Q 1- Information Security that refers to ensure Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of information, is critical in banking industry, to mitigate the risks of Information Technology. Identify and explain various sub-processes that are involved in Information Security.
The various sub-processes that are involved in information Security are as follows:
Information Security Policies, Procedures and practices: This refers to the processes relating to approval and implementation of information security. The security policy is basis on which detailed procedures and practices are developed and implemented at various units/department and layers of technology, as relevant.
These cover all key areas of securing information at various layers of information processing and ensure that information is made available safely and securely. For example - Non-disclosure agreement with employees, vendors etc., KYC procedures for security.
User Security Administration: This refers to security for various users of information systems. The security administration policy documents define how users are created and granted access as per organization structure and access matrix. It also covers the complete administration of users right from creation to disabling of users is defined as part of security policy.
Application Security: This refers to how security is implemented at various aspects of application right from configuration, setting of parameters and security for transactions through various application controls. For example – Event Logging.
Database Security: This refers to various aspects of implementing security for the database software. For example - Role based access privileges given to employees.
Operating System Security: This refers to security for operating system software which is installed in the servers and systems which are connected to the servers.
Network Security: This refers to how security is provided at various layers of network and connectivity to the servers. For example - Use of virtual private networks for employees, implementation of firewalls etc.
Physical Security: This refers to security implemented through physical access controls. For example - Disabling the USB ports.
Q 2- Through automation, a business organization intends to increase the accuracy of its information transferred and certifies the repeatability of the value-added task performed by the automation of business. Being a management consultant, identify major benefits that would help the organization to achieve its objectives.
Major benefits of automating Business Processes are as follows:
- Quality and Consistency: Ensures that every action is performed identically - resulting in high quality, reliable results and stakeholders will consistently experience the same level of service.
- Time Saving: Automation reduces the number of tasks employees would otherwise need to do manually. It frees up time to work on items that add genuine value to the business, allowing innovation and increasing employees’ levels of motivation.
- Visibility: Automated processes are controlled and consistently operate accurately within the defined timeline. It gives visibility of the process status to the organization.
- Improved Operational Efficiency: Automation reduces the time it takes to achieve a task, the effort required to undertake it and the cost of completing it successfully. Automation not only ensures systems run smoothly and efficiently, but that errors are eliminated and best practices are constantly leveraged.
- Governance & Reliability: The consistency of automated processes means stakeholders can rely on business processes to operate and offer reliable processes to customers, maintaining a competitive advantage.
- Reduced Turnaround Times: Eliminate unnecessary tasks and realign process steps to optimize the flow of information throughout production, service, billing and collection. This adjustment of processes distils operational performance and reduces the turnaround times for both staff and external customers.
- Reduced Costs: Manual tasks, given that they are performed one-at-a-time and at a slower rate than an automated task, will cost more. Automation allows us to accomplish more by utilizing fewer resources.
Q 3- The increased availability of choice to customers about products / services makes it very important for businesses to keep themselves updated to new technology and delivery mechanisms. Being a consultant, briefly explain the steps involved in BPA implementation.
Various steps that are required while automating the Grievance Cell of the Airline Industry are as follows:
Step 1: Define why we plan to implement a Business Process Automation (BPA)?
The primary purpose for which an enterprise implements automation may vary from enterprise to enterprise. In this case, to improve upon the Poor customer service is a major concern.
Step 2: Understand the rules / regulation under which enterprise needs to comply with?
This step emphasizes on building an understanding on the rules of engagement, which include following the rules, adhering to regulations and following document retention requirements. This governance is established by a combination of internal corporate policies, external industry regulations and local, state, and central laws.
Step 3: Document the process, we wish to automate
At this step, all the documents that are currently being used need to be documented. The questions emphasized upon are like - what documents need to be captured?; where do they come from?; what format are they in?; who is involved in processing of the documents?; what is the impact of regulations on processing of these documents?; can there be a better way to do the same job? and how are exceptions in the process handled? etc.
Step 4: Define the objectives/goals to be achieved by implementing BPA
Once the above steps have been completed; entity needs to determine the key objectives of the process improvement activities. The goals need to be SMART - Specific: Clearly defined; Measurable: Easily quantifiable in monetary terms; Attainable: Achievable through best efforts; Relevant: Entity must need these, and Timely: Achieved within a given time frame.
Step 5: Engage the business process consultant
To decide as to which company/ consultant to partner with, depends upon the following:
- Objectivity of consultant in understanding/evaluating entity situation.
- Does the consultant have experience with entity business process?
- Is the consultant experienced in resolving critical business issues?
- Whether the consultant can recommend and implementing a combination of hardware, software and services as appropriate to meeting enterprise BPA requirements?
- Does the consultant have the required expertise to clearly articulate the business value of every aspect of the proposed solution?
Step 6: Calculate the RoI for project
The right stakeholders need to be engaged and involved to ensure that the benefits of BPA are clearly communicated and implementation becomes successful. A lot of meticulous effort would be required to convince the senior management about need to implement the right solution for BPA.
Step 7: Developing the BPA
Once the requirements have been document, ROI has been computed and top management approval to go ahead has been received, the consultant develops the requisite BPA. The developed BPA needs to meet the objectives for which the same is being developed.
Step 8: Testing the BPA
Once developed, it is important to test the new process to determine how well it works and identify where additional “exception processing” steps need to be included. The process of testing is an iterative process, the objective being to remove all problems during this phase.
Q 4- Describe the term “Internal Control System”? State its limitations as well.
Internal Control System: Internal Control System means all the policies and procedures adopted by the management of an entity to assist in achieving management’s objective of ensuring, as far as practicable, the orderly and efficient conduct of its business, including adherence to management policies, the safeguarding of assets, the prevention and detection of fraud and error, the accuracy and completeness of the accounting records, and the timely preparation of reliable financial information. An Internal Control System:
- facilitates the effectiveness and efficiency of operations.
- helps ensure the reliability of internal and external financial reporting.
- assists compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
- helps safeguarding the assets of the entity.
Limitations of Internal Control System are as follows:
- The fact that most internal controls do not tend to be directed at transactions of unusual nature. The potential for human error, such as, due to carelessness, distraction, mistakes of judgment and misunderstanding of instructions.
- The possibility of circumvention of internal controls through collusion with employees or with parties outside the entity
- The possibility that a person responsible for exercising an internal control could abuse that responsibility, for example, a member of management overriding an internal control.
- Manipulations by management with respect to transactions or estimates and judgments required in the preparation of financial statements.
Q 5- Information Security is critical to mitigate the risks of information Technology and Security should ensure Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA) of information. Determine all the sub- processes that comprise of Information Security.
Information security is comprised of the following sub-processes:
- Information Security Policies, Procedures, and practices: Refers to the processes relating to approval and implementation of information security. The security policy is basis on which detailed procedures and practices are developed and implemented at various units/department and layers of technology, as relevant. These cover all key areas of securing information at various layers of information processing and ensure that information is made available safely and securely.
- User Security Administration: Refers to security for various users of information systems. The security administration policy documents define how users are created and granted access as per organization structure and access matrix. It also covers the complete administration of users right from creation to disabling of users is defined as part of security policy.
- Application Security: Refers to how security is implemented at various aspects of application right from configuration, setting of parameters and security for transactions through various application controls.
- Database Security: Refers to various aspects of implementing security for the database software.
- Operating System Security: Refers to security for operating system software which is installed in the servers and systems which are connected to the servers.
- Network Security: Refers to how security is provided at various layers of network and connectivity to the servers.
- Physical Security: Refers to security implemented through physical access controls.
Q 6- General Controls are pervasive controls and apply to all the components of system, processes and data for a given enterprise or systems environment. As an IT consultant, discuss some of the controls covered under general controls which you would like to ensure for a given enterprise.
General controls related to IT environment and Information Systems include the following:
- Information Security Policy: The security policy is approved by the senior management and encompasses all areas of operations of bank and drives access to information across the enterprise and other stakeholders.
- Administration, Access and Authentication: IT should be administered with appropriate policies and procedures clearly defining the levels of access to information and authentication of users.
- Separation of key IT functions: Secure deployment of IT requires the bank to have separate IT organization structure with key demarcation of duties for different personnel within IT department and to ensure that there are no SoD conflicts.
- Management of Systems Acquisition and Implementation: Software solutions for Core Banking Systems (CBS) are most developed acquired and implemented. Hence, process of acquisition and implementation of systems should be properly controlled.
- Change Management: IT solutions deployed and its various components must be changed in tune with changing needs as per changes in technology environment, business processes, regulatory and compliance requirements as these changes impact the live environment of banking services. Hence, change management process should be implemented to ensure smooth transition to new environments covering all key changes including hardware, software and business processes. All changes must be properly approved by the management before implementation.
- Backup, Recovery and Business Continuity: Heavy dependence on IT and criticality makes it imperative that resilience of banking operations should be ensured by having appropriate business continuity including backup, recovery and off-site data center.
- Proper Development and Implementation of Application Software: Application software drives the business processes of the banks. These solutions in case developed and implemented must be properly controlled by using standard software development process.
- Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of Software and data files: Security is implemented to ensure Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of information. Confidentiality refers to protection of critical information, Integrity refers to ensuring authenticity of information at all stages of processing or contents should not be altered, and Availability refers to ensuring availability of information to users when required. All IT operations need to be controlled by appropriate policies and procedures that refer to how IT is deployed, implemented and maintained within the bank.
- Incident response and management: There may be various incidents created due to failure of IT that need to be appropriately responded and managed as per pre- defined policies and procedures.
Q 7- Explain the following terms in brief:
- Data Flow Diagram
- Risk Assessment
a) Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) shows the flow of data or information from one place to another. DFDs describe the processes showing how these processes link together through data stores and how the processes relate to the users and the outside world. In other words, DFD basically provides an overview of –
- What does a system process;
- What transformations are performed;
- What data are stored;
- What results are produced and where they flow?
(b) Flowcharts are used in designing and documenting simple processes or programs. They help visualize what is going on and thereby help understand a process, and perhaps also find flaws, bottlenecks, and other less-obvious features within it.
(c) Risk Assessment t is one of the five components that define Internal Control under SA 315. Every entity faces a variety of risks from external and internal resources. Risk assessment involves a dynamic and iterative process for identifying and assessing risks to the achievement of objectives. Thus, risk assessment forms the basis for determining how risks will be managed.
A precondition to risk assessment is the establishment of objectives, linked at different levels of the entity. Management specifies objectives within categories of operations, reporting, and compliance with sufficient clarity to be able to identify and assess risks to those objectives. Risk assessment also requires management to consider the impact of possible changes in the external environment and within its own business model that may render internal control ineffective.
Q 8- Corporate Governance is defined as the framework of rules and practices by which Board of Directors ensures accountability, fairness and transparency in a company’s relationship with all its stakeholders. List the rules and procedures that constitute corporate governance framework.
The Corporate Governance Framework consists of:
- explicit and implicit contracts between the company and the stakeholders for distribution of responsibilities, rights, and rewards;
- procedures for reconciling the sometimes-conflicting interests of stakeholders in accordance with their duties, privileges and roles; and
- procedures for proper supervision, control, and information-flows to serve as a system of checks-and balances.
Q 9-Determine the reasons for the importance of Business Reporting. Identify the global standard for exchanging business information and discuss it in detail.
Business Reporting or Enterprise Reporting is the public reporting of operating and financial data by a business enterprise or the regular provision of information to decision- makers within an organization to support them in their work.
Business Reporting is important for following reasons:
- Effective and transparent business reporting allows organizations to present a cohesive explanation of their business and helps them engage with internal and external stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, creditors, and regulators.
- High-quality business reporting is at the heart of strong and sustainable organizations, financial markets, and economies, as this information is crucial for stakeholders to assess organizational performance and make informed decisions with respect to an organization’s capacity to create and preserve value.
- As organizations fully depend on their stakeholders for sustainable success, it is in their interest to provide them with high-quality reports. For example, effective high- quality reporting reduces the risk for lenders and may lower the cost of capital.
- Many organizations are increasingly complex, and have larger economic, environmental, and social footprints. As a result, various stakeholder groups are demanding increased Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) information, as well as greater insight into how these factors affect financial performance and valuations.
- High-quality reports also promote better internal decision-making. High-quality information is integral to the successful management of the business, and is one of the major drivers of sustainable organizational success.
XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is a freely available and global standard for exchanging business information. XBRL is the open international standard for digital business reporting, managed by a global not for profit consortium, XBRL International Inc. XBRL is used around the world, in more than 50 countries.
In a nutshell, XBRL provides a language in which reporting terms can be authoritatively defined. Those terms can then be used to uniquely represent the contents of financial statements or other kinds of compliance, performance and business reports.
Q 10- Explain the term “Business Intelligence” with example.
Business Intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process for analysing data and presenting actionable information to help corporate executives, business managers and other end users make more informed business decisions.
BI data can include historical information, as well as new data gathered from source systems as it is generated, enabling BI analysis to support both strategic and tactical decision-making processes.
Benefits of Business Intelligence
(i)BI improves the overall performance of the company using it. The potential benefits of business intelligence programs include –
- accelerating and improving decision making;
- optimizing internal business processes;
- enhancing communication among departments while coordinating activities;
- increasing operational efficiency;
- driving new revenues; and
- gaining competitive advantages over business rivals.
(ii) BI systems can also help companies identify market trends and spot business problems that need to be addressed.
(iii) BI systems help in enhancing customer experience, allowing for the timely and appropriate response to customer problems and priorities.
Q 11- Central database is the main feature of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System. As the complete data is stored at one place, ensuring safety of data and minimizing risk of loss of data is a big challenge. As an IT expert, discuss various risks involved during ERP implementation.
Various risks involved during ERP implementation:
- Lengthy implementation time: ERP projects are lengthy that takes anywhere between 1 to 4 years depending upon the size of the organization. Due to technological developments happening every day, the business and technological environment during the start and completion of the project will never be the same. Employee turnover is another problem.
- Insufficient Funding: The budget for ERP implementation is generally allocated without consulting experts and then implementation is stopped along the way, due to lack of funds.
- Data Safety: As there is only one set of data, if this data is lost, whole business may come to stand still.
- System Failure: As everybody is connected to a single system and central database, in case of failure of system, the whole business may come to stand still may get affected badly.
- Data Access: Data is stored centrally and all the departments access the central data. This creates a possibility of access to non-relevant data.
- Speed of Operation: As data is maintained centrally, gradually the data size becomes more and more and it may reduce the speed of operation.
Q 12- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a system which aims at improving relationship with customers. Briefly explain key benefits of CRM Module of ERP.
Key benefits of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) module of ERP are asunder:
- Improved customer relations: One of the prime benefits of using a CRM is obtaining better customer satisfaction. By using this strategy, all dealings involving servicing, marketing, and selling out products to the customers can be carried out in an organized and systematic way. Better services can be provided to customers through improved understanding of their issues and this in turn helps in increasing customer loyalty and decreasing customer agitation. In this way, continuous feedback from the customers regarding the products and services can be received. It is also possible that the customers may recommend the product to their acquaintances, when efficient and satisfactory services are provided.
