5
Capabilities of Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturing Enterprises

This chapter presents the results of three surveys, one conducted by the committee, the other two conducted by the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Alliance, to identify trends in the evolving capabilities of SMEs. Although the sizes, industries, and supply chain requirements of the participants vary greatly, the results reveal gaps that must be addressed by SMEs if they are to remain competitive.

COMMITTEE SURVEY

In the summer of 1998, the committee administered a questionnaire to 99 SMEs (1) to gain a better understanding of the current practices and capabilities of SMEs involved in supply chain integration and (2) to identify potential shortfalls in these capabilities. The questionnaire and a summary of the data can be found in Appendix A. The first level of analysis was conducted on the total sample. Subsequent analysis focused on responses as a function of annual revenues and the concentration of the customer base.

First-Level Analysis and Observations

The use of electronic business transactions between customers and SMEs was very limited. Only 11 percent of customers placed orders electronically, but the data was greatly skewed by a few "large" SMEs with electronic capabilities. Thus, although electronic data interfaces and Internet ordering are increasingly cited as important for supply chain



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