Portfolio: personal reflection and career development plan

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PORTFOLIO

Introduction

Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust (PCFT) is a vast organisation with around 6,000 members of staff (from Porters to Directors and all those in-between) providing care services for 1.3 million people. Pennine Care operates across Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Tameside and Glossop, Stockport and Trafford. PCFT provides a range of mental health services for children, adolescents, and adults. Alongside it provides community services, intermediate care support services and health improvement services. Since its formation in 2002, PCFT has grown to become one of UK’s leading providers of community and mental health services (Pennine Care, 2014).

I began working for PCFT in 2007 which it was simply called Pennine Care NHS Trust. It became a Foundation Trust (FT) in 2008 and was the 100th FT in the country. As a FT, we are free to decide how to best meet the health needs of the people we serve, are accountable to local people, have greater financial freedom and can be more flexible, allowing us to improve our services, innovate and develop new services, and to recruit and retain staff. (REFERENCE)

PCFT’s major corporate functions are based at the Trust Headquarters’ in Ashton-under-Lyne. I work full time within the Finance Department here within the Management Accounts Section. I have worked for PCFT since 2007; initially as part of the Financial Accounts team as a Finance Officer before transferring into Management Accounts to work as an Assistant Management Account (AMA).

On commencement of this portfolio (when I began the Foundation Degree in Accounting) I was employed by PCFT as an AMA. On completion of this portfolio I am completing a preceptorship to become a Management Accountant (MA).

As a MA at PCFT I shall be responsible for providing a wide range of accounting and budgetary support within a designated area of the Trust’s operations.

My key duties will include setting and agreement of annual budgets (financial plans) and monitoring of performance against financial plans through detailed analytical review and investigation of variances.

A copy of my job description (appendix 2) can be found in the appendices section of this portfolio.

Aims

  • Develop a greater knowledge and understanding of finance and business management.
  • Develop leaner systems and processed within the finance department.

Objectives (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Timely)

  • By the 1st July 2015 pass Foundation Degree in Accounting and gain relevant work experience, skills and knowledge by working as a Band 4 MA in a preceptorship role with aim to obtain a Band 5 MA role at PCFT.
  • By the 31st May 2014 develop a system using available data to gain greater management control to reduce trust wide mobile device financial coding errors by liaising with the IT department and mobile device provider.

The Learning Agreement – Planning Stage

The Objective

By the 1st July 2015 pass Foundation Degree in Accounting and gain relevant work experience, skills and knowledge by working as a Band 4 MA in a preceptorship role with aim to obtain a Band 5 MA role at PCFT.

Activities Required

  • Completion of Foundation Degree in Accounting (FDA)
  • Initial supervision for Budget Review Meetings leading to gradual takeover of responsibility
  • Production of accurate and reliable forecasts with budget holders
  • Production of monthly financial reports on the financial position
  • To inform senior management of any areas of concern
  • Shadowing of Finance Business Partner (FBP) for the budget setting process and then gradually takeover of responsibility
  • Develop costings for new developments and service changes
  • Provide input into a major service review/redesign (LTFM’s)
  • Be able to produce Service Line Reports (SLR’s)
  • Deliver finance training packages to budget holders
  • Input into NHS Finance Return i.e. Reference Costs and NHS Final Accounts
  • Awareness and understanding of the Trustwide financial plans
  • Reviewing processes to identify areas for improvement and increased efficiency
  • Perform at the appropriate level in meetings and follow up actions
  • Carrying out duties in a courteous, sympathetic and professional manner at all times
  • Ability to build personal and professional credibility with management, clinical team and staff
  • Self-awareness and understanding of the impact own behaviour can have on others
  • Flexibility of style and approach
  • Core and essential HR courses, FSD course or other relevant training
  • Regular monthly feedback and supervision from FBP
  • Feedback from service managers and budget managers in months 6,9,12.
  • Quarterly feedback from Head of Management Accountants and FBP
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Ability to travel to meet the requirements of the role (Car User)
  • Maintenance of budget change and expected expenditure records by recording in both excel and the finance system (NEP) regular evidence that both systems are in balance
  • Analysis of budget variances and trends by liaising with budget holders ensuring action is taken or issues are escalated as appropriate
  • Ensuring accuracy and timely distribution of monthly financial reports in line with the department’s timetables
  • Completing invoice requests as necessary to relevant external bodies where additional income has been agreed
  • Assistance with completing monthly financial reports detailing the financial position of the appropriate area of work, highlighting and explaining significant variances from budget
  • Production of accurate, reliable forecasts with budget holders
  • Assistance in costing new developments and service changes
  • Assistance in the apportionment of costs to improve accuracy of Trust costing returns
  • Assistance in preparation and completion of relevant sections of the Trusts statutory NHS Accounts in line with national and local timetables ensuing compliance with the NHS Manual for Accounts and established accounting principles
  • Establishment of a firm working relationship with budget holders and managers through regular contact and communication
  • Processing and authorisation of ESR (Electronic Staff Record) forms received in a timely manner
  • Assistance with the training of budget holders and staff to ensure that the Trust’s resources are managed effectively and that internal control is understood and complied with
  • Compliance with Health and Safety legislation