- Increase customer revenues: By using a CRM strategy for any business, the revenue of the company can be increased. Using the data collected, marketing campaigns can be popularized in a more effective way. With the help of CRM software, it can be ensured that the product promotions reach a different and brand-new set of customers, and not the ones who had already purchased the product, and thus effectively increase the customer revenue.
- Maximize up-selling and cross-selling: A CRM system allows up-selling which is the practice of giving customers premium products that fall in the same category of their purchase. The strategy also facilitates cross selling which is the practice of offering complementary products to customers, based on their previous purchases. This is done by interacting with the customers and getting an idea about their wants, needs, and patterns of purchase. The details thus obtained will be stored in a central database, which is accessible to all company executives. So, when an opportunity is spotted, the executives can promote their products to the customers, thus maximizing up-selling and cross selling.
- Better internal communication: Following a CRM strategy helps in building up better communication within the company. The sharing of customer data between different departments will enable them to work as a team. This is better than functioning as an isolated entity, as it will help in increasing the company’s profitability and enabling better service to customers.
- Optimize marketing: CRM enables to understand the customer needs and behaviour in a better way, thereby allowing any enterprise to identify the correct time to market its product to the customers. CRM will also give an idea about the most profitable customer groups, and by using this information, similar prospective groups, at the right time will be targeted. In this way, marketing resources can be optimized efficiently and time is not wasted on less profitable customer groups.
Q 13- Explain the following in brief:
(a) Ideal ERP System
(b) Inventory/Stores Management
(c) Functional Audit
(a) An Ideal ERP System is that system which caters all types of needs of an organization and provides right data at right point of time to right users for their purpose. Hence, definition of ideal ERP system may change per organization. But generally, an ideal ERP system is that system where a single database is utilized and contains all data for various software modules. These software modules can include Manufacturing, Financials, Human Resources, Supply Chain Management and Projects etc.
(b) Inventory/Stores Management: The inventory management system is designed with a view to keeping the track of materials in the stores. The system is used to regulate the maximum and minimum level of stocks, raise alarm at danger level stock of any material, give timely alert for re - ordering of materials with optimal re-order quantity and facilitate various queries about inventory like total inventory value at any time, identification of important items in terms of stock value (ABC Analysis), identification most frequently moving objects (XYZ Analysis) etc. Similarly, well designed inventory management system for finished goods and semi-finished goods provides important information for production schedule and marketing/sales strategy.
(c) Functional Audit: This includes testing of different functions / features in the system and testing of the overall process or part of process in the system and its comparison with the actual process. Example - Purchase Process, Sales Process, Salary Calculation Process, Recruitment Process etc. Auditor may check this process in the system and compare it with actual process. It is quite possible that all the aspect present in the actual process may not be integrated in the ERP system. There may be some manual intervention.
Q 14- Discuss the peculiarities that must be considered while allotting a voucher number to a voucher.
A Voucher Number or a Document Number is a unique identity of any voucher/ document. A voucher may be identified or searched using its unique voucher number.
The peculiarities that must be considered while allotting a voucher number to a voucher are as follows:
- Voucher number must be unique.
- Every voucher type shall have a separate numbering series
- A voucher number may have prefix or suffix or both, e.g. ICPL/2034/17-18. In this case, “ICPL” is the prefix, “17-18” is the suffix and “2034” is the actual number of the voucher.
- All vouchers must be numbered serially, i.e., 1,2,3,4,5,6 and so on.
- All vouchers are recorded in chronological order and hence voucher recorded earlier must have an earlier number, i.e. if voucher number for a payment voucher having date as 15th April 2017 is 112, voucher number for all the vouchers recorded after this date shall be more than 112 only.
Q 15- What is an MIS Report and who uses it?
MIS Report: Business managers at all levels of an organization, from assistant managers to executives, rely on reports generated from these systems to help them evaluate their business’ daily activities or problems that arise, make decisions, and track progress. MIS system reporting is used by businesses of all sizes and in every industry.
MIS systems automatically collect data from various areas within a business. These systems can produce daily reports that can be sent to key members throughout the organization. Most MIS systems can also generate ondemand reports that allow managers and other users of the system to generate an MIS report whenever they need it.
Many large businesses have specialized MIS departments, whose only job is to gather business information and create MIS reports. Some of these businesses use sophisticated computing technology and software to gather information. Smaller businesses often use simple software programs and spreadsheets for their MIS reporting needs. There can be as many types of MIS reports as there are divisions within a business.
For example, information about sales revenue and business expenses would be useful in MIS reports for finance and accounting managers. Warehouse managers would benefit from MIS reports about product inventory and shipping information. Total sales from the past year could go into an MIS report for marketing and sales managers.
Q 16- Cloud based applications are now taking over Installed applications. What are the major differences between Cloud based Applications and Installed Applications? Explain any four.
Differences between Cloud based Applications and Installed Applications are given below:
Cloud based Application
Installation and Maintenance
As software is installed on hard disc of the computer used by user, it needs to be installed on every computer one by one. This may take lot of time. Also, maintenance and updating of software may take lot of time and efforts.
Installation on user computer is not required. Update and maintenance are defined responsibility of service provider.
As software is installed on the hard disc of the user’s computer, user needs to go the computer only, i.e., the computer where software is installed, to use the software. It cannot be used from any computer
As software is available through online access, to use the software a browser and an internet connection is needed. It can be used from any computer in the world. Access to the software becomes very easy. Also, it can be used 24 x 7.
Using the software through mobile application is difficult in this case.
Mobile application becomes very easy as data is available 24x7. As technology evolves, mobile technology is becoming an industry norm that makes cloudbased application future oriented.
Data is physically stored in the premises of the user, i.e., on the hard disc of the user’s server computer. Hence user will have full control over the data
Data is not stored in the user’s server computer. It is stored on a web server. Ownership of data is defined in Service Level Agreement (SLA) that defines the rights, responsibilities and authority of both service provider and service user
|Data security||As the data is in physical control of the user, user shall have the full physical control over the data and he/she can ensure that it is not accessed without proper access.||Data security is a challenge in case of cloud-based application as the data is not in control of the user or owner of data. As time evolves; SLAs provides for details of back-up, disaster recovery alternatives being used by service provider|
|Performance||A well written installed application shall always be faster than web application, reason being data is picked from local server without internet.||Data security is a challenge in case of cloud-based application as the data is not in control of the user or owner of data. As time evolves; SLAs provides for details of back-up, disaster recovery alternatives being used by service provider|
|Flexibility||It shall have more flexibility and controls as compared to web application. It is very easy to write desktop application to Take advantage of the user’s hardware (such as scanners, cameras, Wi-Fi, serial ports, etc. Installed application have this dis-advantage of Higher capital expenditure (CAPEX) in comparison to cloud based application||The success of cloud-based applications is that they allow flexibility against both capital expenditure ( CAPEX) and operating expenses (OPEX) to the user. User can scale up operations as per need.|
Q 17- Discuss briefly the components of Computer based Information Systems.
Information Systems are networks of hardware and software that people and organizations use to create, collect, filter, process and distribute data.
Information Systems are interrelated components working together to collect, process, and store and disseminate information to support decision-making, coordination, control, analysis and visualization in an organization.
An Information System comprise of People, Hardware, Software, Data and Network for communication support
- People mean all those who operate, manage, maintain and use the system i.e., system administrator, IS personnel, programmers and end users i.e., the persons, who can use hardware and software for retrieving the desired information.
- Hardware means the physical components of the computers i.e., server or smart terminals with different configurations like corei3/corei5/corei7/corei9 processors etc. and software means the system software (operating systems), application software (different type of computer programs designed to perform specific task) and utility software (e.g., tools).
- Data is the raw fact which is input to the system. It may be alphanumeric, text, image, video, audio, and other forms.
- Network means communication media (Internet, Intranet, Extranet etc.).
Q 18- Write short notes on the following:
- Audit Hooks
- Snapshots: Tracing a transaction is a computerized system can be performed with the help of snapshots or extended records. The snapshot software is built into the system at those points where material processing occurs which takes images of the flow of any transaction as it moves through the application. These images can be utilized to assess the authenticity, accuracy, and completeness of the processing carried out on the transaction. The main areas to dwell upon while involving such a system are to locate the snapshot points based on materiality of transactions when the snapshot will be captured and the reporting system design and implementation to present data in a meaningful way.
- Audit Hooks: There are audit routines that flag suspicious transactions. For example, internal auditors at Insurance Company determined that their policyholder system was vulnerable to fraud every time a policyholder changed his or her name or address and then subsequently withdrew funds from the policy. They devised a system of audit hooks to tag records with a name or address change. The internal audit department will investigate these tagged records for detecting fraud. When audit hooks are employed, auditors can be informed of questionable transactions as soon as they occur. This approach of real-time notification displays a message on the auditor’s terminal.
- Cryptography: It deals with programs for transforming data into cipher text that are meaningless to anyone, who does not possess the authentication to access the respective system resource or file. A cryptographic technique encrypts data (clear text) into cryptograms (cipher text) and its strength depends on the time and cost to decipher the cipher text by a cryptanalyst.
Three techniques of cryptography are Transposition (permute the order of characters within a set of data), Substitution (replace text with a key-text) and Product Cipher (combination of Transposition and Substitution).
Q 19- Discuss the key activities which require special attention for auditing the user access provisioning.
Auditing the user access provisioning process requires attention to several key activities that include the following:
- Access request processes: The IS auditor should identify all user access request processes and determine if these processes are used consistently throughout the organization.
- Access approvals: The IS auditor needs to determine how requests are approved and by what authority they are approved. The auditor should determine if system or data owners approve access requests, or if any accesses are ever denied.
- New employee provisioning: The IS auditor should examine the new employee provisioning process to see how a new employee’s user accounts are initially set up. The auditor should determine if new employees’ managers are aware of the access requests that their employees are given and if they are excessive.
- Segregation of Duties (SoD): The IS auditor should determine if the organization makes any effort to identify segregation of duties. This may include whether there are any SoD matrices in existence and if they are actively used to make user access request decisions.
- Access reviews: The IS auditor should determine if there are any periodic access reviews and what aspects of user accounts are reviewed; this may include termination reviews, internal transfer reviews, SoD reviews and dormant account reviews.
Q 20- Explain the following in brief:
a)Line Error Control
b) Audit Trail
Answer: a) Line Error Control: Whenever data is transmitted over a communication line in a telecommunication network, an error may occur because of attenuation distortion or noise that occurs on the line. These line errors must be detected and corrected.
Error Detection: The errors can be detected by either using a loop (echo) check or building some form of redundancy into the message transmitted.
Error Correction: When line errors have been detected, they must then be corrected using either forward error correcting codes or backward error correcting codes.
b) Audit trail: Audit Trail controls attempt to ensure that a chronological record of all events that have occurred in a system is maintained. This record is needed to answer queries, fulfil statutory requirements, detect the consequences of error and allow system monitoring and tuning.
- The Accounting Audit Trail shows the source and nature of data and processes that update the database.
- The Operations Audit Trail maintains a record of attempted or actual resource consumption within a system.
Q 21- Recognize the activities that deal with the System Development Controls in an IT Setup.
The activities that deal with system development controls in IT setup are as follows:
- System Authorization Activities: All systems must be properly and formally that each new system request be submitted in written form by users to systems professionals who have both the expertise and authority to evaluate and approve (or reject) the request.
- User Specification Activities: Users must be actively involved in the systems development process. Regardless of the technology involved, the user can create a detailed written descriptive document of the logical needs that must It should describe the user’s view of the problem, not that of the systems professionals.
- Technical Design Activities: The technical design activities translate the user specifications into a set of detailed technical specifications of a system that meets the user’s needs. The scope of these activities includes systems analysis, general systems design, feasibility analysis, and detailed systems design.
- Internal Auditor’s Participation: The internal auditor plays an important role in the control of systems and should become involved at the inception of the system development process to make conceptual suggestions regarding system requirements and controls and should be continued throughout all phases of the development process and into the maintenance phase.
- Program Testing: All program modules must be thoroughly tested before they are implemented. The results of the tests are then compared against predetermined results to identify programming and logic errors. For example, if a program has undergone no maintenance changes since its implementation, the test results from the audit should be identical to the original test results. Having a basis for comparison, the auditor can thus quickly verify the integrity of the program code. On the other hand, if changes have occurred, the original test data can provide evidence regarding these changes. The auditor can thus focus attention upon those areas.
- User Test and Acceptance Procedures: Just before implementation, the comprising user personnel, systems professionals, and internal audit personnel system meets its stated requirements, the system is formally accepted by the user departments(s).
Q 22- Nowadays, many industries like hospitality, healthcare and public service agencies deal with massively large data sets that conventional database tools can’t process. Big data has
significant benefits due to which it has provided a new direction to these businesses. Elaborate on these benefits.
The Benefits of Big Data Processing are as follows:
i) Ability to process Big Data brings in multiple benefits, such as-
- Businesses can utilize outside intelligence while taking decisions.
- Access to social data from search engines and sites like Facebook, Twitter are enabling organizations to fine tune their business strategies.
- Early identification of risk to the product/services, if any
ii) Improved customer service Traditional customer feedback systems are getting replaced by new systems designed with Big Data technologies. In these new systems, Big Data and natural language processing technologies are being used to read and evaluate consumer responses.
iii)Better operational efficiency
Integration of Big Data technologies and data warehouse helps an organization to offload infrequently accessed data, this leading to better operational efficiency.
Q 23- Elaborate the control activities performed by any business organization to mitigate the risks related to financial statement audit.
Control Activities are the actions established through policies and procedures that help ensure that management’s directives to mitigate risks related to financial statement audit and to the achievement of objectives are carried out. Control activities are performed at all levels of the entity, at various stages within business processes, and over the technology environment. They may be preventive or detective in nature and may encompass a range of manual and automated activities such as authorizations and approvals, verifications, reconciliations and business performance reviews.
The control activities include the elements that operate to ensure transactions are authorized, duties are segregated, adequate documents and records are maintained, assets and records are safeguarded, and independent checks on performance and valuation of records. Internal auditors are also concerned with administrative controls to achieve effectiveness and efficiency objectives. Control activities must be developed to manage, mitigate, and reduce the risks associated with each business process. It is unrealistic to expect to eliminate risks completely.
Q 24- Write a short note on Extraction- Transformation-Load (ETL).
The concept of the data warehouse includes the process of extraction of data from one or more of the organization’s databases, its transformation into an appropriate form using different techniques like smoothing, aggregation, normalization etc. and loading into the data warehouse which is itself another database for storage and analysis.
