For the preparation of research and analysis project for obtaining B.Sc Honors degree in applied accounting from OBU, I decided to prepare research and analysis project for B.Sc degree. I requested Mr. Adnan Rashid (ACA, FCA) to be my mentor. Mr. Adnan Rashid (ACA, FCA) is competent enough to guide me well in this process. He agreed to be my mentor.
What I learnt FROM THE MEETINGS?
After taking the decision to prepare research and analysis project I went through the guidelines provided by the University. From this I came to know that I was required to have three meeting sessions with my mentor. I had to manage my time for the preparation of the project on timely basis so I had to utilize my time effectively for this process. The idea of time management has been in existence for more than 100 years. Unfortunately the term "Time management" creates a false impression of what a person is able to do. Time can't be managed, time is uncontrollable we can only manage ourselves and our use of time. Time management is actually self management. It's interesting that the skills we need to manage others are the same skills we need to manage ourselves: the ability to plan, delegate, organize, direct and control. (tsuccess.dircon, 2009)
To manage our lives effectively, we must keep our mission in mind, understand what's important as well as urgent, and maintain a balance between what we produce each day and our ability to produce in the future. Think of the former as putting out fires and the latter as personal development. (Stephen R. Covey) So, for effective management of time while preparing the research and analysis project I planned and prioritized my research and analysis project.
My first meeting with my mentor was very productive. I had planned and prepared for this meeting before the start of this meeting session with my mentor. In this meeting I was able to decide the area of topic, sector and organization on which I will prepare the project with the help of my mentor. During this meeting my mentor told me the importance of information gathering. He also told me the way in which I could gain the maximum benefit from the interview sessions. During this session my mentor also helped me to determine the aims and objectives of my project. He also told me the overall structure of the project in this session. He also told me the tools and techniques for performing the business and financial analysis.
I was supposed to present a draft report to my mentor in the second meeting with my mentor. So, by the time of second meeting with my mentor I had prepared a draft report of my project and I had finished the research and analysis work. I presented this draft report to my mentor. He took some time and reviewed the report. But there were some structural issues in the project as the overall structure of the project was not in accordance with the guidelines. After that I corrected the mistakes which were identified by my mentor.
My third meeting with my mentor was a presentation session. With the help of Microsoft PowerPoint I delivered a 15-minutes presentation in this session. Before the presentation I was quite nervous, but my prior planning and practice gave me the confidence that I needed. When the presentation process was at its middle stage I was distracted from my path when my mentor asked a question about the basis of model application that I used in my project. I became a little nervous at that time but after a moment I replied with the best of my knowledge. The positive factors about my presentation were that I arranged the things in chronological order which helped the audience to understand what I was saying; the graphical techniques helped me to keep the flow and interest of my audience. My mentor seemed to be satisfied with my performance in this session.
HOW WELL I ANSWERED MY RESEARCH QUESTIONS?
The identification of proper research questions is very important for the research and analysis to be successful. Research question is the most critical part of your research proposal, it guides arguments and inquiry, and it provokes the interests of the reviewer. If question does not work well, no matter how strong the rest of the proposal, the proposal is unlikely to be successful. Because of this, it is common to spend more time on the researching, conceptualizing and forming of each individual word of the research question than on any other part of the proposal. (University of California 2008)
After the identification of my research question I started to work on the answers of my research questions. I gathered the information from reliable sources and conducted interview sessions with different personals in this process. I performed the analysis of the financial performance of the company with help of financial ratios. I identified the reasons of the changes in the sales revenue of the company over the period of time. I performed the analysis of the profitability of the company over the period of time. I also identified the factors which have an impact on the profitability of the company over the period of time. I also identified that how the profitability of the company has been affected by changes in the cost of production, operating expenses and finance costs. I also analyzed the liquidity situation of the company over the period of time and identified the factors have an impact in the liquidity of the company. I also identified the factors which have an impact on the long term solvency of the company. I also analyzed the performance of the company from the prospective of its investors.
For analyzing the business performance of the company over the period of time I performed the SWOT analysis. With help of this analysis I identified the internal strengths of the company and I also identified that how the company can utilize its internal strengths to gain the benefit of the opportunities present in the external environment of the company. I also identified the internal weaknesses of the company and I recommended that the management of the company should take steps to remove these weaknesses so that the performance of the company may not be affected by these weaknesses.
