The Academy of Financial Trading “Continuous Improvement Alignment” (C.I.A.) internal policy aims at analysing and assessing each individual program which it provides, and ensures that the development, formation, presentation, support, assessment, awarding and analysis of each program is constantly reviewed under strict criteria. The purpose of this policy is to guarantee that each program’s specification is – and remains – concise and appropriate to the award designated by the Academy. This policy document also provides the Academy of Financial Trading with a snapshot of the programmes further potential.
The Suitability of an identified business need can be defined as the extent to which this policy document responds to the identified program requirement – literally an assurance that the Academy is critically self-aware at all times. The requirements are weighted and classified in a series of mandatory questions ("yes/no") along with more in depth questions. These questions are essentially a way for the Academy to be constantly aware that its standards are being adhered to at all times.
The Potential of a business need identifies the indirect consequences linked to the use of the proposed program, whether it is in terms of analysing and assessing the impact of its use, or evaluating its possible evolution.
The ideas behind the Suitability criteria can also be expressed with the following questions:
- What is specified in the identified program requirement? Is it clear who should use the proposed program and for what applications?
- To which degree does the participation in the proposed program need help to meet the identified requirements?
- Does the identified program requirement cover the key features necessary to support the identified student’s functional need?
- What is its completeness functionality-wise?
- Has the identified program requirement been designed so as to take into account the required assessment? What are the existing or planned mechanisms to implement the assessment?
- How does the identified program requirement take into account accessibility needs?
An additional analysis of the future outcomes and the indirect consequences of participating in the proposed program finalises the requirements assessment; the criteria associated to this analysis - grouped under the Potential criteria – focus on the various aspects linked to the impact of the choice as well as to the possible evolution of the program.
Assessing the impact of use means identifying the risks and opportunities provided by the proposed programme. This identification is a first stage, and an evaluation is required at a global level. It may be refined in a second stage with a similar analysis linked to the implementations of the identified program requirement.
Analysing the possible evolution of the identified program requirement implies looking at its scalability; in other words to which extent the system implementing it can either handle growing amounts of work in a straightforward manner or to be readily enlarged.
Extensibility is also a possible evolution; it indicates the degree to which the identified program requirement can adapt to other areas. Extensibility to another field of formal specification is enhanced if there is an associated methodology.
The stability of a business need is strongly linked to the quality of the maintenance process. Maintainability addresses the ease with which a formal specification can be modified; and analyses governance of the evolution of the identified program requirement, including dissemination of new versions and stability of the maintenance process.
The ideas behind the Potential criteria can also be expressed with the following questions:
- What is the impact of choosing this proposed programme? i.e. what are the risks and opportunities identified?
- What is the financial impact? What are the costs incurred? What are the benefits?
- What is the Organisational impact? Is there a continuity of process? Are there business processes to be changed? What is the scope of Change Management to be foreseen (i.e. training...)?
- What are the Privacy aspects? i.e. consequences of the choice and further actions to assure privacy?
- What is the impact on administrative burden?
- To which extent can the proposed programme adapt to the size of the needs, i.e. its ability to support an increasing number of implementations and/or interactions among those implementations
- 1.13: To which degree or with which ease is the proposed programme extensible to another area?
- For how long has this business need existed?
- How long can it and its later modifications be used and still maintain its quality?
- How often are new versions released and with what type of change?
- Were these changes predictable? Were these changes controlled?
- Are there any "backward compatibility" problems reported/documented for previous version of the identified business need?
- Which effort is needed for an organisation using the identified business need to upgrade to a new version?
- Is the maintenance process of the identified program requirement stable?
- Does the identified program requirement benefit from a strong customer support system?
- Is there any entity in charge of regularly assessing the identified program requirement against the evolution of needs and available technologies?
There must be a pre-defined process in place to ensure that a legitimate assessment can be provided to each individual student. This process must provide a clear, accurate and unambiguous platform from which the student has the opportunity to take part in a relevant exam, which will test the level of knowledge achieved by their participation in the identified business need. The associated exam must fulfil two distinct criteria -
1. Assess what the learner knows and can do
2. Credit what the learner knows and can do
It must be a company-wide policy that the student / potential student is central to everything which is done. The company must provide reliable and clear information about the identified business need and the associated qualifications from successful completion.
An internal verification process is required in order to ensure the fairness of the marking of each assessment. A separate internal evaluator is required to action this criteria in order to ensure that there is no conflict of interests and that the marking remains completely consistent and fair.
Consistent monitoring and self-evaluation must take place on an ongoing basis – ideally as each programme of study reaches a conclusion. This self-evaluation must take a holistic approach and should not be limited to a singular, specific identified business need. The entire company should come under critical scrutiny to ensure that pre-defined standards are met at all times.
The ideas behind the Assessment criteria can also be expressed with the following questions:
- Is there a capability to provide a clear, accurate and unambiguous platform where a student can access their relevant assessment?
- Is all information concerning the associated qualification described reliably and clearly?
- Is it possible to access the described assessment in a timely and straight-forward manner?
- Has an Internal Verifier been identified?
- Is there a clear separation between the question setter and the Internal Verifier?
- Has the Internal Verifier the ability to access the completed assessments in order to monitor the results to ensure impartiality?
- Does the Internal Verifier possess the relevant qualification or experience required to complete their duty in a satisfactory manner?
- Is there an awareness throughout the company that the responsibility to ensure that the pre-determined standards of the identifies business need remain high, primarily lies with the provider
- Is there a specific person appointed which has the responsibility to ensure that the required planning, resources and commitment are provided at all times?
- It is common knowledge that continuous improvement is the ultimate goal of the entire C.I.A. process, and that this process should enhance transparency?
- Is each staff member aware that both ownership and understanding of this policy by its management and staff are absolutely crucial?