NT Logistics Case: Project Report Your Project Report should contain at a minimum the following topics and information: Cover Page The cover should include at a minimum: Title of the report List of members of the team Date of the Final Submission Disclaimer Page A disclaimer is a statement that the company or organization hopes will limit its liability for the product or service it provides. The disclaimer statement is fairly typical in consulting projects, and if nothing else reflects the seriousness of writing at a professional level. There is often a great deal at stake, so make sure that your writing and research processes mirror this seriousness. For this assignment, use the following disclaimer statement: DISCLAIMER This material is based upon work supported by the University of North Texas. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the University of North Texas, its employees, administration, or students. Table of Contents A table of contents serves three purposes. Obviously, it helps readers who do not want to read the whole report but want to easily locate particular parts of it. In addition, it assists readers who want an overview of the report’s scope and contents before they begin reading it in its entirety. Also, the table of contents serves as a tool for writers of the report by outlining specific aspects that need to be addressed. Normally, you would create the table of contents by outlining section titles and headings. You would then make sure that the table of contents reflects the organization of the report and enables your readers to easily locate specific pieces of information and the manner in which the information is organized and presented. Executive Summary An executive summary is designed primarily to serve the person who, at least initially, does not intend to read the entire report. It usually states the main points of each section and emphasizes results, conclusions, and recommendations, usually in around 2-3 pages. Executive summaries are ideally suited to the needs of readers who are seeking advice about a decision or a course of action. These summaries are called executive summaries because some decision-makers rely wholly upon their advisors to read and evaluate the rest of the report. For the purposes of this project, the executive summary should be no more than three pages, and should concentrate on listing the tasks performed by the team. This would involve summarizing problem/opportunity areas, methodology, conclusions, and recommendations. It’s not a bad idea to develop an executive summary during the early stages of your team’s writing process, as this document can help to provide your team some focus. Keep in mind, however, that this will also be a document that will need to be revised to properly reflect your report. Team Contact Information/BioSketches This section should include basic contact information about each team member. Items that should also be included: name, picture, email address, biosketch (100-200 words). Introduction The introduction allows your readers to preview the nature of the project you have undertaken for your client. Essentially, the introduction forecasts the basic organization of the report. Some writers and readers insist that the following questions should always be addressed and/or considered in the introduction to the report: What is the problem or the opportunity? Be specific. Whenever you can, quantify. Describe the problem or opportunity in monetary terms. Be positive. In other words, don’t say that a problem is slowing down production; say that it is costing $4,500 a day in lost productivity. What is the purpose of the proposal? Even though it might seem obvious to you, the purpose of the proposal is to describe a problem or opportunity and propose a course of action. Be specific in explaining what you want to do. What is the background of the problem or the opportunity? In answering this question, you probably will not be telling your readers anything they don’t already know. Your goal here is to show them that you understand the problem or opportunity, as well as the relationships or events that will affect the problem and its solution. What are your sources of information? Review the relevant literature, including internal reports, memos, external public articles, or even books, so that your readers will understand the context of your work. Clients are looking to you for sound advice. If your research is sloppy, incomplete, and rather nominal (for example, you checked out a few websites that the client could do on his or her own free time), your report will be less convincing, and your ethos as a provider of sound advice will be suspect. The best reports always contain complete and thorough research--and complete and thorough research cannot be completed in the waning moments of the semester. What is the scope of your proposal? If appropriate, indicate what you are proposing to do as well as what you are not proposing to do. What is the organization of the proposal? Indicate the organizational pattern you will use in the proposal. What are the key terms that will be used in the proposal? If you will use any new, specialized, or unusual terms, the introduction is an appropriate place to define them. Background Because not all clients will necessarily be competent in your field, the background section needs to clearly articulate the context behind your research. The Background Sections require you to conduct comprehensive research. Your suggestions need to be based on the research that your team has conducted, and this research needs to be demonstrated to your client. Again, your ethos as a sound provider of business advice is largely based on the research that supports your findings and ideas. Normally all of the categories of background information listed in the report outline can be fully developed. The order of these sections can be varied if such an alteration makes sense. Open the “background” sequence with a major heading, BACKGROUND, followed by a brief introduction that explains how the background sections help to key frames of reference for your analysis. Clearly organize each of the sections. Open each section with an introductory preview of the material. Even more importantly, end each section with a conclusion that summarizes and explains to the client what the information is designed to demonstrate. Relate and unify all of the sections so that it reads as a coherent whole. Use good transitions between sections, and conclude with a section in which you pull together and evaluate the background. Refer to resources in the actual text itself. For example: “In their Fourteen Largest Businesses in Worthington, the Worthington area Chamber of