I also performed the PEST analysis of the company for analyzing the business performance of the company. I determined the impact of political factors on the performance of the company. I also determined the relationship between performance of the company and the present political situation of the country. I also analyzed the impact of economical factors on the business performance of the company. I also analyzed the impact of tight monetary policy of Pakistan on the business performance of the company. I also analyzed the impact of social and technological factors on the business performance of the company.
DEMONSTRATION OF INTERPERSONAL AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Because of the preparation of this project there was an improvement on my communication and interpersonal skills. Not only is interpersonal communication inescapable, but also your abilities in this area are of paramount importance. Interpersonal skills were ranked by personnel administrators as the most important requirement for successful job performance in a survey; another showed that 85 percent of people fired lose their jobs because they lack human relations or interpersonal skills (Staley p. 247, 2007)
Some of the advantages of improved interpersonal skills are that you will be better at: Quickly assessing and understanding face-to-face situations, setting specific and realistic objectives for face-to-face encounters with people - you will benefit from being clear in what you are aiming at, choosing and using behaviors that complement the circumstances and are appropriate to the objective - thus benefiting by having an easier, and pleasant, means to achieving your objective and being aware of other people's behavior and influencing it - influencing others by your own behavior. (Bolton, Robert, 1986)
While gathering the information for the preparation of research and analysis project I had interview session with different persons. I learnt a lot by having interview session with these persons which resulted in the improvement of my communication skills. My mentor was also very helpful in the development of my communication skills. There was also an improvement in my communication and interpersonal skill because of delivering a presentation in the third meeting with my mentor.
While gathering the information for the preparation of this project I also came to know the importance of asking effective questions. I came to know that:
- YOU CAN'T FIND AN ANSWER WITHOUT A QUESTION
- TRAINING = ANSWERS; EDUCATION = QUESTIONS
- QUESTIONS ARE THE KEY TO LEARNING
- QUESTION EVERYTHING, EVERY READING, EVERY ONE (Neil Browne and Stuart Keeley, 2009.)
So I identified the potential question before the start of my interview session and meeting with my mentor and with the help of this approach I was able to gain the maximum benefit while gathering the information for performing the business and financial analysis of the company. Listening is also very important for a communication during the information gathering process. Effective listening helps in gaining the maximum benefit from the meeting and interview sessions. So, during my meeting and interview session I gave my attention to listening. I attentively listened to the person in front of me while he/she was speaking. I also tried my best not to interrupt the persons while he/she was speaking. There was also an improvement in my communication and interpersonal skills because of my third meeting with my mentor as I learnt to communicate my understanding to the person in front of me.
Another good aspect of my meetings was that my mentor was not hesitant in giving honest feedback, be it an appreciation or criticism.
HOW HAS UNDERTAKING THE PROJECT HELPED MY ACCOUNTANCY STUDIES OR CURRENT EMPLOYMENT ROLE?
While working on this project there was an improvement in my analytical skills. I learnt the approach to perform the business and financial analysis of the company and this approach will be very useful in my career. There was also an improvement in my communication and interpersonal skill which are very important to make progress in any profession.
As I interacted with different persons while gathering the information and had meeting sessions with my mentor there was an improvement in my communication and interpersonal skill as I learnt a lot from these persons. My mentor also told me some techniques which were very useful in the development of my communication and interpersonal skills. As I delivered a 15 minutes presentation in the third meeting with my mentor there was an improvement in my interactive skills.
While preparing this project there was also an improvement in my information technology skills. I became familiar with Microsoft office while working on this project. I learnt how to use formulas in Microsoft Excel and also learnt that how I can make charts in Microsoft Excel. By working on the spread sheet I also came to know how to make graphs in Microsoft Excel. I also developed expertise in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Power Point by working on this research and analysis project.
While preparing this project I also learnt the practical implementation of many accounting and business concepts that I had studied in my ACCA studies. I learnt the importance of financial statement as I worked on those during this process. I learnt that how financial statements are used in performing the financial analysis. I learnt the practical application of ratio analysis and its importance in the financial performance analysis. I also learnt that SWOT analysis can be very useful for analyzing the business performance of the company over the period of time. I also learnt the practical implementation of PEST analysis and its importance for analyzing the business performance. I short because of the preparation of this project there was an improvement in my analytical skills and interpersonal skills.