Skills Required

  • Understanding of accountancy and budgetary controls
  • Computer literacy and willing to spend long periods of time working at a PC in order to complete the duties of the post
  • To be able to communicate finance matters easily and clearly to non-financial managers both orally and in writing
  • Be able to meet deadlines and effectively prioritise workload by good time management.
  • Commitment to working with managers at all levels within the organisation, and be proactive in their work and thinking
  • Good analytical skills, leading to firm decision making
  • The ability to deal sensitively and act responsibly with highly confidential information

Resources Required

  • Access to coaching and mentoring
  • Shadowing FBP and other Management Accountants
  • Core and essential HR courses, FSD course or other relevant training.
  • Study support in line with finance training policy
  • Car (or access to appropriate transport)

Criteria for Success

  • Receive regular monthly feedback and supervision from FBP
  • Receive feedback from service managers and budget managers in months 6, 9 and 12.
  • Receive quarterly feedback from Assistant Director of Finance - Financial Management, Head of Management Accountants and FBP.

Planned Evidence

There are two main types of evidence that can be submitted. The first is product evidence (direct evidence) and the second is third party or witness testimony (indirect evidence). Other types of evidence include behavioural situations.

Due to confidentiality issues that arise through printed and electronic NHS information I have decided that the best way to compile the evidence will be to triangulate by producing a variety of evidence using different instruments of assessment

  • Produce a report every quarter showing achievements and evidence where development areas have been met. (see appendix 1 at the end of this paper)
  • Keep a diary on a weekly basis when possible highlighting activities carried out and general observations
  • Feedback from FBP / Preceptor

The Learning Agreement – Reflective Stage

Skills Developed

I was an AMA for PCFT for a long time; since 2009. I have learned at great deal since transferring into Management Accounts from Financial Accounts where I began my NHS Career back in 2007. I feel that this grounding and familiarity I have with both South Division and the finance team will benefit me greatly whilst on the Preceptorship to become a MA.

Beginning a new role has meant a great deal of change. Although I was familiar with what would have to be completed in the role I there have been times when I have felt under great pressure and strain. As I have grown into the role I feel I have developed my skill for managing change. Something which caused me to experience a stressful situation can later be discussed with my preceptor or FBP then coping mechanisms (a coping strategy) put in place to deal for future occurrences. Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. (REFERENCE)

Before I commenced the preceptorship I had only done minimal job shadowing both at PCFT and in the past. Job shadowing is where an individual from one area of the organisation has the opportunity to work alongside and gain experience of the role of another individual, and gain an insight into that particular work area (REFERENCE). I have been out and about a lot during the last few months mainly with my FBP. I have had some great and of course not so great support whilst getting to grips with meeting the Budget Holders. This has been down to changes in staffing which has been out of my control.

I have enjoyed being able to train the replacement for my previous role. As I had been in the role of AMA since 2009 I was able to create lean ways of working. Lean is a customer-centric methodology used to continuously improve any process through the elimination of waste in everything you do (REFERENCE). Over the years I had developed an assortment of tasks which had been turned into standardised tasks for the department. Training my replacement has also had its strenuous moments. The fact that I had been doing the role for so long it’s been difficult to let go and been frustrating when things haven’t been to my exacting standards.

As a person I always feel there is room for improvement. The formatting of the budget setting file which I had to use caused it to be not very user friendly i.e. hard to read and not user friendly. Developing my presentation skills and new ways of working were used here. I had to adapt to the fact that as some of the work I was doing would feed directly into others I couldn’t have things exactly how I liked them.

I have developed my natural ability to operationally manage my AMA. It’s also enhanced my managerial skills. I had had the opportunity to line manage in the past at previous employment but the situation here has been totally different. By ensuring that the AMA is aware of all the work that needs to be done and has prepared all that can be done in advance. Although my AMA had worked within management accounts it was for another team. The mental health teams have larger budgets and this is reflected in the amount of tasks and time it takes to finish certain processes.

Evidence Submitted

I have included several pieces of evidence for this object. They are: a copy of the weekly diary which I kept to log progression, thoughts and observations. Evidence of submitted work. Copies of certificates and lastly my preceptorship evidence log which has been verified/authorised by the Head of Management Accounts (Gavin Horn) and my Preceptor (Nasiya Khalil).

AchievementA-

The Learning Agreement – Planning Stage

The Objective

By the 31st May 2014 develop a system using available data to gain greater management control to reduce trust wide mobile device financial coding errors by liaising with the IT department and mobile device provider.

