CIMA OCS May 2019: VitaMine

VitaMine

The pre-seen materials for the May 2019 OCS were released some days ago, you can find the official document from CIMA here.

*please note this blog post has been updated 3rd April to include a 33 minute video of a Q&A session on this case study! Can be found at the bottom of this post.

May 2019 OCS: VitaMine Astranti Course

I’ve used Astranti to great effect when passing the OCS and MCS CIMA exams, below is a an idea of the pre-seen videos for the VitaMine case study.

The full Astranti OCS course comes with a pass guarantee too!

  • Complete pre-seen pack (pre-seen, strategic, industry analysis and top 10 issues)
  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study text
  • 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

SWOT Analysis – VitaMine

I’m aware the blog posts for the case studies need a fresh idea, so I’ve decided to run through the pre-seen materials in more detail and draw up my own SWOT analysis.

As the OCS will be your first taste of a CIMA case study, you may be wondering where and how to start your work?

Well, a SWOT analysis of VitaMine should be your first task.

Insight

STRENGTHS

Strong Reputation of Excellent Quality

Right from the outset, the pre-seen materials tell us that VitaMine have a strong reputation in the industry, which is a key reason why they have grown rapidly over the last three years – revenue has doubled from 16,662 to 31,884 in that period.

VitaMine’s reputation will not only serve them well when generating sales, but it will also benefit them in the hunt for the best talent when looking to increase the workforce.

Board of Directors

All four of the board of directors hold an equal share in VitaMine and all have an excellent profile for a growing company in a thriving industry. They will all be pulling in the same direction and have a good mixture of experience and skills.

WEAKNESSES

HR and Staffing

It is mentioned various times in the pre-seen materials that VitaMine are facing challenges with their staff and putting in place their infrastructure. Although this is a not a criticism of how the company is managed and led but more a consequence of the rapid growth

“It has been recognised that there is a need to build new processes for human resource management to ensure the well-being of both existing and new staff”

I’d imagine there would be a question on HR management in the exam given what we know in the pre-seen materials – of course this is just my opinion!

Finance

The Finance department appears to be well run but I’d imagine there is a need for a freshen up with staff and modernizing how the department is run. The pre-seen materials tell us the finance department has barely changed since 2002.

I’d also question whether annual incremental budgeting is the right approach for the business – at least VitaMine should be using forecast data on a monthly/quarterly basis – and I’d suggest given functional managers some responsibility in the finances of their department rather than leaving the onus on the directors for the annual budgets.

OPPORTUNITIES

Digital Marketing

You might be exhausted by the time you reach page 22 of the 23 pre-seen materials, but there is a nugget of pure gold on the press article from “Your Health Monthly”

“A recent study revealed that growth in health related product sales is often driven by internet orders. We should add though that our favourite search engines might not point us to the best products, just those companies most willing to spend on digital marketing.”

Meanwhile, the pre-seen materials (future outlook) also point to the fact internet sales have experienced significant growth over the last decade.

If I was sitting this exam in May I would definitely be reading up on how digital marketing can apply to VitaMine and the benefits it will bring.

Tighter Regulations

I was tempted to put this under threats, but after careful consideration I believe it can be better used as an opportunity. Eastland government is expected to tighten regulations around manufacturing and product safety.

But if VitaMine can react quickly to this and work with the local government and ensure they are the market leaders when it comes to using the right vitamins and ensuring the packaging is clear and compliant with any new legislation then it can only enhance VitaMine’s reputation and bottom line.

THREATS

The Real Benefits of Vitamins?

The press article at the end of the pre-seen from “Health Food Weekly” is a kick in the teeth to VitaMine. Hock Tan from the National Health Institute is quoted as saying;

“Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided”

Such negative press on the industry will have an impact on consumer confidence. How does VitaMine combat this?

They will need to turn on the PR taps and prove their products are well the customers hard earned money.

Rival Companies

The vitamin, mineral and supplements industry has a wide range of manufactures according to page 12 of the pre-seen materials.

“The leading manufacturer maintains only 7 per cent market share of total sales value to end-consumers. The top five branded manufacturers together hold less than 25 per cent market share”

And with that consumers seem to have a lack of loyalty to any one brand. This means that VitaMine will need to work extra hard to keep their current customers happy and reach new ones.

Hopefully my SWOT analysis above has given you a kick start in the right direction for your preparation for the May OCS exam. Meanwhile, the Astranti video below on the pre-seen analysis should really add some more depth to your notes.

Good Luck with your OCS Studies!

