MBA-521-81: Information for Decision Making, Business Analysis and Performance

MBA-521Information for Decision Making, Business Analysis and Performance Measurement

Course Description and Prerequisites

During a firm’s planning, operations, and control cycles, many choices and decisions must be made. We introduce you to financial information within an organization that supports decision making and performance measurement in addition to how to use this information to make a business case to various stakeholders. Students will also consider how to weigh both qualitative and quantitative factors when making decisions.

Student Centered Learning Outcomes

  • Select and integrate the relevant financial information to make tactical decisions.
  • Plan a balanced scorecard that reflects a firm’s mission.
  • Find relevant quantitative and qualitative information and then critically evaluate it to balance economically sound and ethical decisions that reflect a firm’s vision statement.
  • Assess budget variances and hypothesize potential reasons for them.
  • Create a presentation to stakeholders that uses logical and persuasive arguments that are well-supported to gain financial support for your proposal.


Textbook(s) and Technology Requirements

Required Texts

The following required reading is available as free eBook through the Champlain College library.

The Flaw of Averages (Links to an external site.), Sam Savage

A Manager’s Guide to Financial Analysis (Links to an external site.), Sixth Edition: Powerful Tools for Analyzing the Numbers and Making the Best Decisions for Your Business by Eliot H. Sherman

Two course packs from Harvard Business Publishing will be used for readings, cases and simulations. The two course packs for this course are MBA 521 – Mandatory Documents which contains required readings and assignment cases and MBA 521 – Optional Documents which contains recommended and optional readings and documents.

The course packs can be accessed at these links:

Mandatory: (Links to an external site.)


We have included the “Case Analysis Coach” document in the Optional Coursepack. This is the same document that was in the Mandatory Coursepack for MBA 521 and if you reviewed it then you do not need to review it in this coursepack. You have access to the old Coursepack for six months after the date of purchase, so if you need a refresher, please go back to your MBA 521 materials.

Technology Requirements

All written assignments must be submitted using Microsoft Word, Excel or Powerpoint.

Topic Outline

  • Week 1 – It’s all about the numbers, right?
  • Week 2 – Priorities – looking beyond the numbers
  • Week 3 – The Long and the Short of It – Thinking in the long and short-term.
  • Week 4 – The Balanced Scorecard
  • Week 5 – Due Diligence
  • Week 6 – Business Metrics and Ethics
  • Week 7 – Data is now Big, so what?
  • Week 8 – Innovation and what matters today

Methods of Assessment

Assessment will be guided on all levels by the program competencies, which will serve as the unifying reflection points. During this course students will participate primarily in these major forms of assessment:

  • Contribute to discussions regarding (1) critically evaluating risks and opportunities (2) a company doing well while doing good (3) using a systems approach to assessing political, cultural, ethical and economic interactions in a global setting while modeling professional work behaviors in class interactions.

Written assessments that critically evaluate risks and opportunities in various scenarios and that ask students to creatively develop a case for a firm to do well while doing good.

Your final grade will be determined based on:

Graded ElementsPercentage
Discussions  30   %
Weekly Assignments  40   %
Group Assignments (Simulation)  15   %
Course Long Group Project (3 Phases)  15   %
Total 100%
 Extra Credit: IDEA Survey  1%


Weekly discussions are an integral part of learning at Champlain College and represent a significant portion of a student’s overall grade. In order to be successful, students should:

  1. Post a thorough, well-crafted initial response that fully addresses and develops all aspects of the prompt by the due date.
  2. Engage substantively throughout the discussion period by responding to others with questions or comments that demonstrate interest, build upon the ideas of others, and encourage elaboration.
  3. Apply and integrate concepts from this course as well as from quality resources including journals, websites, readings from another class, relevant work or life experience, etc.
  4. Demonstrate attention to style, structure, grammar, etiquette, and proper citation of references to maintain academic integrity.

Discussion grades are determined using the rubric below. The descriptions show what exemplary work looks like for each aspect of an overall discussion.

Discussion Rubric
CriteriaDescriptionMax Points
ApplicationExplicitly and thoroughly explains, applies, and integrates a) concepts from this or other courses, b) outside resources or research, c) life experiences, and/or d) processes used to solve problems.30 pts
Critical ThinkingClearly articulates a desire to a) reflect, b) explore possibility, c) recognize ambiguity, d) question assumptions, and/or e) search for logical relationships among ideas. Selects, analyzes, and synthesizes relevant information to demonstrate original thinking.30 pts
CollaborationFosters collaborative learning while a) problem-solving, b) respectfully challenging others, and/or c) expanding thinking through responses and reflection with other learners throughout the week. Builds on classmate and instructor contributions to deepen the conversation.30 pts
PresentationDemonstrates attention to APA/MLA style and structure, adheres to rules of grammar and etiquette, and properly cites references to literature and course materials.10 pts
Total Points: 100



Each weekly module will consist of lecture and readings followed by one or more discussions and one or more assignments. Each assignment will require a 2 – 3 page submission in response to the question posed. The assignment for Week 8 is more comprehensive and 5 – 7 pages is expected including any graphs, charts or pictures you may choose to include. I expect that a professional writing standard will be met in all submissions. That means, at a minimum:

  • All written documents will be done using Microsoft Word.
  • All submissions will be free of spelling and grammatical mistakes. (Use the tools that Bill Gates has given us, please!)
  • APA format will be used for references, notes, and citation.

Please write as if you are presenting your findings to the CEO of your company.


Strategy Simulation: The Balanced Scorecard. The learning objectives of this exercise are:1. Learn how firms can use the balanced scorecard to define strategy, implement strategy, and measure strategy execution. 2. Understand that a strategy is more likely to be effective if the initiatives implemented are synergistic with the strategy. 3. Explore how a good balanced scorecard can help companies take mid-course corrective actions. 4. Recognize that financial metrics are often lagging, volatile, and non-controllable measures of firm performance. Having the right non-financial metric that provides an early indication of performance is important in highlighting the need for mid-course corrections. 5. Examine the advantages and disadvantages of measuring a small or large number of metrics. 6. Understand how using the balanced scorecard is like financial variance analysis extended to non-financials. Managers set target objectives, invest in initiatives, take measurements, evaluate effectiveness, and take corrective action (feedback loop). 7. Learn how a well-designed strategy map can help managers think about and communicate strategy.

Group Project

The Group Project will be submitted in phases over the course. Each group is required to produce a proposal for radical change to corporate performance based on an analysis of traditional and non-traditional metrics, available Big Data, a Balanced Scorecard, and Risks. The final product is a paper that details the group’s proposal to management and a PowerPoint slide presentation that summarizes the rationale and recommendations.  Groups will be assigned by the instructor at the opening of the class.

Student Resources & Policies

Academic Honesty Policy

Champlain College students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the College’s policy for Academic Honesty. (Links to an external site.) Academic honesty entails creating original assignments, using your own words, and when using the words and ideas of others, documenting those sources using the method specified in this course. Please consult with your instructor if you are in doubt. Violations of the policy could result in a grade of F on the assignment or in the course as well as dismissal from the College.

Course summary: