UUM Provides Future Finance Leaders with an Education in SAS® Activity-Based Management

The University Utara Malaysia (UUM) began offering a degree in accounting (information systems) in 1999 to meet the growing demand for technologically savvy accountants. Today, students in the popular program are studying SAS Activity-Based Management to learn the forward-thinking finance skills employers demand.

Accountants traditionally have been historians, recording the money a company earned and comparing it to previous years. Today, accountants need to know what will happen tomorrow; to do that, they need to be more technologically savvy. Recognizing this trend, UUM began offering its degree in accounting (information systems). The degree is designed to produce accounting graduates who are capable of evaluating IT issues in some depth and thereby bridging the information technology gap. Program graduates are prepared for jobs as part of systems-design teams, system-audit teams, risk-analysis and assurance teams and other positions that involve high-level decision making, critical thinking, planning, development and implementation of strategies employing technology to solve business problems. The students take nine technology-related courses including Accounting Information Systems Knowledge and Strategic Information Systems Planning, which use SAS Activity-Based Management.

Activity-based management (ABM) and activity-based costing (ABC) are becoming widely adopted because they provide a more complete picture of the profits and costs of doing business than traditional cost accounting. Understanding true product profitability, customer profitability or customer lifetime value in any industry fundamentally requires ABM.

At UUM, the accounting (information systems) students are introduced to the concepts and working knowledge of enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, customer relationship management and IT governance, along with ABM, in a course that about 100 to 150 students take each semester. The ABM topic constitutes 15 percent of the total teaching hours. Students first study activity-based costing; then, using SAS, they transform a paper model into a working one. Students can earn a certificate in SAS Activity-Based Management as part of the class. The solution is also introduced in one of the master of accounting courses, named Corporate Accounting Information Systems and Management.

"Integrating SAS Activity-Based Management has given our students a broader perspective of accounting information systems," says Dr. Noor Azizi, Deputy Director of University Teaching and Learning Center. "They now view businesses using a three-dimensional perspective, which combines financial, human resource and operational perspectives. While the students have been introduced to the ABC method in the Management Accounting course, the application of SAS software has enabled them to appreciate the method more and they can better understand, using real data, what causes costs to exist and what drives costs."

One of UUM’s students became so skilled at using SAS Activity-Based Management that during a practicum with Kuala Lumpur technology consulting firm iPerintis, the student joined the company’s design team that developed a working ABM model.

"Considering the importance of ABM in today’s business world, our aim is to produce more students with ABM knowledge and skills and for UUM to be viewed as a reference center for business intelligence. Teaching SAS helps us get there," adds Dr. Azizi.

UiTM collaborates with SAS to build the next generation of business leaders

Incorporated on Aug. 26, 1999, the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) of Malaysia encompasses three satellite campuses, 12 branch campuses, nine city campuses and 19 affiliated colleges. Plans are also underway for a smart campus for the future. As one of the premier institutions of higher learning in Malaysia, one of the primary visions of the university is to equip its students with the knowledge and tools to help businesses analyze and solve critical issues.

To that end, UiTM has turned to SAS to help meet the growing demand for a highly educated work force with the analytical skills needed to help businesses compete effectively in the marketplace.

The UiTM and SAS collaboration began in 1983 when the university licensed SAS® Academic Analysis for teaching and research in its undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Several years ago, UiTM’s Faculty of Information Technology and Quantitative Sciences (FTMSK) incorporated SAS Enterprise Miner™, a data mining solution, as part of the curriculum in its data analysis courses such as Data Mining, Applied Multivariate Methods and Regression Analysis.

"With SAS Enterprise Miner, we are building the next generation of business leaders with the valuable skill of knowing how to make decisions based on information," says Professor Zainab Abu Bakar, PhD, Dean of FTMSK. "We recognize the demand in the marketplace for people with analytical skills, and we at UiTM hopes to play our part in filling the void."

Learning SAS, she adds, gives the students a competitive advantage. There is an increasing trend, both locally and globally, of companies that recognize the power of analytics, and many corporations are seeking to employ graduates with advanced skills in analytics.

UiTM graduates with SAS skills are in high demand and many UiTM graduates trained on SAS gain employment almost immediately after graduation.

Learning SAS may even give UiTM’s graduates the opportunity to obtain high-profile positions since they are able to analyze information that affect decision making in the boardroom. "Our graduates will have a very strong advantage," Zainab says. "Knowledge of SAS will open doors for them."

For SAS, the collaboration with UiTM for this academic initiative is yet another demonstration of the company's dedication to providing institutions of higher learning and their students the latest SAS technology and exposure to its software.

University lecturers within this faculty are also using SAS Enterprise Miner for their own extensive research programs in data mining. Certain academicians within UiTM, such as Rasimah Aripin, PhD, Associate Professor with the FTMSK, and Yap Bee Wah, PhD, Coordinator of MSc (Quantitative Science), are accredited SAS trainers, and they are sought after for their expertise on both the local and global fronts.