This unit is designed to introduce learners to the techniques and methods required to carry out formal research. The unit addresses a variety of research methodologies.

Learners will be required to propose a unique research question related to an area of professional business practice that interests them and will add to their professional development. They will carry out a literature review on the topic, critically evaluating its relevance to their research question.

Learners will understand the techniques, both quantitative and qualitative, used in research to analyse data. They will select an appropriate research methodology for their question, and record and present their findings.

Tutor approval should be sought before learners begin their research and their final report should be presented in a format agreed by the tutor.

Organisations operate in a very competitive and continually changing environment where effective decision making is crucial if an organisation is to survive or even be profitable. An important resource for decision making is financial information and it is important for managers to be able to interpret, analyse and evaluate this information effectively.

This unit will give learners a foundation in financial principles and techniques relevant to the strategic management process. It encourages learners to explore the nature of cost-based financial data and information, the impact of the budgeting process on the organisation, and the development of cost reduction and management procedures and processes. It also focuses on the management of these costs through the use of forecasting, appraisal and financial reporting procedures. One of the main objectives of this unit is for learners to develop the confidence to apply, analyse and evaluate financial and cost information.

Learners will develop the ability to judge the sources, nature, accuracy and completeness of cost-based information and influence others to make decisions that are based on well-researched options. These important decision-making skills will be enhanced further through the use and validation of forecasting techniques, the consideration of financial statements and making judgements on the validity of information sources used in the decision-making process.

Learners will also apply strategies associated with determining sound management information with reference to sources of funds, the potential investment of resources and the interpretation of financial statements.

Learners will study issues of cost, responsibility and control in the contexts of management accounting and the management process. This unit gives learners the opportunity to enhance their competency in the construction, review and evaluation of cost-based financial information, and introduces them to the analysis and control or reduction of costs in a range of situations.

A Chinese proverb states that if you are planning for one year, grow rice. If you are planning for 20 years, grow trees. If you are planning for centuries, grow men. This unit focuses on how organisations undertake strategic planning and its importance in a fast changing, turbulent marketplace. Learners will understand why it is important to develop a strategic vision and mission, establish objectives and decide on a strategy. Strategy and strategic plans map out where the organisation is headed, its short- and long-range performance targets, and the competitive moves and internal action required to achieve targeted business results. Learners will understand that a well-constructed strategic plan is essential for organisations to cope with industry and competitive conditions.

In this unit, learners will discover how important it is for an organisation to understand what is happening in their external environment and how the environment is changing. This will then enable learners to review an organisation’s existing business plans, using appropriate tools and techniques. Having explored the competitive environment, learners will understand how to develop strategic options using modelling tools and then develop a strategic plan, giving due consideration to the core values, vision and mission of the organisation. Learners will then look at planning the implementation of a strategic plan and the creation of monitoring and evaluation systems to measure progress.

Strategic human resource management is concerned with the management of human resources in ways that support an organisation’s strategy and contribute to the achievement of organisational goals. It takes a long-term perspective on how human resources can be matched to organisational requirements and considers broader matters such as the quality and commitment of the human resource to an organisation.

Human resource planning provides the mechanisms through which organisations can ensure that they have sufficient staff of the right quality now and in the future to enable their successful functioning. Issues such as the recruitment of staff, the retention of staff, developing staff and succession planning, as well as downsizing and relocation, need to be accommodated in human resource plans.

The nature of the changing business environment requires adaptable strategic human resource plans. Organisations have a range of human resources policies that explain how human resources are managed. In many cases, there is a legal or regulatory requirement that insists on the existence of these policies. In other instances, organisations may wish to demonstrate good corporate practice in matters relating to employment.

The structure and culture of organisations affects human resource management. The publication of lists of companies that are good employers indicates how structure and culture affect personnel and how the perceptions of other parties are shaped by how employees feel about working for particular organisations. Organisations that are good employers are more likely to attract and keep good staff.

By examining human resource management, learners will understand how human resource strategy and policies enable personnel to work in ways that contribute to the overall effectiveness of organisations in both the short and long term.

Organisations today need to plan their communication systems to ensure up-to-date information, knowledge and awareness are always available to all who need them. A corporate communication strategy is the outcome of a strategic thinking process where senior communicators and managers take strategic decisions to identify and manage corporate communications and communicate them to stakeholders.

With or without a formal communication strategy, every organisation communicates with its audience in one way or another. However, to ensure effective relationships with key stakeholders, every corporate organisation requires a dynamic plan that allows it to strategically relate with its customers as well as other key internal and external stakeholders.

Communication is crucial to organisational effectiveness as it is the basis for maintaining pace and of ensuring that change can happen at all levels. It is through the management of sound and coordinated systems of communication that an organisation can integrate its various parts to ensure workforce harmonisation and achieve awareness of its performance.

Effective corporate communication is closely related to the success of the organisation. An organisation’s reputation, survival and success rests on its ability to communicate with the public as well as its own employees and stakeholders. When effective corporate communications strategies are incorporated into a business structure, regardless of the size of the organisation, the ability to achieve global communication will be strengthened.

