MEC/TRPs should collect this knowledge in a readily accessible database, identifying, cataloguing, and updating successful approaches for improving SME performance (see Appendix B for additional information on mapping techniques).
Recommendation. Small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises should use mapping techniques to identify supply chain requirements systematically, compare them with their own capabilities, and rigorously assess their own gaps and constraints. They should use these same techniques as a means of assessing and strengthening their supply chain partners.
Recommendation. Manufacturing extension centers and technical resource providers should develop and implement formal, rigorous programs for (1) mapping supply chain requirements against the capabilities of individual small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs) to provide them with effective, specific guidance; (2) gathering data to assess their own training programs; and (3) training SMEs in the use of these techniques.
NIST and the MEP have developed a holistic assessment tool based on the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award and ISO 9000 called the Competitiveness Review. The review, which covers delivery, cost, quality, management, technology, safety, environment, and other business parameters, can provide fundamental guidance to SMEs in assessing their capabilities and identifying opportunities for improvement. The review emphasizes metrics, corrective actions, employee involvement, and goal setting.
Several factors should be taken into consideration when using the Competitiveness Review. First, because management is a complicated, multifaceted endeavor, it is difficult to isolate and measure the effects of specific management practices. Second, technology pervades all aspects of business. Therefore, measures of technological success must be based on the results of technology implementation and utilization (e.g., whether a new technology leads to improved business performance). This requires a holistic approach that compares the benefits (e.g., increased sales and profits) with the costs of acquisition and implementation. Third, the subject of innovation is included in the section on technology. However, because innovation may or may not involve technology, a broader view of innovation should be considered. Innovation is essential for sustaining a competitive advantage in every aspect of business. The committee chose