Business Problem Memo


Date:  Month, day



Subject:   Problem Diagnosis Memo

The purpose of your memo-report is to respond to your supervisor’s inquiry regarding a problem in your company or at your place of work. You will not offer any possible solutions for the problem in this memo. You want your supervisor to know that you are willing to further research the problem to determine alternative solutions and a final recommendation. This assignment memo provides instructions and an example of your memo’s format. It discusses the required format and required elements of this assignment. 

Required Format

Your paper should follow the Memo format provided in Meyer (pp.179-180). This memo should:

(1) be single-spaced

(2) be between two and three pages

(3) use Arial or Times New Roman 12-pt font

(4) include page numbers

(5) use parallel headings for each content area.

Required Elements

Include an introduction, the five content areas with headed sections named below, and a conclusion to your paper. Notice that you include a short paragraph (like this one) to introduce subheadings that are flush left. In your actual Issue Diagnosis Memo, you will use main headings and subheadings. Your main headings will be Symptoms of the Problem, Cause of the Problem, Effects of the Problem, Alternative Remedies, and Conclusion. 


Provide (1) the context (a brief company or industry description, the instigating problem, and symptoms/effects of the problem), (2) the purpose of this report, and (3) an overview of its main headings (about ½ page).Provide an introductory paragraph right after the memo letterhead that includes the purpose of your paper and previews your content areas for your audience.  This section does not need an “Introduction” heading. The introduction to your memo should tell your supervisor that you will discuss the symptoms, effects of these symptoms on the company, possible causes of the problem and preliminary solutions.

Symptoms of the Problem

Why does your supervisor think the company has a problem? Describe the noted symptoms leading to this conclusion. For example, patient complaints about not receiving timely responses to their requests have increased by 5% in the last month. These actions or behavior employees or managers are complaining about are the symptoms of the business problem you will attempt to solve later on in the semester. About ¼ of a page.

Cause of the Problem

Analyze the situation to determine the exact cause.  Your topic sentence for this section should state the problem and the cause of the problem in one sentence. Provide additional detail about effects/results of problem (about ½ page) on the company. Try to determine what is causing the problem situation; for example, the company has four employees working a total of 160 hours a week but trying to complete 180 hours of work. 

Provide only one primary cause for your problem, even if the problem may have a number of contributing factors in real life.

Effects of the Problem

What are the impacts of the problem on the company? What is this problem causing or costing the company? For example, the company may be losing more clients than usual and therefore losing money; you can calculate the approximate amount. About ¼ of page.

Alternative Remedies

Present your 3 most viable alternatives to remedy the problem with an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each. Relevant research with in-text citations must be included for each alternative’s advantages and disadvantages to meet the required “credibility” threshold (about 3/4 page).

Conclusion (your paper should only have one conclusion)

Summarize with a problem statement that concisely states the effect and cause of the problem situation and your main ideas. The problem statement should be the first sentence of the first paragraph in this section. For example, Company X is losing an average of #_ of clients a month resulting in a loss of approximately $___ per month because the current staff of 4 employees is trying to handle 180 hours of work.  This statement is followed by a brief recap of your preliminary solutions. Close with a concluding remark that lets your supervisor know you are willing to provide further research to develop a solution. (1/4 page).

Reference List—Prepare an APA-formatted reference list that includes all the sources you’ve used in this memo (minimum of five including personal communication sources). 

Conclusion (to this assignment description)

Analyzing the symptoms, effects, causes and possible remedies of a workplace problem sharpens your ability to write a concise business memo.  Be sure to pick a problem that interests you and that will allow you to do library research on the topic. The business problem you choose will be the basis of increasingly complex assignments this semester, so your problem has to be narrow enough to handle in a two- page paper, but broad enough to find authoritative, published material addressing the problem.  

Your paper will be evaluated according to the Business Problem Memo Rubric provided in the course shell. Your paper will be graded according to the formatting, organization, content, and writing criteria set forth in that rubric. Prior to submission, be sure to (1) confirm that you have addressed all assignment directions, (2) use topic sentences in each paragraph to organize the information therein, (3) put information in the appropriate section (e.g., symptoms in the symptoms subsection; effects in the effects subsection), and (4) employ direct, straightforward, and properly punctuated sentences.     

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