For ETL to be performed on a data, a data warehouse should be designed so that it meets the following criteria:
- It uses non-operational data which means that the data warehouse is using a copy of data from the active databases that the company uses in its day-to-day operations.
- The data is time-variant which means a time-stamp is received whenever data is loaded into the data warehouse
- The data is to be standardized in case the data in a data warehouse comes from different sources and does not use the same definitions or units.
For example, the Events table in Student Clubs database lists the event dates using the mm/dd/yyyy format (e.g., 01/10/2013) whereas a table in another database might use the format yy/mm/dd (e.g.,13/01/10) for dates. For the data warehouse to match up dates, a standard date format would have to be agreed upon and all data loaded into the data warehouse would have to be transformed to use this standard format before its loading into the database for storage.
Define the following:
- E- Commerce
- Machine learning
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
- Grid Computing Security
1. E-Commerce: It is the process of doing business electronically. It refers to the use of technology in the form of Computers, Desktops, Mobile Applications, etc. to enhance the processing of commercial transactions between a company, its customers and its business partners.
It involves the automation of a variety of Business-To-Business (B2B) and Business-To- Consumer (B2C) transactions through reliable and secure connections.
2. M-commerce (mobile commerce): It is the buying and selling of goods and services through wireless handheld devices such as cellular telephone and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). M-commerce enables users to access the Internet without needing to find a place to plug in.
The key growth in the mobile e-Commerce sector in recent years has been in through so-called Apps. Apps, short for Mobile Applications, are small piece of software developed specifically for the operating systems of handheld devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and Tablet computers.
3. Machine Learning: It is the learning in which machine can learn by its own without being explicitly programmed. It is an application of AI that provides system the ability to automatically learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning is the science and art of programming computers so that they can learn from data.
For example, spam filter is a machine learning program that can learn to flag spam e-mails and regular emails by automatically learning the words or phrases which are good predicators of spam by detecting unusually frequent pattern of words in the spam.
4. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): It refers to business policy that allows employees to use their preferred computing devices, like smart phones and laptops for business purposes.
It means employees are welcome to use personal devices (laptops, smart phones, tablets etc.) to connect to the corporate network to access information and application.
5. Grid Computing Security Grid Computing is highly collaborative and distributed computing model. It involves various inter-connected domains with each domain consisting of its own computational, storage and communication resources. Each domain is independently administered and free to deploy different technologies.
To develop security architecture, following constraints are considered.
- Secured Single Sign-on: A user should authenticate once (e.g., at the point of starting a computation) and they should be able to acquire resources, use them, and release them and to communicate internally without any further authentication.
- Resource Management: Grid resources are from different administrative domains that have their own local resource managers and a grid does not have full control of these resources. Allocation of resources to co-users, prioritizing local jobs over system jobs, and managing these resources without ownership is a big issue.
- Data Management: The users’ data-intensive, high-performance computing applications in grid computing require the efficient management and transfer of huge data. Providing secure, efficient, and transparent access to distributed, heterogeneous pool of data is a big issue in grid computing.
- Management and Protection of Credentials: User passwords, private keys, etc. should be protected.
- Interoperability with local security solutions: Access to local resources should have local security policy at a local level. Despite of modifying every local resource, there is an inter-domain security server for providing security to local resource.
- Standardization: Grid computing as a highly integrated system involves multi- purpose protocols and interfaces to resolve the issues explained above. Standardizing these protocols and interfaces is a big issue in grid computing.
- Exportability: The code should be exportable i.e.; they cannot use a large amount of encryption at a time. There should be a minimum communication at a time.
- Support for secure group communication: In a communication, there are number of processes which coordinate their activities. This coordination must be secure and for this there is no such security policy.
- Support for multiple implementations: There should be a security policy which should provide security to multiple sources based on public and private key cryptography.
Q 26- What are the ways of protecting your e-Commerce business from intrusion?
Answer: E-Commerce business can be protected from intrusion using following methods:
- Viruses: Check your website daily for viruses, the presence of which can result in the loss of valuable data.
- Hackers: Use software packages to carry out regular assessments of how vulnerable your website is to hackers.
- Passwords: Ensure employees change these regularly and that passwords set by former employees of your organization are defunct.
- Regular software updates: The site should always be up to date with the newest versions of security software. If it is not done, the website will become vulnerable to attack.
- Sensitive data: This involves considering the encryption of financial information and other confidential data (using encryption software). Hackers or third parties will not be able to access encrypted data without a key. This is particularly relevant for any e- Commerce sites that use a shopping cart system.
- Know the details of your payment service provider contract.
Q 27- Explain the different types of clouds in Cloud Computing
Answer: The Cloud Computing environment can consist of multiple types of clouds based on their deployment and usage.
- Private Cloud: This cloud computing environment resides within the boundaries of an organization and is used exclusively for the organization’s benefits. These are also called Internal Clouds or Corporate Clouds. Private Clouds can either be private to the organization and managed by the single organization (OnPremise Private Cloud) or can be managed by third party (Outsourced Private Cloud). They are built primarily by IT departments within enterprises, who seek to optimize utilization of infrastructure resources within the enterprise by provisioning the infrastructure with applications using the concepts of grid and virtualization.
- Public Cloud: The public cloud is the cloud infrastructure that is provisioned for open use by the general public. It may be owned, managed, and operated by a business, academic, or government organizations, or some combination of them. Typically, public clouds are administrated by third parties or vendors over the Internet, and the services are offered on pay-per-use basis. These are also called Provider Clouds. Public cloud consists of users from all over the world wherein a user can simply purchase resources on an hourly basis and work with the resources which are available in the cloud provider’s premises.
- Hybrid Cloud: This is a combination of both at least one private (internal) and at least one public (external) cloud computing environments - usually, consisting of infrastructure, platforms and applications. The usual method of using the hybrid cloud is to have a private cloud initially, and then for additional resources, the public cloud is used. The hybrid cloud can be regarded as a private cloud extended to the public cloud and aims at utilizing the power of the public cloud by retaining the properties of the private cloud
- Community Cloud: The community cloud is the cloud infrastructure that is provisioned for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organizations that have shared concerns (e.g., mission security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). It may be owned, managed, and operated by one or more of the organizations in the community, a third party or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.
In this, a private cloud is shared between several organizations. This model is suitable for organizations that cannot afford a private cloud and cannot rely on the public cloud either.
Q 28- Write short note on the following terms:
(a) Digital Library
(b) Web Portal
a) Digital Library: A Digital Library is a special library with a focused collection of digital objects that can include text, visual material, audio material, video material, stored as electronic media formats, along with means for organizing, storing, and retrieving the files and media contained in the library collection. Digital libraries can vary immensely in size and scope, and can be maintained by individuals, organizations, or affiliated with established physical library buildings or institutions, or with academic institutions. The digital content may be stored locally, or accessed remotely via computer networks. An electronic library is a type of information retrieval system.
b) Web Portal: This shall provide the interface through which an individual / organization shall perform ecommerce transactions. Web Portal is the application through which user interacts with the e-commerce vendor. The front end through which user interacts for an e-commerce transaction. These web portals can be accessed through desktops / laptops / PDA / hand- held computing devices / mobiles and now through smart TVs also.
Q 29- Write any two application areas of Internet of Things (IOT).
Some of the applications areas of Internet of Things (IoT) are as follows:
- All home appliances to be connected and that shall create a virtual home.
- Home owners can keep track of all activities in house through their hand-held devices.
- Home security CCTV is also monitored through hand held devices
- Office machines shall be connected through internet.
- Human resource managers shall be able to see how many people have had a cup of coffee from vending machine and how many are present.
- How many printouts are being generated through office printer?
- Governments can keep track of resource utilizations/extra support needed. For example- under SWACHH mission, government can tag all dustbins with IoT sensors. They (dustbins) generate a message once they are full. Being connected to wi-fi, they can intimate the cleaning supervisor of Municipal Corporation so that BIN can be emptied.
- Washing machines with Wi-Fi networking capabilities can connect themselves to home Wi- Fi. Once these machines are so connected, they can be controlled through machine manufacturer mobile APP from anywhere in the world.
- India’s living legend of cricket appearing in an Advertisement for water purifier informs that, the water purifier is Wi-Fi enabled. When the purifying agents deplete in the machine, it connects to home Wi-Fi and informs the service agents of the company.
ABC university wants to conduct online exams for its different courses for which a contract is given to vendor XYZ. The vendor provides computing resources such as processing power, memory, storage, and networks to ABC university users to run their online exam application on-demand. Identify the Service Model of Cloud Computing that vendor XYZ is providing to ABC university and also describe its characteristics.
The Service Model provided by vendor XYZ to ABC university is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Characteristics of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) of Cloud Computing are as follows:
- Web access to the resources: The IaaS model enables the IT users to access infrastructure resources over the Internet. When accessing a huge computing power, the IT user need not get physical access to the servers.
- Centralized Management: The resources distributed across different parts are controlled from any management console that ensures effective resource management and effective resource utilization.
- Elasticity and Dynamic Scaling: Depending on the load, IaaS services can provide the resources and elastic services where the usage of resources can be increased or decreased according to the requirements.
- Shared infrastructure: IaaS follows a one-to-many delivery model and allows multiple IT users to share the same physical infrastructure and thus ensure high resource utilization.
- Metered Services: IaaS allows the IT users to rent the computing resources instead of buying it. The services consumed by the IT user will be measured, and the users will be charged by the IaaS providers based on the amount of usage.
Explain the traditional methods of Digital Payments used in e-commerce transactions.
Traditional Methods of Digital Payment are as follows:
- Cards: Cards are provided by banks to their account holders. These have been the most used digital payment modes till now. Various types of cards are as follows:
- Credit Cards: A small plastic card issued by a bank, or issuer etc., allowing the holder to purchase goods or services on credit. In this mode of payment, the buyer’s cash flow is not immediately impacted. User of the card makes payment to card issuer at end of billing cycle which is generally a monthly cycle. Credit Card issuer charge customers per transactions / 5% of transaction as transaction fees.
- Debits Cards: A small plastic card issued by a bank. Allowing the holder to purchase goods or services on credit. In this mode of payment, the buyer’s cash flow is immediately affected that as soon as payment is authorized buyers account is debited.
- Smart Card: Smart card is a prepaid card similar to credit card and debit card in appearance, but it has a small microprocessor chip embedded in it. It has capacity to store customer’s personal information such as financial facts, private encryption keys, credit card information, account information, and so on.
Moreover, these are not linked to any bank account. For this reason, smart card holder is not mandated to have a bank account. It is also used to store money which is reduced as per usage.
Mondex and Visa Cash cards are examples of smart cards. The smart card holder has to load money onto the card by paying cash or through transfer from his/her bank account. After loading the money onto the card, the cardholder can use the card to spend money up to the limit of loaded amount in the same way as using a credit or debit card. Once the loaded amount is spent, the cardholder may reload money onto the card.
5. Net Banking: In this mode, the customers log to his / her bank account and makes payments. All public sectors, large private sector banks allow net banking facilities to their customers.
Public cloud is the cloud infrastructure that is provisioned for open use by the general public. Explain any four characteristics of public cloud.
The characteristics of Public Cloud are as follows:
Highly Scalable: The resources in the public cloud are large in number and the service providers make sure that all requests are granted. Hence public clouds are scalable.
- Affordable: The cloud is offered to the public on a pay-as-you-go basis; hence the user has to pay only for what he or she is using on a per-hour basis. And this does not involve any cost related to the deployment.
- Less Secure: Since it is offered by a third party and they have full control over the cloud, the public cloud is less secure out of all the other deployment models.
- Highly Available: It is highly available because anybody from any part of the world can access the public cloud with proper permission, and this is not possible in other models as geographical or other access restrictions might be there.
- Stringent Service Level Agreements (SLAs): As the service provider’s business reputation and customer strength are totally dependent on the cloud services, they follow the SLAs strictly and violations are avoided.
Q 33- Distinguish between Application Server and Database Server.
All the transactions of the customer are processed by the data center. The Application Server performs necessary operations and this update the account of the customer ‘A’ in the database server.
The customer may do some other operation in branch “Y”. The process is validated at branch “Y” and the data is transmitted to the application software at the data center. The results are updated in the database server at the centralized data center.
Thus, it would be observed that whatever operations a customer may do at any of the branches of the bank the accounting process being centralized at the centralized data center is updated at the centralized database.
The Database Server of the Bank contains the entire data of the Bank. The data would consist of various accounts of the customers and master data (e.g., of master data are customer data, employee data, base rates for advances, FD rates, the rate for loans, penalty to be levied under different circumstances, etc.).
Application software would access the database server.
Q 34- Briefly explain the following terms:
a) Proxy Server
b) Key functions of RBI
a) Proxy Server: A Proxy Server is a computer that offers a computer network service to allow clients to make indirect network connections to other network services. A client connects to the proxy server, and then requests a connection, file, or other resource available on a different server. The proxy provides the resource either by connecting to the specified server or by serving it from a cache. In some cases, the proxy may alter the client’s request or the server’s response for various purposes.
b) The key functions of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are as follows:
- Monetary Authority: This function formulates, implements and monitors the monetary policy with the objective of maintaining price stability and ensuring adequate flow of credit to productive sectors.
- Regulator and supervisor of the financial system: It prescribes broad parameters of banking operations within which the country’s banking and financial system functions with the objective of maintaining public confidence in the system, protect depositors’ interest and provide cost- effective banking services to the public.
- Issuer of currency: It deals with issuing and exchanging or destroying currency and coins not it for circulation with the objective to give the public adequate quantity of supplies of currency notes and coins and in good quality.
Q 35- Analyse new set of IT risks and challenges associated with the businesses and standards that the banks should consider?
Once the complete business is captured by technology and processes are automated in CBS; the Data Centre (DC) of the bank, customers, management and staff are completely dependent on the DC.
Some of the common IT risks related to CBS are as follows:
- Ownership of Data/ process: Data resides at the Data Centre. Establish clear ownership.
- Authorization process: Anybody with access to the CBS, including the customer himself, can enter data directly. What is the authorization process? If the process is not robust, it can lead to unauthorized access to the customer information.
- Authentication procedures: Usernames and Passwords, Personal Identification Number (PIN), One Time Password (OTP) are some of the most commonly used authentication methods. However, these may be inadequate and hence the user entering the transaction may not be determinable or traceable.
- Several software interfaces across diverse networks: A Data Centre can have as many as 75-100 different interfaces and application software. A data center must also contain adequate infrastructure, such as uninterruptable power supplies; backup generators and so on. Lapse in any of these may lead to realtime data loss.
- Maintaining response time: Maintaining the interfacing software and ensuring optimum response time and up time can be challenging
- User Identity Management: This could be a serious issue. Some Banks may have more than 5000 users interacting with the CBS at once.
- Access Controls: Designing and monitoring access control is an extremely challenging task.
- Incident handling procedures: Incident handling procedures are used to address and manage the aftermath of a security breach or cyberattack.
