Category Archives: CIMA Case Study

The Final Step: Passing the CIMA SCS!

Well, that’s it!

SCSResult

I passed the CIMA SCS exam with a score of 108 and I’m absolutely relived, delighted and exhausted at the same time. The mental stress over the last few weeks waiting for the result was almost as draining as the exam itself.

I got the result last week but wanted a few days to digest it and look back over my journey CIMA now I have reached the end.

Here are my thoughts on passing the SCS exam;

Think Practical, Not Theoretical

The case study exams are a chance for you to show off your business acumen and real world thinking, it’s a not time for you to spout off the finer points of the CIMA syllabus. Which is a great way to pick up marks if you are struggling to recall the theory and models behind a question.

Be practical in your answers, have you recognised the issue? Have you addressed and have you explained your reasoning with links to pre-seen and/or industry news.

Immerse Yourself in the scenario

It might sound borderline obsessive, but I was preparing for my exam every day for pretty much the whole six weeks. However, that doesn’t mean I was stuck to my desk with notes and reams of paper.

I would read the latest industry news on my mobile when on my commute to work, I would think about real industry issues while pushing the pram around the block. I would try to recall my SWOT analysis and Zoom company issues when on my lunch break at work.

It was on my mind a lot as I knew it was the final CIMA, the last push.

The motivation for this exam is the highest you will experience, so I found I wanted to study and prepare of the exam pretty much with any spare time I had!

I also felt quite lucky that the scenario was effectively about Uber! So it felt very relevant and it is industry I was interested in anyhow.

Planning and Structure

When it comes to exam day, the importance of planning your answer and being structured and pragmatic cannot be understated.

The SCS (under the 2015 syllabus) is always split into three sections, one hour each with the last section usually split into four separate sub questions of different nature, almost like a quick fire round.

So be aware of how many points you need to make for each requirement, balance out your advantages and disadvantages. It’s all common sense stuff but when the 3 hours starts ticking down on the exam clock, pressure can do funny things to a person.

Just remember to answer the requirements and ensure you capture the maximum amount of marks for each requirement. Practice this in your preparation and it will become second nature.

CIMA SCS Resources

Alongside the SCS Course from Astranti, I found myself using the Kaplan Knowledge Bank to refresh my memory and also the post exam kits from previous SCS exams to dig into past exam questions as well as the essential examiners guidance.

SCSCourse                                2019-10-07 13_29_08-Start

 

The CIMA Case Study: Last Minute Advice

Studying for the CIMA Case Studies require a completely different approach from the objective tests. I also find there is also added weight of pressure and expectation that comes with a case study exam.

It’s a milestone.
It’s three hours long and you will have write somewhere between 3000-4500 words.
No select all that apply (thank god).
No flag for review.

You get the picture.

The Case Study Countdown

With the SCS exam in my sight, I feel like a boxer in a training camp for a big title fight. I have the experience of the previous two case study exams, not to mention the countless objective tests to date.

But this is the big one.

Potentially the final CIMA exam I will take.

The preparation also mirrors that of a boxer entering a training camp, once the opponent (Zoom) has been announced (pre-seen materials released) there is an intense six week training camp.

And much like a boxer, I am trying to peak at the right time with my preparation of pre-seen analysis, question practice and finally leading up to the fully marked 3 hour practice mock exams.

That would my advice to anyone CIMA student sitting a case study, the preparation is all about doing the right things at the right time, gradually build yourself up until you are confident enough to tackle a full mock exam in exam conditions.

As I have just entered the final two weeks before my exam on August 20th and I feel confident at this stage, well in terms of my preparation.

It all seems to be falling into place – at the moment I feel calm.
This can and probably will change as the final few days tick down.

Be Practical and PLAN!!

With this in mind, I thought I would share my TWO top tips on how to handle your case study exam.

Be Practical Rather than Technical

A case study answer that goes in depth on technical detail will score lower than a hands on practical answer.

And you should use this to your advantage, if you are struggling to refer back to the technical side of the syllabus then you should think practically.

DON’T PANIC!

