Published by: Julia
Once you have completed the 5 main courses of the Coursera Business Specialization, you will be able to take the Capstone. This task orientated course is designed to enable you to consolidate what you have learned. It is a great way to test your understanding and practice your skills.
What this Coursera business capstone involves
As you can see here, the Coursera capstones are one of the features that make this online learning platform stand out from the rest. That and the fact that most of the courses have been created by university professors.
It is a brilliant concept. After completing several closely related courses that have been grouped together into specializations you get the chance to take the capstone. They are all structured slightly differently but the idea is to give you a chance to consolidate what you have just learned by working on an actual project.
On the face of things, they sound like a fantastic idea. Having the opportunity to take on a real-world challenge and apply what you have just learned sounds like an amazing opportunity … and it is. But there is a catch, the execution is a bit hit and miss.
The problem is that your work is not always graded by experts. Quite often it is reviewed by your peers, not by your professor. In other words, people who have taken the same courses as you and have themselves submitted a capstone project for review. That means the feedback you get can be varied. and sometimes you will wait a while to get your work marked. A state of affairs that can be frustrating.
By the way, I’ve reviewed a few different Coursera options, and you can read my full Coursera review here.
Why you should still take part in this business capstone
However, despite what I have said above, I would still recommend that you take this capstone. It is clear from the reviews that the vast majority of the students who did so were happy enough with this setup.
Here is why:
- It is an excellent way to recap what you have learned across the 5 courses in the specialization
- You get to look, in detail, at two real-world examples, which cements what you have just learned
- A final opportunity to assess your understanding and address any gaps by asking questions of the instructor
- The chance to work on a project that relates directly to the industry you are already or are planning to, work in
The flexibility you get regarding which project you work on is particularly good. Potentially you could address an actual challenge that your business faces. It is a great way to get input from others, which can really help when you have a tough or long-term issue to solve.
However, you need to be a bit careful about doing this. You don´t want your product or service idea to be taken up by someone else. Remember that others will be able to read your project during the marking process.
How the capstone is laid out
The first 30 minutes is dedicated to explaining how the process works. Don´t be tempted to skip over this. If you do you could find out later down the line that you have wasted hours producing something in the wrong format.
It is a good idea to take the timeline provided and schedule study periods to take you smoothly through the capstone. Getting your project in on time greatly increases the chances of it being marked promptly.
How to choose your project
Choosing the right project is key to securing the certification for this capstone course. So it is vital that you pay attention and follow the advice given in these two videos. You are going to come up with a product or service that you build a marketing plan for
Put together your marketing plan
This week you are going to work on putting together your marketing plan. You will need to put aside a bit more time than you have been doing to complete this section. The process is quite complex and there are 7 videos to go through that will take you at least 2 hours.
The subjects covered include:
- Putting together a strategic marketing plan
- Using customer-centricity to ensure your idea is profitable
- Why you need to consider customer retention
- Customer development
- The role branding plays in digital marketing
- Securing reviews
- Reputation related considerations
- What your product life-cycle will be
- Getting the pricing right
- Using influence to market your product or service
- Distribution strategies and channel design
- Managing horizontal conflict in your marketplace
As you can see, much of what you learned in the marketing course you took as part of the specialization is reviewed at this stage of the capstone. I am not exactly sure why that is, but it makes sense for you to go back through it all. Doing so will enable you to double-check that you are on the right track and produce a convincing presentation. Bear in mind that you will be effectively selling your idea to the person marking your project. So, going over the videos in this section properly and carefully incorporating what you learn, is really worthwhile.
Managing the cash flow at the development and launch stages
There are a lot of costs involved in developing and launching a new product or service. This is to be expected, after all, you are effectively investing in your business. You need to anticipate and keep control of all of those costs. As well as know-how to handle the funds you collect from clients who pay you in advance. The videos in this section of the course cover:
- Understanding and handling accounts receivable
- Estimating uncollectible accounts
- An example of accounts receivable disclosure
- How to handle inventory and the cashflow related to this
- Working out whether to use the LIFO or FIFO method
- An example of an inventory disclosure
Submitting your capstone project and marking
During the last week, you submit your finalized project for peer review. As I said earlier do your best to get it in on time. This improves your chances of getting your mark rather than having to wait for the next wave of students to complete their capstone. You also need to set aside enough time to mark the work of at least 5 of your fellow students.
Once you have completed the capstone you will have 6 Coursera certifications. Importantly, they will show that the courses you took were run by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania professors, who are amongst the most well-respected in the world.