CIMA OCS Nov 22: FireWorks

The pre-seen materials were released on 23rd September for the upcoming CIMA November 2022 OCS exam, it’s based on a scenario called FireWorks – a company that designs and manufactures a range of outdoor grills – you can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

I’ve always found the ideal starting point for your OCS exam preparation is to make a SWOT analysis.

If you can identify the strengths and weaknesses in the scenario you will have focus areas for the next six weeks.

I have gone through the pre-seen materials this morning and made my own SWOT analysis on FireWorks.

SWOT Analysis

STRENGTHS – Human Resources

The first thing that struck me was the brilliant induction program for new joiners, in fact it’s a company I would personally want to work for! Hiring and retaining the right talent in a business is often under-rated and not given as much attention as it should.

But it seems FireWorks have a very well oiled machine here. We are told the Human Resources director works very closely with the Finance and Production directors (both of who have been with the company for a long time) and it seems their enthusiasm for the company filters all the way down.

There is an extract from the Employee Induction Manual from page 12 onwards in the pre-seen materials and the key point for me was;

Although you are employed to work in a specific department, it is important that you know how
FireWorks grills are made (yes, even if you work in an administrative or delivery role!)

It’s a small gesture but it’s important that employees understand and can feel a connection to the product and company itself. It goes a long way in keeping the best employees connected and motivated.

WEAKNESSES – Budgeting and Costing Methods

As usual with the OCS exam, we are told that the budgeting and costing methods employed are of a basic nature.

The company operates a standard absorption costing system using departmental overhead
absorption rates based on either direct labour hours or machine hours.

Budgets are prepared annually on an incremental basis. Operational managers have limited
involvement in budget setting.

It’s important you know the theory behind the different costing methods – absorption, marginal, activity based costing etc. And that you can relate it back to the FireWorks scenario, it’s an easy subject for the examiner to question, so I’d strongly recommend you cover this theory again from CIMA P1 paper.

Same with budgeting too.

We are told FireWorks use an incremental system with limited involvement from the operational managers, which is an old fashioned and pretty easy method to employ but there are plenty of disadvantages and you should be able to articulate the pro’s and cons as well as the alternative options to incremental budgeting.

OPPORTUNITIES – Smart Technology

The news articles at the back of the pre-seen materials tend to be packed with juicy nuggets of gold that could point to a question on exam day, or give you some ammunition to reference back to when writing your answer.

The news article in “Living Life Outside” is based on future trends and the mention of Smart Technology caught my eye. As FireWorks consider themselves to be one of the market leaders and known for quality and durable products, they should also be at the forefront of technology and Smart Grilling.

I was also given a sneak peek at some of the other developments they were working on, including better temperature controls, easier cleaning grills and smart technologies which would allow you to control your grill from your phone.

THREATS – Consumer Spending Patterns

The opening paragraph on page 7 of the pre-seen materials tells us “Each of our grills is fitted with the best components available and designed to provide the ultimate outdoor cooking experience.”

It’s clear that FireWorks are positioning themselves as a top quality brand with 10 year product guarantees etc. and these products won’t be cheap to consumers!

There is a real threat that negative consumer spending patterns could hurt their financials.

Much like we are seeing now the cost of energy crisis in real life, who, realistically would be looking to buy a luxurious grill for the garden when they are struggling to pay the bills?

Also the seasonality of the grilling industry means there is a big emphasis on making big gains during the Spring and Summer when consumers are in the market for a new grill.

CIMA OCS Nov 2022: Astranti Case Study course

I used the full Astranti OCS case study course to pass the OCS exam first time many years ago, they have improved the course even further since then. The course includes;

  • Pre seen materials pack (analysis, top 10 issues, industry examples & 30 questions)
  • 5 x mock exams with feedback
  • 3 x LIVE and recorded master classes
  • Syllabus theory revision series
  • Exam technique series
  • Ethics and questions packs
  • Tutor feedback
  • Pass guarantee & money back guarantee

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