When planning your answer, think;

How I do answer this in terms of the scenario?
Give practical advice on the situation.
Avoid general wishy washy statements.
Backup your thoughts with reasons how and why.

Plan your Answer

I spend around 20% of my time at the beginning of each section planning my answer. Firstly, identify the requirements and calculate how many marks I need to score.

A 60 minute question equates to 30-33 marks, so assuming your score 2 marks for every valid point made, you’ll need to make about 16 valid points in that 60 minute question.

A 60 minute question will usually have 4 sub questions inside the task, meaning I’d need to make approx. 4 valid points for each sub question.

If it has 3 sub questions I would make between 5-6 points on each.

Then I make headings for each point I want to make that directly fulfills the requirement. During that time I also add some brief notes under the heading of where I want to refer back to specifics in pre-seen, industry examples or technical content.

With the remaining 75-80% time left, then only I begin to type out my full answer.

Student Advice

Finally, here is some advice from I gathered from twitter on how to tackle your next CIMA case study exam;

 

CIMA SCS Aug 2019: Zoom

Zoom

The CIMA August 2019 strategic case study is based around a company called Uber, sorry I mean Zoom! Having read the pre-seen materials as I am sitting the exam myself, it’s clear the company is based around the real life company Uber.

Which makes it very interesting and relevant as I am sure we have all used the Uber platform when taking a taxi.

So from a personal point of view, I am pleased with the subject of the CIMA August 2019 SCS case study!

You can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

SCS Astranti August 2019 Course

I am a keen advocate of the Astranti case study materials and have used them to good effect in passing the OCS, MCS and hopefully soon to be the SCS!

Here is what you can expect from the full SCS course from Astranti.

  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study texts
  • 2 x Live Masterclasses (the keys to passing and revision masterclass)
  • 3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Aug19 scenario)
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

The mock exams marked with feedback are really a great way to get confident and ready for exam day. *Please note I am an Astranti affiliate member, but I only recommend materials I have first hand use of myself.

 

Industry News

Having gone through the pre-seen materials, what really caught my eye was the fact why aren’t this tech companies making any money? Where is the profit!!??

The financials for the Zoom case study paint a grim picture in terms of profit.

  • 2018: Loss for the year was 331m (up 93% from 2017)
  • 2017: Loss for the year was 171m

And this was amid a backdrop of huge revenue growth in the same period.

To give it more context I looked into the financials and industry news of Uber to see what the real life situation is. Here is what I found.

Here is a great article from Crunchbase explaining why Uber loses money in terms of the facts and figures.

Uber Q2 2018 Income Statement

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Much like the situation with the CIMA SCS case study Zoom, the income statements of Uber paints a picture of a cash burning business. Uber had a staggering $2.2bn worth of operating expenses in Q2 last year – just a three month period!!

The below chart taken from the crunchbase news article linked above gives an overview on what Uber’s operating expenses are.

uber

Sales and Marketing – 33% of OPEX

33% of their operating expenses are funneled into sales and marketing activities, which is not surprising in the tech industry. Remember that Uber (and Zoom) are tech companies and not transport companies.

It’s a highly competitive industry with low barriers to entry, to maintain (and increase) their market share a lot of cash will be spent on marketing activities and trying to generate sales.

Research and Development – 16% of OPEX

This is a crucial area for tech companies to invest and spend in. Especially the likes of Uber and Zoom who are connected to the transport industry, where there is a big push on self driving drives.

The pre-seen materials mention a lot about Zoom investing in self driving cars and that’s it’s future strategy, so spending wisely in this areas will be key to long term sustainable growth.

Turning Loss into Profit

For Tech companies, this hinges on the future developments and success of their R&D department. For example, if Uber were to make a significant breakthrough in the world of self driving cars it wouldn’t need to have drivers on contract and would give them 100% of revenue generated by each trip.

It would have the potential to turn this loss making income statement into a very healthy  financial statement firmly in the black. Very much like the case study in question.

A Driving Problem

One of the strengths of Uber is also it’s weakness. The fact it doesn’t employ the drivers directly and own the cars on the balance sheet, means it’s a very lean business model and very light on assets.

However, the so-called gig economy brings it’s own problems.

