AAT Level 4 Synoptic Exam - Ruby Dale Ltd SWOT Analysis

Hi Guys,

I had a quick question in regards to Task 6 in the synoptic exam. Having looked at the CBT 1 on the AAT website, it appears as though the question asks us to perform a SWOT analysis on the 'sales order processing procedures'.

I thought that we were meant to perform SWOT on the company as a whole and not be limited to a single process in their accounting function. Is there any point in me doing a SWOT analysis of the entire company Ruby Dale Ltd as part of revision, when I am merely going to be asked to perform it on a single process.

Hope that question makes sense and I welcome any responses/questions anybody may have!

Thanks and happy revising :)


  • chloewain_
    chloewain_ Registered, AAT Student Posts: 42
    Hi Sam,

    I am not 100% but I think you are correct, SWOTs are only ever on specific procedures. So like you say, what is the point in doing it on the whole company. I think if you have got limited days left to revise, then maybe concentrate more on revision, rather than Ruby Dale.

    However, it is only like saying 'what is the point in working out the ratios of the company from the financial statements'. I tried to memorise this for the exam, to then realise it is going to give me different FS's to work out the ratios of. However, previously working out the ratios of the company still helped me. It gave me an understanding of the company as a whole. To understand that ruby Dale is overtrading as shown through several of the ratios for this company. If you study the company and think about the strengths and weaknesses, you will have a great understanding, and when it comes to exam questions, you should be able to relate the pre-release material to the question. This is what a lot of students struggle with, and a lot of students have retaken and passed because they have mentioned the pre-release material, which they may not have done previously.
    I do completely agree with you and after I sat the exam, I felt that all the analysis of Ruby Dale had been a waste, as you can't directly relate the SWOT you had done on the whole company to the SWOT on a specific accounting procedure. But you really should try and mention the pre-release material on every question.
    Maybe instead of doing a SWOT on the whole company, think about certain things that you can mention, no matter what question comes up. So for example, you know that Task 2 of the exam is probably going to be budgeting. Look at the pre-release material and ask yourself what could you always mention in a budgeting question. Maybe if sales have reduced in the budget that you are given in the exam, then you could say something like 'sales has reduced by blah blah percent, this may be because of the unchanged sales in UK and Europe due to economic uncertainty caused by political events. The UK represents 42% of revenue, and therefore the unchanged sales could have a big inpact on the overall sales.'
    However, if the budget you are given increases, you could again, relate it to the pre-release and say 'sales have increased by blah blah percent, this may be because of the Asia, USA and emerging economies such as Brazil and Russia, are experiencing strong growth, assisted by a weaker pound sterling, rising levels of disposable income and greater brand awareness. This could explain the blah blah percent increase in sales'.
    With the SWOT questions, let's say it is a procedure about paperwork getting lost, for example, you could explain your points and then say 'this may also be due to the weaknesses of the internal control as a result of controls not evolving in step with the growing business. This is a company-wide problem, not just in the accounting department'

    I know these aren't written very well, I am sorry, but hopefully, you get an idea by what I mean.

    Best of luck with your exam!
  • Sam1234
    Sam1234 Registered Posts: 10
    Hi Chloe,

    I appreciate your prompt response and I am in complete agreement! I just do not understand how you are meant to relate external opportunities and threats to an internal accounting procedure?!

    In relation to you mentioning that it is vital to relate to pre-release material in every written question. I especially struggle with this because I often worry about whether or not it looks like I am merely just forcing it for the sake of putting it in my responses. I'm not sure if you or anyone else feels the same? I feel like it just messes with the cohesion of my response.
    Like for example, if there is a question asking me to talk about the budget and the assumptions or if it asking me if the budget would motivate managers etc, how would I actually link this back to Ruby Dale in my response?
  • chloewain_
    chloewain_ Registered, AAT Student Posts: 42
    Hi Sam,

    No problem at all. Very very good points, however, I am not sure which is actually the correct way of answering things. All as I know is a remember literally chucking stuff into my answers about the pre-release stuff. I thought it was so irrelevant, and like you say, it messes up the cohesion, but I think it is just what they want. They haven't given the pre-release for no reason, That is what I kept telling myself in the exam haha.

    I got 85%, passed the first time, and I literally was chucking in quotes from the pre-release here there and everywhere haha. Or at least it felt that way.

    Okay, so maybe answer the generic budget bit first, and then at the end, relate the pre-release to the managers instead? Or even staff. So you could say, your points and then 'also, in Ruby Dale, there are ___ (however many, I can't remember now) members of staff, and (maybe mention the hierarchy of the business?) in the accounting department, there are 7 members of staff, with the Credit controller (Abdul) and Financial Controller (Erika) directly reporting into the Finance Director (Joshua). Maybe if the managers below Joshua had a say in the budget, then this may motivate them further. This would help with the efficiency of the team as they sit directly above the Clerks who do the day to day work. With the majority of the staff (160-29 employees) working at the headquarters, a blah blah budget may motivate the managers further because they work directly with their staff see the day to day workings of the company.'
    You could even relate it to one of the weaknesses of the business, or one of the rations from the Financial statements. 'Ruby Dale could do with managers being more motivated as their operating profit is quite low in comparison to their gross profit. Maybe if managers with motivated with the budgets and watched their spending more, then the OP would be better'.
    'One of the weaknesses of the company is that the limit on current in-house manufacturing capacity has been reached, and therefore, maybe if budgets had been closely watched, managers could have seen this problem occurring before it was a problem and actually done something about it.'

    I know the above is a complete load of rubbish haha, but hopefully, you can kind of see where I am coming from. I completely get your point, and sometimes it is going to be so irrelevant and difficult to fit in, but even if it is about the number of managers or staff, at least it is something from the pre-release that took 30 seconds to write.

    Hope this makes sense
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