- Change Management: Though Change management reduces the risk that a new system or other change will be rejected by the users; however, at the same time, it requires changes at application level and data level of the database- Master files, transaction files and reporting software.
Q 36- Differentiate between Internet Banking Channel Server (IBCS) and Internet Banking Application Server (IBAS) used in Core Banking Systems (CBS).
Internet Banking Channel Server (IBCS): IBCS (Internet Banking Channel Server) software stores the name and password of the entire internet banking customers. IBCS server also contains the details about the branch to which the customer belongs. The Internet Banking customer would first have to log into the bank’s website with the user name and password.
Internet Banking Application Server (IBAS): The Internet Banking Software which is stored in the IBAS (Internet Banking Application Server) authenticates the customer with the login details stored in the IBCS. Authentication process is the method by which the details provided by the customer are compared with the data already stored in the data server to make sure that the customer is genuine and has been provided with internet banking facilities.
Q 37- Current and Savings Account (CASA) is a unique feature which banks offer to their customers to make them keep their money in their banks. Discuss its business process flow.
Answer: The Business Process flow of Current and Saving Account (CASA) is as follows:
- Either the customer approaches the relationship manager to apply for a CASA facility or will apply the same through internet banking, the charges/ rates for the facility are provided by the relationship manager on basis of the request made by the customer.
- Once the potential customer agrees for availing the facilities/products of the bank, the relationship manager request for the relevant documents i.e., KYC and other relevant documents of the customer depending upon the facility/product. KYC (Know Your Customer) is a process by which banks obtain information about the identity and address of the customers. KYC documents can be Passport, Driving License, etc.
- The documents received from the customers are handed over to the Credit team / Risk team for sanctioning of the facilities/limits of the customers.
- Credit team verifies the document’s, assess the financial and credit worthiness of the borrowers and updates facilities in the customer account.
- Current Account /Saving Account along with the facilities requested are provided to the customer for daily functioning.
- Customers can avail facilities such as cheque deposits/ withdrawal, Cash deposit/ withdrawal, Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), National Electronics Funds Transfer System (NEFT), Electronic Clearing Service (ECS), Overdraft Fund Transfer services provided by the bank.
Q 38- Discuss any two risks and their corresponding controls related to the process of Mortgage involved in CBS.
Answer: Risk and Control related to Mortgage Process are as follows
Incorrect customer and loan details are captured which will affect the overall downstream process.
There is secondary review performed by an independent team member who will verify loan details captured in core banking application with offer letter.
Incorrect loan amount disbursed.
There is secondary review performed by an independent team member who will verify loan amount to be disbursed with the core banking application to the signed offer letter.
Interest amount is incorrectly calculated and charged.
Interest amount is auto calculated by the core banking application basis loan amount, ROI and tenure.
Unauthorized changes made to loan master data or customer data
System enforced segregation of duties exist in the core banking application where the inputter of the transaction cannot approve its own transaction and reviewer cannot edit any details submitted by inputter
Q 39- A bank PQR has many branches all over India. However, the competent authority intends to bring all the branches together under one umbrella and make it centralized. For that, identify most prominently available Core Banking Software in t he market.
Core Banking Solution (CBS) refers to a common IT solution wherein a central shared database supports the entire banking application. Business processes in all the branches of a bank update a common database in a central server located at a Data Center, which gives a consolidated view of the bank’s operations.
Some examples of CBS software are given below. These are only illustrative and not exhaustive.
- Finacle: Core banking software suite developed by Infosys that provides universal banking functionality covering all modules for banks covering all banking services.
- FinnOne: Web-based global banking product designed to support banks and financial solution companies in dealing with assets, liabilities, core financial accounting and customer service.
- Flexcube: Comprehensive, integrated, interoperable, and modular solution that enables banks to manage evolving customer expectations.
- BaNCS: A customer-centric business model which offers simplified operations comprising loans, deposits, wealth management, digital channels and risk and compliance components.
- bankMate: A full-scale Banking solution which is a scalable, integrated e-banking systems that meets the deployment requirements in traditional and non-traditional banking environments. It enables communication through any touch point to provide full access to provide complete range of banking services with anytime, anywhere paradigm.
Further, there are many CBS software developed by vendors which are used by smaller and co- operative banks. Some of the banks have also developed in-house CBS software. However, the trend is for using high-end CBS developed by vendors depending on cost-benefit analysis and needs.
Q 39- Explain the working of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) Channel Server?
Automated Teller Machines (ATM) Channel Server: This server contains the details of ATM account holders. Soon after the facility of using the ATM is created by the Bank, the details of such customers are loaded on to the ATM server.
When the Central Database is busy with central end - of- day activities or for any other reason, the file containing the account balance of the customer is sent to the ATM switch. Such a file is called Positive Balance File (PBF). Till the central database becomes accessible, the ATM transactions are passed and the balance available in the ATM server. Once the central database server becomes accessible, all the transactions that took place till such time as the central database became un-accessible would be updated in the central
Q 40 - Explain various key aspects in-built into the architecture of a Core Banking System.
Some key aspects in-built into the architecture of a Core Banking System (CBS) are as follows:
- Information flow: Facilitates information flow within the bank and improves the speed and accuracy of decision-making. It deploys systems that streamline integration and unite corporate information to create a comprehensive analytical infrastructure.
- Customer centric: A holistic core banking architecture enables banks to target customers with the right offers at the right time with the right channel to increase profitability.
- Regulatory compliance: Compliance in case of banks is complex and expensive. CBS has built-in and regularly updated regulatory platform which will ensure compliance.
- Resource optimization: Optimizes utilization of information and resources of banks and lowers costs through improved asset reusability, faster turnaround times, faster processing and increased accuracy.
Q 41 - ‘Do Good Group’ is a not-for-profit organization based in northern India working towards childcare. The group educates people towards immunization, sanitation and works in coordination with local hospitals or medical centers. Recently, a new team has taken over the management of its activities. Explain whether tools of strategic Management are relevant for the group.
The tools of strategic management process are effectively being used by a number of not-for-profit or charitable organizations. While ‘Do Good Group’ may have social and charitable existence, still it has to generate resources and use them wisely to achieve organizational objectives. Organization needs to be managed strategically, irrespective whether they have profit motive. The strategic Management at ‘Do Good Group’ should essentially cover:
- Analyzing and interpreting the strategic intent in terms of vision, mission and objectives.
- Generating required resources in terms of finance and manpower (volunteers, paid employees).
- Undertaking SWOT analysis from time to time.
- Setting goals in the area of childcare. It can be in terms of geographical coverage and number of children.
- Analyzing the desired future position with the past and present situation.
Q 42 - Explain the difference between three levels of strategy formulation.
A typical large organization is a multidivisional organization that competes in several different businesses. It has separate self-contained divisions to manage each of these. There are three levels of strategy in management of business - corporate, business, and functional.
The corporate level of management consists of the chief executive officer and other top-level executives. These individuals occupy the apex of decision making within the organization. The role of corporate-level managers is to oversee the development of strategies for the whole organization. This role includes defining the mission and goals of the organization, determining what businesses it should be in, allocating resources among the different businesses and so on rests at the Corporate Level.
The development of strategies for individual business areas is the responsibility of the general managers in these different businesses or business level managers. A business unit is a self- contained division with its own functions - for example, finance, production, and marketing.
The strategic role of business-level manager, head of the division, is to translate the general statements of direction and intent that come from the corporate level into concrete strategies for individual businesses.
Functional-level managers are responsible for the specific business functions or operations such as human resources, purchasing, product development, customer service, and so on. Thus, a functional manager’s sphere of responsibility is generally confined to one organizational activity, whereas general managers oversee the operation of a whole company or division.
Q 43- How concept of strategic management is useful in Government and medical organizations? Discuss.
Need for strategic management for government and medical organization
Yes, there is a need of strategic management for government and medical organizations like the commercial organizations because optimum utilization of resources in view of their scarcity, good strategy formulation and its effective implementation & proper monitoring is needed equally in both types of organizations.
Organizations can be classified as commercial and non-commercial on the basis of the interest they have. Typically, a government or medical organization may function without any commercial objectives. A commercial organization has profit as its main aim. We can find many organizations around us, which do not have any commercial objective of making profits. Their genesis may be for social, charitable, or educational purposes.
The strategic-management process is being used effectively by countless non-profit governmental organizations. Many non-profit and governmental organizations outperform
private firms and corporations on innovativeness, motivation, productivity, and human resource.
Compared to for-profit firms, non-profit and governmental organizations often function as a monopoly, produce a product or service that offers little or no measurability of performance, and are totally dependent on outside financing. Especially for these organizations, strategic management provides an excellent vehicle for developing and justifying requests for needed financial support.
Government Organizations: Central, state, municipal agencies, public sector units, department are responsible for formulating, implementing and evaluating strategies that use taxpayers’ money in the most cost-effective way to provide services & programs. Therefore, strategic management concepts are required for them.
Medical Organizations: Modern hospitals quite often are using strategic management for creating new strategy and implementing properly for diagnosis and treatment of different diseases at lower price. Forward and Backward integration strategies are also required in hospitals for providing better services at lower cost.
Q 44- State with reason which of the following statements is correct / incorrect:
- Strategy is a substitute for sound, alert and responsible management
- Strategies are perfect, flawless and optimal organizational plans
- Strategic management is a bundle of tricks and magic
- Control systems run parallel with strategic levels
- A company’s strategy has always to be proactive in nature
- Strategic management is not needed in non- profit organizations
- Every strategic move is the result of proactive planning.
- Strategic management involves huge cost.
- Incorrect: strategy is not a substitute for sound, alert and responsible management. Strategy can never be perfect, flawless and optimal. Strategies are goal-directed decision and actions in which capabilities and resources are matched with the opportunities and threats in the environment. A good management at the top can steer the organizations by adjusting its path on the basis of the changes in the environment.
- Incorrect: Strategy can never be perfect, flawless and optimal. It is the very nature of strategy that it is flexible and pragmatic, it is art of the possible; it does not preclude second- best choices, trade-offs, sudden emergencies, pervasive pressures, failures and frustrations. However, in a sound strategy, allowances are made for possible miscalculations and unanticipated external events
- Incorrect: No, Strategic management is not a bundle of tricks and magic. It is a deliberate managerial process that involves systematic and analytical thinking. It involves systematic and analytical thinking and action. Although, the success or failure of a strategy is dependent on several extraneous factors, it cannot be stated that a strategy is a trick or magic. Formation of strategy requires careful planning and requires strong conceptual, analytical, and visionary skills.
- Correct: There are three strategic levels in an organization – corporate, business and functional. Control systems are required at all the three levels. At the top levels, strategic controls are built to check whether the strategy is being implemented as planned and the results produced by the strategy are those intended. Down the hierarchy, management controls and operational controls, are built in the systems Operational controls are required for day- to- day management of business
- Incorrect: A company’s strategy is a blend of proactive actions and reactive actions by the management. Reactive actions are required to address unanticipated developments and environmental conditions. Thus, not every strategic move is the result of proactive and deliberate management actions. At times, some kind of strategic reaction or adjustments are required.
- Incorrect: Strategic management applies equally to profit as well as non- profit organizations. Though non- profit organizations are not working for the profit, they have to have purpose, vision and mission. They also work within the environmental forces and need to manage strategically to stay afloat to accomplish their objectives. For the purpose of continuity and meeting their goals, they also need to have and manage funds and other resources just like any other for-profit organizations.
- Incorrect: In business, things happen that cannot be fully anticipated or planned for. When market and competitive conditions take an unexpected turn or some aspect of a company's strategy hits a stone wall, some kind of strategic reaction or adjustment is required.
- Correct: Strategic management is a costly process. Strategic management adds a lot of expenses to an organization. Expert strategic planners need to be engaged. Efforts are made for analysis of external and internal environments, devise strategies and properly implement them. These can be really costly for organizations with limited resources particularly when small and medium organisation create strategies to compete.
Q 45- “Strategic Management concepts are useful for educational institutions.” Explain with reasons.
Education is considered to be a noble profession. An educational institution often functions as a not-forprofit organization managed by trusts and societies. They include schools, colleges and universities. Being inherently non-commercial in nature, educational organisations do not have cut-throat competition as in case of their commercial counterparts. However, as the number of institutions belonging to both public and private sector are increasing, the competition is gradually rising. Key reasons for use of strategic management techniques in educational institutes are as follows:
- Getting better name and recognition.
- Adopt different strategies for attracting best students.
- Appointing and retaining quality faculty for teaching.
- Deliver education to make graduates more employable.
- Nurturing responsible citizens.
Q 46- Yummy Foods and Tasty Foods are successfully competing in the business of ready to eat snacks in Patna. Yummy has been pioneer in introducing innovative products. These products will give them good sale. However, Tasty Foods will introduce similar products in reaction to the products introduced by the Yummy Foods taking away the advantage gained by the former.
Discuss the strategic approach of the two companies. Which is superior?
Yummy foods is proactive in its approach. On the other hand, Tasty Food is reactive. Proactive strategy is planned strategy whereas reactive strategy is adaptive reaction to changing circumstances. A company’s strategy is typically a blend of proactive actions on the part of managers to improve the company’s market position and financial performance and reactions to unanticipated developments and fresh market conditions.
If organizational resources permit, it is better to be proactive rather than reactive. Being proactive in aspects such as introducing new products will give you advantage in the mind of customers.
At the same time, crafting a strategy involves stitching together a proactive/intended strategy and then adapting first one piece and then another as circumstances surrounding the company’s situation change or better options emerge-a reactive/adaptive strategy. This aspect can be accomplished by Yummy Foods.
Q 47- Is strategic management a bundle of tricks and magic? Elucidate the statement.
Strategic management is not a bundle of tricks and magic. The term strategic management refers to the managerial process of forming a strategic vision, setting objectives, crafting a strategy, implementing and executing the strategy, and then over a period of time initiating whatever corrective adjustments in the vision, objectives, strategy, and execution are deemed appropriate.
Strategic Management is a deliberate managerial process that involves systematic and analytical thinking. It involves systematic and analytical thinking and action. Although, the success or failure of a strategy is dependent on several extraneous factors, it cannot be stated that a strategy is a trick or magic.
Formation of strategy requires careful planning and requires strong conceptual, analytical, and visionary skills.
Q 48- ‘Value for Money’ is a leading retail chain, on account of its ability to operate its business at low costs. The retail chain aims to further strengthen its top position in the retail industry. Marshal, the CEO of the retail chain is of the view that to achieve the goals they should focus on lowering the costs of procurement of products.
Highlight and explain the core competence of the ‘Value for Money’ retail chain.
A core competence is a unique strength of an organization which may not be shared by others. Core competencies are those capabilities that are critical to a business achieving competitive advantage. In order to qualify as a core competence, the competency should differentiate the business from any other similar businesses. A core competency for a firm is whatever it does is highly beneficial to the organization.
