next in a pre-determined order (unless you use the resource-based view of
• Following the sequence PESTEL/5-forces/generic strategies/value chain but applying some parts of it that then are
not used in the sequence. For example, to apply the P, E and L of the PESTEL analysis but then not use the P in the
rest of the sequence (for example in the 5-forces). Sometimes there is no connection between the macro and
micro analyses, and then with the generic strategy.
• In connection to the previous points, some students claim that a company uses more than 1 generic strategy but
without any proper justification for this particular situation and without any logical flow in the whole section.
• Instead of following all the logical/explanative sequence stated in the previous points, just to summarize
everything in the form of a SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis cannot be used in the assignment.
• Too simplistic value chain analysis with no benchmarks, numerical indicators or quotations that could indicate
what area or processes are doing poorly or could be improved with the support of new IS.
• The previous point also applies when applying a resource-based view of strategy. It is fine to explain the general
story of the company in terms of its core competencies, but it also must include some evidence of where exactly in
the company they could improve processes and performance.
• Mix the PESTEL/5-forces/generic strategies/value chain analytical sequence with the resource-based view of
strategy without a valid and well elaborated justification.
• RBV: Lack a comprehensive explanation of how the organization of different resources in the supply chain create
competitive advantages.
• Regarding the previous point, sometimes students just list some aspects that the company does (e.g. buys cheap
raw material or delivers good services) but don’t really explain why the company excels on those activities.
• RBV: Not clear how the company nurtures its core competencies.
• RBV: No comments on what competitors do in the same area or how they tend to compete.
• RBV: Not clear why the competitive advantages are rare or difficult to imitate/substitute.
• RBV: No evidence-based explanation of where exactly in the supply chain there are needs or opportunities that
can be addressed by IS.
• Include the IS solution in the strategic part. The strategic part must be pure business strategy. The link with the
solution and the description of the solution normally comes in a posterior section.
• Little or no description of the business processes, which in many cases is due to the not reading of the brochures
of the solutions. The reading of the brochures of the systems is vital.
• Instead of describing business processes, there is too much explanation of the benefits of the systems.
Doublecheck in your proofreading that the section on the initiative does not seem a marketing document.
• It is necessary to include the benefits of the systems but include the explanation of most of them in the right place
of the text according to the progress of your description of the business processes. In this way we will know from
where the benefits come from.
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• In relation to business processes, some students that choose an e-commerce only describe the front-end of the
system (e.g. the front-end of an e-store) but do not connect it with a detailed explanation of the internal business
processes (e.g. logistics and the automation of the supply side of the business).
• In connection with the previous points, be very sure that your case study is highly rich in business processes if you
chose an e-commerce application, which could be very difficult.
• The same previous comments apply in general for dot coms. They can create serious problems for your assignment
in terms of business processes. It could be better not to work with them because you probably will not find
documentation related to their internal processes.
• Poor justifications on why the chosen CSF are especially relevant to the case.
• Not detailed explanations about how the CSF are present and finally affect specific stages of the IS life cycle.
• Lack of examples/illustrations, related to the case (at least hypothetical ones), of the theoretical explanations in
the section on CSF. This section is mainly theoretical but must be a practical component.
• Not well elaborated or unconnected measures to address the CSF.
• Not including a thin initial paragraph in the conclusions that summarizes the main findings and outcomes of the
different sections.
• Unsupported conclusions, e.g. just personal opinions, which in many cases are too simplistic and not academic.
• The conclusions sometimes seem supported, but they are not. For example, to directly attribute the increase in
sales in the company to a new system without acknowledging/analyzing other factors that could have contributed
to it.
• Although not always necessary, most assignments need general comments, in the conclusions, about what
competitors are doing in the same area in order to appreciate the sustainability of any competitive advantage
created by the new systems.
• Not being critical/analytical at any part of the assignment (just reporting a series of things).
• Choose a technology or a business intelligence system instead of transactional applications (they are not about
business processes). The assignment is about transactional applications, i.e. ERP, e-SCM, e-CRM and/or e-Commerce systems.
• In relation to the previous point, remember not to choose an initiative based on Oracle Exadata, Oracle Exalitics,
SAP Hana, IBM Cognos or similar ones.
• Inclusion of tables, graphs and/or illustrations that are not explained.
• Not enough proofreading.
• Some level of plagiarism. Remember, the systems that are available on the internet to check plagiarism are not
good at all in comparison with Turnitin.

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