critical. The requirements and capabilities identified in these chapters are demanded in various combinations and on various time scales depending on the industry and the specific needs of the supply chain.
Some SMEs have been thriving in this new environment. After interviewing executives from a number of successful SMEs, the committee identified the characteristics that make them successful (Chapter 11). Chapter 12 introduces a variety of resources to help SMEs overcome their constraints and fill their capability gaps.
Competing demands can create difficult investment choices for SMEs that participate in multiple chains. Selecting the right technologies can be critical for success. The associated costs of new technologies come early, have a 100 percent probability of occurring, and are generally easy to measure. The benefits, including savings and increased competitiveness, however, come later, may not be fully realized, and are sometimes difficult to measure. Nevertheless, an unwillingness to invest, take risks, and reposition the enterprise in response to the evolving business environment may lead to business failure.
Faced with the simultaneous challenges of buying from large suppliers with concentrated market power and selling to equally large and powerful OEMs or prime defense contractors, SMEs may feel as though they are being squeezed in a vise. The challenge to the small manufacturer is to find ways to participate successfully under these conditions. Because of the tremendous diversity of integrated supply chain requirements and SME capabilities, there can be no universal formula for SME success. However, the recommendations presented in the following chapters, properly applied, can improve the odds for SME competitiveness and profitability.