‘Value for Money’ is the leader on account of its ability to keep costs low. The cost advantage that ‘Value for Money’ has created for itself has allowed the retailer to price goods lower than competitors. The core competency in this case is derived from the company’s ability to generate large sales volume, allowing the company to remain profitable with low profit margin.
Q 49- Atrix Ltd. is a company engaged in the designing, manufacturing, and marketing of mechanical instruments like speed meters, oil pressure gauges, and so on. Their products are fitted into two and four wheelers. During the last couple of years, the company has been observing a fall in the market share. This is on account of shift to the new range of electronic instruments. The customers are switching away mechanical instruments that have been the backbone of Atrix Ltd.
As a CEO of Atrix Ltd., what can be the strategic options available with you.
Atrix is having a product portfolio that is evidently in the decline stage. The product is being replaced with the technologically superior product. Strategically the company should minimize their dependence on the existing products and identify other avenues for the survival and growth. As a CEO of Atrix Ltd., following can be the strategic options available with the CEO:
- Invest in new product development and switchover to the new technology. Atrix Ltd. also need time to invest in emerging new technology.
- They can acquire or takeover a competitor provided they have or are able to generate enough financial resources.
- They may also consider unrelated growth and identify other areas for expansion. This will enable Atrix Ltd. to spread their risks.
- In longer run, they should divest the existing products. However, they may continue with the existing products in a limited manner for such time there is demand for the product.
Q 50- What is the purpose of SWOT analysis? Why is it necessary to do a SWOT analysis before selecting a particular strategy for a business organization?
An important component of strategic thinking requires the generation of a series of strategic alternatives, or choices of future strategies to pursue, given the company’s internal strengths and weaknesses and its external opportunities and threats. The comparison of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is normally referred to as SWOT analysis.
- Strength: Strength is an inherent capability of the organization which it can use to gain strategic advantage over its competitors.
- Weakness: A weakness is an inherent limitation or constraint of the organization which creates strategic disadvantage to it.
- Opportunity: An opportunity is a favourable condition in the organization’s environment which enables it to strengthen its position.
- Threat: A threat is an unfavourable condition in the organization’s environment which causes a risk for, or damage to, the organization’s position.
SWOT analysis helps managers to craft a business model (or models) that will allow a company to gain a competitive advantage in its industry (or industries). Competitive advantage leads to increased profitability, and this maximizes a company’s chances of surviving in the fast- changing, competitive environment. Key reasons for SWOT analyses are:
- It provides a logical framework.
- It presents a comparative account.
- It guides the strategist in strategy identification.
Q 51- In the context of Ansoff’s Product-Market Growth Matrix, identify with reasons, the type of growth strategies followed in the following cases:
- A leading producer of tooth paste, advises its customers to brush teeth twice a day to keep breath fresh.
- A business giant in hotel industry decides to enter into dairy business.
- One of India’s premier utility vehicles manufacturing company ventures to foray into foreign markets.
- A renowned auto manufacturing company launches ungeared scooters in the market.
The Ansoff’s product market growth matrix (proposed by Igor Ansoff) is an useful tool that helps businesses decide their product and market growth strategy. This matrix further helps to analyse different strategic directions. According to Ansoff there are four strategies that organization might follow.
- Market Penetration: A leading producer of toothpaste, advises its customers to brush teeth twice a day to keep breath fresh. It refers to a growth strategy where the business focuses on selling existing products into existing markets.
- Diversification: A business giant in hotel industry decides to enter into dairy business. It refers to a growth strategy where a business markets new product in new markets.
- Market Development: One of India’s premier utility vehicles manufacturing company ventures to foray into foreign markets. It refers to a growth strategy where the business seeks to sell its existing products into new markets.
- Product Development: A renowned auto manufacturing company launches ungeared scooters in the market. It refers to a growth strategy where business aims to introduce new products into existing markets
Q 52- State with reasons which of the following statements is correct / incorrect:
- Competitive strategy is designed to help firms achieve competitive advantage.
- A strength is an inherent capacity of an organization.
- The purpose of SWOT analysis is to rank organizations.
- SWOT analysis merely examines internal environment of an organization.
- "B" in BCG Matrix stands for balance.
- Growth share matrix is popularly used for resource allocation.
- A core competence is a unique strength of an organization which may not be shared by others.
- Economies of scale discourages new entrants.
- Correct: Competitive strategy is designed to help firms achieve competitive advantage. Having a competitive advantage is necessary for a firm to compete in the market. Competitive advantage comes from a firm's ability to perform activities more effectively than its rivals.
- Correct: Strength is an inherent capacity which an organization can use to gain strategic advantage over its competitors. An example of strength is superior research and development skill which can be used for continuous product innovation or for new product development so that the company gains competitive advantage.
- Incorrect: SWOT analysis stands for the analysis of strengths, weaknesses opportunities, and threats. It is not used for ranking of organizations. It is a tool for organizational and environmental appraisal necessary for formulating effective strategies.
- Incorrect: SWOT analysis presents the information about both external and internal environment in a structured form to compare external opportunities and threats with internal strengths and weaknesses. This helps in matching external and internal environments so that strategic decision makers in an organisation can come out with suitable strategies by identifying patterns of relationship and develop suitable strategies.
- Incorrect: The acronym BCG stands for Boston Consulting Group, an organization that developed a matrix to portray an organizational corporate portfolio of investment. This matrix depicts growth of business and the business share enjoyed by an organization. The matrix is also known for its cow and dog metaphors and is popularly used for resource allocation in a diversified company.
- Correct: Growth share matrix also known for its cow and dog metaphors is popularly used for resource allocation in a diversified company. Primarily it categorizes organizations/products on the basis two factors consisting of the growth opportunities and the market share enjoyed.
- Correct: A core competence is a unique strength of an organization which may not be shared by others. If business is organized on the basis of core competence, it is likely to generate competitive advantage. A core competence provides potential access to a wide variety of markets. Core competencies should be such that it is difficult for competitors to imitate them.
- Correct: Economies of scale refer to the decline in the per-unit cost of production (or other activity) as volume grows. A large firm that enjoys economies of scale can produce high volumes of goods at successively lower costs. This tends to discourage new entrants.
Q 53- Discuss the relevance of Tows Matrix in strategic planning.
The TOWS matrix illustrates how the external opportunities and threats facing a particular corporation can be matched with company's internal strengths and weaknesses to result in possible strategic alternatives to be competitive. It is a good way to use brainstorming and to create alternative strategies that might not otherwise be considered. It forces strategic managers to design various growth, stability or retrenchment strategies. It can be used to generate corporate as well as business strategies.
Moreover, TOWS Matrix is very useful for generating a series of alternatives that the decision makers of a company or business unit might not otherwise have considered. Nevertheless, the TOWS Matrix is only one of the many ways to generate alternative strategies. In a way TOWS is considered to be an improvement over the SWOT. However, it does not undermine the utility of SWOT analysis.
Q 54- Distinguish between the following:
Market Development and Product Development under Ansoff’s Product Market Growth Matrix.
Following are the differences between the market development and product development:
It refers to a growth strategy where the business seeks to sell its existing products into new markets. It is a strategy for company growth by identifying and developing new markets for current company products.
It refers to a growth strategy where business aims to introduce new products into existing markets. It is a strategy for company growth by offering modified or new products to current markets.
It may be achieved through new geographical markets, new product dimensions or packaging, new distribution channels or different pricing policies to attract different customers or create new market segments
It is for company’s growth and requires the development of new competencies and the business to develop modified products which can appeal to existing markets
Q 55- Why companies should go global? Mention any five reasons.
There are several reasons why companies go global. These are discussed as follows:
- One reason could be the rapid shrinking of time and distance across the globe - thanks to faster communication, speedier transportation, growing financial flows and rapid technological changes.
- It is being realized that the domestic markets are no longer adequate and rich. Companies globalize to take advantage of opportunities available elsewhere.
- A new product may gradually get acceptance and grow locally and then globally. This may initially be in form of exports and then later production facilities may begin in other countries.
- Organizations may go global to take advantage of cheaper raw material and labour costs.
- Companies often set up overseas plants to reduce high transportation costs.
- The motivation to go global in high-tech industries is slightly different. Companies in electronics and telecommunications must spend large sums on research and development for new products and thus may be compelled to seek ways to improve sales volume to support high overhead expenses.
- The companies may also go global to take advantage of local taxation laws.
- To form strategic alliances to ward off economic and technological threats and leverage their respective comparative and competitive advantages.
Q 56- Shri Alok Kumar is having his own medium size factory in Aligarh manufacturing hardware consisting handles, hinges, tower bolts and so on. He has a staff of more than 220 in his organization. One of the leading brands of Hardware seller in India is rebranding and selling the material from his factory. Shri Alok Kumar, believes in close supervision and takes all major and minor decisions in the organization.
Do you think Shri Alok should take all decisions himself? What should be nature of decisions that should be taken by him.
Decision making is a managerial process of selecting the best course of action out of several alternative courses for the purpose of accomplishment of the organizational goals. Decisions may be operational, i.e., which relate to general day-to-day operations. They may also be strategic in nature.
As owner manager at the top level in the company, Shri Alok Kumar should concentrate on strategic decisions. These are higher level decisions having organization wide implications. The major dimensions of strategic decisions are as follows:
- Strategic decisions require top-management involvement as they involve thinking in totality of the organization.
- Strategic decisions involve significant commitment of organizational resources.
- Strategic decisions necessitate consideration of factors in the firm’s external environment.
- Strategic decisions are likely to have a significant impact on the long-term prosperity of the firm.
- Strategic decisions are future oriented.
- Strategic decisions usually have major multifunctional or multi-business consequences.
Q 57- What are 'objectives'? What characteristics it must possess to be meaningful?
Objectives are organizations performance targets – the results and outcomes it wants to achieve. They function as yardstick for tracking an organization’s performance and progress. Objectives with strategic focus relate to outcomes that strengthen an organization’s overall business position and competitive vitality. Objectives, to be meaningful to serve the intended role, must possess the following characteristics:
- Objectives should define the organization’s relationship with its environment
- Objectives should be facilitative towards achievement of mission and purpose.
- Objectives should provide the basis for strategic decision-making.
- Objectives should provide standards for performance appraisal.
- Objectives should be understandable.
- Objectives should be concrete and specific.
- Objectives should be related to a time frame.
- Objectives should be measurable and controllable.
- Objectives should be challenging.
- Different objectives should correlate with each other.
- Objectives should be set within constraints.
Q 58- What tips can you offer to write a 'right' mission statements?
Mission statements broadly describe an organization’s present capability, customer focus, activities, and business makeup. Following points are useful while writing mission of a company
- Good mission statements are highly personalized — unique to the organization for which they are developed.
- One of the roles of a mission statement is to give the organization its own special identity, business emphasis and path for development.
- A company's business is defined by what needs it is trying to satisfy, customer groups it is targeting, technologies and competencies it uses and the activities it performs.
- Technology, competencies and activities are important in defining a company's business because they indicate the boundaries on its operation.
- The mission should not be to make profit.
Q 59- 'Objectives' and 'Goals' provide meaning and sense of direction to organizational endeavour. Explain
Business organization translates their vision and mission into objectives. Objectives are open-ended attributes that denote the future states or outcomes. Goals are close-ended attributes which are precise and expressed in specific terms. Thus, the goals are more specific and translate to objectives to short term perspective. All organizations have objectives. The pursuit of objectives is an unending process such that organizations sustain themselves. They provide meaning and sense of direction to organizational endeavour. Organizational structure and activities are designed and resources are allocated around the objectives to facilitate their achievement. They also act as benchmarks for guiding organizational activity and for evaluating how the organization is performing.
Q 60- State with reasons which of the following statements is correct / incorrect:
- Strategic planning is an attempt to improve operational efficiency.
- The first step of strategy formulation in strategic management model is to undertake internal analysis.
- All strategies emerge from corporate vision.
- For a small entrepreneur vision and mission are irrelevant.
- Incorrect: Strategic planning, an important component of strategic management, involves developing a strategy to meet competition and ensure long-term survival and growth. Strategic Planning is a function of top management level in the organization and relate the organization with its environment. Operational efficiency is not a direct outcome of strategic planning.
- Incorrect: Identifying an organization's existing vision, mission, objectives, and strategies is the starting point for any strategic management process because an organization's existing situation and condition may preclude certain strategies and may even dictate a particular course of action. Determining vision and mission provides long-term direction, delineate what kind of enterprise the company is trying to become and infuse the organization with a sense of purposeful action.
- Correct: Vision explains where the organization is headed, so as to provide long-term direction, delineate what kind of enterprise the company is trying to become and infuse the organization with a sense of purpose. All strategies need to be drawn in the light of corporate vision, which is what the firm ultimately wants to become.
- Incorrect: Entrepreneur, big or small has to function within several influences’ external forces. Competition in different form and different degree is present in all kind and sizes of business. Even entrepreneur with small businesses can have complicated environment. To grow and prosper they need to have clear vision and mission.
Q 61- What is strategic decision making? What tasks are performed by a strategic Manager?
Decision making is a managerial process of selecting the best course of action out of several alternative courses for the purpose of accomplishment of the organizational goals. Decisions may be operational i.e., which relate to general day-to-day operations. They may also be strategic in nature. According to Jauch and Glueck “Strategic decisions encompass the definition of the business, products to be handled, markets to be served, functions to be performed and major policies needed for the organization to execute these decisions to achieve the strategic objectives.”
The primary task of the strategic manager is conceptualizing, designing and executing company strategies. For this purpose, his tasks include:
- Defining the mission and goals of the organization.
- Determining what businesses it should be in.
- Allocating resources among the different businesses.
- Formulating and implementing strategies that span individual businesses.
- Providing leadership for the organization.
Q 62- Briefly discuss the difference between vision and mission.
A Mission statement tells you the fundamental purpose of the organization. It concentrates on the present. It defines the customer and the critical processes. It informs you of the desired level of performance. On the other hand, a vision statement outlines what the organization wants to be. It concentrates on the future. It is a source of inspiration. It provides clear decision-making criteria.
A mission statement can resemble a vision statement in a few companies, but that can be a grave mistake. It can confuse people. Following are the major differences between vision and mission:
- The vision states the future direction while the mission states the ongoing activities of the organization.
- The vision statement can galvanize the people to achieve defined objectives, even if they are stretch objectives, provided the vision is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. A mission statement provides a path to realize the vision in line with its values. These statements have a direct bearing on the bottom line and success of the organization.
- A vision statement defines the purpose or broader goal for being in existence or in the business and can remain the same for decades if crafted well while a mission statement is more specific in terms of both the future state and the time frame. Mission describes what will be achieved if the organization is successful.
