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BUSINESS REPORT TOPICS

By Andrew Coleman,2014-08-19 12:46
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BUSINESS REPORT TOPICS

    BUSINESS REPORT TOPICS

    If you have been assigned a business report, you can choose an appropriate topic from the

    list provided in this section of our site. Topics are grouped in categories related to major

    courses of study: accounting, finance, human resources, marketing, information systems,

    management, and general business/education/campus issues. You can gather information

    for reports on many of these topics by using InfoTrac and by using the Web generally. All

    the topics are appropriate for business proposals, business plans, and formal reports.

    Follow the formats and development plans provided in Guffey’s Business Communication:

    Process and Product or Guffey’s Essentials of Business Communication. Consult your instructor

    about the length, format, and emphasis of your report.

To access a page devoted to a specific category of report topics, click the relevant link below.

BUSINESS REPORT TOPICS

Accounting

    1. After the corporate scandals of the early 2000s, Congress passed legislation that it hoped

    would renew faith in the accounting profession. Study the laws that were passed and examine

    the effects of those laws. Why were they passed? How has the accounting profession changed

    as a result of the laws? What conclusions can you draw from your findings? What

    recommendations can you make to accounting educators regarding programs that train

    accountants?

2. “Campus Castoffs” is a fund-raising program that has worked in a number of college

    campuses. It involves gathering clothes, computers, furniture, and other unwanted items prior

    to graduation. On some campuses as much as 40 tons of waste have been turned into large

    cash donations. Assume that you are part of a campus team investigating the possibility of a

    “Trash to Treasure” sale in May. Analyze the financial aspects of gathering castoffs,

    organizing a sale, pricing the goods, and keeping track of the income that will become a gift

    to your campus student organization or to a charity your team names.

    3. You have started a bookkeeping/accounting service, and you would like to offer your services

    to Company X (a local business of your choice). You are trained to do some or all of the

    following: income tax preparation and planning; auditing and financial reporting; retirement,

    estate, and financial planning; computer consulting, system design, installation, and staff

    training; business consulting; recordkeeping and banking. You will even prepare business

    plans for start-up companies. Write a proposal that will get you the business of Company X.

    4. Assume you are working for a company that is considering opening a business in another

    country. Analyze possible accounting problems the company might encounter and offer

    possible solutions for overcoming these problems.

    5. Your company's managers have been thinking about purchasing software that will help it

    track revenue transactions involving payouts to several parties. Find out what kind of

    software is available, develop criteria for evaluating the options you find, and offer your

    managers recommendations. In other words, is it worth it to purchase this type of software at

    all? If so, which is the best choice?

    6. Analyze the effects recent congressional tax laws will have on either businesses or the

    general population. What will be the advantages and/or disadvantages of these laws? What

    recommendations can you offer to your chosen audience to take advantage of these changes?

    Or, what must your audience do to avoid being negatively affected by these changes?

    7. Your company has decided to revise this year's annual corporate report to shareholders.

    Choose two or three recent annual shareholders' reports and analyze them in terms of their

    audience, purpose, content, and design. Then, offer specific recommendations for revision.

    8. As the leader of your accounting department's internship program, you have been asked to

    assess the top three or four internships in your area. Since this report is for students, you'll

    need to consider what criteria they think are important for an internship. If you live in an area

    with a “big four” firm, you might also want to consider including it for comparison. If you

    believe it's appropriate, offer recommendations.

    9. You have been asked by a new Web start-up company to help them to decide the best form of

    business organization. This new enterprise involves two married women. Should they

    incorporate, consider a limited liability arrangement, or a partnership? What effect would

    each have on their income taxes? Advise them on the best choice, given their circumstances.

    10. Because your supervisor knows you are taking college-level accounting classes, she has come

    to you for information about the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). She wants

    to know more about the FASB, including its history, mission, structure, and role in the

    accounting profession. Conduct research to find answers to these questions. Include

    information about the FASB’s current activities and its work in the area of global accounting

    standards.

