Information gathering and accounting

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Part 1 - Project objectives and overall research approach

ACCA is one of the most prestigious degrees of this era of competition. As a qualified ACCA, one gets a lot of opportunities to enhance the educational pursuits and one of them is obtaining a ‘BSc (Hons.) in Applied Accountancy'. Choosing from a list of 20 topics was not an easy task as most of them seemed to be of great interest to me. But I was looking for a topic that could further add to my filed and help me learn about a key strategic aspect that I could study in greater detail. So I, finally, chose the following topic for my Research Report:

“How the introduction of a new technology can assist an organization in achieving its business objectives”

One of the motives of choosing this topic is that the technological advances achieved in the past few decades have brought about a revolution in the business world, affecting nearly all aspects of working life. People can reach others throughout the world in a matter of seconds, with cost being increasingly irrelevant. With technology's penetration into core business functions, the advantages are being recognized at a rapid pace, enabling access to well-organized, quality information that can be used to make better decisions and effectively operate the daily operations of the organization.

Most people, however, think of technology in terms of certain artifacts: computers and software, aircrafts, water-treatment plants, microwave ovens; to name a few. But technology is much more than these tangible products. In broader aspects, technology includes infrastructure necessary for the design, manufacturing, operation, and repair of technological artifacts - from corporate headquarters and engineering schools to manufacturing plants and maintenance facilities. The knowledge and processes used to create and operate technological artifacts the engineering know-how, manufacturing expertise, and various other technical skills are central to completing the definition of technology.

Among other reasons to choose this topic was the association of technology with innovation as innovation is the essential factor in any economy to have efficient production. It enables the introduction of new versions of advancements which have been nonexistent and can bring about enormous changes in the work practices and business operations.

Company Selection

Choosing the organisation for carrying out the subject research required a great deal of planning as I wanted to use the most suitable industry, and thereby the company, which has key reliance on technology. For this purpose, I used the internet and business magazines. In order to define the real impact of new technology, along with elaborating the fact as to how it aids an organization in achieving its business objectives, I selected PAK ELEKTRON LIMITED (PEL).

PAK ELEKTRON LIMITED is the pioneer manufacturer of electrical goods in Pakistan. It was established in 1956 in technical collaboration with M/s AEG of Germany. In October 1978, the company was undertaken by the SAIGOL GROUP OF COMPANIES. Since its formation, PEL has been contributing towards the advancement and development of the engineering sector in Pakistan by introducing range of quality in-home appliances and electrical goods. The Company also continued to enhance its facilities to meet the growing demand of improved products. In the technology sector, they also showed a marvelous progress by producing new, innovative and more advanced products under both the appliance division and power division.

Developments In technology have a momentum of their own. However, the question arises as to “what was the impact of new technology on the performance of the PAK ELECTRON LIMITED (PEL)?”

The rapid advancements in the field of technology i.e. environment detecting appliances, power saving technology, has greatly impacted economies, manufacturing and service industries in terms of performance, cost reduction and level of skill employed. It is often cited that the cost of conducting one transaction or manufacturing one unit online or through the use of new technological ways may be only one-hundredth of the cost of doing the same transaction via old conventional ways.

New technology provides PAK ELEKTRON COMPANY with much greater opportunities to cross-sell their products to their customers. This is because technologically advanced ways of manufacturing enable PEL to collect and analyze information about their customers in a more systematic way and helps it to engage in what is known as “mass customization” of its products. PEL has been able to introduce vast lines of products in appliances divisions and power divisions, the two major segments of their production.

Aims and Objectives

The main aim of this study is to identify the impact of NEW TECHNOLOGIES on PAK ELEKTRON COMPANY and prepare a business analysis report. The broader purpose of this research project is to explore the relationship among new technologies and business sectors.

Moreover, the objective of my report is to present a detailed analysis on PEL, based on its history as well as on the data currently available, its technological evolution and the impact on its strategic objectives. My report will highlight the various internal and external technological factors that have an impact on the company's performance and results.

The research report will enlist in detail the following areas:

  • Understanding and analyzing the concept of new technology;
  • Exposing the scope of an association sandwiched between technology factor and business sector; and
  • Measuring the level of impact of new technology on PAK ELEKTRON COMPANY.

Part 2 - Information gathering and accounting / business techniques

This section of the research report discusses the sources of information and the procedures and methods adopted in collecting, collating, generating and interpreting the information. Generally, there are two sources of information.