Q 63- An XYZ Company is facing continuous losses. There is decline in sales and product market share. The products of the company became uncompetitive and there is persistent negative cash flow. The physical facilities are deteriorating and employees have low morale. At the board meeting, the board members decided that they should continue the organization and adopt such measures that the company functions properly. The board has decided to hire young executive Shayamli for improving the functions of the organization. What corporate strategy should Shayamli adopt for this company and what steps to be taken to implement the corporate strategy adopted by Shayamli?
XYZ Company is facing continuous losses, decline in sales and product market share, persistent negative cash flow, uncompetitive products, declining market share, deterioration in physical facilities, low morale of employees. In such a scenario, Shayamli may choose turnaround strategy as this strategy attempts to reverse the process of decline and bring improvement in organizational health. This is also important as Board has decided to continue the company and adopt measures for its proper functioning.
For success, Shayamli needs to focus on the short and long-term financing needs as well as on strategic issues. During the turnaround, the “product mix” may be changed, requiring the organization to do some repositioning.
A workable action plan for turnaround would involve:
Stage One - Assessment of current problems: The first step is to assess the current problems and get to the root causes and the extent of damage the problem has caused.
Stage Two - Analyze the situation and develop a strategic plan: Before making any major changes; determine the chances of business’s survival. Identify appropriate strategies and develop a preliminary action plan.
Stage Three - Implementing an emergency action plan: If the organization is in a critical stage, an appropriate action plan must be developed to stop the bleeding and enable the organization to survive. A positive operating cash flow must be established as quickly as possible and enough funds to implement the turnaround strategies must be raised.
Stage Four - Restructuring the business: The financial state of the organization’s core business is particularly important. If the core business is irreparably damaged, then the outlook for the entire organization may be bleak. Efforts to be made to position the organization for rapid improvement.
Stage Five - Returning to normal: In the final stage of turnaround strategy process, the organization should begin to show signs of profitability, return on investments and enhancing economic value-added. Emphasis is placed on a number of strategic efforts such as carefully adding new products and improving customer service, creating alliances with other organizations, increasing the market share, etc.
Q 64- Swift Insurance is a company engaged in the business of providing medical insurance maintaining a market share of 25 to 30 per cent in last five years. Recently, the company decided to enter into the business of auto insurance by having foreign collaboration. Identify the strategy being followed by the Swift Insurance with its advantages.
Overall Swift Insurance is following growth or expansion strategy as it is redefining the business and enlarging its scope. The step will also substantially increase investment in the business.
The new business is related and at the same time caters to a different segment and accordingly can be termed as related diversification. The new business falls within the scope of general insurance and horizontally related to the existing business.
In the process of expansion, the company will be able to exploit:
- Its brand name.
- The marketing skills available.
- The existing sales and distribution infrastructure.
- Research and development.
- Economies of scale
Q 65- What is Divestment strategy? When is it adopted?
Answer: Divestment strategy involves the sale or liquidation of a portion of business, or a major division, profit center or SBU. For a multiple product company, divestment could be a part of rehabilitating or restructuring plan called turnaround.
A divestment strategy may be adopted due to various reasons:
- When a turnaround has been attempted but has proved to be unsuccessful.
- A business that had been acquired proves to be a mismatch and cannot be integrated within the company.
- Persistent negative cash flows from a particular business create financial problems for the whole company.
- Severity of competition and the inability of a firm to cope with it.
- Technological upgradation is required if the business is to survive but where it is not possible for the firm to invest in it.
- A better alternative may be available for investment.
Q 66- Differentiate between divestment and liquidation strategy.
Liquidation strategy is a retrenchment strategy considered the most extreme and unattractive strategy, which involves closing down a firm and selling its assets.
Difference between Divestment strategy and Liquidation strategy:
Divestment strategy involves the sale or liquidation of a portion of business, or a major division, profit center or SBU.
It involves closing down a firm and selling its assets.
Divestment is usually a part of rehabilitation or restructuring plan and is adopted when a turnaround has been attempted but has proved to be unsuccessful. Option of a turnaround may even be ignored if it is obvious that divestment is the only answer.
Liquidation becomes only option in case of severe and critical conditions where either turn around and divestment are not seen as solution or have been attempted but failed.
Efforts are made for the survival of organization.
Liquidation as a form of retrenchment strategy is considered as the most extreme and unattractive.
Survival of organization helps in retaining personnel, at least to some extent.
There is loss of employment with stigma of failure.
Q 67- State with reasons which of the following statements is correct / incorrect:
- Divesting a major product line or market is termed as retrenchment strategy
- Acquisition is a type of growth strategy
- Diversification only involves entering in new businesses that are related to the existing business of an organization
- Vertical diversification integrates firms forward or backward in the product chain
- Concentric diversification amounts to unrelated diversification
- Liquidation is the last resort option for a business.
- Retrenchment implies downsizing of business
- Stability strategy is not a 'do-nothing' strategy.
- There is no such thing as backward integration.
- Turnaround should succeed liquidation strategy.
- Correct: An organization can redefine its business by divesting a major product line or market. The divesting can be termed as retrenchment strategy. The enterprise may withdraw from marginal markets, withdraw some brands or sizes of products. It may also withdraw some of slow-moving products. In an extreme manner it may seek retirement either from the production or the marketing activity.
- Correct: An acquisition is a type of growth strategy through which one firm buys a controlling or complete interest in another firm. Acquisition of an existing concern is an instant means of achieving growth through expansion and/or diversification. Ideally, acquisition strategy should be used when the acquiring firm is able to enhance its economic value through ownership and the use of the assets that are acquired.
- Incorrect: Although, organizations can diversify into businesses that are vertically or horizontally related to the existing businesses, the diversification is not limited to the related businesses. In conglomerate diversification; the new businesses/ products are disjointed from the existing businesses/products in every way. There is no connection between the new products and the existing ones in process, technology or function.
- Correct: In vertically integrated diversification, firms opt to engage in businesses that are related to the existing business of the firm. It moves forward or backward in the chain and enters specific product with the intention of making them part of new businesses for the firm.
- Incorrect: Concentric diversification amounts to related diversification. Concentric diversification takes place when the products or services added are in different industry but are similar to the existing product or service line with respect to technology or production or marketing channels or customers
- Correct: Liquidation as a form of retrenchment strategy is considered as the most extreme and unattractive. It involves closing down a firm and selling its assets. It is considered as the last resort because it leads to serious consequences such as loss of employment for workers and other employees, termination of opportunities a firm could pursue, and the stigma of failure. The company management, government, banks and financial institutions, trade unions, suppliers, creditors, and other agencies are extremely reluctant to take a decision, or ask for liquidation.
- Incorrect: In the context of strategic management, retrenchment implies giving up certain products and reducing the level of business as a compulsive measure to cope up with certain adverse developments on which the firm has little control. Downsizing (or rightsizing) is planned elimination of positions or jobs. Retrenchment does not imply downsizing; however, the latter is often used to implement a retrenchment strategy.
- Correct: Stability strategies are implemented by approaches wherein few functional changes are made in the products or markets. It is not a 'do nothing' strategy. It involves keeping track of new developments to ensure that the strategy continues to make sense. This strategy is typical for mature business organizations. Some small organizations will also frequently use stability as a strategic focus to maintain comfortable market or profit position.
- Incorrect: Organisations may diversify into new businesses that are vertically integrated with their existing business. Backward integration firms create effective supply by entering business of input providers. This strategy is employed to expand profits and gain greater control over production.
- Incorrect: A retrenchment strategy considered the most extreme and unattractive is liquidation strategy, which involves closing down a firm and selling its assets. It is considered as the last resort because it leads to serious consequences such as loss of employment for workers and other employees, termination of opportunities where a firm could pursue any future activities, and the stigma of failure. In an ideal scenario, turnaround should be attempted first and should precede option of liquidation.
Q 68- Strategic alliances are formed if they provide an advantage to all the parties in the alliance. Do you agree? Explain in brief the advantages of a strategic alliance.
Strategic alliances are formed if they provide an advantage to all the parties in the alliance. These advantages can be broadly categorized as follows:
- Organizational: Strategic alliances may be formed to learn necessary skills and obtain certain capabilities from the strategic partner. Strategic partners may also help to enhance productive capacity, provide a distribution system, or extend supply chain. A strategic partner may provide a good or service that complements each other, thereby creating a synergy. If one partner is relatively new or untried in a certain industry, having a strategic partner who is well-known and respected will help add legitimacy and creditability to the venture.
- Economic: Alliances can reduce costs and risks by distributing them across the members of the alliance. Partners can obtain greater economies of scale in an alliance, as production volume increase, causing the cost per unit to decline. Finally, partners can take advantage of co- specialization, where specializations are bundled together, creating additional value.
- Strategic: Organizations may join to cooperate instead of compete. Alliances may also create vertical integration where partners are part of supply chain. Strategic alliances may also be useful to create a competitive advantage by the pooling of resources and skills. This may also help with future business opportunities and the development of new products and technologies. Strategic alliances may also be used to get access to new technologies or to pursue joint research and development
- Political: Sometimes there is need to form a strategic alliance with a local foreign business to gain entry into a foreign market either because of local prejudices or legal barriers to entry. Forming strategic alliances with politically-influential partners may also help improve overall influence and position.’
Q 69- Justify the statement "Stability strategy is opposite of Expansion strategy".
Stability strategies, as name suggests, are intended to safeguard the existing interests and strengths of business. It involves organizations to pursue established and tested objectives, continue on the chosen path, maintain operational efficiency and so on. A stability strategy is pursued when a firm continues to serve in the same or similar markets and deals in same products and services. In stability strategy, few functional changes are made in the products or markets, however, it is not a ‘do nothing’ strategy. This strategy is typical for mature business organizations. Some small organizations also frequently use stability as a strategic focus to maintain comfortable market or profit position.
On the other hand, expansion strategy is aggressive strategy as it involves redefining the business by adding the scope of business substantially, increasing efforts of the current business. In this sense, it becomes opposite to stability strategy. Expansion is a promising and popular strategy that tends to be equated with dynamism, vigor, promise and success. Expansion also includes diversifying, acquiring and merging businesses. This strategy may take the enterprise along relatively unknown and risky paths, full of promises and pitfalls.
Q 70 - X Pvt. Ltd. had recently ventured into the business of co-working spaces when the global pandemic struck. This has resulted in the business line becoming unprofitable and unviable, and a failure of the existing strategy. However, the other businesses of X Pvt. Ltd. are relatively less affected by the pandemic as compared to the recent co-working spaces. Suggest a strategy for X Pvt. Ltd. with reasons to justify your answer.
It is advisable that divestment strategy should be adopted by X Pvt.
Ltd. In the given situation where the business of co-working spaces became unprofitable and unviable due to Global pandemic, the best option for the company is to divest the loss-making business. Retrenchment may be done either internally or externally. Turnaround strategy is adopted in case of internal retrenchment where emphasis is laid on improving internal efficiency of the organization, while divestment strategy is adopted when a business turns unprofitable and unviable due to some external factors. In view of the above, the company should go for divestment strategy.
Further, divestment helps address issues like:
- Persistent cash flows from loss making segment could affect other profit-making segments, which is the case in the given scenario.
- Inability to cope from the losses, which again is uncertain due to pandemic.
- Better investment opportunity, which could be the case if X Pvt. Ltd. can invest the money it generates from divestment.
Q 71- Gennex is a company that designs, manufactures and sells computer hardware and software. Gennex is well known for its innovative products that has helped the company to have advantage over its competitors. It also spends on research and development and concerned with innovative software. Often the unique features of their product, that are not available with their competitors helps them to gain competitive advantage. Gennex using the strategy is consistently gaining its position in the industry over its competitors.
Identify and explain the Porter’s generic strategy which Gennex has opted to gain the competitive advantage.
According to Porter, strategies allow organizations to gain competitive advantage from three different bases: cost leadership, differentiation, and focus. Porter called these base generic strategies.
Gennex has opted differentiation strategy. Its products are designed and produced to give the customer value and quality. They are unique and serve specific customer needs that are not met by other companies in the industry. Highly differentiated and unique hardware and software enables Gennex to charge premium prices for its products hence making higher profits and maintain its competitive position in the market.
Differentiation strategy is aimed at broad mass market and involves the creation of a product or service that is perceived by the customers as unique. The uniqueness can be associated with product design, brand image, features, technology, dealer network or customer service.
Q 72- A century-old footwear company “Mota Shoes” had an image of being the footwear choice for formal occasions. In an attempt to reinvent its brand, it tied up with a foreign footwear giant “Buffrine” to manufacture and sell its Hideseek brand in the country. Putting its best foot forward, it launched extra soft, casual and relaxed footwear for young. Aiming at a brand and image makeover the “Mota Shoes” decided to price the Hide Seek products at premium. What kind of Michael Porter business level strategy is being used by “Mota Shoe company”? State its advantages.
Mota shoes is trying to use differentiation. This strategy is aimed at broad mass market and involves the creation of a product or service that is perceived by the customers as unique. The uniqueness can be associated with product design, brand image, features, technology, dealer network or customer service. Because of differentiation, the business can charge a premium for its product.
A differentiation strategy has definite advantages as it may help to remain profitable even with rivalry, new entrants, suppliers’ power, substitute products, and buyers’ power.
- Rivalry: Brand loyalty acts as a safeguard against competitors. It means that customers will be less sensitive to price increases, as long as the firm can satisfy the needs of its customers
- Buyers: They do not negotiate for price as they get special features and also, they have fewer options in the market
- Suppliers: Because differentiators charge a premium price, they can afford to absorb higher costs of supplies and customers are willing to pay extra too.
- New entrants: Innovative features are expensive to copy. So, new entrants generally avoid these features because it is tough for them to provide the same product with special features at a comparable price
- Substitutes: Substitute products can’t replace differentiated products which have high brand value and enjoy customer loyalty
Q 73- What are the five competitive forces in an industry as identified by Michael Porter?
Five forces model of Michael Porter is a powerful and widely used tool for systematically diagnosing the significant competitive pressures in the market and assessing their strength and importance. The model holds that the state of competition in an industry is a composite of competitive pressures operating in five areas of the overall market.
These five forces are:
- Threat of new entrants: New entrants are always a powerful source of competition. The new capacity and product range they bring in throw up new competitive pressure. And the bigger the new entrant, the more severe the competitive effect. New entrants also place a limit on prices and affect the profitability of existing players.
- Bargaining power of customers: This is another force that influences the competitive condition of the industry. This force will become heavier depending on the possibilities of the buyers forming groups or cartels. Mostly, this is a phenomenon seen in industrial products. Quite often, users of industrial products come together formally or informally and exert pressure on the producer. The bargaining power of the buyers influences not only the prices that the producer can charge but also influences in many cases, costs and investments of the producer because powerful buyers usually bargain for better services which involve costs and investment on the part of the producer.
- Bargaining power of suppliers: Quite often suppliers, too, exercise considerable bargaining power over companies. The more specialised the offering from the supplier, greater is his clout. And, if the suppliers are also limited in number, they stand a still better chance to exhibit their bargaining power. The bargaining power of suppliers determines the cost of raw materials and other inputs of the industry and, therefore, industry attractiveness and profitability.
