ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

Improve departmental performance

PO 8 is linked to Paper F1, Accountant in Business, Paper P3, Business Analysis, and Paper P5, Advanced Performance Management

In any team it is important to consider more than simply your own desk or your own specific tasks; the ACCA Qualification syllabus reflects the growing role of accountants as business managers. By constantly taking a strategic view, and seeking to improve the performance of your team, department or organisation, you will demonstrate your capacity to take on wider business responsibilities. Applying management and organisational behaviour theory in practice will help you to make an impact beyond your own responsibilities.

Identifying opportunities to make improvement-driven changes, reviewing how closely those changes impact on performance, and keeping relevant stakeholders informed and involved, are essential elements of the practical experience you must demonstrate to be an effective professional accountant. You will need to ensure that your suggestions are both well-founded (piloted first, if feasible) and in line with your employer’s vision and objectives.

Being vigilant for opportunities for improvements is not something to consider only in the run-up to PER sign-off by your workplace mentor. It is a state of mind to remain in if you want to make the best contribution to your employer (and enjoy a more rewarding career). Activities to demonstrate your vigilance and initiative might include:

  • developing and implementing accounting and business processes, or suggesting improvements to existing processes
  • monitoring business performance and setting performance measures
  • proactively advising managers on becoming more cost effective
  • helping individuals improve their individual performance for the additional good of the team.


The next step is to answer the challenge questions:

  • Describe an occasion when you have identified an opportunity to improve departmental performance (for instance, suggesting and planning a visit to colleagues in a spending department, such as marketing, to explain relevant procedures and encourage better use of, say, purchase orders, through explaining the benefits to the company of proper records).
  • How did you contribute to developing the opportunity for development? (This could be as simple as setting up a weekly half-hour refresher course on different topics, with each week’s session run by a volunteer in the team, on a task at which they are regarded as being particularly adept. Alternatively, the activity could be more complex – ie helping your FD to bring outdated departmental appraisal forms and performance review procedures into line with current best practice.)?
  • Was this opportunity fully successful and, if so, why was this? If not, why not? (So, for the refresher courses, you might illustrate how people’s skills were enhanced as a result of your initiative – the technical skills of colleagues who attended the sessions and the presentation/training skills of those who volunteered to run them. For the performance appraisal, you could seek general feedback from your FD on how the new system is – or isn’t – helping staff to see and pursue a more structured, transparent career path.)

Last updated: 13 Jun 2013