James Taylor walks you through the Management case study exam, which focuses on a construction firm’s loss of sensitive customer data
Hopefully you have booked your MCS exam slot and are now ramping up for the Jord Homes case. I would say after the pressures of sitting the Management level OT exams (E2, F2 and P2) you may actually find you enjoy the preparation for case study. First step is to get very familiar with the pre-seen and with your ‘part’ in this experience.
For three hours you will be a Finance Manager in Jord Home’s head office, reporting to the Finance Director. You work within a small finance team and your primary responsibilities are associated with management accounting.
This often requires you to liaise with colleagues from other functional areas, including production, sales and marketing, and human resources. The Finance Director is responsible for financial reporting and strategic management, but she delegates some responsibility to you.
The case study exam is a computer-based exam of three hours – there is no reading time added.
The exam aims to integrate and apply the knowledge tested in the objective test exams.
The exam is based on:
• Pre-seen material, which is already published on CIMAConnect.
• Additional unseen material given to you in the exam room.
The answers you give will be long form and typed into the exam system, this will consist of all forms of modern communication, including emails, reports and briefing notes as examples.
A significant amount of the Management case study is based on knowledge of the F2 and P2 Learning outcomes plus the assumed knowledge brought forward from F1 and P1, so you need to make sure you bring technical knowledge to the MCS party.
For some, this will be the first time you will get to display to CIMA your ability to ‘write’ long form answers at managerial standard. You will need to be able to combine the competencies from the CIMA framework with an ability to structure an answer with a ‘logical flow’. Practising answering long-form questions based on Jord Homes is going to be key. If your tutor offers to mark homework take them up on the offer, as getting as much feedback as possible is very important.
The most important skill on the day is not mentioned in the competency framework but basically is this: have you answered the tasks set with sufficient application to Jord Homes? Some calculations are included where they give context, but the focus needs to be on the written parts of these questions.
You need to be aware that P2 is the lead paper on MCS and therefore being prepared for technical questions on Advanced Management Accounting is key.
You are going to get one of the five variants. Each variant has four sections. You get 45 minutes to answer the task within the section.
The task will have more than one part and answering all parts of the task, before the system moves you on after 45 minutes, is key.
The elements of the task can be pulled from the P pillar, the F pillar and the E pillar. The variants are built around a major theme. Being familiar with the Jord Homes pre-seen, in this case the manufacture and assembly of pre-fabricated houses, can help you to feel comfortable with the subject matter on the day. But you must answer the question as set on the day, not ‘one you did earlier’! You need to be prepared for a ‘curve ball’ variant. Often one variant is rogue and it would be impossible for anybody to have seen the angle coming. It is positive to get the rogue variant as the more difficult the variant the easier it can be for you as an individual to shine.
An easy paper may seem like a ‘gift’ but you have to outperform other candidates. It can be hard to believe, but a tough paper is often easier to pass for a competent student who thinks on their feet, generates ideas and answers all parts of all tasks.
Here is an example of a question that we have written for our Jord Homes Case Exam Kit:
Details of telephone conversation with journalist:
Journalist: I understand that there has been a breach of security at your head office?
Raif Berg: I am sorry you will have to elaborate.
Journalist: A member of the public has found an electronic file containing detailed billing information for customers. The billing information contains details of credit and debit card payments for each customer, too. Obviously, I have had to alert the authorities at Corvola-Data Protection Agency, but I wondered if I could ask you for a comment?
Raif Berg: Sorry no comment at this time (hangs up).
Today is 1 May 2019 and you receive the following email from Carla Holm, Finance Director:
From: Carla Holm
To: Financial Manager
Sent: 1st May 2019
Subject: Data Security
A worrying issue has been brought to light. Raif Berg, Chief Information Officer, received a call last week, claiming that there has been a breach of data security. Head office hold customer data using an information system, but I’m not sure this has been updated for a long time and may need reinvestment. I attach notes from a conversation between Raif and a journalist last week.
Please can you prepare a briefing document for the board to review that explains the risks involved in storing customer data using our information system and how we could possibly minimise these?
Carla Finance Director, Jord Homes
• Assume you have 22.5 minutes to complete this task
Email email@example.com for a the full model answer to this question.
• James Taylor, Commercial Director, HTFT Partnership