Traditionally, the accounting function’s role is always viewed as that of a steward, the control centre for the organisation, rather than the catalyst for enterprise growth. The term ‘back office’ is often used to describe the operating nature of accounting function. So in today’s volatile global business environment, the key challenge for accounting function is how to lead the enterprise in its growth strategies while ensuring effective risk management and stewardship of the enterprise.
With complexity and data proliferation, increasingly the CEO and the board turn to accountants to help make sense of all the data, to help cut through this complexity, and to provide more informed analysis on the business and its operation. The opportunity for accounting function is if it can generate the insights that help make better corporate decision making, while continuing to ensure effective control of the enterprise, its reputation as a catalyst for growth will be guaranteed. To do so, traditional accounting departments may have to transform themselves into ‘intelligent accounting functions’.
Intelligent accounting functions run their operations as cost effectively as possible, leveraging technology to reduce finance operating costs; strengthen stewardship and control so as to establish a solid foundation to support growth.
COURSE GOALS & LEARNING OBJECTIVES
This SMU-X course focuses on an experiential learning opportunity that allows students to translate classroom knowledge and theory into practical solutions for real organisations. Through this student consultancy projects, students learn how to solve complex business problems with guidance from the faculty and project sponsor mentors, from problem definition to final client presentation - while simultaneously testing their skills in real world settings. The course will focus on examining accounting processes and applying data-driven analytics and insights so as to identify and create accounting delivery efficiencies.
The course aims to achieve the following objectives:
- Real world problem solving through student consultancy project
- Apply classroom learning and research to real-world challenges in order to envision solutions for an intelligent accounting function
- Understand the changing role of finance function
- Understand how to simplify, streamline and harmonize essential finance processes to create a learner, more efficient finance function
- Learn how to use a data visualization tool
- Experiential and peer-learning
- Active mentoring by faculty and project sponsors
- Learn how to handle uncertainty in a project
- Each project group comprises 6 students. Each group needs to appoint a team coordinator
- Project sponsors will collaborate with project teams, and in consultations with the instructors, to define the project scope, develop project plans, and determine the deliverables project teams will create
- Dual-mentor approach - students are provided with faculty mentors (provide content expertise and advice on team dynamics) and a project sponsor mentor (provides industry expertise); such approach is important in guiding and supporting students facing unfamiliar business problems
- Project teams are expected to work remotely from campus with project sponsors, doing research on the issue or problem. Students are expected to meet their faculty and project mentors on a weekly basis.
- Final deliverables - Project teams will deliver a formal presentation to project sponsors as well as provide written recommendations, analyses and any prototype developed (if any) during project engagement.
Seminar materials and Guidance
- No prescribed textbook
- Students are expected to carry out extensive research on their own that is related to the issue or problem in the project
- Students may have to rely on knowledge obtained in courses they have studied to tackle the project. For example courses may include financial accounting,management accounting and accounting information systems/ process modelling & solution blueprinting etc.
Either ACCT221 Accounting Information Systems or IS304 Process Modelling and Solutions Blueprinting
PARTICIPATING ORGANISATIONS IN PREVIOUS TERMS
Project sponsor for the term
WHAT STUDENTS SAY ABOUT ACCT .414
"Dynamic lessons. Every meeting, our requirements change to better fit our client. It's definitely different from your usual projects, where requirements do not change." - Information Systems Student
"The real-world fluidity of situations. The project scope was clear, but our group's realisation of certain aspects along the way, and the resulting need to make and accommodate changes made the project feel much more realistic as compared to fixed-frame, standardised projects. Being evaluated by an actual client also meant that dynamic changes were needed whenever feedback was provided." - Accountancy Student
WHAT PARTNERS SAY ABOUT ACCT .414
"As the world's leading luxury retailer, DFS takes great pride in delivering exceptional service to our customers. Collaborating with SMU students and their professors in carrying out projects related to the establishment of an intelligent accounting function represents a unique opportunity for DFS to further enhance the customer experience. We look forward to engaging these enthusiastic students as they work on creatively applying concepts to developing practical solutions that could assist out business." - Mr Gurbinder Singh, Vice President, Global Shared Service Centre