BPP ACCA December 08 Exam Tips (P3)


ACCA Paper P3

Business Analysis
December 2008 Exam Tips and Useful Articles
This exam consists of a limited choice in section B (two questions from 3) and a compulsory
section A question comprising 50 marks. Many questions lend themselves to be answered
using a range of models and ideas. Consequently it is dangerous to limit your study. Broad
syllabus coverage is important for success in this exam.

Certain key themes do however arise form the syllabus and examiners comments. Section A
is squarely located in the strategic elements of the syllabus (A to C) therefore the stages of position, choice and action will be the focus of this part of your exam.

Another favoured theme is that of software solutions to modern business processes including
supply chain management, e-marketing and enterprise systems.

Finally, people and finance are underlying themes of the paper and so the people and
financial aspects of the scenario may be sources of some marks in questions even if they are not specifically asked for.

Use the following tips as important areas to cover but remember that no one knows what is in the exam, apart from the examiner. Your safest bet is to achieve good syllabus coverage in your revision, as the examiner aims to do in the exam.
Strategic analysis
Key models of analysis include mission and objectives, stakeholder analysis, PESTEL, Porters five forces and diamond models, the value chain, Ms and portfolio analysis. This may culminate in a SWOT and appraisal of the organisations overall position.

Strategic choice
The syllabus makes a distinction between the approach and role taken by the corporate parent and a Strategic Business Unit (SBU). You should therefore ensure that you are aware of the differences and be able to identify the appropriate approach from the scenario in the question.

Key models here include Porter’s Generic strategies, Bowman’s Strategy Clock, Ansoff's matrix and Lynch’s expansion matrix.
Finally the strategic criteria for assessing options of Suitability, Acceptability and Feasibility may be employed to justify recommendations.

Strategic action
Implementation issues cover much of the rest of the syllabus and could include issues of culture (eg Cultural web, Handy’s cultures, Miles and Snow), quality (TQM, six sigma, CMMI, V-model), process improvement and software selection (Harman, Skidmore and Eva), ebusiness or people management (eg planning, recruitment, performance management, development) or change management (Force Field analysis).

Useful Articles:
The examiner, Steve Skidmore, was examiner for the old syllabus paper 2.1 Information
The following articles are of relevance to the P3 exam approach:
1. Strategy challenge - the internet
Feb 2007
Examiner for Paper 3.5 Ralph Bedrock reviews the implications of the internet on
today's strategy makers and considers the impact of the internet on small businesses
2. Examiner's approach to Paper P3
Student Accountant January 2007
Examiner's approach to Paper P3
3. Strategic planning
February 2008
An article by one of the P3 markers showing the role of strategic planning.
4. How to approach the P3 exam
September 2007
An article by the P3 examiner outlining how to approach the P3 exam.
5. Strategic Planning
February 2008
An article by David Jennings, an official P3 marker for ACCA
6. Business Process Change
September 2008
An article by BPP P3 author Adrian Thomas.

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