May OCS 2019 Astranti Tutor Q&A

Below is a bonus video I found from Astranti, 33 minutes of Q&A session between students taking the VitaMine case study and a Astranti tutor.

Well worth a watch!

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CIMA OCS Feb 2019: Trigg Adventure

OCS Feb19

The February 2019 CIMA OCS exam is a great time to take a case study exam. As you’ll have 60 days in between the pre-seen materials being released and the exam day itself – usually you’ll have around 45 days if taking a case study in May/Aug/Nov – so take advantage of this extra time!!

Focus on Technical Skills

Tech1

The OCS exam is heavily weighted towards the Technical Skills competency area, so in order to pass the OCS exam you’ll need to have strong technical knowledge of the syllabus content and how to apply it.

  • Technical Skills 64%
  • Business Skills 16%
  • People Skills 14%
  • Leadership Skills 6%

If we think about the role you play in the OCS exam – Finance Officer/Accounts Assistant – it makes sense that he OCS will focus less on the leadership, business and people skills. So this gives you a platform to start planning your preparation.

What Technical Skills will I be tested on?

This leads to the next question, what technical knowledge should I focus when preparing for the Feb 2019 OCS case study? Well, we posted a great article from CSSC Tuition on the hot topics that could be tested in the OCS exam here.

And to further cement those area we can see that the bedrock of the OCS exam will be the P1 syllabus.

OCS_Te

The above chart was taken from a CIMA webinar on approaching case study exams, however, we are just concerned with the E1/P1/F1 part.

And we can see that the bulk of the technical skills around the OCS exam are based around the P1 syllabus – so brush up on cost accounting, management reporting and accounting information systems before the Feb 2019 OCS exam.

The above chart also highlights the fact that risk management and internal control are a key feature in the OCS, MCS and SCS exams.

CIMA OCS Answer Planning

Insight

I published a recent “The CIMA Student: Insight” blog post on the important of planning your answer when faced with a CIMA case study.

If you don’t think about HOW you will answer the question and brainstorm your ideas on how you will satisfy the requirement then you will produce a poor unbalanced answer.

Linking the pre-seen materials, making recommendations and drawing conclusions in your answer is a must if you want to pass the OCS exam.

You can read the full article on planning your OCS answers here – it includes a real example taken from the August 2018 OCS exam and I walk through the thought process and different stages of planning your answer.

CIMA OCS Astranti Course

OCSFeb19 NOW.png

The full OCS course from Astranti is really packed full of resources!

I used the Astranti OCS materials when passing the OCS exam in 2015, you can read that in more detail here.

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

  • 3 x Full tuition videos
  • 2 x Study text
  • 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

Pre-Seen Materials: Trigg Adventure

Trigg OCS preseen

CIMA released the pre-seen materials for Trigg Adventure and you can take a copy from official CIMA website here.

Having had a first glance at the pre-seen materials it’s clear that the company faces challenging times given the competition with digital, electronic toys with parents preferring the often cheaper more “in demand” toys like video games.

So the company will need to be inventive with the products they offer and consider the price points at which they enter the market.

Below is the Astranti Top Ten Issues video for the Trigg Adventure case study that is part of the full OCS course for the Feb 2019 CIMA case study – it’s a great way to focus your revision for the February exam.

OCS Important Dates

The full set of important dates for the OCS exam are displayed below.

OCS Feb 2019

Hot Topics for the CIMA OCS

The pre-seen materials were released for the CIMA OCS November GymFit exam a few weeks ago, so your attention should be turning towards mock exam practice and revision of the syllabus areas that are likely to come up on exam day.

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With this in mind, our good friends at CSSC Tutition have put together some words of wisdom on what it takes to pass the CIMA operational case study exam.

Passing the OCS Exam First Time

Passing the Operational Case Study requires solid technical knowledge combined with the ability to demonstrate good business and people skills. These need to be appropriately applied to the question details and answered within the context of the case-study scenario.

Good candidates need to be able to assimilate new information and communicate their answers in a timely and well-presented manner.

Exam technique is key here and practice makes perfect in this respect.

In conclusion, it is only mastery of the technical competencies and successful demonstration of the above skills that can result in the ‘strong’ answers which OCS markers are looking for.

So… with that in mind – we can agree that passing is not about question spotting… but surely it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the most examinable topics for the CIMA Operational Case Study exam!!

For example, we all know that P1 is the lead paper – but what are the lead topics?

