This is an overview of my Business Management HL IA, alongside tips to score well. I received 24/25 from my teacher, and received a moderated mark of 20/25, both 7!
I chose a public limited insurance company (Company X) as my firm. It was dealing with cash flow concerns. My question was: “Should Company X improve their cash flow by strengthening its co-insurance system?”
For Business Management HL IAs, a key component is access to primary data. Therefore, it is best to choose a firm that you have easy access to, in case you need to request company data and interviews. In contrast, Business Management SL IAs primarily use secondary data—which is generally available online—to evaluate firms with an online presence.
As the first part of the IA isn’t included in the overall word count, the research proposal mainly acts as the planning document for your actual IA. In my proposal, I included:
- Rationale – explaining a brief overview of the firm and why I chose to analyse it
- Key Areas of Syllabus – Finance & Accounts and Operations Management
- Tools – SWOT Analysis, FFA, Profit & Loss Account
- Sources of Data – Primary, Secondary
- Anticipated Difficulties + Potential Solutions
- Action Plan – detailing the action, the date, and a modification column to show changes or additional notes
- Gantt Chart – visualizing my action plan
Executive Summary (200 words)
Outline the problem that the firm is facing and introduce the primary aim of the investigation by contextualizing the research question. I summarized the findings from the investigation. This includes the use of primary and secondary resources, the key areas of improvement for the firm, the brief overview of the solutions, and the benefits that the firm may reap by implementing these resources.
More detailed overview of Company X (the products they sell, the industry it operates in, and their competitors), followed by their strategic and tactical objectives. As my research question included the term “co-insurance”, which may be unfamiliar, I also explained the definition of the term and its application within the context of the investigation.
Main Issue in my IA: Company X’s recent implementation of the co-insurance system created several cash flow problems rising from systemic complications. The main focus of the research was to analyse the complications that Company X is facing as the lead insurer in terms of financial and operational aspects.
I included a short paragraph outlining the data collection process, which entails:
- Primary Research – Interviews with Firm Employees (inquiring about qualitative reports and expert evaluations), Focus Group Research, Surveys
- Secondary Research – Evaluating competitor’s positions through articles, regional business context, evaluating the firm’s financial reports, etc.
- Briefly reiterating the key areas of syllabus covered (Finance & Accounts/Operations Management)
Main results and findings
Primary research: Summarizing the interview findings, referring to interview transcripts that I inserted in the appendix.
Secondary research: Summarizing findings through research towards main competitors, as well as evaluation of the firm’s financial reports.
Analysis and Discussion
- SWOT Analysis – Analyses the strengths and weaknesses (internal factors) of the firm’s current standing, as well as the potential opportunities and threats (external factors) that the firm may face.
- Force Field Analysis – Created a diagram to evaluate the driving forces (forces for change) and restraining forces (forces against change) in the context of implementing the solution proposed in the research question.
- Profit & Loss Account (for 2017 and 2018 data) – Evaluating the financial standing of the firm to remark on the firm’s suitability in implementing the changes, commenting on the changes in the firm’s financial profits.
TIP: There are various other tools you can use to assist your analysis, including Fishbone (Ishikawa) Diagram, Decision Trees, etc. In my IA, I used a mix of qualitative and quantitative tools to analyse my chosen firm on both an operational and financial standpoint.
Here, I reiterated the focus of the research as well as the methodology used (primary/secondary resources, tools). I also summarized the overall findings from the research I conducted, as well as the final recommendation for the firm in response to the initial research question. For instance, I concluded that “Company X is encouraged to implement the change in the co-insurance system to deal with the cash flow disruption they are experiencing.”
Here, I wrote down the solutions obtained from the analysis of the firm’s situation. For instance, I suggested that:
- Company X should improve the terms set in their co-insurance contracts, as they have stable financial standing.
- Company X should implement the concept of kaizen (a Japanese process of efficiency gains that promotes small and continuous improvements).
- Constructing a detailed cash flow forecast would enable Company X to identify the sources of inflow/outflow that may need to be further scrutinised for improvement.
- Company X should implement further quality assurance to increase competitive advantage.
TIP: To strengthen your propositions, justify the solutions by referring back to your analysis and mentioning the potential gains your firm will reap by implementing such a change.
- A useful guide to MLA Citations
- A useful resource for creating citations: Cite Fast, EasyBib, Citation Machine
- Include all relevant excerpts of company data, articles, book resources, survey samples and interview transcripts.
The IB subject guide to Business Management (last assessments 2022) is here.
Find Nikki’s overview on Business Management HL for IBlieve here.