Primary Source of Data

Secondary Source of Data

Data that establishes a link to first hand information that comes directly from its origin.

Second hand information that passes through other mediums before it reaches user.

Primary Information

Secondary Information

Primary information is the information gathered from the subject company itself such as its financial statements, annual reports, management review reports/ messages, quarterly presentations, press releases, etc. This form of information is usually most accurate, comprehensive, firsthand and complete given the regulatory and law requirements that bound the company to provide and publish most authentic content about its company.

A secondary source of information is the information generated by third parties. These third parties have no direct link with the subject companies. Information gathered from these sources is tricky to rely on as it involves subjectivity and are mostly outdated. However, research reports by renowned analyst research companies; entity rating reports (i.e. by PACRA, Moody's and JCR-VIS), articles from famous business newspapers and magazines and government and public reports are generally considered to be reliable and unbiased.

Ø Primary sources of data collection

The source of primary data collection was directly from head office of PEL. This comprised interviewing personnel at various levels of the hierarchy such as the General Managers Appliance & Power Division, the Area Manger or Customer Services Officer and the use of Questionnaires.

According to the nature of this research, it is clear that such a source would be the best one to obtain relevant data. My discussion with these personnel revealed the internal strategies of PEL in respect of new technologies, used in their area business. Moreover, I also got a chance to have a short meeting with the General Manager, Power Division of PEL Mr. Aftab Ahmad that was extremely helpful for me in carrying out this research project.

Source

Reason for use

Description

Meeting with the General Manager, Power Division

Meetings have always been pillar stone in collecting information. The meeting with the General Manager, Power Division, Mr Aftab Ahmad proved very fruitful as it enabled me to gather vital information for my project such as company policies, operations, use of new technology, adherence to standards of using them

Moreover the GM explained the main reasons of the introduction of new technology in their home appliances and power divisions specifically in ‘switch gears' and ‘deep freezers'. Furthermore, he also explained the introduction of improved assembly methods of generators and as to how it has helped the business. We also discussed some of the questions that I had regarding the project.
Later Mr. Ahmad instructed one of his assistants to accompany me to the factory and the workplace which helped me to get a better perspective of the practices of PEL.

Getting an appointment with the key personnel of PEL was a cumbersome task; however, I managed to arrange a meeting with the GM.

This particular meeting lasted a short while though, but it was a big source of information and I was able to discuss many points relating to the changing technological environment and its impact on organization's overall performance.

Questionnaires

A questionnaire was designed containing a set of questions relating to PEL.

The questionnaire was used to gather market response to the products of PEL.

This was a tiresome work. I had to roam about in the market going from shop to shop where there are showrooms of PEL's products. The motive behind this activity was to gather data about consumers' preferences and PEL's response towards these preferences.

Ø Secondary sources of data collection

While collecting secondary sources of information, it was ensured that the sources used are reliable. The sources that were used to gather information are discussed below:

Source

Reason for use

Description

Financial Reports

A yearly published financial report contains detailed statements of organization's financial position, comprehensive income, cash flows and the annexed notes to the accounts.

Financial reports also include directors' report which, along with giving an overview of company's performance over the years, provides a broader outlook of the effect on revenue due to the technological changes.

Financial reports of all the listed companies are readily available on Lahore Stock Exchange. I used these statements for calculating annual performance and for studying the economic and environmental factors affecting the business sector.

Internet

The Internet includes commercial, educational, governmental, and other networks, all of which use the same set of communications protocols.

Internet is the biggest hub of information. It lets you explore all types of data. I went through different articles and analysis relating to PEL as well as its competitors' in order to gather information relating to the impact of introduction of technology.

This method was time consuming but proved to be the key source.

Apart from PEL's official website www.pel.com.pk I also searched a number of other websites to get information about the concept of technological advancement.

Newspapers and Business Magazines

I also scanned newspapers and business magazines like ‘The Recorder' to obtain articles related to the appliance industry and specifically to PEL and prepared a summary of the gathered information. I also watched CNBC Pakistan and Business Plus for any related news.

This process was time-consuming but relevant. The information is readily available and easy to keep and use.

Such kind of information source gives an immense help while preparing reports.

Part 3 - Results, Analysis, Conclusions and Recommendations

This section of the research report analyses the data collected in detail. As mentioned above, the impact of new technology on PEL and its usefulness in achieving organization's objectives is analyzed using several techniques.

