ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

Manage an assignment

PO 9 is linked to Paper F1, Accountant in Business, and Paper P3, Business Analysis

It is not just project accountants who deal with projects. Especially as professional accountants find their skills and knowledge called on to help achieve wider organisational goals, it is likely that you will be involved in a variety of one-off assignments, either on your own or as part of a team (which could be cross-functional or cross-disciplinary).

Whether you are in charge of the overall assignment or simply tasked with conducting a vital component, you will need to demonstrate time management, communication and planning skills in order to execute the assignment, as well as agility and responsiveness as the assignment progresses.

Managing an assignment effectively will comprise agreement of scope, objectives and resources; planning how to monitor and review progress (including the use of specific project management tools); and post-assignment evaluation. You can demonstrate your competence in a host of ways, including:

  • managing an external or internal audit assignment from start to finish, including delegation of individual responsibilities and communicating findings and recommendations to management
  • learning how to effectively use project management software, or adapt programs such as Microsoft Excel or Google Docs, to monitor and illustrate a specific assignment as part of support provided to a project manager
  • setting up a system for educating non-finance staff in essential finance-driven procedures (for example, purchase orders, timesheets, etc), including identifying and prioritising relevant colleagues, agreeing parameters with your supervisor and non-finance managers, organising or delivering the coaching and evaluating outcomes against prior performance.

Remember that the assignments you focus on to achieve this objective need to fall in line with organisational and/or departmental objectives. The next step is to answer the challenge questions:

  • Describe your role in managing a discrete assignment: 
    - Think about overall aims and expected outcomes.
    - Include specific responsibilities, including those you were originally assigned and those you devised for yourself.
    - Explain how and why certain responsibilities emerged as the assignment progressed.
  • How did you apply learning from your day-to-day role in the assignment?
    - Consider those competencies whose potential you stretched during the project, of which – through passing them on to others – will have developed your coaching, training or development skills.
    - Also, consider previous projects you may have carried out, including skills you developed, as well as the knowledge you acquired, as a result of things that may not have gone the way you planned.
  • What did you learn from the assignment that will help you in your day-to-day role?
    - Focus on those competencies you developed purely as a result of the project. But remember these can include skills and knowledge acquired through working alongside more experienced colleagues in finance, or colleagues in other functional teams (for example, HR, marketing, sales, operations, etc), and which will enhance your performance in your mainstream duties (or in future assignments).

Last updated: 17 Jun 2013