Technical articles and topic explainers

A library of articles and bite-sized videos to help you improve your understanding of areas you find more difficult or develop a broader insight into the subject.

Use strategic planning and control models to plan and monitor organisational performance (A)

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.

Performance Management models – part 1: Porter’s Five Forces
Performance Management models – part 2: Boston Consulting Group Matrix
These two articles each provide a brief overview of a model which can assist accountants, not only in the determination of business strategy, but also in the appraisal of business performance. As well as looking at the theory, the articles will also provide advice to show how the models can be examined and how to tackle those requirements.

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.

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.

Topic explainer video: Business process re-engineering
In this video, expert tutor Steve Willis unpacks the topic of 'Business process re-engineering' (YouTube).

Topic explainer video: Beyond budgeting
In this video, expert tutor Tze Kang unpacks the topic of 'Beyond budgeting' (YouTube).

Topic explainer video: Environmental management accounting                        In this video, expert tutor Tze Kang unpacks the topic of 'Environmental management accounting' (YouTube).

Performance management information systems and developments in technology (B)

Forecasting with data
This article looks at some important techniques which could be used in forecasting.

Data analytics: Type of data analytics – part 1
Data analytics: Methods of data analytics, and ethical issues in data analysis – part 2
The amount of data available to organisations has increased significantly in recent years. However, for this data to be valuable to organisations, they need to be able to analyse it, to identify patterns and trends in it. Data analytics allows organisations to do this.

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.

Integrated reporting and performance management
A previous article introduced the idea of integrated reporting (IR) and its relevance to the APM syllabus. This article recaps the key features of IR, and then discusses the potential challenges a management accountant could face when implementing it.

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.

Topic explainer video: Liquidity indicators                                                     In this video, expert tutor Steve Willis unpacks the topic of 'Liquidity indicators ' (YouTube).

Strategic performance measurement (C)

Reward schemes
This article recaps the characteristics of effective reward schemes, and how you could use these as a framework to help you assess the reward schemes described in an exam scenario. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Topic explainer video: Transfer pricing
In this video, expert tutor Chan Tze looks at the topic of 'Transfer pricing' (YouTube)

Topic explainer video: Kaizen costing
In this video, expert tutor Steve Willis looks at the topic of 'Kaizen costing' (YouTube)

Performance evaluation (D)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Topic explainer video: The Performance Pyramid
In this video, expert tutor Steve Willis tackles the topic of 'The Performance Pyramid' (YouTube). 

Topic explainer video: Value-based management
In this video, expert tutor Steve Willis looks at the topic of 'Value-based management' (YouTube)

Covers multiple areas

Improving your Advanced Performance Management answers – part 1
Improving your Advanced Performance Management answers – part 2
This two-part article aims to give clarity on the level of response that is required in a Advanced Performance Management answer. It will address a specific past exam question that caused considerable difficulty in the March 2021 session. This part will present and discuss two possible poor solutions to this question.

Changes to Advanced Performance Management question requirements
From September 2019 onwards the format of the question requirements in Section A of the Advanced Performance Management exam changed to an ‘embedded’ approach. From September 2022 all requirements in both Sections A and B will be embedded. 

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.

Bringing forward Performance Management knowledge and skills into Advanced Performance Management
In this updated version (August 2022), 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
This article considers how to carefully understand the question requirement with use of selected examples from the past Advanced Performance Management exams.

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