CIMA OCS Most Examinable Topics

As a matter of research and interest here at CSSC Accountancy Tuition in Staffordshire we have tracked the top most examined Operational Case Study areas from each of the 3 operational level papers.

Our analysis is based on the last 12 Operational Case Study sittings.

For example, we can reveal that 12 out of 12 of the sittings included a question on the topic of P1 variances (traditional cost variances – material, labour etc. and/or Advanced Variances – e.g. mix & yield/planning & operational etc).

This is not to say that every variant of every exam sitting included this topic – but that it was covered by at least one of the five variants in each exam period.

Other favourites were F1’s working capital and E1’s marketing mix.

In addition to this, students must not overlook P1’s budget approaches (especially Zero Based Budgeting that has featured in 8 out of the past 12 sittings). Quality costing is another key area having featured in 10 out of 12 past OCS sittings.

More details on the most examinable areas are below – but please use this information wisely and to refine your revision rather than making it your focus!

Its important that you refresh all of your syllabus areas, undertake mock exam practice and also have a careful read of the most recent OCS examiner’s report. Don’t forget to also make use of other resources available on CIMA connect & TheCIMAStudent website.

Other OCS Highly Examined Areas

  • Activity Based Costing
  • Environmental Costing
  • Government Grants
  • Time Series Analysis
  • Inventory EOQ
  • Outsourcing
  • TQM
  • Payoff Table/ Maxi Decision Rules
  • Relevant Costing
  • Breakeven CVP
  • Uncertainty & Risk – Decision Trees
  • Linear Programming

CSSC Classroom Tuition

CSSC

For those living near to Staffordshire & Cheshire – CSSC Tuition offer Operational Case Study Tuition for all four sittings. We also offer evening tuition for all CIMA objective test papers -including Strategic level starting January 2019.

Prices start at just £350 per paper and instalment options are available. Enquiries welcome! Please contact info@cssctuition.co.uk

CIMA OCS May 2017: Ashworth Lea

CIMA OCS Ashworth Lea

The May OCS (operational case study) exam pre-seen materials were released by CIMA on Friday 24th March, so here is insight to what we know with the Ashworth Lea OCS case study as well as some excellent preview videos from Astranti that focus on the pre-seen, top 10 issues and strategic analysis

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

I posted an article earlier this month on CIMA Case Study Advice: May 2017 that will give you some more pointers and advice on how to approach the case study and the different resources available to you – ranging from post exam kits to study advice.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course for Ashworth Lea you can find it here.

Ashworth Lea: Who are they?

The company in the OCS exam, Ashworth Lea, are a producer of high quality prestigious motor cars and your role in the exam is that of a Finance Officer for the company.

Here are a few key pointers and background information taken from the pre-seen materials.

  • The company began in the early 1900’s as a partnership between Robert Ashworth and Andrew Lea.
  • The company has been consistently linked to high-quality, premium priced cars.
  • They are considered to be a niche producer with worldwide sales.
  • Ashworth Lea hit troubled times 30 years ago due to a lack of new models being released, however, a large mass producer of vehicles DOM acquired a 60% stake in the company and invested significant funds into the ailing company.
  • Nevertheless, DOM recently sold 45% of the stake in the company so the current structure looks like this.
  • a) original owners 40%, DOM 15%, INV group 45%

Ashworth Lea: Pre-Seen Video Analysis

Here is a preview video of the Astranti pre-seen analysis on Ashworth Lea, however, I would first recommend to go through the pre-seen materials once yourself and make notes on the key points before watching the video.

Then you can align your thoughts with that of the tutor.

The detailed page by page analysis of the pre-seen materials is a must view for any student taking the exam in May.

You can find the full set of videos on the May OCS here.

Ashworth Lea: Strategic Video Analysis

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of Ashworth Lea you will be able to understand the full picture and give greater depth to your answers on exam day. Drawing up your own SWOT analysis of the company is a good start before getting stuck into the Astranti strategic analysis video.

Here you can find the full set of videos on the May OCS here.

Ashworth Lea: Top 10 Issues

Here the Astranti tutors give their opinions on the most likely topics that could come up on exam day. This is of course subjective, but I found it to be very close the mark when I took the OCS exam 18 months ago.

It is a great way to add some focus to your OCS revision – but don’t use it as a way to question spot or write practice answers that you will replicate during the actual exam.

Here you can find the full set of videos on the May OCS here.

CIMA OCS February 2017: Mavis Venderby

CIMA Feb 2017 OCS Exam Tips

CIMA released the pre-seen materials for the OCS February exam last Friday 9th December and the case study in question is called “Mavis Venderby”.

