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Anne Auer
Kelley School of Business

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, January 12, 2006

Accounting students find solutions that matter to local businesses

Jan. 12, 2006

EDITORS: Media are invited to the presentations from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Friday (Jan. 13) in the Godfrey Center CG 2077, located at 1275 E. 10th St.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- One local business needed a money-making strategy for better utilization of its expertise in supply chain management and machine assembly. Another needed a plan to stop its ongoing annual operating losses, and a third wanted recommendations on pricing, an inventory management system and an e-commerce strategy.

All found solutions to their immediate business challenges through low-cost consulting projects with accounting graduate students in the nationally ranked Systems and Accounting Graduate Programs in Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

Each fall semester, more than 20 teams of four or five graduate students from the MBA in Accounting (MBA/A) and the Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA) programs partner with an area business to complete a field consulting project under the mentorship of faculty advisers.

Over the past three months, students have analyzed and recommended solutions for an array of 13 local and state organizations, including PTS Electronics Inc. and Fine Tune of Bloomington, Bloomington Hospital, the IU Auditorium, Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County, the Indiana State Board of Accountancy, and Equipment Technologies Inc. of Mooresville, Ind.

Teams developed written executive summaries and implementation plans, and made presentations to the host organizations' management teams. The students perform a variety of consulting services including activity-based costing, benchmarking, business plans, business process improvement, feasibility study, strategic pricing reviews, profitability analysis, software selection and marketing research.

"The Systems and Accounting Graduate Program is a transformational experience. Our three-credit, field-consulting course is an integral part of that approach and gives our students hands-on, real-world experience while providing superior value to supporting client organizations," said Martin Donnelly, SAGP director and coordinator of the field consulting projects. "This course is a win-win for our graduate students, our client companies and graduate education at the Kelley School of Business."

Sandie Retzlaff, fixed assets/investments accountant at Bloomington Hospital, said the students' project helped the hospital find more efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly methods of disposing of electronic and high tech equipment that is no longer useful, while complying with governmental regulations. The students researched various alternatives and presented their findings to a committee for final decisions and implementation. In one area, Bloomington Hospital immediately realized a $1,600 savings.

"The students also demonstrated desk-top publishing skills by designing a professional-level brochure that will be used for future employee education and awareness. We were very pleased by the services that were provided by the student team and would recommend that other businesses utilize the opportunity to work with Kelley," Retzlaff said.

This year for the first time student teams will compete for a monetary award. Based on performance throughout the projects, client satisfaction rating and final presentations to a panel of judges, the top three field consulting teams will be presented with a total of $5,000 at an inaugural awards dinner on Jan. 19 sponsored by John Deere. The keynote speaker will be Martin L. Wilkinson, vice president, information technology at Deere & Co. As sponsors of the awards and the dinner, the John Deere Foundation provides the incentive for the continued success of the field consulting course and supports the importance of these real-world projects in the graduate education of Kelley students.

Finalist teams will present their reports to a panel of judges from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Friday (Jan. 13) in the Godfrey Center CG 2077, located at 1275 E. 10th St.

For more information about the field consulting course in the Systems and Accounting Graduate Programs, visit the Web site at or contact director Martin Donnelly at 812-855-3516 or