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IT support for business processes in SMEs

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Purpose ‐ The study aimed to focus on how well information technology (IT) was supporting business processes in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study collected data using a questionnaire that incorporated the 12 processes of the American Productivity and Quality Center's (APQC) process classification framework. Structured interviews were conducted with managers in 66 SMEs. Findings ‐ The data indicated the importance of each process and how well IT supported each process. The following two core business processes were identified as strategically most important: deliver products and services, and manage customer service. Although the evidence indicated that the most important business processes were supported at an acceptable level, IT support was found to be low for many business processes. IT support also varied considerably across the sample, indicating that some firms have much higher IT support for business processes than others. Research limitations/implications ‐ A limitation of the study is that it used a new instrument. Also, all the firms were SMEs in one part of one country. The study created an instrument that can be used by managers as a diagnostic tool to help SMEs identify areas for business improvement. Practical implications ‐ The study indicates that the business process view provides a useful lens for studying IT support. There seems to be much potential for SMEs to improve their IT support for some business processes. Originality/value ‐ The focus on IT support for business processes is original, especially by examining support for the broad range of processes of the APQC's model.
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Keywords: Business processes; IT support; Information technology; Small to medium-sized enterprises

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-09-13

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