Activities Required

  • To inform senior management of any areas of concern
  • Liaison with mobile device provider (Provider), IT department (IT) and the corporate governance team (CG)
  • Training of AMA’s
  • Delegation of duties
  • Constantly reviewing the process to identify areas for improvement and increased efficiency
  • Perform at the appropriate level in meetings and follow up actions
  • Carrying out duties in a courteous, sympathetic and professional manner at all times
  • A flexibility of style and approach to succeed in working in a collaborative way
  • Ensuring accuracy and timely distribution of any information supplied
  • Collaboration

Skills Required

  • Understanding of accountancy
  • Computer literacy and willing to spend long periods of time working at a PC in order to complete the task
  • To be able to communicate finance matters easily and clearly
  • Meet deadlines and effectively prioritise workload by good time management.
  • Commitment to working with managers at all levels within the organisation, and be proactive in their work and thinking
  • Good analytical skills, leading to firm decision making
  • The ability to deal sensitively and act responsibly with highly confidential information

Resources Required

  • Access to coaching and mentoring
  • Meeting space for liaison with IT / GT
  • Access to provider

Criteria for Success

  • Receive positive feedback
  • Reduction in manual recodes

Planned Evidence

  • Keep a diary on a weekly basis when possible highlighting activities carried out and general observations.
  • Feedback from budget holders who have been subject to miscoded invoices hitting their account codes.

The Learning Agreement – Reflective Stage

Skills Developed

I have gained knowledge of the in house systems and the impact which external practices have had on the data processed. It appeared that the IT department provided cost center codes to the mobile network provider to allocate against each mobile number. The list was very out of date and it came apparent from the off that the system which had been set up was not being maintained to an acceptable degree. The data needs to be updated each month to reflect staff movements. Vodafone upload the spreadsheet/data IT provides and this then links up with the billing data and is printed on the invoice which accounts payable (AP) receive. On reflection this system would be ideal if the data supplied to Vodafone was timely and accurate. As it stands the data is out of date and staff with multiple devices or possibly the same name is a problem. What to do?

By meeting with the various teams (IT and CG) it has enabled me to expand people and networking skills. When meeting with the teams I had to listen to all sides of the argument and ascertain what was required from each area. I had to ensure that the time I spent with these people wasn’t felt as a waste of time. Some meetings leave the participants feeling they have wasted their time as little has been achieved and this can be due to many reasons. (REFERENCE)

Due to the extremely short time restraints of this task I had to greatly develop my time management skills. The key to successful time management is planning and then protecting the planned time (REFERENCE). I did this by completing a diary of when I had to have parts of the task completed, and worked out when I would have access to the information. The finance department has a timetable of when tasks have to be carried out i.e. payroll posted to the ledger. Nowadays, everything is quick, everyone needs quick results (REFERENCE).

As a mobile device coding reconciliation was going to be a new regular task I had to ensure that I had completed adequate testing. Testing went extremely well. I have populated the Provider/IT spreadsheet with the employee ID numbers and managed to link this to the payroll files. Once all the data is filled in this system will be pretty much an automated task and will just need one AMA to update the Provider/IT spreadsheet when staff members leave or there are new starters. The active payroll shall enable costs to follow the staff as they move from department to department.

Evidence Submitted

The evidence which I have included for this objective is a copy of the weekly diary which I kept to log progression, thoughts and observations.

AchievementB+

The Critical Appraisal

It was time to develop a greater knowledge and understanding of finance and business management as I was ready to move on with my career within finance.

Improvements I have made to the budget setting file have helped immensely and I have been able to understand more data especially when meeting with budget holders; sometimes I feel awkward doing this so anything which enables smooth running is a bonus. I have even trained a couple of new budget holders this week; explaining all parts of a budget statement and the staff lists. It made me feel a little proud knowing what I’m doing. It is very embarrassing though explaining why things haven’t been done that should have in the past but I have put procedures in place to alleviate issues going forward.

I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to shadow the previous MA before taking over as I wouldn’t have really known where to begin when it came to budget holder liaison in a financial format. I have had a lot to do with the budget holders for my division already which made bridging the gaps more comfortable.

When it has come to managing my time there have been times when I have focused too much on one area and not on the job in hand. A prime example of this was working out comprehensive and complex formulas on the mobile device spreadsheets which in the end didn’t need to be done as the data that ended up being used was the member of staff’s employee ID which is always unique. At the time it seemed a good approach but in hindsight I should have waited for the information from CG. Instead I went ahead thinking that we wouldn’t have the go ahead or it was going to take too long to get authority to supply the ID number to the Provider. What I have learned here is patience.

Evidence Log

Diary x 2

Log x 1 etc. etc.

References:

Pennine Care, 2014 (Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust) Annual Report and Accounts 2013/14

Appendices:

Appendix 1: (Scott Davenports Preceptorship Evidence Log – Management Accountant (Band 4/5) – July 2014 to June 2015

Appendix 2: Job Description

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