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Sample Analysis Memo

Below is an example student analysis memo. In this memo, the student analyzes the rhetorical situation, organizational context, and audience. The student communicates this information to the supervisor in preparation for writing a letter to customers regarding the situation.

The assignment requires that students do research about software liability issues and communicate information based on that research to their supervisor. They should also inform the supervisor of what they recommend the company do in response to this situation.

To: Colleen A. Reilly, Department Manager
From: Toni Thomas, Product Manager
Date: July 6, 1999 
Subject: MS2000 software

Recently one of our customers informed us that software MS2000, version 3.13, is having some problems. The problems cause the meter to reset itself to zero at a certain point, thus creating inaccuracies in the measurement of electrical usage. Our software engineers have verified this. This discovery could cause a problem to many of our customers. The engineers are working on a newer version, 3.14, but in the meantime, the customers need to be made aware of this problem.

This memo is to inform you about where we stand legally and how we will inform the customers. 

Legal Issues

Over the past few years, many instances of software liability issues have come into public view. For example, Intel released their Pentium chip in 1994 amid much hype. Unfortunately for Intel, a college professor discovered a bug that would affect the math calculations of users once every 27,000 years. Consumers across the country filed lawsuits against Intel, causing the company to spend millions of dollars in court costs. All court costs could have been avoided had Intel provided no-cost fixes for their Pentium chips in a timely manner. I would not want to see our company placed in a similar situation.To avoid this situation, we need to inform customers about the situation and provide them with solutions as quickly as possible.

Informing the Customer

We are going to tell the customers that we have discovered some potential problems with the software MS2000, version 3.13. The engineers are working on a new version 3.14, but it is not yet available. We want them to return to using a previous version as soon as possible to avoid any inaccuracies in the data. To do this they must:

1. Copy their backup database into the ms\ms2000\db directory to restore the programs they were using previously.

2. Obtain the Y2K compliant version of the MS2000 software, 3.03 Y2K.

3. Perform an update load of that version.

With each letter we will send them the Y2K compliant version. If the customers have any questions or need assistance, they can call 1-800-345-6789. Jay Smith should be assigned to handle customer service issues.

I have attached a copy of a letter to a customer.

Projects and Principles that Use This Document

Discussion Questions

  1. Does the writer clearly explain the context and purpose for the memo in the overview/introduction? If not, what is omitted?

  2. Does the writer explain the software liability issues that underlie the solutions and recommendations for the problem?

  3. Does the explanation reflect that the writer has done research concerning software liability? If not, what should be added?


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