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.

The title page of a formal report works in collaboration with the cover page to provide a solid
introduction to the consulting report. Your team’s report will certainly have a sense of
permanence; it will likely be filed and periodically reviewed and consulted. Therefore, the title
page should include specific information regarding the report:
• Names of the authors or other contributors, including contact information and the name of
the organization you’re working within.
• A very good and specific title that reflects, as much as possible, the main points of the
• The name of the business or organization that your team is consulting
II. 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 three 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 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.
III. Introduction to the Report
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, because the proposal itself will
include a budget of some sort and you want to convince your readers that spending
money on what you propose is smart. 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
• What is the purpose of the proposal? Even through 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.
In addition, you will want to include the following information in your introduction:
• The report is written both to provide the client with a record of the project and to fulfill one of
the requirements for Management 451.
• List the members of the consulting team, and acknowledge anyone who has provided the
team with assistance, including your project advisor and the faculty who have taught
Management 451.
IV. 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.
Background Sections
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. Open each section with an appropriate heading. The generic headings can be revised
so that they are more specific. For example, Client Profile can be revised to read A Look at Our
Client: Historic Harmar Merchants.
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
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, and should be between 8 and 10 pages.
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.
V. a Client Profile
The purpose of the Client Profile is to both “bring the client to life” and to tie the information
together by explaining how it helps portray your client as a member of the business community.
Do not hesitate to interpret information and to draw conclusions. If your client is a group of
people of whom your contact person is a member, you may want to treat the group as a
“collective client.” Do a profile of the group as a whole (for example, the history and makeup of a
governing board.)
Some things that you will want to include in the Client Profile:
• Places of residence
• Educational and training background
• Career experience
• Civic interests and activities
• How and why your client became interested in this business
• Your client’s business philosophy and/or attitude towards business
• Any other information that contributes to a portrait of your client as a person who has
chosen to become the operator of a small business
VI. Defining the Firm’s Objectives
This section should include:
• A description of the firm’s short-term and long-term objectives
• Prioritization of primary and secondary objectives
Objectives should be stated as specifically as possible (for example, “…to increase net income by
20% of the end of FY 2005”).
VII. Defining the Team’s Tasks
First, this section should clearly describe the tasks that the consulting team has agreed to carry
out and explain how the team and client chose those tasks. Normally, these tasks can be
identified concisely (for example, “Task One: Developing a Market Plan. Task Two: Selecting a
New Location”). 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. For
example, “Developing a Market Plan” will involve several component tasks. The tasks may
include: “Designing and Administering a Market Survey”; “Designing an Advertising Strategy”, etc.
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
VIII. Carrying out the Team’s Tasks: Problem, Methodology, Conclusions,
and Recommendations
This is a rather lengthy section that is organized around the team’s basic tasks. A “Table of
Contents” might list as follows:
Task One: Developing a Marketing Plan
Task Two: Selecting a New Location
Task Three: Securing an SBA Loan
Each task section should be organized to:
• 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
The following example illustrates such an organization, using “Task Two” from the sample above:
Task Two: Selecting a New Location
• Evaluating the Current Location
This is a headed section that describes any advantages but more significantly the
disadvantages of the current business location. This section explains the problem
and the needs it creates.
• Identifying and Evaluating Alternative Locations
This is a headed section that describes alternative locations and compares them to
the current location and to each other. This section narrates and explains the team’s
method of operation that addresses the needs created by the problem; it shows the
team in action.
• Conclusion and Recommendations
This is a headed section that pulls the evaluations together, states the solution, and
justifies one or more recommendations.
If a task area involves two or more related tasks, the organization would reflect how the basic
task breaks down into component tasks.
Conclusions and Recommendations
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.
IX. 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 consulting project. In pulling the
report together, carefully summarize your findings and what you see as the prospects for your
client’s business.
X. 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
For examples of proper documentation and bibliographic form, see the handout from Aldred,
Brusaw, and Oliu The Business Writer’s Handbook, 6th edition. You can also access MLA and
APA citation style guides from the Campus Writing Center’s webpage
XI. Appendices
As Brusaw’s Handbook states: “An appendix contains material at the end of a formal report…
that supplements or clarifies” (54). Depending on the nature of a consulting team’s tasks,
appendices will be more or less useful to the client. Among the kinds of material which might be
included in appendices 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.

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