Technology Roadmap to Support Production Expansion in an SME - A Case Study
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Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can be seen as the backbone of the European economy as they drive economic growth and job creation, as well as ensuring social stability. The companies are evolving in a complex business environment that is globalized and requires high effectiveness, competitiveness and efficiency. ICT has been found to positively affect organizational expansion, profitability, competitiveness and productivity of SMEs, as well as being a part of the growth equation. In this thesis, the ways in which SMEs can use ICT to support production expansion has been studied. The focus has been on ensuring availability of information from the production environment through use of ICT, structuring of the Supply Chain to complement a dynamic production environment through making use of information already made available, and finally structuring appropriate technology investment decisions through using a Technology Roadmap. A literature study was done on the topics of SMEs and ICT use in manufacturing companies. ICT is an essential tool for SMEs because it allows for participation in the global market and improvement of performance through integration of business processes and cost lowering. A case study was done, alongside a thorough investigation of an SME experiencing a production expansion using methods from Systems Engineering. The company s processes were mapped by using Systemigrams and Swimlane diagrams to get a holistic view of the enterprise. The diagrams resulting from the mapping of the company gave a good insight into how the company is performing today and how this can be challenging after production expansion. Theory was used to assess how ICT solutions could be used in the company to improve performance after expansion. It was found that many processes were manual and time consuming today, and different ICT systems were suggested in order to make these processes more effective and less error prone, as well as ensuring that results from processes could easily be made available. Systems were suggested with varying degrees of complexity so that the company can choose to start with a simplified version before moving in direction of the full system. In the end a Technology Roadmap was presented to suggest systems for collecting information, sharing it and ensuring an integrated Supply Chain with robust decision-making. The findings from the literature study and case study have been transferred to SMEs experiencing production expansion in general, but the researcher is aware of the need for more similar case studies in order to draw any conclusions.