Burlington Northern: The ARES Decision (B)

Case Solution

Julie H. Hertenstein, Robert S. Kaplan
Harvard Business School ()

The ARES team officially proposes that Burlington Northern implement the ARES system. The project met resistance. Given the financial restructuring and high levels of debt, executives wonder if the company can afford ARES. Weak links during the ARES development process with corporate strategic planning, corporate capital planning, and other corporate functions are of concern. Executives are also concerned about whether their traditional 100-year-old company can adapt and utilize ARES’s modern electronic technology. If the fervent endorsement of the project by members of the ARES team raises concerns about the objectivity of the evaluation, an external consultant is hired to assess the benefits, the technologies, and the ability to selectively separate and implement the benefits.

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