Finance

    1. Does a relationship exist between success in big-time sports and the amount of alumni

    donations to a college? Does success in big-time sports positively affect the quality of

    applicants to a college? Assume that the athletic department of College X claims that if it is

    granted significant financial support, it will produce successful teams. In turn, those

    successful athletic teams will pull in larger alumni contributions and will also attract higher-

    quality students. As a research consultant, you have been asked to study the issue. Do any

    studies exist that show the effects of successful teams? Based on your findings, make a

    recommendation to the administration of College X regarding the funding request from its

    athletic department.

    2. A frequent topic in business is the issue of CEO compensation. Critics complain that CEO

    salaries have become exorbitant and should be capped. Is it unethical for executive salaries to

    exceed, let’s say, 24 times the average wage of employees? Should executive pay be tied to

    an organization’s profits? Select a large public company for which salary data are available.

    As a member of a stockholder watchdog group, you have been asked to examine its executive

    salaries and report to the group, which thinks salaries are excessive. What conclusions would

    you draw, and what recommendations would you make to stockholders?

    3. In a meeting, managers and supervisors for the bank where you work expressed concerns

    about employees' customer-service skills. Moreover, they wonder whether a

    specific set of procedures should be established especially for new employees.

    They have asked you to investigate the customer service practices at other local

    banks to determine what skills should be emphasized and what procedures if any

    should be adopted.

    4. Your business is considering offering child-care and/or elder-care benefits to its employees.

    Assess the financial pros and cons of either type of benefit, and offer recommendations.

    5. You work for a corporation whose industry is in the midst of a massive consolidation. Your

    corporation has recently been named as a probable target for a takeover. How should

    management prepare for this possibility? Should it bide its time and wait for a potential buyer?

    Or, should it become more aggressive by making additional acquisitions?

    6. Recently, determining the financial worth of a company has become problematic. Should the

    value of a company be determined by its potential sale price in the short term? Or should a

    company's value be determined by more traditional means, such as its business model, the

    value it's creating, and its management's maturity and ability to grow as the business evolves?

    Evaluate the pros and cons of these choices and offer recommendations.

    7. Many banks are facing increasing competition from online services and cellular phone

    companies. These new companies are offering consumers and merchants an alternative to

    processing customer-purchase payments, for which banks traditionally have charged a fee.

    Investigate how this trend will affect traditional banking practices in the future. How will

    banks cope with these changes and retain customers?

    8. At your last school-sponsored investment club meeting, many were enthusiastic about online

    trading. You aren't so sure. As a result, you decide to evaluate the benefits and possible costs

    of online trading in order to present to your investment club an objective assessment of the

    idea.

    9. Your investment club has decided it will go ahead with its decision to trade online. You are

    part of a team that must recommend which online trading site is the best one for your club. To

    do so, your team must first establish criteria for evaluating possible sites, and then use these

    criteria for recommending the best site. Compare Web sites of existing online brokers.

    10. Your job is to oversee the portfolio of stocks and bonds your company maintains for

    investment purposes. After much consideration, you believe it is time for your company,

    which is currently private, to “go public.” Offering shares of stock to the public would

    provide an excellent way to raise capital, which could then be invested in research and

    development. Conduct research to learn what it takes for a company to make an initial public

    offering (IPO) of stock. What steps must be followed? How would your company start the

    process? What legal matters must be considered? How is initial stock price determined? How

    long will it take? Present your findings and recommendation to company owners.

Human Resources

    1. As a newly hired research assistant in the HR department of a large company, you

    have been asked to determine the best means of hiring and testing new employees.

    Consider what other companies similar to yours are doing, assess the positives and

    negatives of each, and offer recommendations to your department.

    2. After studying résumés and cover letters in your business communication class and

    after writing many of your own, you feel that you could help other people with their

    job-search documents. You would like to start a small company offering résumé-

    writing services. You will revise existing résumés or write entirely new ones. In

    addition, you will prepare dynamite cover letters and provide job-search and

    interviewing tips. But you will need funding to buy the appropriate equipment and get

    a Web site started. Write a proposal to a local bank asking for funding to begin this

    business. Be sure to look at Web sites already offering such services.

    3. Because of the tight job market and the difficulty of hiring qualified people, you

    realize that it’s important to sell your company to your own employees. Research has

    shown that respect and cooperation from coworkers and managers, compensation, and

    other rewards, help to retain good employees. What it boils down to is promoting

    your company from within. What are other companies doing to self-promote? Based

    on an analysis of what other companies are doing, offer recommendations to

    managers of your company

    .