Corporate communication is closely linked to business objectives and strategies. It is the processes an organisation uses to communicate all its messages to key stakeholders. It encodes and promotes a strong corporate culture, a coherent corporate identity, an appropriate and professional relationship with the media, and quick, responsible ways of communicating in a crisis. It is essential if organisations are to inform and influence external stakeholders, including their customers, and harness the efforts of all internal stakeholders towards the successful accomplishment of organisational objectives.

This unit gives learners an opportunity to look into the design of a communication system within an organisation such as their own workplace, one to which they are seconded, or through an appropriate case study.

Marketing is at the core of business. Outperforming the competition requires solid marketing knowledge and precise marketing decision making. An organisation’s positioning, and the positioning of its products and services, depend on the formulation and implementation of intelligent and well-informed strategic marketing plans.

All organisations operate in a dynamic marketplace. Competition, consumers, technology and market forces constantly redefine the way organisations operate. Staying competitive means that organisations need to continuously adjust and adapt their customer approach to meet changing needs and expectations. This is increasingly important with the globalisation of markets and the rapid increase in competition from emerging nations such as China, India and Brazil. In today’s markets, it is imperative that organisations focus on establishing, developing and adjusting their strategic marketing plans if they are to remain competitive.

Strategic marketing is a way of focusing an organisation's energies and resources on a course of action that can lead to increased sales and dominance of a targeted market. A strategic marketing strategy combines product development, promotion, distribution, pricing, relationship management and other elements of marketing. It identifies an organisation’s strategic marketing goals, and explains how they will be achieved, ideally within a designated timeframe.

Without a strategic marketing plan, organisations can waste resources, miss opportunities or, in a worse case scenario, threaten their own survival. Strategic marketing executives have up-to-date knowledge of competitive dynamics and know how to integrate marketing strategy into an overall business strategy. Strategic marketing management provides a comprehensive examination of all the major components of marketing strategies and their integration into organisations. It is the basis for continued success in highly competitive markets.

Alvin Toffler’s famous comment ‘There is only one constant today and that is change’ was made some decades ago, but now change itself is changing at a fast rate. The phenomenal pace of change in countries such as China and India is impacting on older, established economies in the western world. With such change comes uncertainty and insecurity. Organisations, even those in the public sector where ‘steady state’ was ever the watchword, can no longer sit back. All organisations are being increasingly challenged by change. Consequently, they need to understand the issues that drive the need for change in their own organisations. This means that organisations need to have a proactive approach to strategic change management.

Strategic change management is most effective when an organisation actively seeks the participation of all relevant stakeholders. A change management strategy will be effective only if it has the support of all stakeholders. If they are to have a sense of ownership, stakeholders need to have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the change strategy.

Strategic change impacts on the human resources structure of the organisation and this often means a restructuring of the workforce or changes in working practices. Almost inevitably, change will generate resistance from some, particularly those who feel that the change will have no positive benefits for them. Other people may resist change simply because they prefer the status quo. Organisations need to ensure that they have strategies in place to manage resistance to change and this should be part of the overall model that they adopt for managing the change. Once in place, progress towards change will need to be monitored.

Learners will develop an understanding of the models of strategic change and the role that stakeholders play in this process. They will then examine the need for change in a selected organisation and plan the implementation of a model for change.

Enable learners to take responsibility for their learning and development needs to gain the personal and professional skills needed to support the strategic direction of an organisation. Learners can achieve this through analysing their current skills and preparing and implementing a personal development plan.

This unit highlights the importance of seeking feedback from others to improve performance by continuously reviewing learning needs. The development of appropriate personal and professional skills will allow learners to cope with demanding responsibilities and career progression.

Learners will conduct a skills audit to evaluate the strategic skills they need to meet current and future leadership requirements and then use it to identify their preferred learning style. This will also inform the structure of a personal development plan.

Evidence for this unit needs to be generated continuously throughout the qualification, enabling learners to take ownership of their development needs. Learners will need to demonstrate that they have a regularly updated and realistic personal development plan that fits with their preferred learning style.

This unit will also enable learners to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of their learning against the achievement of strategic goals and their chosen career path.

Understanding the links between strategic management, leadership and organisational direction.

Investigate how current thinking on leadership influences an organisation’s planning to meet current and future leadership requirements. Learners will gain an insight into the current thinking on leadership from an organisational perspective. They will examine the links between strategic management and leadership, particularly the skills a leader needs to support organisational direction. The unit will help learners understand the impact of management and leadership styles on strategic decisions in differing situations, through examining the competences and styles of successful leaders.

Applying management and leadership theories and models to specific situations will enable learners to assess their impact on organisational strategy. The unit will draw on a selection of established principles, including the influence of emotional intelligence on leadership effectiveness. This will enable learners to assess how organisations can plan to meet current and future leadership requirements.

This unit gives an organisational perspective, but it offers learners an insight into how it can contribute to development of their strategic management and leadership skills through assessing requirements for their current or future job roles and measuring these against relevant National Occupational Standards. Learners will develop analytical and long-term planning skills through the use of case studies and research.

Finally, This unit will enable learners to research a range of management and leadership development methods and evaluate their in meeting the skills requirements for effective leadership.