Technical articles

The last exam session for P3 Business Analysis was June 2018. This exam is no longer part of the ACCA Qualification syllabus.


Costing for decision making
This article focuses on section G3(c) of the syllabus, evaluating the strategic options using marginal and relevant costing techniques of: (i) make or buy decisions, (ii) accepting or declining special contracts, (iii) closure or continuation decisions, and (iv) effective use of scarce resources.

Big data
Now that big data is part of the P3 syllabus, we define what exactly ‘big data’ is, how it can be used to inform and implement business strategy and examples of how it is being used by different industries today.

Performance indicators
Both P3 and P5 require candidates to be able to establish key performance indicators and critical success factors. This article explains and illustrates these concepts.

Information technology
The increasing reliance on computers by all levels within a company requires careful design of the information technology (IT) infrastructure. This article focuses on Section E1 of the P3 syllabus, Principles of information technology.

Job design
This article focuses on section H2 of the P3 syllabus, Strategy and people: job design, and how we might re-structure people's jobs as a result of making a process more effective. The origins of the concept of job design – beginning with the work of Frederick Taylor in the early 20th century – through to the job redesign movement of the 1960s and 1970s are referenced. The article concludes with a brief consideration of the ethical issues that can arise from job design.

Integrated reporting
Integrated reporting has been developed and promoted by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), a global coalition of regulators, investors, companies, standard setters, the accounting profession and non-governmental organisations. This article aims to show how the idea of integrated reporting is relevant to the P3 syllabus.

The learning organisation
This article discusses why it is vital for organisations to continue to learn and retain that learning, their skills and abilities, to sustain their position in the dynamic marketplace.

Value chains, value networks and supply chain management
Sections A4, E2 and E3 of the syllabus relate to value chains, value networks and supply chain management. This article considers writer Michael Porter’s value chain framework, which has been described as a powerful analysis tool for companies in strategic planning to create value. It also highlights the various definitions of supply chain management put forward by different writers.

The strategic planning process - parts 1 and 2
These articles focus on applying your knowledge of management and strategy to a scenario situation. Part 1 considers the complexities of strategic planning and how they can be broken down into three main areas. Part 2 adopts a similar simplification approach to the issues of strategic choice and strategic implementation.

Culture and configuration
This article focuses on two areas of P3's syllabus on preparing and evaluating a cultural web of an organisation, and the importance of organisational structure and configuration.

Benchmarking can be thought of as a scientific way of setting objectives that will act as targets before and during the operating period, and comparators during and after the period.

Strategic planning in an age of turbulence 
This article considers the inevitability of turbulence, which should have major implications on how organisations can plan for their long-term survival.

Communicating core values and mission 
This article focuses on the syllabus area relating to an organisation’s core values and mission to the public, shareholders and employees. This is an objective which can easily get overlooked in the rush to master environmental analyses, strategic choice and outsourcing decisions.

This article considers some of the factors behind outsourcing decisions, the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing and some common outsourcing applications.

Conflict management and the accountant as project manager
This article looks at project management, an important issue relevant to P3. It considers the skills required by accountants in the role of project manager to ensure projects are delivered on time and managing potential areas of conflict.

Project management: business cases and gateways
Looking at the need to carefully evaluate a project's benefits and disbenefits from the outset, and the importance of regularly monitoring and re-evaluating its progress.

Strategy and people 
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
When devising a strategic plan it is important to consider the organisation's resources, including employees.

Business strategy and pricing
This article looks first at the influences on prices and then at specific approaches.

Business forecasting and strategy
This article outlines key forecasting techniques for students to use when preparing for the P3 exam.

The strategic use of IT
Looking at how organisations use IT in supply chain activities and customer relationship management is important for P3 candidates.

Position-based and resource-based strategies
Outlining the position-based and resource-based strategies that are essential for P3 candidates.

Takeovers, mergers and managing business units
Takeovers and mergers are often promoted as methods of increasing shareholder wealth, but in what circumstances is that likely to occur?

Knowledge management 
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
Enhancing and supporting the concept of knowledge management as a strategic contributor to an organisation.

Performance appraisal
Performance appraisal requires good interpretation and a good understanding of what the information means in the context of the question.

Project management
If you are aware that danger accompanies an undertaking, then it makes sense to understand the nature of the undertaking and how the danger can be managed.

Not-for-profit organisations – part 1
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
The first part of two articles broadly describes the generic characteristics of not-for-profit organisations.

Not-for-profit organisations – part 2
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
In the second part of two articles, we take a specific and deeper look at charities, which are one of the more important types of not-for-profit organisations.

Competency frameworks
This article explains the purpose of competency frameworks for professionals at work and the benefits of these for trainees, qualifying bodies, tuition providers and ultimately to business organisations.

Business process change
The effective and efficient business processes required by organisations to effectively implement business strategies.

Strategic planning
Illustrating the major components of the strategic planning process.

The seven deadly sins of strategy implementation   
Also available as a podcast on iTunes
The main pitfalls of successful strategy implementation.

The adaptability of strategic models
A discussion on how models such as PEST and Value Chain can be used to reflect the evolving business environment and the range of business strategies currently used.

Defining managers' information requirements
How critical success factors are used in business strategy and performance models.

Performance measures to support competitive advantage
The success of airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair and examines how the balanced scorecard might be utilised to maintain the low-cost carriers' competitive edge.

Also available as a podcast on iTunes
A look at business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce and benefits for business, as well as the social and employment costs involved.

Study support videos

Question 4 debrief
Gordon Faragher, a tutor from Kaplan, provides a debrief of Question 4 from the June 2015 P3 exam, which was flagged in the examiner's report as an unpopular and poorly answered question.
Cannot access Youtube? Watch it here

Key models in the P3 exam
Julia Falvey, a tutor at Kaplan, discusses the importance of memorising the key models in the P3 syllabus, using your reading and planning time (RAPT) effectively to consider whether to use a model, and applying a model to the scenario in the exam.
Cannot access Youtube? Watch it here

Approaching Question 1
Gordon Faragher from Kaplan Financial provides exam technique advice on how to best approach Question 1.
Cannot access Youtube? Watch it here

Professional marks – the difference between a pass and a fail
Julie Corkish, education technical adviser at ACCA, provides some hints and tips around ensuring you get those professional marks which could mean the difference between a pass and a fail in your exam.

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

Read the mind of the P3 marker
This article is intended to give you some real insight into the mind of the marker and to understand what they are looking for when they mark P3 scripts, but the general advice on technique in this article could equally apply to all Professional level exams.

P3 – A guide to using the examiner’s reports
Guidance to help you if you are taking the P3 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 self-study guides. This document will help you to understand how you should be using the examiner’s reports to make the best use of them.

P3 – A guide to reflection for retake students
Guidance to help you if you are retaking the P3 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.

Guidance for P3 and P5 studiers
This article draws a distinction between P3 and P5 because although both exams share some common topics, the approach that is taken in both exams is different and this should be made clear to all students. In addition, we draw attention to specific areas of the P5 syllabus that will require more focus in a P5 programme of study because if P5 is attempted before P3, then these areas cannot be assumed knowledge.

Examiner approach to P3
The P3 examining team provides its approach to the exam.

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

How to tackle exams – from a marker's perspective
A lack of knowledge is not the only thing that can lead to exam failure – poor technique could also let you down. This article highlights some common errors all ACCA students need to avoid.

Passing the Professional level papers
This article outlines what candidates can do to ensure they are well prepared for Professional level exams.

Exam support resources

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