This analysis includes, along with other things, predicting the trend of NEW INVENTED TECHNOLOGY in global economy and studying the potentials benefits of technologies. The research continues by analyzing various different non-financial factors and issues relating to the use of strategic theories and models. Further, the recent annual performance and position of PEL has also been analysed.

The products manufactured by PEL have always been of high standard and the name PAK ELEKTRON LIMITED is synonymous with QUALITY all over Pakistan. Since its inception, the company has been working for the advancement and development of engineering know-how in Pakistan which is evident from its mission statement, reproduced hereunder:

“To provide quality products and services to the complete satisfaction of our customers and maximize returns for all stake holders through optimal use of resources. To focus on personal development of our Human Resource to meet future challenges. To promote good governance, corporate values and a safe working environment with a strong sense of social responsibility.”

PEL is one of the major manufacturers of electrical goods in Pakistan, focusing on both industrial and consumer segments. The Company has a strong foothold in the power equipment market and is well established in the home appliances market. PEL has been continuously adding new products to its range. As a result, PEL has registered a significant increase in its sales volume, during the last ten years.

Product Portfolio

The company comprises of two divisions:

POWER DIVISION

The gap in demand and supply of energy in the country has been on the rise for quite a while resulting into severe load management. This requires huge input from Government and Private sector on the generation side in different forms i.e. thermal, hydel, coal and wind. Funding aspect of fuel supply and the circular debt issue has resulted in less than optimum capacity utilization of generation facilities.

Keeping in view the challenges in this area, few years ago the company embarked upon a major program of enhancing its capabilities to design and manufacture state of the art electrical distribution equipment in the country.

The Power Division primarily manufactures;

1. Transformers

Setting up of the new manufacturing facility has given a technological edge to the Company over its competitors not only within the country but also in the entire Middle East and North African region. There are two types of Transformers:

Distribution Transformers

Power Transformers

It includes;

a) Pad Mounted Transformers: These transformers are installed on grounds

b) Pole Mounted Transformers: These are installed on poles and distribute electricity to area around.

Power transformers are huge size transformers that are installed in grid stations.

PEL is producing ‘distribution transformers' that range from 10 KVA to 6000KVA.

These transformers are produced ranging from 10 MVA to 40 MVA.

PEL is a major supplier to WAPDA and KESC and commands the market with an approximate share of 36% in transformers, 35% in energy meters and 34% in switchgears. These shares are based on the allocation of orders by WAPDA, KESC and supplies made to private consumer.

Major Customers

Major Suppliers

WAPDA and KESC

Account for over 90% of the total transformer sales

ORB UK, for Silicon Steel Sheet

Thyssenkrupp Electrical Steel GmbH of Germany - supplies Silicon Steel Sheet

International Industries Limited  Pakistan - supplies elliptical tube

Universal Industries Pakistan - Copper Rod, wire etc.

Pak Hye Oils - supplies transformer oil.

2. Switch Gears

Switchgear business has remained constant due to moderate demand from both private sectors as well as from WAPDA. Since implementation of such programs is funded by the World Bank and ADB, PEL is expecting more orders from public sector.

PEL manufactures MV & LV switchgears for indoor and outdoor installations which comply with significant international standards and regulations. PEL's market share of switchgear (including MV metal clad switchgear cubicles, MV Pad Mounted Transformers, Kiosk Type Substations, LV Power Factor improvement plants, Motor control centers and bus tie duct) remained stable due to better management of customer relation.

Major Customers

Major Suppliers

WAPDA and private sector almost equally divided

Areeva (Dubai) for supply of Relays

Hyundai Heavy Industries, South Korea for supply of VCB

Pelka Elektrik Malzemeleri of Turkey

Samitomo Corporation (Taiwan) for supply of hot rolled sheets

3. Energy Meters

The cash machine of Electric Utility Companies is in the process of change from Electro Mechanical to Digital Meters. The additional features of Digital Metering includes time, maximum demand indication, remote access, two way communication and a number of other features that make this equipment a smart product. It also enjoys the confidence of the consumer with respect to its reliability and accuracy.

PEL had anticipated this new trend and had timely acquired this proven technology. Hence they were are able to meet the demand for single and three phase applications through in-house production. The business in this product is showing healthy signs in terms of revenue and profitability as well as enhanced utilization of production capacities. PEL manufactures four types of energy meters;

Single Phase Electromechanical Meters

Single Phase Static Meters

Three Phase Electromechanical

Three Phase Static Meters

The quality of PEL meters has been certified by KEMA Laboratories of Holland. PEL meters are superior to others due to their ability to lower revenue losses through accurate and precise operation and reduction of maintenance expenses.

