MSBA Applied Project

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3rd ANNUAL CALL FOR PROPOSALS!

FOR PRO-BONO CONSULTING BY MASTER OF SCIENCE BUSINESS ANALYTICS STUDENTS

If your organization has a challenging problem to solve, or is seeking data-driven insights about your business or organization, the Center for Business Analytics at the Milgard School of Business wants to partner with you. You are invited to benefit from a team of advanced Master of Science in Business Analytics students (MSBAs) working on an important actionable project for your organization.

We will need to have a brief proposal from you by June 10, 2019 for MSBA cohort that starts on June 22, 2019 if you would like to be considered. There is no cost to you other than providing a problem to solve or an opportunity to explore (plus reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses) In the paragraphs that follow, we tell you more about this opportunity. Please e-mail any questions to Professor Demirkan (haluk@uw.edu) or Michael Helser, Ph.D (helsem@uw.edu), Manager of Operations and Programs - Milgard Center for Business Analytics . You can submit this 1-2 pager proposal (sample proposal) to this webpage.

DowNLOAD THE CBA APPLIED PROJECt brochure 

How does it work?

Your organization provides a Project Proposal for a team of 3-6 students in the Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) program to solve over the course of 12 months under the direction of UW Tacoma Milgard Faculty Advisors.  

Beginning early-June concluding in late-May, the MSBA student teams will work on a comprehensive business analytics and digital transformation assignment or project (in 4-phase) by dedicating approximately five-six hours per week (per consultant) for you using the skills developed in their specialized course work that is part of a course called “Applied Project: Analytics & Digital Transformation Lab.” The main objective of the Applied Project is to create a setting in which students can apply the advanced concepts, theories and frameworks encountered in the MSBA program in an integrative fashion, and they can demonstrate their distinctive knowledge and skills to solve existing business problems or cultivate new opportunities, and improve the performance of organizations through live consultative projects that typically include data collection, analysis, demo, digital transformation plan and recommendations.

The Center for Business Analytics and the MSBA program is led by Professor Haluk Demirkan, Ph.D.  With his nearly 20 years of professional consulting experience, as well as his extensive background in analytics, service innovation and digital transformation, you can be assured that your student consultant team will be guided by a highly experienced mentor. 

Why partner with us? Admission into the MSBA program is highly competitive.  Our MSBA students are uniquely qualified to bring creativity, data-driven insights and applied innovative approaches to deliver tangible business outcomes for your organization.  As they gain deep technical expertise in the use of analytics, big data and smart machines over the course of the program, they will apply their learning towards solving your problem or opportunity. 

Who have we worked with in past projects? Our MSBA students have applied their skillsets in data analysis, strategic thinking and project management for the following organizations... Boeing, CHI Franciscan Health, Costco, City of Tacoma, Columbia Bank, DataCentral US Corp., Delta Airlines, EDB of Tacoma, Harbor Whole Sale Foods, Metro Parks of Tacoma, Microsoft, SSMCP, Stellar Industrial Supply, Turnover Intelligence and more.

What are some examples of problems or opportunities that our student teams can work on for you? This research orientation is intended to push the envelope of the student’s skills to under-explored applied domains (e.g. marketing, social media, HR, customer, sales, ERP/supply chain, logistics, operations, manufacturing, advertising, finance, retail, education, healthcare, sports, e-commerce, IT, telecommunications, hospitality/tourism, public services, utility).

  • Marketing / Sales
    • What do consumers want to buy and how much are they willing to pay?
    • Where and when do consumers want to make a purchase?
    • How to keep consumers loyal?
    • How to create a virtual marketplace?
    • How to recover and sustain market growth?
  • Supply Chain & Logistics
    • How to anticipate and prevent future inventory problems?
    • How to design more responsive supply chain networks?
  • Healthcare
    • How to optimize utilization of surgical operation resources?
    • How to manage estimated revenue and risk resulting from the Hospital Value Based Purchasing?
    • How to analyze opportunuties for consolidating surgical specialties to specific locations?
    • How to strategize growth and investment for the Robotics Program in healthcare?
    • How to forecast surgery volume for seasons?
  • Finance
    • How to measure financial performance and assess the value of intangible capabilities?
    • How to create a balanced portfolio of metrics as a strategic management system?
  • Human Resources
    • How to retain top talent in an organization?
    • How to determine the bottom line impact of staffing decisions?
    • How does salary relate to personnel performance?
    • How to determine the economic impact of a region-specific workforce?
  • Engineering / Operations
    • How to maximize yields?
    • How to predict equipment malfunctions before they occur?
    • How to optimize and grow a robotics capability?
  • Utility Services & Public Services
    • How to predict when and how customers will use the service?
    • How to encourage small businesses to establish themselves in a city?
  • Insurance
    • How to profitably insure customers in high-risk categories?
    • How to detect fraudulent behavior?
    • How to optimize rate structures?

