Synoptic assessment question help

I am currently revising to take my Level 4 Accounting systems and controls synoptic assessment (AQ2016) and I am having troubles in identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

According to the text book the definitions are; SW are internal factors to the system and OT are external factors to the system, the difficulty I am having is that the book doesn't seem to have much of a guideline in how to differentiate these.
e.g. The books example for a Threat is as follows; "Using spreadsheet software (Excel) to prepare accounts poses a risk of errors being made in formulas that are difficult to spot, resulting in incorrect inventory and accounting information."

I don't understand what makes that external to the system because to me that seems to be a weakness within the system, can anybody help give me some advice on how to better understand the difference please?

Thank you in advance.

Best Answer

  • PB96
    PB96 Registered Posts: 7
    Answer ✓
    In regards to the SWOT analysis, I understand it in a form of Mirrors and Windows.

    Your example above would be an example of a weakness, not a threat. Excel or an outdated accounting system would be an internal control fault, or a lack of training to use the correct accounting system.

    The windows and mirrors function is whereby Strengths and Weaknesses (S and W) can be analysed when looking in the mirror, when analysing your own performance.

    e.g. A strength would be an integrated accounting system which brings together multiple departments of the business to calculate and present timely, reliable and understandable information for managers, directors and stakeholders.

    A weakness example is above.

    The windows idea is whereby you are looking to beyond your own current methods of control to where you could be achieving a more effective system (opportunity) or where the company is exposed to an outside source, such as aggressive competition or a possible firm to buy the company out. These are outside of your current control system.

    The way of determining this in regards to the exam, you want to be able to identify the S W O T (whichever one it is), and explain the effect this will have on the business.

    In regards to weaknesses or threats, you may be asked to provide recommendations to improve the systems. Identify the threat, what it affects, and how to combat this to prevent it, and to improve your own systems moving forward.

    I'm taking mine on Friday, good luck! Could be wrong there but that is my understanding... :+1:


  • jass83
    jass83 Registered Posts: 3
    Hi PB96, have u done ur synoptic exam?? How was it?? I m doing mine on tuesday. Can u give any advice?? Thanks
  • seanyoungs
    seanyoungs Registered Posts: 8
    Thank you PB96 that really did help with my exam!

    And I just got my results today (passed 78%), although I would suggest revising how the mark scheme words everything and really study how every question is worded (the answers would mostly be common knowledge but it's difficult to know which answers they're asking for). I think there was a very low national pass rate too (only 2 out of 20 of us passed in my class)

    Best of luck for Tuesday!
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