Business and technical writing final exam

 

Business and

Technical Writing

FINAL EXAM:

AN INFORMAL PROPOSAL

Purpose

Your final project for the Business and Technical Writing

course is worth 30% of your course grade and requires you

to write an informal proposal in letter form. Your work must

be your own.

Important: Don’t submit your final draft for this project until

you’ve received the evaluations of all your previous written

exams, so you can make use of the evaluator’s comments to

improve your final project.

Preparation

Before you begin this project, review pages 8–16 in Proposals

and Special Projects, which is related to writing informal,

internal proposals. Also study the differences between

proposals and reports (like your field investigation report).

Figure 3 shows the general style and basic format you’ll

use for this final exam. Also review the formatting for a fullblock

style business letter, covered in Writing Effective

Communications. Review the explanation provided in each

study unit related to writing style, tone, audience, word

choice, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Gather the brainstorming, freewriting, and graded exams

you’ve already prepared for previous assignments about

Phoenix Advertising. You’ll build on some of the details you

developed and incorporate suggestions from the instructors

evaluating your previous work. You’ll also have to brainstorm

further in order to create facts, figures, names,

numbers, analysis, and proof to support your plan of

action in your proposal.

2 Business and Technical Writing

Background Information

Here’s a brief review of the scenario; also review the full

information provided in the exam section of Organizing,

Illustrating, and Researching Your Material. Phoenix

Advertising, with its main headquarters in Charlotte, North

Carolina, serves clients that include banks, insurance companies,

and retail chains. You’re vice president of human

resources management at Phoenix. You report directly to

Gregory S. Forest, the company president.

You’ve already investigated the branch and provided a report on

the problems there and your recommendations for managing

them (for study units Organizing, Researching, and Illustrating

Your Material and Writing the Report). Mr. Forest has reviewed

that report and now wants you to present to the executive team

a specific proposal developing one of the recommendations you

gave. Following are the primary problems covered in the

scenario but also carefully review the underlying causes you

discovered in your investigation (which you created from

your imagination).

In the last three months, two of the top management people—

an art director and an account executive—have left the branch.

Each left for a position with a competing agency.

Three of the graphic designers and four of the copywriters

are threatening to quit because they feel their creative efforts

are being rejected or revised without consultation. They want

to be part of a collaborative team, not produce work that the

art directors and account executives evaluate arbitrarily.

In an attempt to show increased profitability, the branch

is accepting all potential clients without evaluating the

accounts in terms of current project workload. As a result,

without being given any notice and without compensation for

the additional hours, all employees are working long hours

several days each week. Employee morale and productivity

seem to be decreasing with each passing day.

Final Examination 3

Process

Step 1

Choose one of the problems. Use your brainstorming notes

and the investigative report for the recommendations you

listed to solve that problem. Brainstorm further about the

reasons for and causes of that one problem by delving even

further into the “whys” of that problem. As you did previously,

list several questions and review the answers you’ve discovered.

Explore those answers in greater depth to determine the

fundamental causes of the problem. (Think of the problem

as a set of symptoms of an illness that you need to treat.

What disease is causing the symptoms? What areas of the

body are affected by the disease?)

Step 2

Freewrite further on each recommendation you made in your

investigative report for resolving this problem. Ask yourself

questions about what must change, what you must make

happen with the employees and departments at Roanoke to

solve the problem so it won’t reoccur. Remember that your

primary goal for the proposal is to revitalize the employees

and departments in order to restore the Roanoke branch to

full productivity. Use as a starting point any of the following

that apply to the problem you’ve chosen:

■ What can the executive team do to reverse the downward

spiral of employee morale and increased workload

requiring overtime?

■ How can the executive team help the Roanoke branch

retain its current clients and gain new ones?

■ Is training needed for employees and/or managers?

If so, what types of training are required? How can

the executive team accomplish training over time to

minimize impact on business?

■ What can be done to streamline or reorganize the office

procedures or to incorporate new technology to improve

productivity? What training/support will then be needed

to enable the office employees to embrace the changes

and succeed?

4 Business and Technical Writing

Make sure you’ve done enough exploring in Step 1 to guide

your creative efforts toward the changes you’ll make in Step 2.

You want to ensure permanent change, so you must understand

the exact nature of the causes in order to develop a

detailed, logical solution.

Step 3

Wait a day or two before you review your prewriting, so you

can return with fresh eyes to the project. Mark the information

you’ll use in your proposal and freewrite as needed to develop

your ideas on resolving the situation and accomplishing your

goal. Break the overall plan into individual parts or actions so

you can develop each step in the process separately, organizing

a logical flow for each phase from beginning to end.

■ How much time is needed to accomplish each component

or stage of your plan?

■ Are there steps that must be completed before another

phase can begin?

■ How long will it take to complete each step?

■ How will it impact the daily operations of the branch

and headquarters?

Step 4

Now review the people at Roanoke and across Phoenix

Advertising who you’ll need to accomplish each part of

your plan. Your proposal must use people from within the

company—don’t hire outside personnel. Create names and

job titles as well as qualifications to fit your plan. Review

your list of steps and for ask yourself:

■ Who at Phoenix Advertising and/or the Roanoke branch

has the experience, training, and qualifications to achieve

this stage of my plan? What proves he or she is the one

for the particular phase?

■ What exactly do I want that person to do to accomplish

this step? When? How?

■ Who oversees the implementation of each phase?

■ What progress reports must be provided to the executive

team and when?

■ What’s my part in the proposed plan of action?

