Week 8 University Memo
This references the University database from Week 5. The university database contains several entities and several relationships between them. You should refer back to readings in earlier weeks of the course, in particular during Module 1 Database Concepts, Weeks 1-2.
Your manager wants to investigate moving to a simpler, more streamlined way of doing business. She thinks that SQL is too complicated for staff and has asked you to make a flat file with an alternate arrangement of the student data (e.g. similar to an Excel file).
You will NOT create the flat file, but for information the flat file would include columns for:
· Student first and last name
· Student major
· Student GPA
· Course number, description, and units
· Offering term
· Faculty first and last name
You have some concerns about moving your entire university operations out of SQL to this flat file format.
Write your boss a memo,
· Outlining any concerns or hesitations you have about moving to this format for management of your data.
· Include the pros and cons of the relational database format and the flat file format.
· Be sure to think critically, and include at least TWO problematic use case scenarios. A ‘problematic use scenario’ would be a specific example of how converting the database to a flat file would create a ‘use’ problem for the university and university staff in managing data.
Additional instructions
· Be sure to review the PowerPoint presentation (in pdf format) Effective Professional Memo Writing that accompanies these instructions.
· Your memo may benefit from outside research, however, the entire memo must be in your own words. Any ideas or concepts used from the course content in earlier weeks (in particular the Database Concepts Module) need only have ‘basic attribution’ (mention the source, the article, presentation and/or the author, but full APA documentation is not required).
· Paragraph text should be single spaced with ONE ‘hard return’ (Enter) after each paragraph and after each section subtitle. Note: Do not create a new ‘paragraph’ after each sentence. A single sentence is not a paragraph.
· Be sure to remove any remaining ‘placeholder’ text in the template file before submitting.
· The length of the template that you download is NOT the intended length of the entire memo. Your completed memo should be between 1.5 pages and 2 pages (total document, including the To:/From:/Re:/Subject header).
A page target of 1.5 – 2 pages, single spaced is suggested; however, there are no length requirements or restrictions. You must use the attached template for the assignment, without changing any fonts.



90 – 100%

Exceeds Expectations. These memos are really exceptional. They meet all the criteria of the “meets expectations” memo, and go beyond in some meaningful way. The “beyond” may be in very illustrative and detailed use case scenarios, critical thinking regarding additional components of databases such as security, or it may be in additional background research to provide additional perspectives. The business case is clear and easy to follow. Demonstrates mastery of the data management and SQL techniques we have covered in class. No typographical or grammatical mistakes.

80 – 89%

Meets Expectations. A memo which meets expectations will earn this score. This type of memo will typically be reasonably easy to follow, with good writing style. It will contain a clear recommendation about whether to move to the flat file and relevant reasons supporting the recommendation. It will outline use case scenarios where relevant. It will also contain solid understanding of the relational database concepts and data management concepts we have covered in class, and will tie this case study into our class work. Typographical and grammatical mistakes are few (1-2) to none; any errors do not obscure meaning or readability.


Meets some, but not all Expectations. Some of the expectations above will be met, but others are not. The instructor will provide additional detail.

0 – 59%

Does Not Meet Expectations. This type of memo may not contain a clear recommendation about whether to move to a flat file format. It may contain insufficient reasons supporting the recommendation, and may not contain detailed or relevant use case scenarios. It may show incomplete or incorrect understanding of relational database and data management concepts. It may show weak ties into class work. May have major typographical or grammatical errors.

Page 1
To: University Manager
Cc: < insert your instructor’s name here >
From: < insert your name here >
Date: < insert date here >
Re: University SQL Migration Plan and Recommendation
Introduction/Background. This memo highlights areas of concern regarding the migration from a distributed table system in SQL to a flat file. Currently, the University uses …
Pros/Cons. The chart below outlines some of the pros and cons associated with flat files and SQL databasing. While each system has benefits, …

Topic Areas

SQL Database

Flat File


< Add 1-2 sentences in each cell of the chart comparing advantages and disadvantages >

Data Integrity

< When one choice is clearly advantageous over another (e.g. SQL over Flat File, or vice versa), shade the cell in green >

