written case 2

Executive briefs are written in a style that is quite different from academic term papers. By far the most significant difference is that executive briefs must be self-contained. That is, the reader should never be forced to interrupt his/her reading of the paper. If the reader must refer to an attached appendix to follow (or completely understand) your executive brief, then the paper is not self-contained. In many cases you will include one or more spreadsheets as appendices. Generally, only summary data from these spreadsheets will be of immediate interest to the CEO. These summary data should be presented as exhibits in the body of the paper. Exhibits should generally be either short tables or graphs and should indicate the source of the data (appendix or external source). The purpose of technical appendices is to provide the detail necessary to validate the important results presented in your brief. Thus, from the reader’s viewpoint, the appendices are reference material (optional). If you are having difficulty visualizing what is meant by self-contained, ask yourself this question. Would the development and the important results and conclusions of my analysis be completely understandable to a high-level executive if the appendices were removed? Although the appendices may, or may not, be examined by the executive reading your report, they are very important for the purpose of validating your analysis. The CEO will usually have his or her technical staff go over your analysis in detail. It is very important that the models contained in your spreadsheets be well documented. Use variable names wherever possible. For example, SALES IN YEAR 1 is much more understandable than B3. Have sufficient notes in the body of each appendix to explain the assumptions and the calculations contained therein. What is being done in this spreadsheet? What should the reader be told to help understand the model developed here? Spreadsheet analysis is an essential part of this course. You are always expected to use sensitivity and/or scenario analysis to test the robustness of your results to variations in the critical assumptions underlying your analysis.