There is a brilliant article here from Salon.com about the issues the drivers from Uber face, and while despite this being in Uber’s favour they still fail to turn a profit.

A 2017 report found that only 4% of Uber’s drivers continue to work for the company after 12 months. Meaning that Uber constantly have to recruit and offer incentives and competitive rates to attract drivers.

This in itself will have a drain on the income statement and partly explains why the company fails to turn a profit.

Good Luck to SCS students.

I will be posting more content on this exam in the coming weeks!

CIMA MCS Aug 2019: CruiseCalm

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The August CIMA MCS Exam will hopefully be smooth sailing as it’s based on a scenario called CruiseCalm (ok, no more puns).

CIMA MCS August 2019: Cruise Calm Astranti Course

MCS (2)

The August 2019 MCS Course from Astranti comes with a PASS GUARANTEE.

I used Astranti to pass my MCS exam first time last year, you can read about how I passed the MCS Norton exam here.

Here is what you can expect;

  • Complete pre-seen pack of videos
  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study texts
  • 2 x Live Masterclasses
  • 3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Jord Homes case study)
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

SWOT Analysis – CruiseCalm

I’ve had a look through the pre seen materials and put together a short SWOT analysis to help you on your way.

Insight

Strengths
Ship Fleet and Innovation

After the reading the pre seen materials I was concerned with the fact CruiseCalm have so few ships, however, after reading on I found out that their strategy is based on quality, not quantity;

“Cruisecalm’s ships are all less than ten years old. The company has a reputation for innovation in terms of the facilities that it offers to passengers. For example, its newest ship has been designed so that its superstructure creates an atrium around the swimming pools and sun decks.”

The mention of innovation also is a big plus for the company as a whole in terms on TQM and retaining customers. With this in mind I believe it’s a big strength of the company.

Weaknesses
IT Management

On first inspection the overview of the company management and directors looks great. There is a nice split of the NED and ED on the board and there is a well-balanced setup.

However, the point of concern for me would be the fact the Finance Director is responsible for IT.

The Finance Director is responsible for all aspects of Cruisecalm’s financial management, as well as administrative functions such as purchasing and information technology.

In the modern business environment, IT can be seen to be a critical success factor of the business. Therefore, should have the right expertise leading the information strategy systems.

What’s more, there is mention on the pricing of the cruises offered are complex and require algorithms to ensure the right pricing is set. IT would seem to play a key role in CruiseCalm.

Opportunities
Growth in Family Cruises

The current social environment in Norland is geared around older travelers who enjoy expensive and luxurious holidays, which suits CruiseCalms current business model.

“Norland is a developed country that has a high standard of living. The average age of the population is relatively high, with large numbers of citizens who can afford to indulge themselves in expensive holidays”

However, there is an emerging trend that for cruises for younger passengers and families. This is an opportunity that CruiseCalm should look to exploit.

And it would be feasible given their emphasis on innovation and highly modern fleet of ships, should they need to adapt it to accommodate a younger, family based clientele.

Threats
Overcrowding

There are a few news articles and press releases at the end of the pre-seen but they one that caught my eye was the article on “Cruise Ships lose their welcome”.

The daily news article states that due to high volume of tourists (from cruise liners) that can descend on any one destination has drawn complaints and criticisms from other holidaymakers in the area.

“The town authorities in many popular cruise destinations are considering reducing the number of ships that can be permitted to dock at any one time”

This should be cause for concern for the directors of CruiseCalm.

It throws up the questions;

  • will alternative routes have to be found in line with other cruise operators to ensure popular destinations are not overcrowded?
  • Is there sufficient on board entertainment and ;
  • can the current operations manage if the passengers are on the ship for longer periods of time?

Good Luck with the exam!

CIMA OCS Aug 2019: AKL Sparkle

AKL OCS

The CIMA OCS August 2019 exam is based around a case study scenario called AKL Sparkle. The first thing that caught my eye was the absence of a logo or motif on the pre-seen materials! I hope, for those who are taking the exam, there has been more effort put into the content of the pre-seen materials themselves!