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

I posted an article earlier this month on CIMA Case Study Advice: February 2017 that will give you some more pointers and advice on how to approach the case study and the different resources available to you – ranging from post exam kits to study advice.

For those interested in the complete Astranti OCS course for Mavis Venderby you can find it here.

Mavis Venderby: Who are they?

The company in the OCS exam, Mavis Venderby, produces (manufactures and retails) wooden beehives. Here are a few key pointers and background information taken from the pre-seen materials.

  • Family run business that’s been in operation for 70 years.
  • Mavis Vendery sells all products direct to customers.
  • There is a shop on site in the factory but the bulk of sales are made online or via telephone.
  • The company recently moved premises with plenty of scope for expansion.
  • The company is equally owned by the managing direction Thomas Venderby (Mavis’ son) and Jacinta Cory (Mavis’ great grandchild).

Mavis Venderby: Pre-Seen Video Analysis

The below video is a preview of the Astranti pre-seen analysis on Mavis Venderby, I would suggest to go through the pre-seen materials once by your self and make notes then watch the full video from Astanti and line up your comments against the tutors.

It’s a crucial part of understanding the pre-seen as it lays down the foundation you need to pass the OCS first time.

You can find the full set of videos on the February OCS here.

Mavis Venderby: Strategic Video Analysis

The strategic analysis of the company should be done next. Again, I would suggest drawing up a list of Mavis Venderbys strengths and weaknesses with a SWOT analysis. Then watch the Astranti video to see if you’re on the right track, it will also give you a fuller picture of the company.

But you can still find the full set of videos on the February OCS here.

Mavis Venderby: Top 10 Issues

The top 10 issues is a great way to give you some focus for your studies. The tutor identifies, in their opinion, what the most likely topics and questions will crop up on exam day based on what’s available in the pre-seen materials.

But you can still find the full set of videos on the February OCS here.

CIMA OCS November 2016: Marici Power

It took CIMA a couple of days longer than expected, but the pre-seen materials were released this afternoon for the OCS exam. By now, hopefully, you will have refreshed your knowledge of the E1, P1, and F1 syllabus areas you passed not so long ago.

Because you will be expected to use the knowledge and key theories/models from those CIMA papers in your OCS exam in November.

The more you can relate the case study scenario to the relevant areas of the syllabus then the better chance you have of passing the CIMA OCS first time.

The case study for operational students is based around a company called Marici Power. They offer solar power solutions to commercial and private customers. Your role, as assistant management accountant, is to assist with the production of financial information like annual budgeting, monthly management accounts as well requests from management.

You can find the official pre-seen material for the November 2016 OCS from CIMA here.

Marici Power: Pre-Seen Video Analysis

You have six weeks to digest and pick out the key information in the Marici Power pre-seen materials. So the preview videos from Astranti are a great way to focus your studies and pick up some useful tips and tricks on how to analyse the pre-seen and what information to be aware of.

You can find the full set of videos on the November OCS here.

Marici Power: Strategic Analysis

Once you’ve understand the pre-seen materials and made your notes regarding Marici Power, you should be thinking about the strategical analysis of the company. So what are their strengths and weaknesses? What is the mission and strategy of the company?

Thinking about the case study from a strategic point of view will help you add more depth to your answers on exam day and help highlight the threats and opportunities the companies face.

You can find the full set of videos (including Strategic Analysis) on the November OCS here.

Marici Power: Top 10 Issues

If you’re still concerned about the content of the exam, then the Top 10 Issues video brings together all of the information in the pre-seen materials of Marici Power and highlights the most likely topics to crop up on exam day.

I found it a brilliant way to make myself more comfortable about the exam and gave me some specific concrete areas to study on before exam day.

You can find the full set of videos (including the Top 10 Issues) on the November OCS here.

Astranti OCS Pass Guarantee

If you’re impressed with the preview videos from Astranti, then the full OCS course offers much more; including three mock exams with marking and feedback. (based on the Marici Power pre-seen materials).

While the masterclasses are live full day sessions with the tutor to go through all theory and practical advice on how to pass the OCS.

Astranti are so confident you will pass the CIMA OCS exam first time, they offer a pass guarantee to all students.

You can find full details on the OCS course with pass guarantee here.

