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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