A six-week series on the Certified Accounting Technician programme WHILE SOMETIMES associated with an IT operation within a company, Business Information Management (BIM) is an umbrella term for a variety of interrelated practices associated with utilising the 'knowledge' of an organisation to achieve improved performance. According to Wong Tat-kwong, a lecturer at the Hong Kong Management Association, BIM refers to the concept of utilising information to help managers make better business decisions to gain a competitive edge. BIM is not only limited to the use of IT in managing information, but is an integration of all functions and departments within an organisation to collect, process and disseminate the 'right' information to the 'right' people. Mr Wong said that within an organisation, the accountancy department played a major role in gathering, processing and dissimilating information. When accounting professionals process information, they need to consider how the information can be used by other departments and management to make informed decisions. These tools and insights can help a company set a competitive direction while increasing efficiency. To help students get prepared for the application of Business Information Management in the business environment, the ACCA Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) syllabus not only teaches accountancy concepts but also management concepts. The paper of 'Information for Management Control' and 'Managing People and Systems' lays a solid foundation for students to understand how organisations provide basic management information for decision-making, planning and control. 'If accounting professionals are unable to interpret the relationship between each company department they would not be able to fully contribute to the efficient operation of the business,' Mr Wong said. This problem can occur in SMEs, where the role of the accounting professionals is not always fully maximised. However, technology-based solutions and greater awareness of the broader function of accountancy are helping accountants to better contribute to management's decision making. Mr Wong said businesses relied more and more on trained practitioners to provide strategic information management planning. He added that the CAT programme lent itself directly to today's complex and changing business environment, and represented a broad business competency and mastery of the management-level skills required to drive business performance and build quality financial practices.