Project: An easy and cost-effective measuring system for integrated evaluation of ICT and process efficiency in SMEs

A challenge faced by any business is to keep up with the ever changing world of information technologies and systems. An efficient corporate ICT infrastructure, consisting of IT systems such as ERP and MES as far as office software and other IT accessories, is a key building block for success. Insufficient communication networks in and between companies are a root cause of problems that occur in the processing of customer orders. A crucial factor here is the efficient information flow between process steps and their support by ICT._x000D__x000D_Growing small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies have to increase their output, i.e. the number of customer orders processed within a certain time. To achieve this goal the SMEs expand their capacity in terms of personnel, machinery and ICT infrastructure. As a consequence, the growing infrastructure is no longer working as efficiently as before. Many growing SMEs are aware of this fact but do not know how to address the cause of their problem or how to react to re-increase corporate efficiency. _x000D__x000D_For these reasons, the ICT Efficiency Tool consortium will develop a standardized methodology supported by a tool that helps to quickly analyze and improve the efficiency of the ICT infrastructure of manufacturing SMEs. The consortium has identified three typical problem areas in growing SMEs where the ICT Efficiency Tool can be applied:_x000D_1. The SMEs’ order fulfillment process is not working efficiently (e.g. more process steps than necessary are involved)._x000D_2. The SMEs’ order fulfillment process is in place but is not supported efficiently by the ICT infrastructure (lack of expertise how to apply the existing ICT functionalities or the increased number of self made ICT solutions causes problems)._x000D_3. The SMEs’ order fulfillment process is in place but is not sufficiently supported by ICT because the necessary ICT infrastructure does not exist (lack of knowledge which ICT functionalities have to be bought and implemented)._x000D__x000D_The basic idea is to increase the number of customer orders processed based on existing capacity instead of ‘wildly’ expanding the ICT infrastructure. Thus, growing output will increase both the turnover of SMEs and their profits since costs reCO constant. _x000D_A combination of the analysis of both ICT infrastructure and order fulfillment process allows SMEs to increase efficiency while taking into account both points of view (see figure 1 in the annex A)._x000D__x000D_The methods on which the ICT Efficiency Tool is based include the reference model and the web tool of the ETRANET research project „SIMCET-TailorICT“ (see figure 2 in the annex A) . The strategic approach developed in this project for optimizing ICT structures is an ideal foundation for designing a practical solution—the ICT Efficiency Tool. In addition, the team of SIMCET-TailorICT will serve as the core team of the ICT Efficiency Tool._x000D__x000D_The ICT Efficiency Tool consists of three modules (see figure 3 in the annex A):_x000D_1. The “Efficiency Analysis Module” including an innovative efficiency measuring system;_x000D_2. The “Efficiency Improvement Module” including an action plan for increasing efficiency;_x000D_3. The “Efficiency Simulation Module” including the dynamic visualization of areas of potential efficiency improvement._x000D__x000D_To establish the efficiency of the corporate ICT infrastructure in view of the support it provides to the order fulfillment process, it is necessary to measure both the efficiency of the ICT infrastructure and the efficiency of the order fulfillment process. This requires the use of specific criteria for both categories._x000D_Efficiency is defined as the benefit (output) divided by the effort (input). Both will be measured by an innovative measuring system (WP 3)._x000D_Exemplary measuring criteria are:_x000D__x000D_1. Category “ICT Efficiency”:_x000D__x000D_• Number of ICT systems existing in the “process section” of production planning (input) that are used to dispatch a high number of production orders (output)_x000D_• Number of input masks involved in the “process section” of sales (input) that are used to create a high number of sales quotes (output)_x000D__x000D_2. Category “Process Efficiency”:_x000D__x000D_• Number of customer orders processed (output) within a working week (input)_x000D_• Process flexibility, e.g.: duplication of orders processed (output) within a short adjustment time (input) and at low adjustment costs (input)_x000D__x000D_The output, i.e. the benefit of a certain process section, is complex and hard to define. That is why the focus of process improvement is usually on reducing the input (e.g. costs, time) instead of increasing the output (e.g. number of customer orders processed). Especially for fast growing SMEs it is vital to quickly increase the output based on the existing infrastructure in terms of ICT and order fulfillment process. For that reason the standardized approach of the ICT Efficiency Tool will put special emphasis on the increase of output to improve efficiency in the companies._x000D_

Acronym ICT Efficiency Tool (Reference Number: 5271)
Duration 01/05/2010 - 30/04/2012
Project Topic The „ICT Efficiency Tool“project aims to provide a standardized method supported by a software tool which allows evaluating and optimizing both ICT use and business processes in the order fulfillment process of manufacturing SMEs in an integrated way.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
All project goals have been achieved within the project period._x000D_The CO results are:_x000D_1. A new method for analyzing (measuring) and improving the company-wide ICT efficiency of an SME's process and IT landscape in an easy and cost-effective way, i.e. with low effort and costs (= Module 1 "Efficiency Analysis" and Module 2 "Efficiency Improvement" of the ICT Efficiency Tool)_x000D_2. A working prototype of the "ICT Efficiency" software tool, including the described method._x000D_3. The Simulation Module 3
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 3

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
6 Miksch GmbH Partner Germany
6 VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Partner Finland
6 Steelcomp Oy Partner Finland
6 Grossmann IT GmbH Coordinator Germany
6 Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation Partner Germany
6 Colombo Filippetti SpA Partner Italy