Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Models, structures, frameworks... (in Case Study)

Dmitry asked:

In an E3 exercise of the practice workbook (for Strategic Case Study) there is a request to evaluate the proposed acquisition of a company. Answering it I have used the SAF (Suitability, Acceptability, Feasibility) model, while the suggested answer tells about possible benefits and risks; each is described in detail. I remember from our classes that if we are asked to evaluate a strategic option, SAF suits best in any case. Would you recommend to stick to SAF in such cases or could be there any reason to use another (less formal) approach?
Good question.
In general terms, there is no problem with using a 'common sense' approach (advantages/disadvantages, risks/opportunities...) to evaluate any strategic option.
However, I find that people doing so tend to concentrate on the 'suitability' factors (strategic fit, SWOT factors...) and to neglect acceptability and feasibility. This leads to favouring a strategic option because it 'looks sensible', but failing to realise that either the stakeholders wouldn't be happy (acceptability) or the company does not have the resources, finance, skills or time (feasibility) to do it.
Two good reasons to use SAF, then:
  1. It covers all the relevant issues.
  2. It shows 'evidence of learning', which is one of the objectives of the Case Study.
Even in 'real life' (i.e. outside of exams) I would always use SAF. I'm a management consultant, and I often use it for clients.
I hope that helps

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Preparing for an OT exam

I had a comment on the P3 post about how to prepare for an OT exam, so I thought I'd make my reply a post. The comment was "For strategic OT, do we have to study the textbook thoroughly (almost to the point of memorizing every bit of the content) and do not have to go through past questions and answers?"

My reply was (with added bits, to cover all of the OT exams):

Good question! The answer is "yes, and no". Let me explain...

Yes, you need to study the textbook, 'almost' to the point of memorising it. OT questions will test your knowledge, understanding and ability to apply to simple contexts. (At the Operational Level, more knowledge and less application, at Strategic Level, more application and less knowledge)

No, you DO still need to practise questions. There are no 'past exam questions', because all the exam questions stay in CIMA's database for further use. You need to buy/find realistic practice questions. An 'exam kit' from one of the usual publishers? Online at CIMA there are also practice assessments for each OT exam (but only 60 questions) (you get to these through your MyCIMA account). Some publisher, and all good colleges, also have mock exams. (Try to practice at least 120 questions - the equivalent of 2 full 'real' exams, but the more the better.)

As usual, passing is about a combination of learning and practice.