The electro-mechanical energy meters are manufactured under license from ABB of USA. Moreover, Single Phase energy meters provide maintenance-free operations over a long period and accurate measurement of electrical energy. They improve load performance and precision accuracy.

Major Customers

Major Suppliers

WAPDA and KESC

Account for almost 100% of the total    energy meter sales

Zhejiang Holley Imp. & Exp. Co. Ltd of China and ABB INC Electricity Metering of USA supply energy meter parts for single phase meters

Mitsubishi Corporation of Singapore provides polycarbonate resins

Weldey Electric (HK) Ltd.- supply of EM Kit

4. EPC Contracting

With restructuring of the power sector in Pakistan, customers' demand for high value packaged solutions for transmission systems and enterprise electrification requirements has grown drastically. PEL EPC consists of human resource with high academic qualifications and experience and knowledge of local and global markets. The EPC division delivers custom designed and built-in solutions in following areas:

  • 132KV and 220KV grid stations for power utility companies.
  • 132KV and 11KV substations for industrial and commercial customers.
  • Integration of private captive power generation plants into utility network for sale of their surplus power to utility companies.
  • Electrification of housing projects and industrial parks

APPLIANCE DIVISION

It was established in 1980-81 when PEL introduced its first consumer product i.e. Window room Air conditioners in Pakistan. Refrigerators and Deep Freezers followed this during 1986-87.

Appliances Division deals in the following product lines:

Refrigerators

Air conditioners

Deep Freezers

Other Domestic Appliances

1. Refrigerators

PEL Refrigerators were introduced in 1987 with features such as VCM (Vinyl Coated Metal) coating; stylish finishing and auto drain systems. PEL refrigerators carry compressor made by Danfoss of Germany. With respect to refrigerators, company's motto is:

“Not only refrigeration, we believe in healthy preservation”

The refrigerator business contributes 40% to the PEL's sales and this trend is expected to continue in the years to come.

PEL's market share is 28%. Its main competitors include Dawlance, Waves, Haier and some other International brands.

Major Suppliers

  • Danfoss Compressors D.O.O of Slovenia- for supply of Compressors
  • BASF Corporation Ltd. Korea for Polystyrene
  • Marubani ITOCHU Thailand and POSCO S.Korea for CR steel sheets
  • Chang Zhu appliance Support Ltd. for Evaporators
  • LG Chemicals South Korea for VCM Sheets
  • Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Inc. China for Copper Tube.

2. Air Conditioners

PEL is among the major suppliers in the domestic air conditioning market. PEL started manufacturing window air conditioners for the first time in Pakistan in technical collaboration with “General” of Japan. The air conditioners were specifically designed to meet the extreme climatic conditions of Pakistan. PEL's air conditioners have excellent cooling capability at high temperature, varying levels of humidity, high air dust and uneven voltage power supply conditions.

The air conditioner market in Pakistan comprises of window air conditioners and split air conditioners.

PEL holds market share of 10% while rest is shared by various Local and International players.

Major Suppliers - for supply of A.C Kit

  • Galanz
  • Midea
  • Aux

3. Deep Freezers

The company's ability to produce tailor made B2B projects has helped it in securing orders from the corporate sector. This segment has become a permanent feature to its deep freezer business with repeat orders. Proven quality of company's products and its prompt after sales services has also helped it to maintain and develop stronger relation with its valuable corporate customers.

4. Other Domestic Appliances

This category includes Microwave ovens, Water dispensers and Washing machines which compliment the home appliances range of the company. PEL emphasizes on each product category through product campaigns, in-time availability and focus on shop share. Microwave is the most highlighted of its category and is offered with new and attractive designs. PEL has increased Microwave product range by offering different sizes and models meeting varying requirements of its customers. In addition, PEL has launched economical models in water dispenser category to meet the growing customer needs.

Developments in the Area of Information Technology

By incorporating the essence of the mission statement in PEL's branding line, and using new technologies, it intends to create the desired image and achieve the following objectives:

  • High visibility level
  • Heightened awareness amongst the target market
  • Favourably mobilizing the target market towards the organization and its products
  • Minimum cost for maximum projection
  • Enhanced level of relationship with customers and employees
  • Upgrading teaching abilities, skills and knowledge of staff
  • Enhancing participation of Private Sector in training activities at Management level
  • Preparing training plans, programs and projects keeping in view the local and as foreign manpower training requirements

For the purpose of achieving these set standards and to utilize the benefits of new technologies, PEL established Information Technology department, which is constantly striving to introduce simpler plans of buying the desired product.