    4. Because you feel you could be more productive working at home than in the office,

    you prepare a proposal that would allow you to telecommute. Because no one in your

    company has yet been allowed to telecommute, you decide to suggest a

    telecommuting pilot program. Naturally, guidelines, rules, and expectations will have

    to be established. Volunteer to help to develop them. Be sure to cite all the benefits to

    the employer. Numerous online articles are available to provide ammunition. Prepare

    a schedule explaining exactly what days you would work at home. Instead of

    discussing staffing, discuss your work space, explaining what you have done to make

    telecommuting succeed. Instead of discussing budget, you might include a section on

    costs. If you need the company to provide you with equipment, spell it out. Be aware,

    though, that your proposal is likely to be more successful if you can do your at-home

    work without costing the company much.

    5. Your company’s managers haven’t been satisfied lately with the quality of some new

    employees. They believe that the hiring process may be the reason, and they’ve

    asked the HR department to recommend a set of criteria for cover letters and résumés.

    You have been chosen for the job. You will accomplish this through interviews with

    and surveys of recruiters from companies similar to yours.

    6. Like you, many students aren’t sure what recruiters look for in cover letters and

    résumés. Additionally, how are Web-based and e-mail versions of these documents

    different from hard-copy versions? Is a résumé that can be scanned the same as a

    Web-based version? Is it wise to send your résumé as an attachment? Your job is to

    sort through the confusion and present a report that examines these issues and gives

     your fellow students some advice about what to do.

    7. While it’s not a topic many employees feel comfortable discussing, the issue of drug

    and alcohol abuse needs to be addressed, according to the manager of your human

    resources department. She has chosen you to assess what other companies are doing

    about employees suffering from drug or alcohol abuse. She wants to know what

    approaches these companies are taking and what programs they offer. She also wants

    you to recommend a reasonable policy.

8. The business for which you work has an outdated code of ethics in its policy manual.

    Because of the ever-changing nature of businesses today and growing diversity in the

    workforce, you have been asked to help to update the company’s code of ethics. To

    do this, you consider analyzing other companies’ codes of ethics to determine what

    your policy should include—and what it shouldn’t. Based on your analysis, you will

    offer recommendations to your management team.

9. Because statistics show that the U.S. population is aging (i.e., baby boomers are

    nearing retirement), you have been asked to review retirement packages in companies

    similar to yours. Should your company be aware of any trends? Are future retirees

    going to demand more? Your goal is to determine what general retirement policies

    your company should adopt.

    10. Like any good new employee, you read your company’s employee handbook

    carefully and conscientiously. After having worked for the company for six months,

    though, you discover numerous discrepancies between the handbook’s

    rules/regulations and what actually takes place on the job. Additionally, the

    handbook is woefully outdated. You politely bring this to your manager’s attention,

    and he agrees. In fact, he decides that you should investigate other companies’

    handbooks to determine what changes should be made.

11. Your boss can’t understand why so many ex-employees have filed unemployment

    claims against the company lately. He asks you, the HR manager, to develop a

    procedure for reprimanding and, yes, firing employees. You decide to investigate

    other companies’ procedures to determine what your company should do.

12. Is a lack of properly trained and qualified employees a problem in your area? If so,

    what are businesses doing to attract and keep prospective employees? After you’ve

    analyzed the major trends, take the positions of a personnel manager who must report

    on them and recommend strategies.

13. Many Web-based employment sites have sprung up on the Internet. At first, your

    boss was not convinced that using these sites would benefit the company. She’s

    asked you to write a report that not only convinces her that these sites would be

    beneficial, but also recommends the best site(s) for your company to find potential

    new employees.

    14. Prepare a business plan proposal for a seminar or training program that could be

    offered to companies or individuals. Consider the following seminar ideas: “Dress for

    Success,” “Team Building,” “Solving People Problems at Work,” “Making Every

    Message Count,” “Building Confidence with Grammar,” “Harness the Power of Your

    Computer,” “Communication Strategies, and “Contemporary Business Etiquette.”

