Technical articles

Technical articles

Changes to Advanced Performance Management question requirements
From September 2019 onwards, the format of the question requirements in Section A of the APM exam will change.

Advanced Performance Management examiner approach
Advice on how to prepare for the exam, and the best ways to achieve success.

Making the most of ACCA’s Advanced Performance Management resources
ACCA produces a wealth of resources designed specifically to support students taking Advanced Performance Management. Here, we outline the specific Advanced Performance Management resources on the ACCA website, explaining how they should be used and what issues they specifically address.

Improving your Advanced Performance Management answers – Part 1
Improving your Advanced Performance Management answers – Part 2
This two-part article aims to give a marker’s perspective on the level of response that is required in a Advanced Performance Management answer. It addresses a specific past paper question that caused considerable difficulty in the June 2014 session.

Bringing forward Performance Management knowledge and skills into Advanced Performance Management
A member of the Advanced Performance Management examining team provides candidates with some insight into the ways in which knowledge and skills gained at previous levels can be examined at the final professional level.

Reading the question requirements of Advanced Performance Management
An insight into some common problems and misconceptions surrounding Advanced Performance Management. The article considers how to carefully understand the question requirement with use of selected examples from the past three Advanced Performance Management exams.

Divisional performance management
This article focuses on financial performance measures: how different measures are used to assess performance, and the advantages and disadvantages of the different measures.

Value for Money (VFM) and performance measurement in not-for-profit organisations
This article discusses the concept of value for money, and how it can be used to measure performance in not-for-profit organisations. 

Sustainability and performance management
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue for business, government and society. This article describes the importance of measuring sustainability performance, issues organisations need to consider when measuring sustainability performance and some of the metrics that could be used for doing so

Demystifying value-based management
This article aims to demystify the topic of value-based management by looking into its background, key ideas, problems, and steps for implementation. Finally, this article will give advice on how to tackle VBM requirements.

Developments in IT and the impact on performance management – part 1
Developments in IT and the impact on performance management – part 2
This two-part article looks at some important IT developments and discusses how they have impacted on management information and measuring performance.

Big data 1: What is big data?
Big data is part of the Performance Management syllabus. But what exactly is big data?

Big data 2: How companies use big data
This article will describe some real life examples of the use of big data for performance management and measurement purposes.

Data analytics and the role of the management accountant
This article describes performance metrics that are used by internet-based businesses and, in particular, looks at some of the metrics available in Google Analytics, the most widely used analytics tools for website traffic.

Common mistakes and misconceptions in the use of numerical data used for performance measurement
This article considers the following learning outcome of the Advanced Performance Management syllabus: ‘Advise on the common mistakes and misconceptions in the use of numerical data used for performance measurement’.

Integrated reporting
Integrated reporting is included in the syllabus of many Strategic Professional exams. This article aims to show how the idea of integrated reporting is relevant to the APM syllabus.

Performance reports
The design of performance reports is regularly examined in the APM exam. This article aims to provide guidance on how to tackle this type of question.

Lean enterprises and lean information systems
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
This article considers Toyota’s lean principles that have led to a new approach to management in many industries, with a focus on satisfying the needs of the customer, and not wasting time and money on activities that do not ultimately add value to the customer.

Complex business structures
This article focuses on complex business structures, where a core enterprise needs to manage the performance not only of its own activities, but also those of its partners to some extent.

Performance indicators
Both SBL and APM require candidates to be able to establish key performance indicators and critical success factors. This article explains and illustrates these concepts.

Critical success factors
How critical success factors are used.

The risks of uncertainty – part 1
This article considers the concepts of risk and uncertainty will be introduced together with the use of probabilities in calculating both expected values and measures of dispersion.

The risks of uncertainty – part 2
In this article on the risks of uncertainty, we build upon the basics of risk and uncertainty addressed in the first article published in the first part to examine more advanced aspects of incorporating risk into decision making.

Economic value added versus profit-based measures of performance – part 1
In the first part of two articles, we look at an alternative performance measurement system, Economic Value Added – or EVA – which has gained widespread use among companies such as Siemens, Coca Cola and Herman Miller.

Economic value added versus profit-based measures of performance – part 2
The second part of an article on Economic Value Added (EVA focuses on how to interpret the calculated EVA and its use as both an organisational and divisional performance measure.

Transfer pricing
Transfer prices are almost inevitably needed whenever a business is divided into more than one department or division.

Performance management in public sector organisations 
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
Many governments around the world have undertaken reforms aimed at making public sector organisations more accountable. One of the key features of these reform programmes has been the increasing use of performance measures like benchmarking, where one organisation compares its performance in a specific area with another – the benchmark – to identify areas for improvement.

Not-for-profit organisations – part 1
The first part of the article broadly describes the generic characteristics of not-for-profit organisations.

Not-for-profit organisations – part 2
The second part of the article takes a specific and deeper look at charities, which are one of the more important types of not-for-profit organisations.

Performance management models
This article provides a brief overview of two models which can assist accountants, not only in the determination of business strategy, but also in the appraisal of business performance.

The pyramids and pitfalls of performance measurement
This article outlines the issues which are central to the understanding and assessment of performance measurement.

Performance measures to support competitive advantage   
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
A focus on the success of airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair and how the balanced scorecard might be utilised to maintain the low-cost carriers' competitive edge.

Management control – a pre-requisite for survival
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
This article explains why increasing recognition is given to satisfying the needs of different stakeholders.

Business failure
The various failure prediction models.

Environmental management accounting
This article provides an insight into environmental management accounting, its increasing importance, and new developments.

Activity-based management
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
Activity-based management (ABM) can be defined as the entire set of actions that can be taken on a better informed basis using ABC information. The aim is to achieve the same level of output with lower costs.

Human resource management and the appraisal system 
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
This article looks at the nature of human resource management, and at the link between human resource management and performance management. It then examines aspects of the staff appraisal system, and considers the impact of these on the performance of an organisation.

Reward schemes for employees and management
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
A major part of performance management involves managing employees and managers, as their performance will have a major effect on the performance of the organisation as a whole. This article looks at how reward schemes can be used to influence the behaviour of employees.

Study support videos

P5 effective study and exam technique
Lisa Gilmore, ACCA qualification content manager, focuses on APM, looking at the common misconceptions students have about APM, the underpinning knowledge required, how to study and revise for it, and more. 
Cannot access Youtube? Watch it here

Performance management
Doug Haste from BPP takes a look at performance measurement, which is relevant to Syllabus area E of APM.
Cannot access Youtube? Watch it here

Advice for students retaking exams
This video is about turning your exam fail into a pass at your next attempt. It suggests ways to reflect on where you went wrong, how to draw up an effective study plan, and practising exam questions.

Exam technique

How to approach Advanced Performance Management
To study Advanced Performance Management effectively you need to understand the nature of the exam and what you will be asked to do.

Passing Strategic Professional exams
This article looks at what you can do to improve your chances of passing ACCA’s Strategic Professional exams.

P5 – A guide to using the examiner’s reports
Guidance to help you if you are taking the APM exam for the first time as this takes you through how to use the examiner’s reports as part of your revision phase as directed by the study-support guides. This document will help you to understand how you should be using the examiner’s reports to make the best use of them.

P5 – A guide to reflection for retake students
Guidance to help you if you are retaking the APM exam as this takes you through the process of reflection using the examiner’s reports as directed in the retake guides. This document will help you to understand how you should be using the examiner’s reports to make the best use of them.

How to earn professional marks
This article explains what professional marks are, how they are awarded at the Strategic Professional level and to remind potential candidates how best to achieve these additional, and often crucial, marks.

Exam support resources

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