Business Development Efforts and Performance Improvements in SMEs Case Study of Business Development Projects Implemented in SME
Forsman, Helena (2005)
Acta Universitatis LappeenrantaensisURN:ISSN:1456-4491
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Under the circumstances of the increasing market pressure, enterprises try to improve their competitive position by development efforts, and a business development project is one tool for that. There are not many answers to the question of how the development projects launched to improve the business performance in SMEs have succeeded. Theacademic interest in the business development project success has mainly focused on projects implemented in larger organisations rather than in SMEs. The previous studies on the business success of SMEs have mainly focused on new business ventures rather than on existing SMEs. However, nowadays a large number of business development projects are undertaken in existing SMEs, where they can pose a great challenge. This study focuses on business development success in SMEs thathave already established their business. The objective of the present study is to gain a deep understanding on business development project success in the SME-context and to identify the dimensions and factors affecting the project success. Further, the aim is to clarify how the business development projects implemented in SMEs have affected their performance. The empirical evidence is based on multiple case study. This study builds a framework for a generic theory of business development success in the SME-context, based on literature from the areas ofproject and change management, entrepreneurship and small business management, as well as performance measurement, and on empirical evidence from SMES. The framework consists of five success dimensions: entrepreneurial, project preparation, change management, project management and project success. The framework provides a systematic way for analysing the business development project and its impact on the performance and on the performing company. This case evidence indicates that successful business development projects have a balanced, high performance concerning all the dimensions. Good performance in one dimension is not enoughfor the project success, but it gives a good ground for the other dimensions. The other way round, poor performance in one success dimension affects the others, leading to poor performance of the project. In the SME-context the business development project success seems to be dependent on several interrelated dimensions and factors. Success in one area leads to success in other areas, and so creates an upward success spiral. Failure in one area seems to lead to failure in other areas, creating a downward failure spiral. The study indicates that the internal business development projects have affected the SMEs' performance widely also on areas and functions not initially targeted. The implications cover all thesuccess categories: the project efficiency, the impact on the customer, the business success and the future potentiality. With successful cases, the success tends to spread out to areas and functions not mentioned as the project goals, andwith unsuccessful cases the failure seems to spread out widely to the SMEs' other functions. This study also indicates that the most important key factors for successful business development project implementation are the strength of intention, business ability, knowledge, motivation and participation of the employees, as well as adequate and well-timed training provided to the employees.
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