    15. At a recent meeting, managers and supervisors for the bank where you work

    expressed concerns about employees' customer-service skills. Moreover, they wonder

    whether a specific set of procedures should be established especially for new

    employees. They have asked you to investigate the customer service practices at other

    local banks to determine what skills should be emphasized and what procedures if

    any should be adopted.

    16. Your business is considering offering child-care and/or elder-care benefits to its

    employees. Assess the financial pros and cons of either type of benefit, and offer

    recommendations.

    17. The management council at MegaTech is considering adding a diversity training

    program. You have been asked to prepare a report that evaluates three programs

    offering services on the Web. MegaTech is most interested in planning, designing,

    and implementing organization-wide diversity and gender equity (sexual harassment

    prevention) programs. What organizations offer services and how do they compare?

    Draw conclusions and make recommendations to MegaTech.

    18. From news stories, locate a company that you think might need a diversity training

    program. Then, investigate Web sites of diversity training services. Select one.

    Drawing on the information from that program, prepare a proposal to the target

    company. Use your imagination for some of the information. Your unsolicited

    proposal should describe the company’s problem and explain how your program can

    help reduce or solve the company’s diversity problems.

    19. The CEO of the large organization where you are a manager has heard that several of

    your competitors have installed electronic auditing procedures to monitor the

    computer use of employees. The CEO asks you, as manager of human resources, to

    investigate this trend. Why are other companies doing this? Should your organization

    do likewise? Will employees consider this an invasion of their privacy? What would

    be the advantages and disadvantages to instituting an employee monitoring system?

    Based on your discussion, what conclusions could be drawn? Make recommendations

    to the CEO. Use your imagination to fill in details about your organization.

    20. You have the opportunity to greet current and potential clients as they walk in for

    appointments each day. The majority of your clients are business professionals and

    look the part. Because your company is involved in software development,

    atmosphere and dress code are more relaxed. In fact, some of the employees look

    like downright slobs! You strongly believe that your company should present a more professional appearance, and you would like to see a dress code implemented. You realize that many employees will not like this idea initially. At a general staff meeting, prove to them that the results will be well worth the effort.

    Marketing

    1. Trends in customer service are changing. Many corporations are making personalized customer service an important part of their image. As a marketing intern for a well-known national chain, you have been asked to evaluate these trends. What do customers today expect? How are other national chains capitalizing on these trends? In addition to evaluating the trends, offer recommendations to the company.

    2. Gap is the largest specialty-apparel retailer in the United States. Fighting a “sweatshop”

    image, Gap studied the working conditions in the hundreds of factories seeking to win Gap contracts. Instead of being on the defensive, Gap reported that 90 percent of its suppliers failed to meet its initial evaluation. As an intern at Wal-Mart, you have been given an assignment to study Gap’s report and its strategy in deflecting criticism of working conditions. Wal-Mart suffered in the 1990s when its celebrity endorser, Kathie Lee Gifford, was criticized over working conditions in the foreign plants making her clothing line. Study Gap’s

    strategy, its reporting, and its policies regarding social responsibility. What are the advantages and disadvantages in terms of marketing? Would you recommend such a strategy for Wal-Mart?

    3. As an administrative assistant in the marketing division of a large company, you have been “volunteered” to take over travel arrangements for employees on site and in regional branches of the company. Every reservation requires many telephone calls and countless e-mails back and forth. You would like to use the Internet to access company profiles and schedule trips immediately. Your boss agrees with you, but the vice president doesn't like the idea of online travel reservations. Your boss gives you permission to do the research necessary to submit a report proving that online reservations can save the company time and money. Submit either a proposal or a report outlining the advantages and disadvantages of online travel reservations.

    4. Knowing you've just graduated from college with a degree in marketing, a family located in your hometown asks you to investigate the pros and cons of opening a business franchise. They want to know what the financial and legal implications would be. Of three locations of your choice, which is the best for a new McDonald's (or Dairy Queen, Subway, Blimpie, or franchise of your choice)?

