Finance and Accounting for Managers

Finance and Accounting for Managers
Module Project
1. DUE MONDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER 2011
Week 4 Module Project Proposal Assignment: A first Project Proposal submission of around 1,000 words in required in Week 4. In this, you will be expected to:
• Describe the scope, aims and objectives of the Module Project, as related to your chosen organisation and with reference to each proposed chapter of your final Project submission.
• Demonstrate an understanding of links to the related underlying academic literature that you will reference in your final Project.
• Describe key steps and milestones for your ongoing and planned research plus how you are planning to achieve these by your final Week 7 deadline.
2. DUE MONDAY 10TH OCTOBER 2011
Week 6 Final Module Project Outline: The target length for your final Week 7 Module Project is 5,000 words for the main body of your submission (Chapters 1–5). This excludes your front page, executive summary, indices, any appendices and your end references list.
You should remember to include a single A4 page (250-word) executive summary at the start of your finished paper. Please also include a title page, with the title of the paper, including the organisation that you have researched and the author’s name, plus a word count for the main body of your submission. Also be sure that you include page numbers, a comprehensive index, separate indices of tables and figures, all appropriate in-text references and a final references list.
Chapter 1: The accounting function in your chosen organisation
In this initial chapter, you are required to ‘set the scene’ for what is to come. Here are some questions and pointers that may assist you with this:
• Background of the organisation: Describe its history, objectives, size and organisational structure. Note in particular any global or transnational interrelationships.
• Stakeholders: Identify the different stakeholders who are interested in your organisation and the objectives of each with regard to your organisation.
• Key resources of your organisation.
• Corporate governance: Identify the manner in which your organisation is directed and controlled. Are the corporate governance structures in line with what you would expect?
• The role of accounting within the organisation: Financial vs. management accounting—are these functions separated?
• Is the accounting role effective in your opinion? How is it organised? Could it be improved? Has it changed in recent years? If so, why?
• What accounting software is used? Why was this chosen? Is it effective for the organisation’s needs? Might it be changed in the near future?
• How and when do the accountants interact with other managers/third parties? Is use made of external accounting advice?
N.B. You will be addressing some of these issues in more detail in your later chapters, so remember that this is intended as an introduction to your organisation; you need not go into too much detail. Please read through the subsequent chapters’ requirements in order to plan your overall research paper to best effect at this stage.
Recommended length for Chapter 1: 3-4 double-spaced A4 sides
Chapter 2: A financial accounting analysis of the organisation
In this second chapter, you should concentrate on the financial accounting information that is required for the organisation that you are studying. This will clearly vary depending on the organisation’s size and the regulatory rules to which it is subject. That the information varies does not matter; indeed, it is extremely interesting to consider what different requirements might apply.
You are also required to analyse the financial status of your organisation, as portrayed by the financial statements (accounts). Here are some questions and pointers that may assist you with this:
• Does the business look healthy? Is it growing?
• How is it financed? Is it highly geared (leveraged)?
• How sound is working capital management, as indicated by the balance sheet and trends in the appropriate financial ratios?
• What do recent profitability trends suggest?
• Calculate other key ratios and interpret these.
• If your organisation is in the not-for-profit sector or the governmental sector, how are its operations assessed?
• How does the organisation compare with close competitors/industry averages/other benchmarks?
• Are there interesting issues that show up in the notes to the financial statements?
• Who requires these financial statements? What is each of the user groups particularly interested in?
• Are there qualitative factors which you consider to be important and which are not reflected in the financial statements? Do these affect resource management?
• Have the accounts been audited, and, if so, do the audit reports provide additional information?
• Are there any ethical or social (CSR) issues that have a bearing on the organisation and its resource management?
Recommended length for Chapter 2: 5 double-spaced A4 sides
Chapter 3: A management accounting analysis of the organisation
In this third chapter, you should concentrate on the management accounting information that is required for the organisation you are researching. This will clearly vary, once again, depending on the organisation’s size and the regulatory rules to which it is subject.
N.B. When choosing the subject organisation for your Project and in Week 1, please note that management accounting information is largely INTERNAL to a firm, as is explained in your Week 1 Readings. You should take this into account when initially choosing your subject organisation to research. You ideally need to be able to obtain access to the internal managers. If you choose a public company, where you do not have such access, this could cause you some potential difficulty at this stage of your Project, plus in Chapter 4. Previous students have successfully analysed small, new firms (sometimes run by themselves or by friends) and have found this method works very well. Many others have used their own employer’s organisation, in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
You are now required to analyse the internal accounting systems within your organisation (the MIS). These are the sorts of questions that you might address:
• Is there a structured management accounting system in place?
• Are budgets regularly prepared?
• How does the budgeting system work? What sorts of budgets are generated?
• Is participative budgeting in place?
• How are variances identified and analysed?
• Is the budgeting system effective?
• What sort of costing structure is in operation?
• Does the organisation use ABC? If not, might this be helpful?
• Is break-even analysis undertaken? Can you estimate the break-even point (BEP) for key products/services?
• How are prices calculated?
• How well is management accounting information disseminated and communicated in order to manage resources effectively? Do employees have access to the information needed for them to perform their jobs effectively?
• Is accounting and finance software utilised? If so, is this successful and effective?
• Have management accounting changes occurred in the recent past? Are there any in the pipeline?
• How successful do you think the management accounting system is overall? How might it be improved?
Recommended length for Chapter 3: 5 double-spaced A4 sides
Chapter 4: A financial management analysis of the organisation
In this next chapter, you should concentrate on the financial management information and strategies that are, or would be, beneficial to the organisation you are studying, plus the way in which capital budgeting decisions are made. This will clearly vary, once again, depending on your organisation’s size, type and national characteristics.
These are some of the questions you might like to consider:
• What financial management strategies are in place in the organisation that you are researching?
• Have these changed in the recent past? Are any under current review?
• How is capital budgeting undertaken?
• How are capital projects financed?
• How is capital rationing taken into account?
• How successful do you think the financial management system is?
Recommended length for Chapter 4: 3–4 double-spaced A4 sides
Chapter 5: Conclusions and SWOT analysis
In this final chapter of your Module Project, you should present your conclusions and recommendations pertaining to the accounting and finance functions within your chosen organisation. This will involve you succinctly bringing together your findings from each of your previous chapters and critically analysing these. Your narrative should be cross-referenced back to your earlier conclusions and recommendations from these previous chapters.
Consider, in particular, the organisation’s corporate governance structure and attitude towards corporate social responsibility. Does the corporate governance structure appear to be operating effectively? Does it position the organisation appropriately to be successful in the future? What actions, if any, has the organisation taken to address its social corporate social responsibilities? Do you believe these are adequate? Are there opportunities for change and improvement?
It is suggested that you incorporate a SWOT analysis as the central part of this final chapter, so that you can readily compare and contrast the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, plus the future opportunities and any threats that it faces, from an overall perspective.
Recommended length for Chapter 5: 3–4 double-spaced A4 sides

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