Where there is an asterisk (*) it may be appropriate to use some primary data collection to assist your information gathering
Topic 1* – Your research will need to establish whether there are clear links with the performance management and how well the budgetary control system feeds into the decision making process (are variance reports acted on; are managers held accountable for discretionary/controllable costs etc. are budget forecasts reviewed and revised appropriately? is there evidence of improvements that can be traced to the system? Is feedback used appropriately?) Possibly a management questionnaire may help here
Topic 2* – What proof is there that the new technology has been successful or have there been unforeseen consequences? (See my other comments above). May involve some primary research – a valid staff/ customer questionnaire as appropriate
Topic 3 – With this you may need to factor in the impact of the extra costs of the new legislation and consider various scenarios (will it increase sales or suppress them? / does it mean that products or services will have to be radically changed or superseded by alternatives?). You will need to evaluate the various scenarios and come to a conclusion based on these
Topic 4 – Is very similar in general approach to T3 – you will need to model and evaluate various scenarios attaching costs to them in order to come to a conclusion.
Topic 5 – See Topic 8 section (How to tackle Evaluation and Analysis Part I)
Topic 6* – This needs a review of motivation theories but as it will almost certainly involve using a questionnaire as the main source to gather information to gauge employees’ motivation it is vital that a great deal of time is spent on planning and designing this. Results must then be tied back to the theories. (Fails in this topic are usually because either the theory is not applied to the results or the survey is constructed and conducted so poorly that the results are unreliable so the conclusions are not valid)
Topic 7* – Both a pre and a post restructuring review is required, however you may also need to project into the future otherwise you may find that you are only reporting the information you found and not creating anything yourself. So you would need to consider how you can resolve this potential problem e.g. you could also do some primary data collection involving employees and their reactions to and impact on them of the restructuring for example and/or you may be able to investigate the impact on share price and funding strategies.
Topic 8 – See How to tackle Evaluation and Analysis Part I for this
Topic 9* – As with T7 you need to guard against just reporting what you found and ensure that your ‘critical evaluation’ involves some of your own analysis. Consider some cost benefit analysis including not just the perceived advantages but also any disadvantages or extra costs (outages/ pilot runs/ running dual systems/ staff training and employee stress – possibly the latter via a staff questionnaire)
Topic 10 – similar in approach to T1- consider whether the techniques are still appropriate and how they feed into better management decisions (are some ‘process redesign’ / ‘process reengineering’ principles applicable? – can the techniques be improved?)– you need to demonstrate objectivity in your analysis
Topic 11 – the title clearly mentions “operational costs and benefits” so this needs to be your focus. There is always a danger with T11 of just describing the situation ‘as is’ – although background information is important, you MUST do some analysis of your own, not just report what you found and to be able to come up with reasoned conclusions based on definite evidence
Topic 12* – the approach will depend on the accounting standard and who will be affected most. Will it directly affect particular business segments e.g. small organisations or just global companies? Is it something that may affect small accounting practices or because of its nature mainly large accounting firms? Interestingly the title mentions “proposed” so probably surveying those identified as most affected by it would be the way to approach this. Supplement your information gathering with articles from accounting journals or the professional bodies and any discussions of the pros and cons.
Topic 13 – first you need to identify what the aims of HR in the organisation are. Measuring HR effectiveness may mean relying on company statistics here and therefore you will need to ensure that you are objective in your analysis and critically examine the evidence, not just accepting it (here you may need to read articles from specialist journals for the HR sector so that you can add balance and maybe get a feel for what is considered ‘best practice’ so that you can benchmark your company)
Topic 14 – The title can cover any strategic investment decision – it will involve a material cost and an element of risk. The approach will depend on the type of decision – possibly some sensitivity analysis for the best case/expected/worse cases scenarios and projections based on this. Don’t overlook the second part of the title – the key stakeholders, so these all need to be identified and the impact on all of them considered (otherwise ignoring this element could result in a fail)
Topic 15 – Please see the detail on T8 as some of the comments are common to this topic too. The cash operating cycle is obviously critical and in this sense it is better not to go for certain sectors that have complex operating arrangements e.g. the airline industry or those that use hedging and derivative instruments. You need to be able to identify and understand the various components that make up the company’s funding in principle or you will not be able to evaluate them. Some comparisons with another organisation may be appropriate (but not to the same detailed extent as in T8)
Topic 16 – As with T11 you must bring in some balanced evaluation and avoid just describing what you found. Are there ways you can assess how the organisation manages its risk portfolio? Some organisations are producing reports on risk assessment in their annual report and conducting risk based internal audits – so are there trends if you look at several years about the impact of these? How do outside agencies e.g. Moody’s perceive the risk?
Topic 17- I have covered this subject very extensively on the T17 Forum so please consult that forum for the details. (Although some students attempt to do primary research for this I feel this approach on its own does not bring sufficient objectivity and reliability into the project)
Topic 18* – There are some good models for T18 but a structured approach when applying these is required. You need to identify the various strategies that the company applies to its main products and/or segments and by looking at trends in sales, market share etc. assess how effective these are. It may be feasible to do a customer survey but read the Phil Clarke article (see Information Pack) so that the questions asked are appropriate and provide reliable evidence
Topic 19 – This is similar in approach to T7 however the emphasis is slightly more towards the operational angle
Topic 20 – This is fairly similar in approach to T17 but before you choose this topic you should do some preliminary research and try to find a company that is either praised for its CSR approach or has been heavily criticised for ignoring it (it will then have a little more media coverage for you to work with). You will need to research what factors are desirable for good CSR and your task will be assessing the organisation against those. You cannot just accept the company stance – you will need to provide some objective evidence and do not overlook the ethics and stakeholder elements. Note: CSR has different definitions in different countries so this gives some scope to assess the organisation against these – see the Appendix of the following document for ideas
The comments above in relation to approaches to the different topics are not exhaustive they are just ideas and maybe you can come up with some of your own that are even more appropriate but I hope that whichever topic you choose, you now have a better understanding of the evaluation and analysis requirements.
Although it has not been possible to cover every topic in a huge amount of detail here, please use the search facility on our forums to locate your chosen topic as there may be additional relevant information on the individual Topic Forum