Moreover, it has played its part in respect of:

  • Reducing product prices
  • Introducing consumer finance initiatives
  • Lower interest rates
  • Improved consumer purchasing power

ITD's key responsibilities include:

  • Troubleshooting, installation, deletion, upgrading computers, hardware and software
  • Rights protection and issuance
  • Develop and maintain internal network
  • Develop and maintain domain of each person
  • Create and enhance internal softwares running currently

CRITICAL ANALYSIS / EVALUATION

Home Appliance Market

The industry enjoyed a boom period from 1992 to 1995 until the setback in 1996 when sales tax was raised to 18% from 15%, besides the levy of excise duty. The industry recovered 1999 onwards following the government tariffs rationalization on imported components and the increasing domestic demand. Three active players, namely Dawlance, PEL and Waves, are currently meeting major domestic demand of refrigerators, deep freezers and air conditioners.

However the volume level at which the local manufacturers are operating has resulted in cost efficiencies due to economies in product and raw material purchases thereby making local products competitive to Chinese brands.

The home appliances market in Pakistan has expanded in the past several years and is expected to continue. The total size of home appliances market is Rs. 70 Billion.

Rs. In Bln

DESCRIPTION

Market Share in % terms

White Goods

65.71

Electronic Goods

22.86

Gas Appliances

11.43

This expansion is owed to the constantly changing and, of course, improving technologies that answers consumers' ever changing demands. Moreover, low prices, availability of consumer financing at lower interest rates and changing life styles with a trend towards preserving eatables for a longer period have also been key factors in this expansion.

Power Equipment Market

The demand for power equipment is on the rise in the country due to system revamping and village electrification projects being implemented by the utilities and the increasing investment in electricity transmission and distribution by the private sector.

The Power Division market mainly comprises of Transformers, Switchgear and Energy Meters. PEL has been able to maintain its market share in all three categories and is expanding its market share through strong R&D knowledge in power equipment and high product quality.

PRODUCTS

Market Size (units)

PEL   SUPPLIES

Units

%age

Transformers

9,322

3,356

36%

Switchgears

2,547

866

34%

Energy Meters

1,669

584

35%

TOTAL

13,538

4,806

35%

Product Wise Sales History

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

Transformer (TR)

3,356

4,528

2,688

1,497

1,521

823

Energy Meters (EM)

584

1,045

1,246

934

786

508

Switchgear (SG)

866

751

610

445

306

112

Power Transformer (PT)

284

165

-

-

-

-

Power Projects (PP)

922

354

-

-

-

-

Refrigerators (RF)

5,446

4,345

5,179

4,489

3,013

1,787

Air conditioners (AC)

1,232

1,024

910

483

37

217

Trading

1,236

865

409

227

414

283

Total

13,926

13,077

11,042

8,075

6,077

3,730

New Technologies and Achieving Business Objectives

I would like to quote Michael Schrage's insightful observation that he made in an interview to Knowledge Inc.:

“I think “knowledge management” is a bullshit issue. Let me tell you why. I can give you perfect information, I can give you perfect knowledge and it won't change your behavior one iota. People choose not to change their behavior because the culture and the imperatives of the organisationmakes it too difficult to act upon the knowledge. Knowledge is not the power. Power is power. The ability to act on knowledge is power. Most people in most organisations do not have the ability to act on the knowledge they possess. End of story."

While discussing in detail the subject of achievement management, the main aspect was ‘The Role of Technology'. Adopting new technology that perfectly responds to the changing demands of the consumers is indeed an achievement management. It is the biggest practical tool for an organisation to achieve its objectives efficiently.

As detailed above, PEL has been using this tool for the last six years and has evidently shown the result in form of increased sales and enhanced market share. PEL has always responded to the changing era in a positive way and launched new/improved products at the right time. This has not only made its sales' graph grow higher but has also enabled the company to pursue its mission statement.

The questionnaires, I used, revealed that PEL's methods of introducing new technology has basically earned it greater market share and customer loyalty.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • PEL is the pioneer manufacturer of electrical goods in Pakistan
  • PEL was the 16th Company in Pakistan with ISO 9002 Certification
  • PEL is a total Quality Management (TQM) Company
  • Huge distribution network all over Pakistan
  • Deployed latest technology in the Power Division
  • Strong brand image
  • Strong quality, sales and services
  • Skilled labor force and technical and management staff
  • Regular arrangement for holding employee effective training programs
  • Excellent business relations with potential customers
  • Effective material management
  • PEL provides excellent after sales services with a separate department -Consumer Marketing Department (CMD).