Pre-Seen Materials

You can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here – via the CIMA Connect site which finally appears to be up and running again.

OCS Exam Resources

OCS Exam Hot Topics – some great advice here from CSSC Tutition on what syllabus areas are highly examinable in the OCS exams.

Helping you pass OCS Exams – this document from CIMA gives a great insight to a real students script and the examiners feedback, as well as other advice.

VIVA Tution OCS Advice – the guys at VIVA have put together a nice guide on the operational case study exam.

AKL Sparkle: Pre-Seen Analysis

This 36 minute video from Astranti will help you on your way to analyse the pre-seen materials. Identifying the key information and potentially what areas of the syllabus will come up on exam day.

The full video packs for the AKL Sparkle case study can be found here.

AKL Sparkle: Top 10 Issues

A specific look at the key issues with AKL sparkle based on what we already know from the pre-seen materials. A good way to give yourself some focus when preparing for the OCS exam.

The full video packs for the AKL Sparkle case study can be found here.

AKL Sparkle: Q&A session

Good Luck sitting the exam!

CIMA Case Studies: August 2019

aug19MCS (2)

It’s that time of the CIMA case study cycle when the pre-seen materials will soon be issued and students facing the prospect of an August exam will be brushing up on their E/P/F syllabus knowledge.

 

Personally, I will be taking the SCS exam this August so I will try and share as much as I can on how I’m progressing in the lead up to my exam on Tuesday 20th August.

If this is your first CIMA case study exam, then the following advice, tips and information will stand in you good stead and make those first steps into your exam preparation a bit easier!

How do CIMA case studies work?

First of all, they are completely different from the CIMA Objective Tests you will have already passed to reach here. It’s a world away from what we already know and the multiple choice, abstract nature of the objective test questions.

Personally, I find them more enjoyable and fun to prepare for as it’s easier to relate to a real life situation and gives you a chance to demonstrate your all round skill set.

The CIMA Case Study (OCS, MCS or SCS) are split usually into 4 equal section (with perhaps some sub components in each section).

The case study exam is designed to replicate the workplace, as opposed to asking you to provide quick fire answers on the technical side of the syllabus.

This is a big shift in how you will need to approach your preparation and exam answering technique.

Here is an overview of the attributes you will need to show in your CIMA case study exam.

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The above weightings shows what the examiner is looking for in each level of the CIMA case studies.

Operational students will need to display a lot of technical knowledge with less emphasis on leadership and people skills, while at the other end of the spectrum, the Strategic level students will need to well versed in all areas equally.

To get a better idea of what the examiners are looking you, I’d suggest to read one of the CIMA examiners report. Here is a link to the CIMA examiners report for the 2018 sitting of the MCS exam: Menta.

Case Study Exam: DO’s and DON’T’s

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Make a study plan

This should be the first thing you do. You have around 6 weeks from the pre-seen being released to exam day, so every day should be planned.

And allow some rest days too.

Read Business News

Keep up to date with the latest happenings in the news, especially if you spot something in relation to your case study.

Is there are any big acquisitions and mergers happening and how are they being handled? It will score you extra points if you can refer to industry examples on exam day.

Practice Scenario Questions

Give yourself lots of questions to answer in your preparation. Try going back through old variants on your OCS/MCS/SCS and try answering the questions. You can find past case study exam papers from CIMA here.

Most case study courses will give you plenty of time and resources for question practice.

Self-Reflection

Always give yourself time to self-reflect on your questions/answers and attempted mock exams. Take feedback objectively and learn from it.

Self-reflection is a great skill to have.

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Avoid Syllabus Detail and Depth

Don’t spend your time going through the whole syllabus in detail – keep this kind revision high-level and relevant.

As mentioned the case study exam aims to pull everything you have learnt together and it’s not designed to test how well you understand the full technical side of the syllabus.

You are better off spending the bulk of your time learning how to answer case study style questions and learning how to apply your knowledge.

Memorise the Pre Seen Materials

The Pre-Seen materials are crucial, don’t get me wrong, but they are there to set the scene for your case study. To give you an insight to the company you are working for, with some key facts and figures.

