Strategic business consulting through the University of Iowa's Business Solutions Center (BSC) is a unique consultancy experience between Tippie's Full-time MBA students and leading companies around the country. Cross-functional teams of MBA students work with business professionals on real-world business problems under the guidance of Rich Boulger and Shannon Juergens, directors of the BSC.
Companies are assigned 4 to 7 MBA students with diverse backgrounds in finance, marketing, technology, strategy, and innovation to work remotely on highly analytical projects over a 15-week period. Weekly status meetings are held with the client, MBA team, and BSC Directors, in addition to formal midpoint and final presentations.
Everyone benefits from BSC projects. Clients get access to state of the art analytical talent at a very low price of $10,000, and have the opportunity to "test drive" a group of students prior to making internship or hiring decisions. Students benefit from applying theories to real-world settings, grounding their education in reality.
The BSC is currently accepting inquiries for 10 consulting projects for the Spring 2012 project season and hope to have the project selection finalized by early October.
Project: Materna, a medical device company based in San Francisco, has developed a new device that seeks to decrease the soft tissue damage many mothers experience during childbirth. As clinical trials got underway, Materna sought assistance from the Tippie Business Solutions Center.
Scope: The project was focused on the development of a detailed business strategy. This included identification of the ideal market segments and price point, a cost analysis, and a marketing strategy aimed at maximizing sales. Ultimately this information will be used to assist Materna in bringing a safe, saleable medical device to market.
Outcome: The team was able to create and administer surveys to gather information from two of the most important market segments: women and obstetric providers. The surveys resulted in over 400 women responses and 220 obstetric provider responses.
Survey results were integrated with the medical costs associated with birthing complications to develop a detailed cost-benefit analysis for hospitals, which led to a proper price point for the device. The survey results were also used to develop a marketing framework for Materna to consider when the scientific studies are completed for their novel device. As part of the analysis, student consultants also provided a detailed report on the international market for new medical devices and potential international markets that would bring Materna a high probability of success.
View more examples of BSC projects on the web.
Impact: "Our board of directors and advisers were all very impressed with the work of the team, and feel that that their sales and marketing suggestions successfully form the basis for our strategies moving forward. We've found that the final report generated by the students has significant value to those that may provide Materna with its next round of funding."
—Mark Juravic, CEO, Materna Medical
Fresh Viewpoint: "Our Tippie consulting project had a clear purpose: double participation in our retirement plan. Overall, the team contributed significantly to our success in reaching the overarching goal: meeting the long-term financial needs of the people we serve."
—Eileen Finnegan, Managing Consultant, TIAA-CREF
Need: "We recognized a need to complete a critical project that lacked internal resources and knew that Tippie's MBA student consultants would bring MBA-level analytical and critical thinking talent at a very low cost."
—Rob Johnston, Assistant VP, Life Product Operations
Transansamerica Life & Protection
Real World Value: "What surprised me the most was how bright the students were, how quickly they learned about our agency. They targeted in on how they could help and focused on what could be most beneficial for our organization."
—Janet P. Szlyk, Ph.D., President/Executive Director,
Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Szlyk and the Chicago Lighthouse project are highlighted in our Business Solutions Center feature video.
While we provide top-notch service to all of our projects, certain project scopes best fit our capabilities: Market Entry/Expansion Strategy, Strategic Decision Support, and Large Scale Data Analysis.
Our project teams are divided based on the needs of each project. We examine the MBA's professional background and specialization in finance, marketing, and strategic innovation.
A data analytics project from the technology sector, for example, would likely be matched with a team of students with experience analyzing large data sets and a background in technology. These specific skill sets are best suited to find solutions to your specific business needs.
Company: AEGON/Transamerica Capital Management (TCM)
Project: Marketing Analysis for Direct Marketing Campaign
Scope of Work: A team of Tippie MBAs worked with Transamerica to identify potential markets and tactics to sell financial products directly to consumers.
Outcome: After thorough research on competitors, relevant industry advertising strategies, and opportunities to market directly to consumers, the team developed a "go-to-market" strategy that included a market analysis, market segmentation, risk assessment, financial forecasting, and media strategy and costs. Recommendations of several tactics to target consumers directly were made, including a group of marketing initiatives which top executives found valuable across multiple divisions of TCM.
Project: Strategic Plan for Global Expansion
Scope of Work: A leader in higher education, the company expressed interest in expanding overseas and asked Tippie MBAs to help with their international strategic plan.
Outcome: Tippie's MBA consultants began with an in-depth analysis of potential global markets followed by further research on a targeted set of countries that included a detailed competitive analysis. The team created a plan for developing sites in the selected locations, marketing the new program, and increasing awareness of the testing process.
Company: Eaton Corporation
Project: Profitability Improvement Analysis
Scope of Work: As a leader in electric power supply, EATON strives to stay one step ahead of the competition. The company was interested in analyzing current distribution methods to improve their methods and increase customer satisfaction.
Outcome: Students analyzed sales, delivery, and customer satisfaction data. The team created a list of four recommendations including changes in process, improved quality assurance standards, cost cutting techniques, and training for employees.
Mark Winkler, Director of the BSC, guides students throughout the project by meeting with every project team no less than once per week. He pushes each MBA consultant team to go above and beyond the client's expectations and ground their work in actionable recommendations to provide the most value to the client.