    5. U.S. News & World Report states that more than 90 percent of the products advertised on

    children’s television are high in fat, sugar, or salt. As an intern at the Center for Science in the

    Public Interest, you have been asked to complete your own independent study of children’s programs. Your objective is to confirm or refute the contention that 90 percent of the food products advertised are not nutritious. Decide on the scope of your study. Do you want to limit your study to Saturday morning programs? Based on your findings, what conclusions can you draw? Do you want to relate your study to the huge increase in childhood obesity in this country and abroad? Make recommendations that are appropriate for a center devoted to public interest issues.

    6. What recent advertising campaign on a national level has been a failure? What campaigns

    have been tremendously successful? Select one or the other, analyze why the campaign failed

    or succeeded, and offer recommendations to other marketers.

    7. Are rebates successful? Your job, as the marketing director for a newly formed company, is

    to evaluate how successful rebates are. What are their advantages and disadvantages to both

    the company and the customer? Prepare a report to the CEO.

    8. Your company has a fairly large number of salespeople. However, management isn't satisfied

    with the way individual salespeople are being evaluated. One controversial method that has

    been used is to tape record sales transactions. Management finds this intriguing, but you're

    not sure. What other methods are used? Select companies similar to yours to determine what's

    being done. What are the pros and cons of each? Which one, in your view, is the best for your

    company?

    9. Sales have been slumping a bit at your small company, and the boss wants to determine

    whether the company's advertising is responsible. She wants you to evaluate your advertising

    campaign, but you're not sure where to begin. You decide it would be best to start by

    analyzing the approaches of companies similar to yours. What works, what doesn't? Are there

    trends that you're not aware of? Make recommendations to your boss.

    10. You have been asked to conduct a market study of your city (or another, if you choose) to

    determine the best location for a given business (your choice). The company requesting this

    study wants basic demographic information (e.g., population, income, age, traffic flow, etc.)

    to be used as the basis for your recommendation.

    11. A large chain where you work has decided to build its new store on a property in your city

    that is environmentally sensitive. Moreover, many in the neighborhood surrounding the

    property are firmly opposed to the new store. As marketing director, you must make this

    transition go smoothly for everyone involved. Your job is to map out an approach and offer

    specific recommendations.

    12. E-mail marketing is cheap and fast. But most consumers hate receiving “spam.” Your boss

    can't decide whether to use direct-mail advertising or e-mail messages to boost your

    company's sales. He asks you to assess the pros and cons of each from the standpoint of the

    customer and the company. He's particularly interested in the legal liabilities associated with

    each one. Ultimately, he wants you to decide which one is better.

    13. Because it has seen such a tremendous amount of growth in recent years, the company for

    which you work is faced with the following dilemma: should it establish an in-house

    advertising department or use an agency? This is all new to you, so you begin by

    investigating what other businesses in similar situations have done. What are the advantages

    and disadvantages of each? Which is the better choice for your company?

    14. Given the fact that a brand name can be worth almost half of a company's value (e.g., the

    Coke-Cola brand), the effective use of brands is extremely important. As Andrea Dunham of

    Unique Value International puts it, the reliability associated with a brand becomes “a

    repository of knowledge about the things that people are going to buy or use” (U. S. News &

    World Report, 9 October 2000). What are some do's and don'ts as far as brand maintenance

    goes? From a marketing standpoint, what should companies do to ensure that their brands are

    effective?

    15. Your small company has decided to begin advertising on the Web. You're concerned,

    however, so you decide to investigate the important similarities and differences between Web

    and print advertising in terms of content, design, and most importantly cost. Your task

    ultimately will be to develop specific criteria for each type of advertising and to decide when

    each is appropriate.

    16. You have been asked by a new Web start-up company to help it decide the best way to

    market its product. While advertising on the Web is certainly one option, the company's

    partners want to know about alternatives like the local newspaper, magazines, and even the

    local business-to-business directory. Certainly, cost is an issue; but the main concern is

    getting the best exposure for a reasonable price.

    17. You’ve learned that many companies are dedicated to the concept of social responsibility. For

    example, Home Depot’s employees build playgrounds in poor neighborhoods, and Tom’s of

    Maine allows employees to use 5 percent of their paid work time to do volunteer work for

    nonprofit organizations. You wonder if this type of philanthropy is an effective marketing

    tool. Do such projects generate more sales for the company? Do the increased revenues

    outweigh the costs? Conduct research to find locate other companies with similar programs.

