Situation Analysis – External Report

Situation Analysis – External Report

The situation analysis outlines the present state of a selected business.  It incorporates applied knowledge from the core topic and the option topics.  It includes factors from both internal and external business environments.

Students present the report in written form.  It must be a maximum of 2000 words.

The following specific features of the assessment design criteria are assessed in the report:

  • knowledge and understanding – KU1, KU2, and KU3
  • analysis and evaluation – AE1
  • communication – C1, C2, and C3
  • application – Ap2 and Ap3

The subject outline states that the Situation Analysis will:

  • involve students in a phase of direct contact with the business community which they should document;
  • enable students to apply factual knowledge and understanding to a selected business
  • contain a bibliography and list of all sources of information
  • include brief appendices to support statements made in the body of the report (the appendices are not part of the word-count), as used in a formal business report
  • include analysis and evaluation of the statistical data produced through contact with the business or from other sources
  • be presented in the format of a formal business report with embedded graphs, tables, and diagrams.

Students are required to have direct contact with the community. Direct contact should include student interviews with a range of community contacts conducted in person and/or by a range of other methods (e.g. post, facsimile, telephone, or online communication).

Direct contact may also include:

  • student visits to businesses, including through work placement, work observation, job shadowing, excursions, or mentoring relationships.
  • visits by business people to schools as guest speakers, interviewees, or advisers on school-based business activities
  • part-time work in which the employer helps the student to gain an understanding of business processes.


The Report counts for 30% of your marks for the year. It will first be marked by your teacher and then sent to the SACE Board where it will also be externally marked. If there is a wide discrepancy between the teacher’s mark and the SACE Board mark a supervisor will remark the investigation.

The Report must be no longer than 2000 words. Any information contained in excess of this limit will be disregarded. It will not be read or marked.

The word count does include headings, direct quotations, footnotes that are used as explanatory notes, tables where new information is introduced. The word count does not include the title page, the contents page, in-text references, words/points in tables, flow charts, graphs and diagrams, the reference list or bibliography (including footnotes that are used as references, appendices.)

The level of depth in which the applied knowledge of the core and option topics is incorporated in the Situation Analysis depends on the nature of the business that students select.

Sources of Information

You should consider a wide range of sources of information for your Report including, but not limited to:

  • Business Owners and Managers
  • Business Employees
  • Customers, Suppliers and other entities that deal with the Business
  • Competitors
  • Local Government and other relevant government organisations, eg Liquor Licensing Board, Health Department; (check white pages index, pp 35 – 44)
  • Trade Unions
  • Textbooks
  • Internet
  • Newspapers/Magazines
  • Electronic Data, eg CD-ROMs, internet
  • Financial Institutions
  • Libraries
  • Your own employment.

Include these sources of information on your Direct Contact Sheets (with the Business/with Other Organisations) where relevant.


  • First impressions do count!! Your final copy should be word processed.
  • Single side printing.
  • The Report must be submitted on white standard A4 paper. (You must not use any plastic or other types of binding.)
  • Nothing is to be attached to any page by means of glue, staples, tape, etc. All images, tables, etc should be digitised and incorporated into the word document itself.
  • Appendices to the Report should not be extensive.
  • A bibliography is essential and will verify the sources and references you have used, eg texts, newspaper articles, magazine articles, websites, and interviews.
  • Appendices should include your verifications of business contacts, planning and organisation, and any specific information relating to your business, eg a section from the business’ induction manual.
  • It must be stapled at the top left-hand corner.
  • Each page must include your SACE Board Registration Number. It should not be identified by your name or by your school.
  • It is preferable to use a standard text font for paragraphs (eg Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman etc font) no bigger than 12 point, and double (or one and a half) line spacing throughout (tables should be in single spacing).
  • All pages must be numbered. Numbering starts at Executive Summary and finishes at SWOT/Recommendation (Footer right hand side)
  • All tables, diagrams, charts etc must be numbered, eg figure 1 along with a caption which explains the graphic  and must be directly referred to in your text.
  • All information must be acknowledged through the use of in-text referencing or through the use of footnotes.
  • A word count must be included at the end of your report. Do not include any words in tables or graphs (uncheck “include textbox, footnotes and endnotes”).
  • You must present an electronic copy of all files with your final report.
  • Ensure you allow sufficient time before the final due date to comply with these requirements.