Ease of Use




Use Case, . This is placeholder text (which you will remove and replace with your text), you will need several sentences, a full paragraph to describe your use case.
Use Case, . This is placeholder text (which you will remove and replace with your text), you will need several sentences, a full paragraph to describe your use case.
Additional Comments or Questions (optional, but change this title). This is placeholder text (which you will remove and replace with your text). This section is optional, but may give you the opportunity to add additional insights, comments, questions that may differentiate your memo from others. Should you decide not to complete this section, delete this title and placeholder text and proceed to the next section, Conclusion.
Conclusion. This is placeholder text (which you will remove and replace with your text), you will need several sentences, a full paragraph to conclude your memo. Begin with a sentence or two, going back to the ‘big picture’ why we use a database in this university. Conclude with a persuasive argument and mention ‘next steps’.
Writing: The
Adapted from a presentation by Xavier de Souza Briggs,
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT
I F S M 2 01
Licensing Information
This work “Effective Professional Writing: The Memo”, a derivative of Effective Professional Writing: The
Memo, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. “Effective Professional Writing: The Memo” by
UMGC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-
ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
“To do our work, we all have to read a mass
of papers. Nearly all of them are far too long.
This wastes time, while energy has to be
spent in looking for the essential points.
I ask my colleagues and their staffs to see to
it that their Reports are shorter.”
– W I N STO N C H U R C H I L L , AU G U ST 9 , 19 4 0
– S O U R C E ( A O N E PAG E R E A D ) : C H U RC H I L L’ S “ B R E V I T Y ” M E M O
Writing Memos
The context of professional writing
Why write memos?
How to write them?
How to make them better?
The Context
The workplace or field:
◦ Time is precious.
◦ Information has substantive as well as political implications.
The decision-maker as reader:
◦ Busy and distracted (attention “spread thin”), not necessarily patient while you get to the point.
◦ Info needs are varied, unpredictable, fluid.
◦ Decision-maker sometimes offers vague instructions.
Academic vs. professional writing
Differences (when writing concisely)
◦ The academic reader often demands nuance and relevance to established lines of thinking, while the
professional reader wants the “so what’s” for their decision making emphasized (relevance to their
◦ An academic assignment assumes a small and benevolent audience, but professional documents can be
“leaked,” end up in the hands of unintended readers.
◦ Strong essays and strong memos both start with your main ideas, but essays usually build toward
conclusion and synthesis. The memo’s conclusions are usually right up top.
◦ In both, persuasive argument = clear viewpoint + evidence
◦ In both, addressing counter-arguments tends to strengthen your case.
Top mistakes in memos
◦ off point or off task (major substantive
omissions, given the request);
◦ impolitic (risks political costs if leaked);
◦ inappropriate assumptions as to
background knowledge;
◦ no evidence.
◦ important info “buried,”
◦ no summary up top, format confusing,
not “skim-able.”
◦ Sentences long and dense,
◦ headings an after-thought.
◦ language too academic, too “preachy,”
or too casual;
◦ sentences long and/or dense.
Why write memos?
Professional communication
◦ Efficient
◦ Persuasive
◦ Focused
Two types of memos:
◦ Decision or “action” (analyze issues and also recommend actions)
◦ Informational (provide analytic background)
Consider Your Message in Context
Purpose Audience
Use a Clear Structure
◦ Summarize the entire memo
◦ Highlight major points to consider
◦ State the context
◦ Prove it, analyze it, address counter arguments (if any)
◦ Outline Next Steps or Next Questions
Action Memos: Recommend Decisions
◦ Summarize the entire memo, clearly, but more importantly, concisely
◦ State the broad recommendation(s)
◦ If the decision-maker reads only this section/paragraph, will he/she know what the situation
is/recommendation(s) is/are (without necessarily knowing specific action steps)
◦ Provide the context
◦ Prove it/Analyze it, perhaps with pros/cons by option (if there are multiple options)
◦ Outline next steps, don’t merely restate recommendation(s)
Informational Memos:
Feed into Decisions
◦ Summarize the entire memo
◦ Outline Options or Considerations
◦ Provide the context
◦ Prove it/Analyze it
◦ Next steps, follow-on questions
Tip: Construct a Clear, Concise,
Coherent Argument
In your opening summary, you may use more than one sentence to describe overall goals or
recommendations, however, as an exercise it typically helps to try to state your argument in one
sentence. Expand on the sentence as needed as your construct your opening summary.
◦ In order to recreate the organization’s image and reorganize our internal structure in the next 6 months,
we should focus on X, Y and Z.
◦ While the company is in compliance with State of California Privacy laws with respect to X, Y and Z, there
are two areas that still need to be addressed to reach our goal of 100% compliance: A and B.

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