    How does social responsibility benefit these companies?

Information Systems

    1. A large successful company (your choice) has asked you to submit a proposal to help it

    develop e-mail, cell phone, and instant messaging policies for its employees. As an MIS

    (management information systems) or human resources consultant (your choice), you know

    how dangerous it is for an organization to operate without such policies. Use your

    imagination in establishing the problem for Company X. Explain why precise policies are

    extremely important. Indicate how you will solve the problem by gathering key employees, as

    well as technical experts, lawyers, and management, in the process of formulating specific

    policies for Company X. Develop a proposal, identify your staff, and submit a budget for

    your consulting company to establish e-mail, cell phone, and instant messaging policies for

    Company X.

    2. A trade group of midsized businesses has hired you to prepare a report as well as an oral

    presentation regarding issues related to installing Wi-Fi networking. What is it, how is it used,

    where is it most appropriate, what are its advantages and disadvantages, and what

    recommendations can you make to businesses considering installing it.

    3. Although many of the salespeople who work in your company use laptops, they've asked you

    to investigate the benefits of Web-accessible cell phones. Salespeople contend that the

    portability of these phones, in addition to their ability to access the Web, makes them an ideal

    sales tool. After you investigate the benefits of these phones, you decide to compare the top

    three or four phones offered using the following criteria: price, network, band/mode,

    weight/size, screen size, battery life, ringer options, and extras included. Which phone would

    be best for your salespeople?

    4. Your company has undertaken the arduous task of converting its administrative operations

    from a manual to a computerized system. You have been chosen to develop a plan for making

    this transition. What issues need to be considered? Are there conversion programs that will

    help the transition process go smoothly? What have other businesses done? Offer specific

    recommendations.

    5. Should companies lease or buy computer equipment today? What kinds of questions should

    companies ask themselves when making a decision about leasing or buying? What are the

    advantages and disadvantages of each option? Make recommendations.

    6. Should Company X (your choice) consider offshoring one of its operations, such as call

    center or tech support? As a consultant, you have been asked to research the pros and cons of

    outsourcing and offshoring.

    7. Your department (your choice) has decided it needs a software package to streamline its

    operations (your cohice). Using a set of select criteria, evaluate three or four choices of

    software for your department, and offer recommendations.

    8. Many students like you are contemplating systems' certification beyond the undergraduate

    degree. What are the most popular and useful certification programs available? Is certification

    worth the effort? What programs would you recommend? Why?

    9. The computer lab manager in your business school has chosen you to write a report that

    assesses the pros and cons of a Unix-based versus an NT-based networking system. Besides

    the costs involved, she wants you to look at compatibility issues, long-term trends, training

    provided, and usability. She also wants you to recommend the best system for the lab's needs.

    10. A popular trend in today's workplace is telecommuting. Your boss has had several employees

    ask her about the possibility of performing work at least part time at home. Your boss

    isn't convinced that telecommuting is in her best interest, so she asks you to write a report that

    analyzes the pros and cons of this form of employment. Consider what jobs are ideal for

    telecommuting, what the employment statistics reveal, and how it affects both businesses and

    employees.

    11. The company for which you work has a Web presence and is considering whether going

    “paperless” is the next logical step. In other words, how would a company-wide intranet

    solve this problem? What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of such a system? How

    would employees respond to communicating only electronically? Is security a problem? Offer

    recommendations.

    12. Many students majoring in management information systems (MIS) wonder whether basic

    writing skills will be an important aspect of their jobs. You're curious, too, so you decide to

    write a report that investigates what MIS jobs involve. In addition, you wonder whether the

    course requirements in your business school serve to prepare MIS majors for the kinds of on-

    the-job writing they will do. After you've researched and analyzed these issues, offer

    recommendations to fellow students.

    13. Your college has decided to offer each student the opportunity to establish a Web presence on

    its server through a personal home page. As the head of media and information technologies,

    it's your job to develop clear and understandable directions for students who want to create

    their own Web sites whether they use HTML or any of the popular Web-page-creation

    software programs. After carefully analyzing your audience's needs and investigating your

    college's regulations about content and security, present students with a set of directions.

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