Weaknesses

  • Lack of proper marketing orientation
  • PEL has comparatively higher variable costs due to higher consumption of varying resources resulting in lower contribution margins
  • Due to lack of finance it cannot utilize all its resources at full capacity, increasing the product cost per unit that decreases the profit margin of each consumer item

Opportunities

  • The manufacturing of Grid Stations and accessories supplementary to Grid Stations may help PEL generate higher revenues
  • Range of appliances can be increased in near future
  • Expansion of area because of brand equity
  • Further marketing and operational utilization of established vast sales network

Threats

  • Inflation and its effects on the cost of production
  • Cheaper Chinese Products
  • Bigger advertising budgets of competitors
  • Constantly changing government policies regarding trade, prices and mismanagement with respect to provision of resources, subsidies and energy supplies

Future Outlook

PEL is geared towards addressing and meeting the expectations of its customer through quality products in both domestic appliances and electrical equipments. PEL's future performance will be based on increasing cost savings, increased sales and high operating efficiencies and all that, of course, will be made possible only by being technologically up-to-date. Various steps have already been introduced with the objective of generating sustainable earnings by focusing on different operational areas and business diversifications.

PEL is well positioned to realize its potential by taking advantage from the expected growth in the economy as its capabilities are aligned with the priorities of its customers in both the Power and the Appliances divisions.

Methodology

To analyze this research project I have used business techniques rather than accounting techniques. At the heart of any successful evaluation is a set of relevant, succinct and appropriate evaluation questions. The ability to recognize and then ask ‘good' questions is an essential skill of any evaluator. The following generic questions helped me as a rough guide for project evaluation:

  • What do I want the project to accomplish?
  • How will I know if I have accomplished my goals?
  • What activities in the project do I have to undertake to accomplish my goals?
  • What factors might help or hinder my ability to accomplish my goals?

I completed this analysis in the following steps.

  • Gathered data from primary resources i.e. meetings with executives of PEL
  • Obtained information from the internet
  • Collected desired pieces of data from business journals
  • Studied the annual reports of PEL to get know-how about its performance
  • Visited different technology related  websites to know about the latest electronic technologies trends
  • Visited showrooms of electrical appliances for questionnaire research

· Presented the data collected under the specified heads with full consideration to potential benefits of technologies to PEL

Limitations

One of the limitations, which I faced, was the time limitation. To complete this research project, I used the primary source of data. I met with managers of different outlets and customer service representatives who were cooperative but at the same time as they were the branch officers, they had very limited time to offer.

CONCLUSION / RECOMMENDATIONS

I conclude that PEL has always been contributing towards the advancement and development of the engineering sector in Pakistan by introducing range of quality electrical equipments and home appliances. Inspite of stiff competition from emerging local and multinational brands, PEL Group's appliances and electrical equipments have remained in the spotlight through constant innovations. PEL is synonymous with quality. Strategic partnership with multinationals of repute have enabled the PEL Group to incorporate new technologies into existing product ranges, thus giving the Pakistan's market domestic access to innovative, affordable and quality products.

PEL is one of the most widely recognized brands in the domestic refrigerator market. It is among the largest local manufacturer and one of the leading brands. With continuous efforts in R&D, PEL is concentrating on quality of product and cost minimization. The Company is considering technical collaboration for value addition through planned capital expenditures.

Increased sales of manufactured refrigerators coupled with sales of split air conditioners are the major factors contributing towards growth in the appliances business. Other products are also being introduced as part of Company's strategy to broaden its product range.

The company's switchgear and energy meters business is progressing well with PEL being a major player in the local market. PEL's market share in the private sector has considerably grown over the previous year with share in utilities staying at almost the same level.

As part of product diversification strategy and to address the changing market needs, PEL split air conditioners, with already proven energy saver characteristics, were aggressively marketed during 2003. PEL is expected to become a major player in split air conditioner market in future.

PEL plans to continue focus on broadening the product range, introducing new models, sizes, colors and features. To commensurate with the growing market, it has launched television sets to add to its existing product range in home appliances.