- Rivalry among current players: The rivalry among existing players is quite obvious. This is what is normally understood as competition. For any player, the competitors influence strategic decisions at different strategic levels. The impact is evident more at functional level in the prices being charged, advertising, and pressures on costs, product and so on.
- Threats from substitutes: Substitute products are a latent source of competition in an industry. In many cases they become a major constituent of competition. Substitute products offering a price advantage and/or performance improvement to the consumer can drastically alter the competitive character of an industry. And they can bring it about all of a sudden. For example, coir suffered at the hands of synthetic fibre. Wherever substantial investment in R&D is taking place, threats from substitute products can be expected. Substitutes too usually limit the prices and profits in an industry.
The five forces together determine industry attractiveness/profitability. This is so because these forces influence the causes that underlie industry attractiveness/ profitability. For example, elements such as cost and investment needed for being a player in the industry decide industry profitability, and all such elements are governed by these forces. The collective strength of these five competitive forces determines the scope to earn attractive profits. The strength of the forces may vary from industry to industry.
Q 74- Write short notes on Advantages of cost leadership strategy
Advantages of Cost leadership strategy
Earlier we have discussed Porter’s Five Forces Model in detail. A cost leadership strategy may help to remain profitable even with: rivalry, new entrants, suppliers’ power, substitute products, and buyers’ power.
- Rivalry – Competitors are likely to avoid a price war, since the low-cost firm will continue to earn profits after competitors compete away their profits
- Buyers – Powerful buyers/customers would not be able to exploit the cost leader firm and will continue to buy its product
- Suppliers – Cost leaders are able to absorb greater price increases before it must raise price to customers.
- Entrants – Low-cost leaders create barriers to market entry through its continuous focus on efficiency and reducing costs.
- Substitutes – Low-cost leaders are more likely to lower costs to induce customers to stay with their product, invest to develop substitutes, purchase patents.
Q 75- Discuss in what conditions rivalry among competitors tends to be cut-throat and profitability of the industry goes down.
The intensity of rivalry in an industry is a significant determinant of industry attractiveness and profitability. The intensity of rivalry can influence the costs of suppliers, distribution, and of attracting customers and thus directly affect the profitability. The more intensive the rivalry, the less attractive is the industry. Rivalry among competitors tends to be cutthroat and industry profitability low when
- An industry has no clear leader.
- Competitors in the industry are numerous.
- Competitors operate with high fixed costs.
- Competitors face high exit barriers.
- Competitors have little opportunity to differentiate their offerings.
- The industry faces slow or diminished growth.
Q 76- Analyse the following cases in the context of Michael Porter's Five Forces Model:
- A supplier has a large base of customers.
- A manufacturer of sports goods has the advantage of economies of large-scale production
- Products offered by competitors are almost similar.
- Large base of customers of an organization (supplier) may increase its bargaining power in comparison to the bargaining power of the customer.
- The manufacturer of sports goods would be in better position amongst existing competitors since it has advantage of economies of scale. Even the threat of new entrants gets reduced.
- Similar products will reduce the bargaining power of the rivals, i.e., competitors, in other words the bargaining power of the customers will be more.
Q 77- Spacetek Pvt. Ltd. is an IT company. Although there is cut throat competition in the IT sector, Spacetek deals with distinctive niche clients and is generating high efficiencies for serving such niche market. Other rival firms are not attempting to specialize in the same target market. Identify the strategy adopted by Spacetek Pvt. Ltd. and also explain the advantages and disadvantages of that strategy
Spacetek Pvt. Ltd. company has adopted Focus strategy which is one of the Michael Porter’s Generic strategies. Focus strategies are most effective when consumers have distinctive preferences or requirements and when rival firms are not attempting to specialize in the same target segment. An organization using a focus strategy may concentrate on a particular group of customers, geographic markets, or on particular product-line segments in order to serve a well-defined but narrow market better than competitors who serve a broader market.
Advantages of Focus Strategy
- Premium prices can be charged by the organizations for their focused product/services.
- Due to the tremendous expertise about the goods and services that organizations following focus strategy offer, rivals and new entrants may find it difficult to compete.
Disadvantages of Focus Strategy
- The firms lacking in distinctive competencies may not be able to pursue focus strategy.
- Due to the limited demand of product/services, costs are high which can cause problems.
- In the long run, the niche could disappear or be taken over by larger competitors by acquiring the same distinctive competencies.
Q 78- ABC Ltd is a company that has grown eleven times its size in last five years. With the increase in size the company is facing difficulty in managing things. Many a times functional level is not in sync with the corporate level. What will you like to advise to the company and why?
Answer: The higher-level corporate strategies need to be segregated into viable plans and policies that are compatible with each other and communicated down the line. The higher-level strategies need to be broken into functional strategies for implementation. These functional strategies, in form of marketing, finance, human resource, production, research and development help in achieving the organizational objective. The reasons why functional strategies are needed can be enumerated as follows:
- Functional strategies lay down clearly what is to be done at the functional level. They provide a sense of direction to the functional staff.
- They are aimed at facilitating the implementation of corporate strategies and the business strategies formulation at the business level.
- They act as basis for controlling activities in the different functional areas of business.
- They help in bringing harmony and coordination as they are formulated to achieve major strategies.
- Similar situations occurring in different functional areas are handled in a consistent manner by the functional managers.
Q 79- Ronit Roy has started a new business of manufacturing washing powder. Make a plan for him to promote his product.
Promotion stands for activities that communicate the merits of the product and persuade target consumers to buy it. Strategies are needed to combine individual methods such as advertising, personal selling, and sales promotion into a coordinated campaign. Modern marketing is highly promotional oriented.
Ronit needs to cover four major direct promotional methods or tools – personal selling, advertising, publicity and sales promotion. They are briefly explained as follows:
- Personal Selling: Personal selling is one of the oldest forms of promotion. It involves face-to- face interaction of sales force with the prospective customers and provides a high degree of personal attention to them. In personal selling, oral communication is made. It may initially focus on developing a relationship, an end up with efforts for making a sale. Personal selling suffers from a very high costs as sales personnel attend one customer at a time.
- Advertising: Advertising is a non-personal, highly flexible and dynamic promotional method. The media for advertisings are several such as pamphlets, brochures, newspapers, magazines, hoardings, display boards, radio, television and internet. Choice of appropriate media is important for effectiveness of the message. The media may be local, regional, or national. The type of the message, copy, illustration are a matter of choice and creativity. Advertising may be directed towards consumers, middlemen or opinion leaders. Advertising is likely to succeed in promoting the sales of an organization but its effectiveness in respect to the expenditure cannot be directly measured. Sales is a function of several variables out of which advertising is only one.
- Publicity: Publicity is also a non-personal form of promotion similar to advertising. However, no payments are made to the media as in case of advertising. Organizations skillfully seek to promote themselves and their product with negligible cost. Publicity is communication of a product, brand or business by placing information about it in the media. Basic tools for publicity are press releases, press conferences, reports, stories, and internet releases. These releases must be of interest to the public.
- Sales promotion: Sales promotion is an omnibus term that includes all activities that are undertaken to promote the business but are not specifically included under personal selling, advertising or publicity. Activities like discounts, contests, money refunds, installments, kiosks, exhibitions and fairs constitute sales promotion. All these are meant to give a boost to the sales.
Q 80- State the factors of human resource that influence on employee’s competence.
Human resource management has been accepted as a strategic partner in the formulation of organization’s strategies and in the implementation of such strategies through human resource planning, employment, training, appraisal and reward systems. The following points should be kept in mind as they can have a strong influence on employee competence:
- Recruitment and selection: The workforce will be more competent if a firm can successfully identify, attract, and select highly competent applicants.
- Training: The workforce will be more competent if employees are well trained to perform their jobs properly.
- Appraisal of performance: The performance appraisal is to identify any performance deficiencies experienced by employees due to lack of competence. Such deficiencies, once identified, can often be solved through counselling, coaching or training.
- Compensation: A firm can usually increase the competency of its workforce by offering pay, benefits and rewards that are not only attractive than those of their competitors but also recognizes merit
Q 81- What do you understand by the term marketing mix? Briefly explain its various components.
Marketing mix is a systematic way of classifying the key decision areas of marketing management. It is the set of controllable marketing variables that the firm blends to produce the response it wants in the target market. The original framework of marketing mix comprises of 4Ps- product, price, place and promotion. These are subsequently expanded to highlight certain other key decision areas like people, processes, and physical evidence. The elements of original framework are:
- Product: It stands for the “goods-and-service” combination the company offers to the target market.
- Price: It stands for the amount of money customers have to pay to obtain the product.
- Place: It stands for company activities that make the product available to target consumers and include marketing channel, distribution policies and geographical availability.
- Promotion: It stands for activities that communicate the merits of the product and persuade target consumers to buy it.
Expanded Marketing Mix: Typically, all organizations use a combination of 4 Ps in some form or the other. However, the above elements of marketing mix are not exhaustive as there are a few more elements that may form part of marketing mix strategy as follows:
- People: All human actors who play a part in delivery of the market offering and thus influence the buyer’s perception, namely the firm’s personnel and the customer.
- Physical evidence: The environment in which the market offering is delivered and where the firm and customer interact.
- Process: The actual procedures, mechanisms and flow of activities by which the product / service is delivered.
Q 82- State with reasons which of the following statements is correct / incorrect:
- Functional level constitutes the lowest hierarchical level of strategic management
- Skimming means keeping price very low.
- Augmented marketing is provision of additional customer services and benefits.
- Tele-shopping is an instance of direct marketing.
- Supply chain management is conceptually wider than logistic management.
- Human resource management aids in strategic management.
- Production strategy implements, supports and drives higher level strategies
- Marketers alone can deliver superior value to customers.
- The role of human resource manager is significant in building up core competency of the firm.
- Demarketing strategy aims to reduce demand temporarily or permanently.
- Marketing function has no relation with production function.
- Publicity is personal form of promotion.
- Correct: Functional-level managers and strategies operate at the lowest hierarchical level of strategic management. Functional level is responsible for the specific business functions or operations (human resources, purchasing, product development, customer service, and so on) that constitute a company or one of its divisions. Although they are not responsible for the overall performance of the organisation, functional managers nevertheless have a major strategic role to develop functional strategies in their area that help to fulfil the strategic objectives set by business and corporate-level managers
- Incorrect: In skimming, prices of a new product are kept at a very high level. The idea is to take advantage of the initial interest that a new product generates amongst the buyers who are relatively price insensitive.
- Correct: Augmented marketing refers to deliberate and accelerated efforts to get better marketing returns through additional means. It includes provision of additional customer services and benefits built around the care and actual products that relate to introduction of hi- tech services like movies on demand, on-line computer repair services, secretarial services, etc. Such innovative offerings provide a set of benefits that promise to elevate customer service to unprecedented levels
- Correct: Direct marketing is done through various advertising media that interact directly with customer. Teleshopping is a form of direct marketing which operates without conventional intermediaries and employs television and other IT devices for reaching the customer. The communication between the marketer and the customer is direct through third party interfaces such as telecom or postal systems.
- Correct: Supply chain management is an extension of logistic management. Logistic management is related to planning, implementing and controlling the storage & movement of goods & services while supply chain management is much more than that. It is a tool of business transformation and involve delivering the right product at the right time to the right place and at the right price.
- Correct: The human resource management helps the organization to effectively deal with the external environmental challenges. The function has been accepted as a partner in the formulation of organization's strategies and in the implementation of such strategies through human resource planning, employment, training, appraisal and rewarding of personnel.
- Correct: For effective implementation of higher-level strategies, strategists need to provide direction to functional managers, including production, regarding the plans and policies to be adopted. Production strategy provides a path for transmitting corporate and business level strategy to the production systems and makes it operational. It may relate to production planning, operational system, control and research & development.
- Incorrect: A marketer alone cannot deliver superior value to the customers. It needs to work in coordination with other departments to accomplish this. It is important to be part of organization chain and marketer needs to work in coordination with other departments in the search for competitive advantages. Organizations need to look at the value chain network along with its own chain of activities and the chain of suppliers, distributors and ultimately customers.
- Correct: The human resource manager has a significant role to play in developing core competency of the firm. A core competence is a unique strength of an organization which may not be shared by others. Corecompetencies can be generated and maintained only through the effective management of human resources and their skills.
- Correct: Demarketing is a marketing strategy to reduce demand temporarily or permanently — the aim is not to destroy demand, but only to reduce or shift it. This happens when the demand is too much to handle. For example, buses are overloaded in the morning and evening, roads are busy for most of times, zoological parks are overcrowded on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Here demarketing can be applied to regulate demand.
- Incorrect: Marketing function and production function complement each other. They need to work in tandem to produce goods as per the needs and preferences of the customers. Marketing links the production with the customers.
- Incorrect: Publicity is a non-personal form of promotion similar to advertising. However, no payments are made to the media as in case of advertising. Organizations skillfully seek to promote themselves and their products without payment. Publicity is communication of a product, brand or business by placing information about it in the media without paying for the time or media space directly.
Q 83- Explain the strategic role of Human Resources Manager in the following areas
a. Facilitation of change
b. Building Core competence
c. Development of work ethics and culture
a. Facilitation of change: The Human resource will be more concerned with substance rather than form, accomplishments rather than activities, and practice rather than theory. The personnel function will be responsible for furthering the organization not just maintaining it. Human resource management will have to devote more time to promote changes than to maintain the status quote
b. Building core competency: The human resource manager has a great role to play in developing core competency by the firm. A core competence is a unique strength of an organization which may not be shared by others. If the business is organized on the basis of core competency, it is likely to generate competitive advantage. Because of this reason, many organizations have restructured their businesses by divesting those businesses which do not match core competence.
c. Development of works ethics and culture: As changing work ethic requires increasing emphasis on individuals, jobs will have to be redesigned to provide challenge. Flexible starting and quitting times for employees may be necessary. Focus will shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation. A vibrant work culture will have to be developed in the organizations to create an atmosphere of trust among people and to encourage creative ideas by the people. Far reaching changes with the help of technical knowledge will be required for this purpose.
Q 84- Discuss the guidelines for selection of Research & Development expertise by an organization.
Answer: A critical question is whether a firm should develop research and development expertise internally or outside to external agencies. The answer to this critical question mainly depends on rate of technology progress and rate of market growth. The following guidelines can be used to help make this decision:
- If the rate of technical progress is slow, the rate of market growth is moderate, and there are significant barriers to possible new entrants, then in-house R&D is the preferred solution. The reason is that R&D, if successful, will result in a temporary product or process monopoly that the company can exploit.
- If technology is changing rapidly and the market is growing slowly, then a major effort in R&D may be very risky, because it may lead to the development of an ultimately obsolete technology or one for which there is no market.