Students do run the risk of putting too much emphasis of the pre-seen materials as it’s a direct connection to the upcoming exam, but don’t neglect the areas like question practice and learning how to integrate your answers.

Leave it until the last minute

You’ll need all of the available study time to give yourself the best chance of passing the CIMA case studies. Leaving your preparation until the last minutes will ultimately leave yourself too much too do.

August 2019 Case Study Courses

I passed the OCS and MCS exams using the Astranti courses and intend to use them also for the upcoming SCS exam.

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2019-06-17 16_39_30-Astranti_ CIMA Operational Case Study Courses - Internet Explorer

Pre-seen materials released 21st June 2019

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Pre-seen materials released 28th June 2019

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Pre-seen materials released on 3rd July 2019

Here is what you can expect from their course.

Complete pre-seen pack (pre-seen, strategic, industry analysis and top 10 issues)
3 x Full tuition videos
2 x Study texts
2 x Live Masterclasses (the keys to passing and revision masterclass)
3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Aug 19 scenario)
Detailed marking and feedback
Ethics Pack
Pass Guarantee

Good Luck with your next case study exam!

CIMA SCS May 2019: Denby Healthcare

Denby

The CIMA SCS pre-seen materials were released last week for the May SCS exam, it’s based around a healthcare company called “Denby Healthcare” – you can find the official pre-seen materials from CIMA here.

SCS Astranti May 2019 Course

The full SCS course from Astranti is really packed full of resources.

Complete pre-seen pack (pre-seen, strategic, industry analysis and top 10 issues)

  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study texts
  • 2 x Live Masterclasses (the keys to passing and revision masterclass)
  • 3 x Full Mock Exams (based on Nov 18 scenario)
  • Detailed marking and feedback
  • Ethics Pack
  • Pass Guarantee

Here is an hours preview video of the Astranti pre-seen analysis to whet your appetite.

Pre-Seen Analysis: Denby Healthcare

Insight

I’ve gone through the pre-seen analysis a couple of times and found a few interesting areas that caught my eye;

Overseas Revenue

overseas

There wasn’t a huge amount of significance in the P&L and Balance Sheet of Denby or their competitors but the analysis of the Overseas revenue did catch my eye.

It dropped from 145m to 103m in 2018 and this is a concern, given that equates to a 30% drop in revenue in that segment.

There is also a link or indicator as to how to combat this decline in revenue.

The Keeland Daily News article mentions a football player who flew to Cornopia to have specialist care that was not available.

“The club’s doctor had recommended the hospital because it could offer specialist care that was not available in Keeland.”

Denby should start looking towards specialist care that is not available in other areas to increase their own overseas revenue. Identifying other regions weaknesses when it comes to private medical care could prove a lucrative avenue of income.

Staffing

It’s mentioned a few times in the pre-seen analysis, staffing is a Critical Success Factor for Denby Healthcare and need to ensure they keep their best staff and attract the best in the medical profession.

“Staffing is most important element of patient care”

And this isn’t just restricted to the head doctors or surgeons but the pre-seen emphasizes the importance of staff at levels. Which makes sense for a private hospital. The competition is fierce so any added extra value that can be given to the patient will have an impact on the reputation of the hospital.

However, there is some reassurance that this recognized and actions are in place to help mitigate those risks.

2019-04-12 14_06_04-Start

There is also an opportunity here for Denby to take advantage of the increase in applications for Nurisng Degree’s mentioned in the news article at the end of the pre-seen.

Denby should be thinking of working alongside the tuition providers to provide a stream of qualified nurses straight into Denby before a competitor private hospital does.

Share Price Plummet

shareprice

The share price drop in the last six months will be a major concern to shareholders and will need to be addressed.

The share price in November 2018 was around K$4 but now it’s closer to K$2 – what has caused the share price to drop so dramatically?

The geared and ungeared beta’s are both below 1.0 so the market sees a below average risk with Denby Healthcare, so what has caused the markets to react the way they have?

Furthermore, there will be increased scrutiny from the shareholders as there is a widespread shareholding that will need to be re-assured the company is heading the right direction and plans are afoot to increase the share price in the coming months and years.

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