OCS Course Contents:

  • OCS study text (part 1 and 2)
  • Pre-seen analysis (video and text)
  • Strategic analysis (video and text)
  • Top 10 issues (video and text)
  • Industry analysis (video and text)
  • 2 x online master classes – each class is a full day revision (recorded and live)
  • 3 x online mock exams – answered with detailed tutor feedback
  • Ethics pack
  • Personal advice and guidance

CIMA Case Study Advice: November 2016

The seemingly never-ending cycle of CIMA Case Study exams is beginning to rear it’s head again with the pre-seen materials for the operational level case study being released next week.

So for students who are sitting case study exams in November, here is a run down of the best resources and what you should be doing if you want to pass the CIMA case study first time.

Post Exam Kits – August 2016

Learning from previous exam sittings is a great way to boost your chances of passing the CIMA November case study sittings. CIMA have provided all students with the previous exam papers for the August case study exams with the suggested answers – for ALL FIVE variants as well as other

The home page for the post exam kits (links below) will direct you to the;

  • Pre-seen material
  • Case study exam paper
  • Suggested answers
  • Examiners report
  • Exam marking guidance

TIP: As of writing, the examiners report and exam marking guidance for the August sitting are not yet available but if you search for the May 2016 case study post exam kits you will find these documents for that sitting there.

The examiners report – a topic I have written about here – is another brilliant free document provided by CIMA that will give you tips and advice on how to pass CIMA case study exams first time.

OCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

MCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

SCS: August 2016 post-exam kit

Case Study Master Classes

For those students who are self studying for the case study exams, the master classes hosted by Astranti offer TWO full days of live classes with one of their CIMA tutors – and it’s a great way to supplement your existing study resources.

The first one is based around the keys to passing the case study exam, while the second master class is scheduled a week before the actual exam date and packs in a whole day revision on the case study scenario and the likely questions that could crop up.

The video below is an example of the master class that was held regarding the SparkSpace scenario with the August 2016 MCS exam.

The dates of the master classes for the November case study exams are listed below:

OCS Master Classes: 8 October 2016 and 5 November 2016

MCS Master Classes: 15 October 2016 and 12 November 2016

SCS Master Classes: 22 October 2016 and 19 November 2016

Case Study: Full Course Contents

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive set of case study materials then Astranti also offer a full course with a PASS Guarantee – I passed the OCS last year by using their case study materials and they are really developing a strong reputation with their resources.

  • Study Text 1 – focuses on what you need to pass the case study.
  • Study Text 2 – summaries the key areas from the whole syllabus.
  • Pre-Seen Analysis – tutors detailed analysis of the pre-seen material.
  • Strategic Analysis – uses models & key theories and how to apply them in the exam.
  • Top 10 Issues – identifies the top 10 issues that could come up on exam day.
  • Industry Analysis – gives you the current industry trends for your case study.
  • Masterclass 1 – live session with tutor on keys to pass the case study exam.
  • Masterclass 2 – live session with tutor on revision of case study scenario.
  • 3 Mock Exams – with detailed feedback based on the actual case study scenario.
  • Personal Advice and Guidance – via private forums and progress reviews.
  • Ethics Pack – often overlooked but this comprehensive guide covers Ethics and how to apply it to the CIMA case studies.

You can find full details of their courses for all levels below and dates when the pre-seen material is released for the November 2016 exams:

OCS Course – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the OCS exam is released on the week commencing 19th September 2016.

MCS Course – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the MCS exam is released on the week commencing 26th September 2016.

SCS Course – November 2016 – the pre-seen material for the SCS exam is released on the week commencing 3rd October 2016.

Acorn Financial Tutors

Another learning provider who offer CIMA case study materials are Acorn and readers of this website can claim an extra 10% discount off ALL CIMA materials.

Their latest list of CIMA case study materials can be found here.

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Currently (offer ends 30 September 2016), the hard copy of their full Integrated Case Study kit has been reduced to £240 from £360 – so you can order it for £216 by emailing your request to thecimastudent[at]gmail[dot]com

Study Support: Whats App Groups

Whats App groups for student discussion around the upcoming case study exams also seems to be an idea that is growing with every passing exam sitting.

I was part of one for the OCS last year and, if you don’t need getting lots of updates and messages on Whats App (you can always turn notifications off), I found it very interesting to hear other students points of views about the pre-seen material and how they were handling their revision. Not everything was helpful but from the point of view of a student who is self studying it’s very much worth joining.

The sign up for the Whats App groups can be found on the CIMA connect site – here is the link for the OCS November 2016 group. I couldn’t find anything for the MCS or SCS on the CIMA connect site but I am sure they will be created shortly – or you could even start one yourself.

Good Luck and Happy Studying!