- If technology is changing slowly but the market is growing quickly, there generally is not enough time for in-house development. The prescribed approach is to obtain R&D expertise on an exclusive or nonexclusive basis from an outside firm.
- If both technical progress and market growth are fast, R&D expertise should be obtained through acquisition of a well-established firm in the industry.
Q 85- Does HRM function play a role in organizational strategy?
The role of human resources in enabling the organization to effectively deal with the external environmental challenges, the human resource management function has been accepted as a strategic partner in the formulation of organization's strategies and in the implementation of such strategies through human resource planning, employment, training, appraisal and rewarding of personnel. An organization's recruitment, selection, training, performance appraisal, and compensation practices can have a strong influence on employee competence is very important.
Q 86- Jupiter Electronics Ltd. is known for its ability to come out with path-breaking products. Though the work environment at Jupiter’s is relaxed and casual, yet, there is a very strong commitment to deadlines. The employees believe in "work hard play hard" ethic. The organisation has moved away from formal and hierarchical set up to a more results-driven approach. Employees are committed to strategies and work towards achieving them. They guard innovations, maintain confidentiality and secrecy in their working. They are closely related to values, practices, and norms of organisations
What aspects of an organization that are being discussed? Explain.
The scenario being referred to is culture in Jupiter Electronics. Strong culture promotes good strategy execution when there’s fit and impels execution when there’s negligible fit. A culture grounded in values, practices, and behavioural norms that match what is needed for good strategy execution helps energize people throughout the organization to do their jobs in a strategy-supportive manner. A culture built around such business principles as listening to customers, encouraging employees to take pride in their work, and giving employees a high degree of decision-making responsibility. This is very conducive to successful execution of a strategy of delivering superior customer service.
A strong strategy-supportive culture makes employees feel genuinely better about their jobs and work environment and the merits of what the company is trying to accomplish. Employees are stimulated to take on the challenge of realizing the organizational vision, do their jobs competently and with enthusiasm, and collaborate with others.
Q 87- Suresh Sinha has been recently appointed as the head of a strategic business unit of a large multiproduct company. Advise Mr Sinha about the leadership role to be played by him in execution of strategy.
Leading change has to start with diagnosing the situation and then deciding which of several ways to handle it. Managers have five leadership roles to play in pushing for good strategy execution:
- Staying on top of what is happening, closely monitoring progress, solving out issues, and learning what obstacles lie in the path of good execution.
- Promoting a culture of esprit de corps that mobilizes and energizes organizational members to execute strategy in a competent fashion and perform at a high level.
- Keeping the organization responsive to changing conditions, alert for new opportunities, bubbling with innovative ideas, and ahead of rivals in developing competitively valuable competencies and capabilities.
- Exercising ethical leadership and insisting that the company conduct its affairs like a model corporate citizen.
- Pushing corrective actions to improve strategy execution and overall strategic performance.
Q 88- How can you differentiate between transformational and transactional leaders?
Difference between transformational and transactional leadership:
- Transformational leadership style uses charisma and enthusiasm to inspire people to exert them for the good of organization. Transactional leadership style uses the authority of its office to exchange rewards such as pay, status symbols etc.
- Transformational leadership style may be appropriate in turbulent environment, in industries at the very start or end of their cycles, poorly performing organizations, when there is a need to inspire a company to embrace major changes. Transactional leadership style can be appropriate in static environment, in growing or mature industries and in organizations that are performing well.
- Transformational leaders inspire employees by offering excitement, vision, intellectual stimulation and personal satisfaction. Transactional leaders prefer a more formalized approach to motivation, setting clear goals with explicit rewards or penalties for achievement and non- achievement. Transactional leaders focus mainly to build on existing culture and enhance current practices.
Q 89- Distinguish between Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs.
The terms Entrepreneur and the Intrapreneur might seem the same words to hear, but both the terms have much differences including their spelling and characteristics. The differences between these two terms have been shortly gleaned below: -
An entrepreneur is independent in his operations.
An intrapreneur is dependent on the entrepreneur, i.e., the owner.
Raising of Funds
An entrepreneur himself raises funds required for the enterprise.
Funds are not raised by the Intrapreneur.
Entrepreneur bears the risk involved in the business.
An intrapreneur does not fully bear the risk involved in the enterprise.
An entrepreneur operates from outside.
On the contrary, an intrapreneur operates from within the organization itself.
An entrepreneur begins his business with a newly set up enterprise.
An intrapreneur sets up his enterprise after working someone else’s
As an entrepreneur establishes new business, so he does not possess any
experience over the business
An intrapreneur establishes his business after gathering experiences through
working in the other organizations.
According to the above table, anyone can differentiate between the entrepreneur and intrapreneur as both the terms are heterogeneous.
Q 90- Write a short note on importance of corporate culture.
A culture where creativity, embracing change, and challenging the status quo are pervasive is very conducive to successful execution of a product innovation and technological leadership strategy. A culture built around such business principles as listening to customers, encouraging employees to take pride in their work, and giving employees a high degree of decision-making responsibility is very conducive to successful execution of a strategy of delivering superior customer service. A strong strategy-supportive culture nurtures and motivates people to do their jobs in ways conducive to effective strategy execution; it provides structure, standards, and a value system in which to operate; and it promotes strong employee identification with the company's vision, performance targets, and strategy. All this makes employees feel genuinely better about their jobs and work environment and the merits of what the company is trying to accomplish. Employees are stimulated to take on the challenge of realizing the company's vision, do their jobs competently and with enthusiasm, and collaborate with others as needed to bring the strategy to success.
Q 91- What steps would you suggest to change a company's problem culture?
Changing problem cultures is very difficult because of deeply held values and habits. It takes concerted management action over a period of time to replace an unhealthy culture with a healthy culture or to root out certain unwanted cultural obstacles and instill ones that are more strategy-supportive
- The first step is to diagnose which facets of the present culture are strategy supportive and which are not
- Then, managers have to talk openly and forthrightly to all concerned about those aspects of the culture that have to be changed
- The talk has to be followed swiftly by visible, aggressive actions to modify the culture-actions that everyone will understand are intended to establish a new culture more in tune with the strategy
The menu of culture-changing actions includes revising policies and procedures, altering incentive compensation, recruiting and hiring new managers and employees, replacing key executives, communication on need and benefit to employees and so on.
Q 92- Define Entrepreneur. What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is an individual who conceives the idea of starting a new venture, takes all types of risks, not only to put the product or service into reality but also to make it an extremely demanding one. An entrepreneur is one who:
- Initiates and innovates a new concept.
- Recognizes and utilizes opportunity.
- Arranges and coordinates resources such as man, material, machine and capital.
- Faces risks and uncertainties
- Establishes a start-up company.
- Adds value to the product or service.
- Takes decisions to make the product or service a profitable one.
- Is responsible for the profits or losses of the company
Q 93- Davis and Lawrence have proposed three distinct phases to develop matrix structure. Explain.
For development of matrix structure; Davis and Lawrence have proposed three distinct phases:
- Cross-functional task forces: Temporary cross-functional task forces are initially used when a new product line is being introduced. A project manager is in charge as the key horizontal link
- Product/brand management: If the cross-functional task forces become more permanent, the project manager becomes a product or brand manager and a second phase begins. In this arrangement, function is still the primary organizational structure, but product or brand managers act as the integrators of semi-permanent products or brands.
- Mature matrix: The third and final phase of matrix development involves a true dual- authority structure. Both the functional and product structures are permanent. All employees are connected to both a vertical functional superior and a horizontal product manager.
Q 94- Swift Ltd and Quick Ltd are two companies that are in the business of light industrial machines. While Swift is the market leader the sales of Quick has been falling. In the year 2017- 18 the market share of the two companies was forty per cent and five per cent respectively. During the last five years the market share of quick reduced from third to sixth position. As an immediate corrective measure top management of Quick decided to emulate the successful standards of Swift Ltd and set them as their own yardsticks. With the help of standards, they intended to compare measure and judge their performance.
What is strategic tool quick Ltd. Is adopting? How is it implemented?
Answer: The top management of quick tool ltd. Is doing benchmarking. The benchmarking helps an organization to get ahead of competition. A benchmark may be defined as a standard or a point of reference against which things may be compared and by which something can be measured and judged. In simple words, benchmarking is an approach of setting goals and measuring productivity based on best industry practices. In recent years, different commercial and non- commercial organizations are discovering the value of benchmarking and are applying it to improve their processes and systems.
Benchmarking processes used by different organizations lack standardization. However, common elements are as follows:
- Identifying the need for benchmarking: This step will define the objectives of the benchmarking exercise. It will also involve selecting the type of benchmarking. Organizations identify realistic opportunities for improvements.
- Clearly understanding existing business processes: This step will involve compiling information and data on performance. This will include mapping processes.
- Identify best processes: Within the selected framework, best processes are identified. These may be within the same organization or external to it.
- Compare own processes and performance with that of others: While comparing gaps in performance between the organization and better performers is identified. Further, gaps in performance are analysed to seek explanations. Feasibility of making the improvements is also examined.
- Prepare a report and Implement the steps necessary to close the performance gap: A report on the Benchmarking initiatives containing recommendations is prepared. Such a report includes the action plan(s) for implementation.
- Evaluation: A business organization must evaluate the results of the benchmarking process in terms of improvements vis-à-vis objectives and other criteria set for the purpose. It should also periodically evaluate and reset the benchmarks in the light of changes in the conditions that impact its performance
Q 95- Distinguish between Strategy Formulation and Strategy Implementation.
Yes, strategy formulation is primarily an intellectual process. It is based on strategic decision-making which requires analysis and thinking. Although inextricably linked, strategy implementation is fundamentally different from strategy formulation in the following ways:
Strategy formulation focuses on effectiveness.
Strategy implementation focuses on efficiency.
Strategy formulation is primarily an intellectual process.
Strategy implementation is primarily an operational process.
Strategy formulation requires conceptual intuitive and analytical skills.
Strategy implementation requires motivation and leadership skills.
Strategy formulation requires coordination among the executives at the top level.
Strategy implementation requires coordination among the
executives at middle and lower levels.
Q 96- What is implementation control? Discuss its basic forms.
Managers implement strategy by converting major plans into concrete, sequential actions that form incremental steps. Implementation control is directed towards assessing the need for changes in the overall strategy in light of unfolding events and results associated with incremental steps and actions.
Strategic implementation control is not a replacement to operational control. Strategic implementation control, unlike operational controls continuously monitors the basic direction of the strategy. The two basic forms of implementation control are:
- Monitoring strategic thrusts: Monitoring strategic thrusts help managers to determine whether the overall strategy is progressing as desired or whether there is need for readjustments.
- Milestone Reviews: All key activities necessary to implement strategy are segregated in terms of time, events or major resource allocation. It normally involves a complete reassessment of the strategy. It also assesses the need to continue or refocus the direction of an organization.
Q 97- Specify the steps that are needed to introduce strategic change in an organization.
Answer: The changes in the environmental forces often require businesses to make modifications in their existing strategies and bring out new strategies. For initiating strategic change, three steps can be identified as under:
- Recognize the need for change: The first step is to diagnose facets of the corporate culture that are strategy supportive or not. The idea is to determine where the lacuna lies and scope for change exists.
- Create a shared vision to manage the change: Objectives and vision of both individuals and organization should coincide. Senior managers need to constantly and consistently communicate the vision not only to inform but also to overcome resistance.
- Institutionalize the change: Creating and sustaining a different attitude towards change is essential to ensure that the firm does not slip back into old ways of thinking or doing things. All these changes should be set up as a practice to be followed by the organization and be able to transfer from one level to another as a well settled practice.
Q 98- “Firms can use benchmarking process to achieve improvement in diverse range of management functions.” Elucidate.
Benchmarking is a process of finding the best practices within and outside the industry to which an organisation belongs. Knowledge of the best practices helps in setting standards and finding ways to match or even surpass own performances with the best performances.
Benchmarking is a process of continuous improvement in search for competitive advantage. Firms can use benchmarking process to achieve improvement in diverse range of management function such as mentioned below:
- Maintenance operations,
- Assessment of total manufacturing costs,
- Product development,
- Product distribution,
- Customer services,
- Plant utilisation levels; and
- Human resource management.
Q 99- India's luxurious domestic airline Indijet in an attempt to retain its leadership in aviation sector has hired J S Dutta as its Chief Executive. Mr Dutta wishes to reorient company to make it a domestic discount carrier. He desires to introduce no frills business model by offering extremely low fares and improve margins by cutting down traditional amenities such as reclining seats and complimentary meals. At the same time setting the stage for a new air revolution, he wishes to brand itself as on-time airlines having proper systems in place and removing additional and wasteful activities and processes.
What steps will you advise to Mr Dutta?
Mr Dutta should adopt business process reengineering (BPR). It is an approach to unusual improvement in operating effectiveness through the redesigning of critical business processes and supporting business systems. It is revolutionary redesign of key business processes that involves examination of the basic process itself. BPR refers to the analysis and redesign of workflows and processes both within the organization and between the organization and the external entities like suppliers, distributors, and service providers.
The orientation of redesigning efforts involves total deconstruction and rethinking of business process BPR involves the following steps:
- Determining objectives: Objectives are the desired end results of the redesign process. They will provide the required focus, direction, and motivation for the redesign process and help in building a comprehensive foundation for the reengineering process.
- Identify customers and determine their needs: The process designers have to understand customers. The purpose is to redesign business process that clearly provides value addition to the customer.
- Study the existing processes: The study of existing processes will provide an important base for the process designers. The purpose is to gain an understanding of the ‘what’, and ‘why’ of the targeted process.
- Formulate a redesign process plan: Formulation of redesign plan is the real crux of the reengineering efforts. Customer focussed redesign concepts are identified and formulated. In this step alternative processes are considered and the best is selected.
- Implement the redesigned process: It is easier to formulate new process than to implement them. Implementation of the redesigned process and application of other knowledge gained from the previous steps is key to achieve dramatic improvements.
Q 100- What is strategic control? Kindly explain the statement that "premise control is a tool for systematic and continuous monitoring of the environment".
Strategic control is the process of evaluating formulated and implemented strategy. It is directed towards identifying changes in the internal and external environments of the organization and making necessary adjustments accordingly.
Strategic Control focuses on the dual questions of whether: (1) the strategy is being implemented as planned; and (2) the results produced by the strategy are those intended.
Yes, Premise control is a tool for systematic and continuous monitoring of the environment to verify the validity and accuracy of the premises on which the strategy has been built. It primarily involves monitoring two types of factors:
- Environmental factors such as economic (inflation, liquidity, interest rates), technology, social and legal-regulatory.
- Industry factors such as competitors, suppliers, substitutes.
It is neither feasible nor desirable to control all types of premises in the same manner. Different premises may require different amount of control. Thus, managers are required to select those premises that are likely to change and would severely impact the functioning of the organization and its strategy.