Step 5

Your next step is to itemize the costs involved in accomplishing

each component of your plan as you outlined it in Step 3. You

may need to research current costs of additional employees,

training/motivational programs, or technology. The Internet

or even phone calls to representative companies in the Yellow

Pages can provide useful information. Your figures should

have some realistic basis. Remember to factor in costs such

as the following:

■ The number of employees involved in each phase

■ The loss of employee time from completing regular

obligations of current job

■ Any travel or materials/workbooks needed for training

Create appropriate budgetary categories related to the stages

of your plan. Establish an overall cost for each phase and

within each phase itemize the different costs involved. Itemizing

is important to provide clear support for your numbers and

line items the executive team can review if the total cost for

the proposal is too much for the company’s budget.

Step 6

Organize your prewriting from Steps 1–5 using the following

main headings:

Introduction

Background

Proposal

Schedule

Staffing

Budget

Request for Authorization

Final Examination 5

Business and Technical Writing

Step 7

Following the outline in Step 6, write a 2–5 page draft of

your proposal in letter format. Use single spacing (unless

the format requires more spacing), bold for headings, and

italics for subheadings.

Introduction. Your Introduction is the only section not

labeled with a heading. As your opening paragraph, it must

begin with an interesting hook, contain your qualifications to

prepare this proposal, and summarize the general problem

and the benefits of your plan.

Background. The Background section must persuade the

executive team that a dire need exists. Summarize the field

investigation of your chosen problem and describe the causes

of that problem. Include specific numbers and percentages

(facts and figures) with explanations to show how you determined

each contributed to the problem. Your reasons must

be based on the facts you uncovered, not the feelings of

employees at the branch. End this section with a bulleted

list of the key phases (stages) you’ll develop in the proposal

section to solve the causes. Phrase each stage as a key

action goal.

Proposal. In your Proposal section, develop the steps needed

to solve the problem. Use a phrase or word for each goal you

listed in the Background section and italicize it. (You’ll use the

same phrases or words in the Schedule and Budget sections.)

Then write at least one paragraph for each goal, outlining

what actions are involved in that phase. Develop detailed,

clear-cut solutions to the underlying issues and causes you

identified in the Background section.

Schedule. Your Schedule section must use the italicized

words to outline the phases described in the Background

and Proposal. Use column format.

Staffing. The Staffing section describes, in paragraph form,

the specific people, their qualifications, and their assignments

as related to each phase of the proposed solution.

Budget. Your budget section must itemize the primary steps

of your plan. Use a table format with your own headings for

each column. The first column will use the phases from the

6

Final Examination 7

project outlined in the Proposal and Schedule sections. Be

sure to show under each major phase the related costs for

accomplishing it.

Request for Authorization. The Authorization section must

suggest a time frame for approval of your plan. Since this

section is also the last thing the executive team will read,

persuasively provide assurance that your proposal will

achieve your goal. Summarize the problems and describe

the benefits of your plan for Roanoke branch, their clients,

and Phoenix Advertising as a whole.

Step 8

As you write, follow the ABC’s for constructing your paragraphs.

Allow your first draft to sit for several days before

you revise it. During that time, review those sections of the

study units discussing various aspects of writing, revising,

and editing, such as

■ Correct, varied construction of sentences

■ Coherence

■ Appropriate word choice for purpose and audience

■ Grammar, spelling, and punctuation

After revising and editing your first draft as best as you can,

ask another person to read your proposal aloud. Listen for

awkward phrases, missing words, and unclear sentence flow.

Also ask for the reader’s feedback on clarity, logical flow, and

so on. Finally, refer to the evaluation criteria and Step 7 as

you give your work one final review before you complete your

final draft.

Evaluation Criteria

Your instructor will use the following criteria to evaluate

your proposal:

Introduction (5 points)

The introduction includes a brief statement of purpose for

the proposal and an overview of the writer’s qualifications

to make the proposal. It also grabs the reader’s attention.

Business and Technical Writing

Background (15 points)

This section details the various causes underlying the chosen

problem and convinces the reader that the need for action

exists. It ends with a bulleted list of goals showing the main

phases of your plan solution.

Proposal (15 points)

The proposal opens with a clear statement of purpose. Using

subheadings related to the Background’s list of goals, it

describes in persuasive fashion the detailed actions needed

to accomplish each phase.

Schedule (5 points)

The schedule establishes a realistic time frame for each stage

of the plan.

Staffing (10 points)

A specific in-house employee is assigned to each component of

the proposal and the description of that person’s credentials

convinces the reader that the employee is the best choice to

accomplish that part of the plan.

Budget (10 points)

In column/table format, the budget itemizes the realistic

costs for each phase/related step of the plan.

Request for Authorization (5 points)

A suggested time for approval is given. The reader is persuaded

the problem will be solved by the proposed plan. It closes in

a thoughtful, personal way.

Style, coherence, and tone (10 points)

The proposal reflects proper business tone and style. Through

the use of transitions and/or connective explanation, the

sections, paragraphs, and sentences flow clearly and logically.

Grammar and mechanics (20 points)

The proposal uses standard English grammar and word

usage appropriate for business context. A variety of sentence

types and length are used without any run-ons or fragments.

There are no spelling and punctuation errors.

8

Final Examination 9

Format (5 points)

The proposal uses the full-block, business letter format,

including company address/letterhead, date, return address,

salutation, and closing with a simulated signature above the

typed name and title. It’s formatted in Times New Roman

font, size 12, with correct page numbering and is 2-5 singlespaced

pages. All required student information is included.

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