Cross-national evaluation and benchmarking of manufacturing SMEs using an expert system based assessment tool (QuickView)
Purpose - To determine whether: QuickView, that is a primary assessment and business planning tool that was designed in the USA in the 1990s, could be usable out of USA; and manufacturing SMEs outside of the US could be evaluated against the 3,400 US SMEs on the QuickView database. Design/methodology/approach - The project consists of a survey of a sample of SMEs in different overseas regions, Northern Spain being one of them: revise and translate questionnaire to local language; train local agents; conduct a survey of a sample of 50 SMEs using the local agents; and review the results and draw conclusions as to the applicability of the model. Findings - We think that we have demonstrated that QuickView is a valid tool to use on non-US SMEs to help build local databases containing local companies. What is not so evident is how to establish direct comparisons between the two databases. To make this, the USA database should be partitioned by year of survey or by industry sector. We can draw some initial conclusions about the Spanish sample. Research limitations/implications - The USA database should be partitioned by year of survey or by industry sector, to make direct comparisons. A further continuation of this project is, obviously, an in-depth analysis of the Spanish sample. Another issue is whether an open structure can be developed for QuickView that would allow it to be modified into specialized questionnaires for service companies, for example, or a questionnaire dedicated to the SMEs in a particular country. Practical implications - To create a database of spanish companies based on QuickView methodology to serve as a reference of management practices. Originality/value - There are currently several projects trying to develop standard European benchmarking tools and databases. Our project presents an adaptation of another different tool already in use in the USA and proves its validity in an European context. This tool should be useful either for companies trying to evaluate themselves and compare with a local, though still small, database or for external agents trying to compare one particular company against the database.