A possible guideline for a completed Situation Analysis is outlined below.  This is a suggested guideline only.

Suggested Guideline

  1. Title Page

The name of the business, its principals, the address, and contact details.

  1. Table of contents

A single page which allows the reader to locate the various elements within the document. It must be clear, contain accurate page references, and may include sub headings of each element.

  1. Table of Figures

A single page which allows the reader to locate the various figures within the document.  It must be clear and contain accurate page references.

  1. Executive Summary

As this is the first item that is read, it should be concise and interesting.  It should be written after you have completed the main report. It should give a basic overview of the business.  Business goals and mission statement could be included here.

  1. Business Description

This section provides information covering the nature, the purpose, and the primary functions of the business.

Some aspects considered could include;

  • when the business was established?
  • location and premises
  • what the business does?
  • legal ownership structure
  • what industry it operates in?
  • goals of business (financial, personal and social)
  • stakeholders – groups/individuals that have an interest in the business
  • overview of the products and services
  • what phase of the life cycle is the business at (what characteristics are evident to support this)? Use an annotated diagram to support your discussion how the business has moved through the life cycle and provide evidence to support this.
  1. The Market of the Business

Concepts that could be covered include a description and analysis of target market, existing marketing strategies and assessment of success.

  1. i) Competitors
  • An analysis could involve not only identifying competitors, but could also consider what gives a business a competitive advantage. This section may require some research from secondary sources.
  • Students may consider such aspects as products, brochures, customer service, web sites, location, industry and trade publications for example.
  1. ii) Target market

An analysis could involve:

  • size of the market
  • trends that have an impact on the business
  • aspects of the market which are not currently serviced by this business
  • who the customers are and what their characteristics are?
  • which segments of the market the business will target?
  • four P’s of marketing

iii)      Market share
Analysis could involve investigation of the existing market share and trends

  1. iv) Suppliers, for example
  • who they are?
  • services provided
  • reliability
  • credit terms
  1. The Workplace

This section provides students with some opportunities for statistical analysis. Issues such as the following could be reported on:

  • who manages the business, what is their background and expertise, and what are their responsibilities?
  • what model of management is employed and why (complete an organisational structure diagram.)?
  • other staff – qualifications, roles and responsibilities
  • work patterns
  • what training is provided for staff
  • outsourcing
  • legal issues related to employment
  • the Human Resources Cycle (acquisition, development, maintenance and separation.)
  • legal issues relating to employment (OHSW, equal employment opportunity, discrimination, affirmative action.)
  • the employment contract – The Fair Work Act & conditions of work
  1. Technology

Aspects from the following could be considered:

  • current state of technology in the business
  • what training is provided for staff
  • the role and impact of technological change on the business
  • evaluate the effectiveness of different types on technology on the business
  • emerging issues for the business to consider
  1. Finance and Record Keeping

It is not the intention that this section should address specific details; rather students could investigate such aspects as;

  • sources of finance used and associated costs
  • varying types of finance utilised
  • types of financial reports used by the business
  • mechanisms in place for the management, planning, and control of cash flows
  • role of financial reports
  1. Government Regulations

Relevant aspects from the following could be considered and investigated for the impact they have on business:

  • employment
  • ownership
  • registration
  • patents
  • building permits
  • zoning
  • health regulations
  • taxation
  • trading hours
  • weights and measures
  • consumer protection laws
  • trade practices
  • product labelling
  1. Global Business Environment

Students may investigate any strategies currently in place, or future opportunities.

  1. SWOT Analysis and Recommendations

SWOT analysis could be used to analyse the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of the business reported on.

  1. Bibliography

A complete list of references used in the investigation and research process separating the sources into Primary and Secondary sources and  using an appropriate referencing method (Harvard).

  1. Appendices

Ensure each brief appendix is clearly labelled, numbered, referenced and attached to the end of the report in numerical order.


The appendixes should contain information that is referred to in the report. This may include interview questions, survey undertaken, articles, statistics, evidence of direct contact sheet to record students’ contact with businesses and other organisations/persons etc.