Development of an e-business selection framework for manufacturing SMEs : a study of the printing industry
The aim of the research is to develop an e-business selection framework for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by integrating established techniques in planning. The research is case based, comprising four case studies carried out in the printing industry for the purpose of evaluating the framework. Two of the companies are from Singapore, while the other two are from Guangzhou, China and Jinan, China respectively. To determine the need of an e-business selection framework for SMEs, extensive literature reviews were carried out in the area of e-business, business planning frameworks, SMEs and the printing industry. An e-business selection framework is then proposed by integrating the three established techniques of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), Value Chain Analysis (VCA) and Quality Function Deployment (QFD). The newly developed selection framework is pilot tested using a published case study before actual evaluation is carried out in four case study companies. The case study methodology was chosen because of its ability to integrate diverse data collection techniques required to generate the BSC, VCA and QFD for the selection framework. The findings of the case studies revealed that the three techniques of BSC, VCA and QFD can be integrated seamlessly to complement on each other’s strengths in e-business planning. The eight-step methodology of the selection framework can provide SMEs with a step-by-step approach to e-business through structured planning. Also, the project has also provided better understanding and deeper insights into SMEs in the printing industry.