Commerce…” This allows the reader to see the resources, and the research, without taking his or her attention away from the paper. The Background section is an important phase in researching and coming to understand your client, the firm, and the situation and environment in which they operate. It is an important part in the structure of your final paper. Please remember that the Background section is not the place to analyze problems and opportunities. These sections provide the background and frame of reference for the analysis of the problems. The Business and Market Environment This section describes the business and market climate of the local community and/or region. The focus here should be on the business and economic conditions that affect the firm’s operation. For instance, a craft shop or a bed-and-breakfast would tie into the larger picture of the area’s tourism; a concrete supplier would be affected by trends in new houses and commercial building starts. There should also be consideration of the state, national, and global prospects and trends that could affect the local and regional business climate and / or your client’s business prospects. Your client’s firm is, in varying degrees, part of these micro and macro environments. Seeing the firm in these contexts can be crucial in perceiving and understanding its problem and prospects. This is yet another section where thoughtful, careful, and thorough research is important. Your client will be extremely impressed with a demonstrated understanding of the local, regional, and global market conditions that impact his or her business. Overgeneral statements ("the economy is in a recession at the moment") provide nothing new to the client, and cast a shadow of doubt about the amount of insight and advice your team can provide. Again, this is not the place to analyze or discuss any of the firm’s problems or prospects. Defining the Team’s Tasks First, this section should clearly describe the tasks that the team has agreed to carry out and explain how the team and client chose those tasks. Normally, these tasks can be identified concisely. This section should also identify any tasks that the team originally agreed to perform but which, for whatever reason, was unable to complete. The team must clearly point out how a general task breaks down into component tasks. By the same token, if a team is presented with only one general task, such as “Crafting a Business Plan”, they will need to break that general assignment into component tasks. The goal is to break down each task into its smallest components. Secondly, this section is pivotal because it serves as a preview for the following section, in which you explain how you actually carried out each of the tasks. Write about your team’s tasks in the past tense, as if the project and the tasks are already completed. Problem, Methodology, Conclusions, and Recommendations This is a rather lengthy section that is organized around the team’s basic tasks. Describe the current situation (in effect, the “problem and /or opportunity”) and the needs / opportunities it creates. Narrate and explain the procedure the team followed in addressing the needs created by the market situation. Draw conclusions and make recommendations. Provide analysis of the issues. Give each issue a descriptive heading. Under each heading detail the particular issue. Offer in-depth analysis of the issue. Include alternatives, possible solutions and recommendations for each issue. Use researched data and statistics. Create a list of recommendations. Gather all of the recommendations from the analysis sections into one section. List each recommendation in a concise, easy-to-understand manner. For example, “Partner with local vegetarian restaurants to serve vegetarian breakfast and lunch meals in the school once a month” is a possible recommendation. Important Note: The organization of this section should be marked by clear headings and subheadings. Also, this is a good time to reflect back on the research that your team conducted. Your team's ideas should not appear as if they developed out of "thin air." Use sentences that point your reader back to the research that your team conducted. Summary Conclusion This final section pulls the report together, offers some words of assurance to the client, and states the team’s (we hope) pleasure in having undertaken this task. In pulling the report together, carefully summarize your findings and what you see as the prospects for your client’s business. Bibliography “Bibliography” or “Works Cited” – call this section what you want. Whatever the case, you must list all resources that you used for this report. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep track of all the sources that your team used in the report. Furthermore, in the text of the report you must cite your sources whenever you use ideas or data generated by someone else. You must cite these sources, even if you do not quote from them directly. When you do borrow exact wording, including key phrases, you must use quotation marks. Appendices Depending on the nature of a team’s tasks, appendices will be more or less useful to the client. Among the kinds of material which might be included would be complete statistical readouts, copies of surveys and questionnaires, reprints of helpful articles, or excerpts from book length resources, brochures, copies of letters, etc. The appendix should reflect the amount of research that the team put into the project. Be careful that you don't overdo it, though. If your appendix is too voluminous, you risk the chance that your client will simply refuse to wade through it to seek out important information. Make sure that Appendix Materials are also referenced in the text of the report. Formatting Up to 5 points will be deducted for not complying to formatting requirements. Margins: 1 inch on all edges Spacing: Single spacing for all narrative text Headings: Position, font style, and format should follow a consistent style with the use of a numeric outline hierarchy. Footer/Page Numbers: 0.5 inches from the bottom edge, right justify the page number Font Style and Size: Use Times Roman 11- or 12-point for narrative paragraphs. Use no smaller than Times Roman 9-point for table of contents, chart labels, figures, tables, and exhibits. Tables and Figures: Each table or figure should have a descriptive title, bold, and no larger than the narrative font size. The title of the table or figure should start with “Table” or “Figure”, and numbered sequentially. When referring to the table or figure in the text, they should be referred to as Table # or Figure #. References/Citations: Use MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association).