The Worplestrop Partnership is anxious to press ahead with the development of the necessary costing and information systems for the management of the organisation. As a first stage, before putting out to tender the development of software and the purchase of computing systems, the partners have requested a preliminary analysis of the cost and budgetary information systems that will be required. In order to assist with this task, they have asked the firm’s accountants to prepare a report to the partners, providing:
- An outline of the product cost and budgetary control methodologies and systems that could be used by such an organisation, and a recommendation as to which is the most appropriate;
- Details of the necessary information outputs to support management decision-making at each of operational, tactical, and strategic levels, and;
- Samples of the routine and “on-demand” reports that might be made available to those employees who need them. At least two sample reports or screens from each of the three levels of decision-making should be included, focusing on important decisions at each of these levels.
As a member of the accounting firm concerned, prepare this report.
For this part of the assignment, you will be assessed as follows:
- Suitability of the proposed information and costing systems 25%
- Utility and relevance of the proposed sample reports 25%
- Evidence of breadth of investigation and depth of analysis 25%
- Structure and presentation of the written report 25%
Please be aware that the assignment includes a focus on the use of cost data in information systems that is NOT fully covered in the lecture material in the unit, and is not wholly covered in your course text (although it is within the learning outcomes of the unit). The assignment is, therefore, very much a learning task, and will require wider research than can be undertaken within the unit materials.
Further guidance on the individual report
You are asked to provide outputs to support three levels of decision analysis – so make sure that you do. One way to think about this would be to consider the different managers and other employees who will run the organisation, and the typical decisions they will have to make – these will be routine, on a daily or weekly basis (operational), medium term (say within the coming months – tactical), and long term (where to drive the organisation in the future – strategic). Once you have a list of the sorts of decisions that will have to be made, you should be able to work out what information will be needed to make them, and build on that to think about product costing and budgetary control ;
You are only asked for samples of outputs, so you don’t need to provide a comprehensive set. But you should try to make sure that the samples are representative of the information needs for the types of decision that have to be made; there certainly should be at least one at each of the three levels;
Be sure the report is written in the context of the organisation in the case – dropping in standard material from a text-book will not gain credit. You must show that you have thought about the specific information needs of the people working in the case study company.
There is a clue in the words “on-demand” and “routine”; again, thinking about what the employees will actually be doing on a daily basis might help with this;
You might find it will help to think about the processes that the organisation will undertake. For example, there will be such activities as purchasing, stockholding, various stages and activities involved in manufacturing, and sales and cash collection (amongst others). Operational level information will be needed to control these effectively and efficiently, and to maintain quality.
At tactical level, managers will be looking at (amongst other things) procurement, manufacturing processes and possible alternatives, and marketing. They may also be concerned about financing the business and keeping stakeholders happy.
At strategic level managers will be contemplating the longer term: what is going on in the economy? What is the competition up to? What technological changes may affect the company? And so on (think PESTEL and perhaps Porter’s five forces).