PEL aims to introduce new products in order to capture higher market share through increased volumes. In line with this objective, PEL is also expected to introduce Small Domestic Appliances (SDAs) and kitchen appliances etc. The Company has recently set up a Consumer Marketing Division, which in association with various banks is targeting employees of private and public sector to buy PEL products at attractive prices. Therefore, it is ensuring full benefit of its technological development in achieving its objectives.

Ø Recommendations

  • PEL should add more features to their products. People are attracted towards a product with unique features that would make the customers feel that they have got their money's worth
  • To gain more competitive advantage over their competitors, PEL has to further work on its marketing strategies
  • Service rules should be strictly implemented with special focus on after sale servicing through retailers and outlet representatives
  • Margins on sales needs to be maximized, however raising the prices can affect its volume. Therefore, cost cutting should be their prime focus

SKILLS AND LEARNING STATEMENT

Skills and Learning statement details the knowledge and experience acquired in the preparation and presentation of this research and analysis report to my mentor. I chose Mr. Hammad Khalid, my senior at workplace, (Chartered Accountant from Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan), MCB Bank Limited, as my mentor. He has vast experience in the field of banking, as well as other industries in the country. I am extremely obliged and grateful to him in taking the time out from his busy schedule and providing me with invaluable cooperation.

This statement comprises answers to the following questions:

  • What did I learn from the meetings with my Project Mentor?
  • How well do I think that I have answered my research question(s)?
  • How have I demonstrated my interpersonal and communication skills during the project work?
  • How has undertaking the RAP helped me in my accountancy studies and/or current employment role?

Preparing for the Meetings

A Meeting is defined as a Formal or informal deliberative assembly of individuals called to debate on a certain agenda, exchange ideas and reach decisions. A focused goal oriented approach is needed for maximum results and that includes specific pre-planning. Bearing this in mind I prepared an agenda for my meetings to ensure minimal time lost and the objectives of the meeting being achieved.

Meetings with Mentor

In order to get maximum benefit from the meetings with my mentor, I focused on:

  • Maintaining concentration and focused listening
  • No story-telling
  • Relevant questioning
  • Revealing rather than concealing

Asking clear and direct questions helped my mentor easily grasp the purpose of the questions. Likewise, questions asked by my mentor also proved to be very useful for me. They helped me to make my verbal expression much better and helped me identify some areas which I did not focus on previously.

First meeting

Choice of a topic for RAP was the first issue to be addressed in the meeting. I had also carried out some ground work as initial research and prepared some pointers relevant to my topic and report writing, which were thoroughly discussed during this meeting. The meeting was informative, useful and my mentor remained patient as I explained the whole idea of the project and topic selection. I remained calm in the first meeting and tried to remain to the point.

Second Meeting

I had accumulated and assembled all the information and facts regarding the company (PEL) for the second meeting. We examined and discussed the data in this particular meeting. My mentor elaborated some additional prevalent market conditions so that I could understand how the use of technology can provide an organization a competitive edge. He also highlighted the importance of incorporating external factors while highlighting some weaknesses in the data gathered and wished me luck during the course of my analysis. I remained patient in the second meeting and listened to his comments carefully.

Third Meeting

In this final meeting, I used MS Power Point to present my findings. I gave a brief presentation of my work which was carefully viewed and my mentor highlighted the shortcomings as it concluded, which I jotted down for improvement. We also held a Questioning Session. Questioning resolves queries and ambiguities thereby originating new ideas. While it may lead to constructive criticism but the whole process generally concludes in a better understanding. He evaluated my research and analyzed my knowledge with inquisitive questions such as:

  • Fulfillment of my objectives and reasons for choosing PEL and the topic
  • Modes and sources of information
  • Skills used in the compilation of my report

I answered the above to the best of my knowledge and recent findings to which he was highly satisfied. I found the last meeting challengingly interesting as it was the final demonstration of all my work. His appreciation motivated me immensely.

The Presentation

My presentation skills were fully demonstrated during the third meeting with my mentor in which I outlined the work undertaken. The presentation was prepared on MS Power point highlighting the following:

  • Project objectives
  • Source of information
  • Company divisions
  • Statistical data of PEL
  • General Benefits/Use of IT

Some copies of the slides have been attached below.

The presentation lasted for about half an hour. My mentor was extremely supportive throughout the meeting. The questioning session allowed me to listen carefully the jargon used by my mentor, the relevance of his answers and useful tips that he on and off mentioned.

Answering Research questions

The topic of my Research and Analysis Report required me to answer following questions:

  • What does technological development mean?
  • What are PEL's objectives?
  • How does PEL respond to technological development?
  • How does PEL use technology in achieving its objectives?