What do we need from our partners? Your organization needs to provide an Executive Sponsor for your project as well as an individual who is readily accessible to our students to ensure access to the people and internal information necessary to complete your project.  Interactions with our students generally occur on a weekly basis over the duration of the project.

What do you receive in return? At the end of the project in early June 2020, your student consulting team will deliver a final presentation to senior management in your organization with results and strategic recommendations. Our MSBA student consultants will be dedicating approximately 5-6 hours per week (per student) on your problem.  Projects typically include data collection, analysis, prototype demonstrations, digital transformation plans and strategic recommendations.

What about confidentiality? You can be assured that your company-specific data, insights and recommendations will remain confidential.  We will sign an NDA with your organization to protect your confidential information. After receiving your pre-approval, students will share your project at an Applied Project Showcase at the end of the project. The Showcase will only highlight the methodologies, tools and techniques used during your project (no company confidential information will be presented publicly).  Here's a link to see the presentations shared at our Showcase last year.

Who can I speak with to learn more before I submit a proposal? Please contact Michael Helser, Ph.D. - Manager of Operations and Programs - Milgard Center for Business Analytics to learn more.  He can be reached at:


The broad theme of the project will be to address a problem domain in an area where analytic and digital solutions have not yet advanced to a point of wide-scale adoption.

The idea is to align projects with organizations willing to share a problem (or opportunity) and data that addresses an important new frontier of analytics deployment for their organization.

The challenge will be for students to identify from the training they have received the relevant tool suites, analytics frameworks and emerging digital solutions (e.g. big data, mobile/cloud/fog/cognitive computing, internet-of-things, social media, mobile, smart services) they deem might apply – and to get ‘as far as they can’ in discovering insights from the data.

In addition, students will work on an end-to-end project whereby data sources are messy, business value needs to be defined and discovered, and their teaming and communication skills can be challenged and advanced.


As part of this project, students will complete the following 4 phases:

  • Phase 1: Discover concentrates on industry, market and organization analysis to discover opportunities for data and analytics enabled digital transformations (e.g. Business Intelligence & Analytics Strategy, Goals & Objectives, Business Process Analysis, Scope Definition)
  • Phase 2: Plan concentrates on processes performed to analyze, scope and plan the problem (e.g. Descriptive & Diagnostic Analytics)
  • Phase 3: Develop concentrates on the analytics-enabled transformation with collection, storage, analysis of data and development of digital solutions (e.g. Predictive & Prescriptive Analytics/Machine Learning)
  • Phase 4: Deploy concentrates on processes performed to prototype and lessons learned, analyze findings, recognize ethical dilemmas and social responsibilities (e.g. Cognitive Analtytics & Smart Apps)

We sincerely hope you will take advantage of this opportunity and benefit from our MSBA Program. We will be able to do only seven to nine projects, and will need a brief proposal from you.

Step 1: Submit a proposal

When you are defining the proposal, please note that the projects need to result with applied recommendations and implementation plans with some amount of measurable benefit and cost analysis. Applied Project Proposals need to be submitted online here. 

Your project proposal will include the following:

  • Company/Organization name
  • Who will be the day-to-day contact from your firm (name, position, phone and e-mail)?
  • Who will be the project’s executive sponsor (name, position, phone and e-mail)?
  • Brief background information about your organization
  • Statement of purpose and scope (problem, challenge, or opportunity to be addressed by the project)
  • What you hope to gain from an MSBA team? (What would you like to find out or have accomplished; what is the desired deliverable?)
  • What are some key tasks the students will perform to complete the project?
  • What resources are available to complete the project (access to data, software, hardware, and support from staff, etc.)?
  • Any risks or assumptions that may be relevant to the project
  • A sample proposal to guide you 

Step 2: Proposal Review & Matching Process (late June/early July)

Once your proposal is reviewed and accepted by the Center for Business Analytics at Milgard School of Business, it will be shared with the MSBA teams. You will hear back from Professor Demirkan by late June - early July on whether your project has been selected. We expect to have more project possibilities than we will be able to work on so the selection process will be competitive. If your proposal is not being selected for this cohort, we will work closely with you to revise your proposal and make it ready for our next cohort or for other project courses.

Step 3: Two-Way Meeting (June & July)

You will meet with the consultants to develop a Statement of Work/Project Charter. Student teams will develop a project plan.

Step 4: Project Work (July through May)

Student teams receive faculty guidance and consult with your organization while conducting research and developing deliverables. Project work will also include continuous project reviews and status updates, as well as, delivery of final written report and oral presentations to clients.

If you are pleased with the final project deliverable, we would like for you to consider making a donation to the Center for Business Analytics on behalf of our activities with students.


For more information, please contact Michael Helser, Program Manager from Center for Business Analytics to express your preliminary interest regarding this opportunity helsem@uw.edu