Budgeting and Beyond!

Budget concept
While studying for the operational case study I was revising the budgeting section of the P1 syllabus and the idea of Beyond Budgeting really struck a chord with me.

Traditional budgeting methods, in my opinion, are becoming outdated and counter-productive. The idea that departments will needlessly spend in the final months of the year to ensure their budget is not cut the following is crazy.

Traditional Budgeting Methods

I’ve seen this first-hand when managers have been scrambling around in November/December to spend their capital expenditure budget so they got the same amount the following year. I was relatively new to the company and quizzed a colleague as to why there was so much spend in December and she told me “Well, they will lose their budget next year if they don’t spend all of this years”. Madness.

Beyond Budgeting: A new approach

So Beyond Budgeting looks to rectify these problems by abandoning traditional methods  – the two main drivers for this are;

1. A more adaptive set of management processes
2. A highly decentralised organisation

Beyond Budgeting empowers management by giving them the freedom to achieve their goals without the need of a rigid set of budgeted numbers. Instead, front line management are given goals that are in line with shareholder value and the bigger picture.

As one of the main criticisms of traditional budgeting methods is the fact it’s too short-term in it’s thinking.

These goals are measured using a set of KPI’s, industry benchmarks, customer satisfaction and revenue or market capitalisation.

Hope and Fraser identified 6 shared common principles that should be used by all companies who want to adopt a Beyond Budgeting technique:

– A governance framework based on clear priorities and boundaries.
– A high performance climate based on visible and relative success at all levels.
– Front line teams with a freedom to take decisions in line with the company’s governance principles and strategic goals.
– Teams given responsibility for value creating systems.
– Teams focuses on customer outcomes.
– Open and ethical information systems.

If applied correctly, the beyond budgeting process rewards the high performers within the company and not just the skilled budget negotiators.

Other key benefits include accountability and ownership by empowering the front line teams to make decisions. And, of course, there is less waste as managers are encouraged to work towards medium and long term strategic goals rather than traditional annual budgets that produce unnecessary spend.

CIMA produced a topic gateway document on Beyond Budgeting that can be found here and makes for interesting reading.

Beyond budgeting is:
‘An idea that companies need to move beyond budgeting because of the inherent flaws in budgeting especially when used to set contracts. It is argued that a range of techniques, such as rolling forecasts and market related targets, can take the place of traditional budgeting.’
CIMA Official Terminology, 2005

 

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CIMA P1 Exam and Study Tips

CIMA P1 Exam Tips

CIMA P1 Study Text

The foundation of your CIMA P1 studies will be from the study text you choose, whether it’s BPP, Kaplan or other learning providers like Astranti or Acorn. The study text you choose should be suitable for your learning.

I like to use a mixture of the Kaplan and Astranti study texts. I find Kaplan is clear and easy to digest with their pragmatic approach to explaining the key theories. However, I also like to use the free study texts from Astranti.

  1. Because they are free!
  2. I can access them online
  3. The writing style is a bit more personal then Kaplan or BPP.

FREE Astranti CIMA P1 study text

Kaplan CIMA P1 study text

Study Planner

Planning your studies is crucial to passing the CIMA P1 exam. It gives you a timeline of what to cover, when to cover and how long it should take you.

Without sufficient planning you might find yourself studying P1 for months on end without feeling any closer to being ready for the exam!

CIMA’s new and improved study planner is interactive and allows to create your own day by day planner to help keep you on track for exam success.

Another top benefit is the links to the CIMA articles and past exam questions of each learning component in the P1 syllabus.

How to pass CIMA P1 exam

You can find the official CIMA P1 study planner here.

CIMA P1 Revision Classes

Students who self study and just use the study texts to pass their CIMA exams will be missing out on class room tuition and tutor advice. But I find using the Astanti revision master classes a great to cover the whole syllabus and pick information I may have missed when studying the materials myself.

Watching the full revision master class about 2-3 weeks before you sit the P1 exam will give you a better chance of achieving the pass mark!

You can find the CIMA P1 revision classes here.

CIMA P1 Mock Exams

Once you’ve covered the P1 Management Accounting syllabus it’s time to think about taking some mock exams. Again, finding a mixture of different resources in regards to mock exam practice is the best.

You can find past exam questions (in 2010 format) from the CIMA connect site here.

But I would also recommend using the Kaplan exam kit – contains over 200 questions in the style of the new CIMA objective tests – while using the Astranti mock exams which replicate the full 90 minute scenario you will face on exam day.

Kaplan P1 Management Accounting exam kit.

Astranti P1 mock exams.

CIMA P1 Industry Articles

Relating the P1 syllabus to real life scenarios is a great way to really get to grips with the subject you’re studying. And to do that, I would suggest locating as many industry examples or CIMA documents from the CIMA connect site to help you in your learning process.

If you’re struggling to find examples then remember to check the P1 study planner provided by the CIMA connect site – as they have links direct to the articles – under the resources column (see below).

CIMA P1 Industry Articles

The operational level of the CIMA qualification covers the implementation of strategy as well as reporting on the implementation of the strategy. It’s focus is purely on the short term.

The P1 paper focuses on management accounting through four main streams; Cost accounting systems, Budgeting, Short-Term decisions making and dealing with risk.

CIMA P1 Connect Group

Finally, I have already mentioned the CIMA connect group several times already but it’s a great source of information for students looking to pass the CIMA P1 exam.

Not only will you find the study planners and industry articles, you can also interact with others students who taking the same exam as you and boucne some ideas and share study tips.

You can find the CIMA P1 connect group here – it’s worth checking the student discussion here every week or so to see what’s happening and pick up some useful exam tips.