The process of data collection revolved around above-listed questions. I tried my best to remain relevant to the subject all the time. Answering research questions is the most tricky part of analysis as it can sometimes be highly subjective especially with respect to drawing conclusions and making recommendation. However, they are also vital in report writing and greatly polish the ability of the evaluator to demonstrate his skills by focusing on the agenda of relevancy and accuracy. I managed this by including the following as a method of answering:

  • Product portfolio of PEL
  • The technology used
  • Use of Information Technology
  • Product wise sales history over the years
  • Competitive edge due to advanced technology
  • Future outlook of PEL
  • SWOT analysis
  • Conclusion and recommendations

In my opinion, my research report is well able to present the true picture PEL in respect of its technological development and the achievement of its objectives through using technology.

Self Assessment - Communication & Interpersonal Skills

Communication is a two way process and is said to be effective when the message has been sent to the receiver and understood by him. The elements that aid in this process are suitable medium, clear message and competencies of the parties involved.

An appropriate and simple model of communication is as follows:

Effectual communication engages the choice of the best communications channel, the technical know-how to use the channel, the presentation of information to the target audience, and the skills to understand responses received from others. Self development, interpersonal skills, mutual understanding, mutual cooperation and trust is also important to set a complete channel of most effective and winning communication skills.

There are mainly three types of communication skills:

  • Expressive skills;
  • Listening skills; and
  • Skills for managing the overall process of communication

Expressive Skills are required to convey message to others through words, facial expressions and body language.

Application: I was able to explore my expressive skills while giving presentation to my mentor. I made appropriate use of proper body language and maintained eye contact with my mentor.

Listening Skills are skills that are used to obtain messages or information from others. These help to clearly understand what a person feels and thinks about you or understand the other person closely. Preoccupation and careless behavior in this regard hinders the whole process and one may miss out vital information being imparted.

Application: Keeping this in mind, my goal was to ensure that I remained an active listener throughout the meetings with my mentor. I used the practical and effective approach of:

  • Clearly focusing on what my mentor was delivering
  • Maintaining eye contact with the mentor and making sure I was not distracted
  • Actively responding to my mentor with a frequent nod of the head
  • Making sure that I was not only listening with my ears but keeping my other senses active too
  • Asking my mentor to repeat certain things which I couldn't understand
  • Jotting down valuable information which would prove useful in my project

Skills for managing the overall process of communication help to recognize the required information and develop a strong hold on the existing rules of communication and interaction. Importance of communication skills can never be ignored or neglected. These skills are the key to executing good management skills. With good management skills, you can have a team of members who together create an ambience of open communication, concise messages, probe for clarifications, recognize nonverbal signals, and mutual understanding.

Application: The interaction with my mentor proved fruitful at all stages as I was able to get invaluable help and support from him. I was encouraged at every step and good communication played a vital role in my learning and understanding. The IT skills that I demonstrated particularly during the presentation were highly acknowledged. My mentor also assisted me by clearly and loudly delivering his point of views and avoided any extra or unnecessary detail and information which was not required for my topic. He centered all his discussions by staying true to the topic I chose. We covered all the major aspects of the project and deliberated on possible ways of its improvement.

Communication Barriers

One of the likely barriers in communication is noise and distraction. To overcome such a problem, we had our meetings in my mentor's room where there was no element of diversion. This helped me immensely as I grasped all the content during the meetings due to effective listening and focused wholly on the points being discussed.

Efficacy of RAP - Accountancy Studies and Current Role

  • My Research Report includes Market Research that is a combination of art and scientific methods, which, when applied, permits to accurately predict how customers, members and the public in general will react to products, services and ideas. This experience is of great value in my career as it has given me an insight of another industry.
  • I have based my report upon Qualitative Research, which unlike Quantitative research allows a greater degree of exploration that qualitative does, especially in the initial stages of a study.
  • Activities like supervision, data review and verification and professional interviewing have developed analytical skills in me. In course of preparing this research report, I did:
    • Statistical program development;
    • Analysis and interpretation of collected data;
    • Documentation of research results; and
    • Formal presentation of research findings

For a career oriented person as a qualified accountant, it is very much necessary to have other business tactical skills besides accountancy. Through this Research Report I have learnt a lot that could not have been possible in any other way. I got a chance to enhance my business knowledge and presentational skills. In short, I have covered another milestone in my professional life through attempting this research study.

Major Presentation Slides - Meeting III

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