Technology Innovation

Technology Strategy

 

Guidelines on Technology Management for SMEs

 

International Centre for Science and High Technology (ICS)

 

 

New Demands on Technology Management

When utilized effectively, technology is a powerful instrument for enhancing enterprise competitive strategies. Technology management is the application of managerial techniques most suitable for ensuring that the technological factor is exploited for achievement of an enterprise's goals. A critical part of this approach lies in correct implementation of appropriate practices related to technology and innovation management at enterprise level. Within this process, a vital prerequisite for improving enterprise competitiveness is the identification of critical technological needs.

  

 

 

This document puts forward some guidelines on how to identify the critical technological needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), analyzing their goals, strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, threats and strategies. Identifying an enterprise's critical technological needs is essential when formulating an appropriate technology management strategy.


An enterprise technology strategy must take into consideration:

▪ how technology supports the corporate strategy;

▪ if and in what ways technology can be utilized as a source of competitive advantage; and

▪ actions in technology development and acquisition to be undertaken in order to achieve the identified enterprise objectives.


The identification of critical technological needs provides a structural framework for assessing and analyzing information to define a technology strategy.

 

   

 

When dealing with the technological issues at SME level two major considerations should be taken into account:


A business strategy sets the basic requirements that any functional strategy has to fulfill and specifies the scope and targets for each of those functional strategies, i.e. marketing strategy, finance strategy as well as technology strategy. Since in many enterprises a business strategy is not clearly drawn up, a simplified set of instruments is proposed in the first part of these guidelines to assist the enterprise management in proper definition of the enterprise business strategy.

This will enable the identification of critical technological needs and the technology strategy to be linked to the enterprise strategy. Through the use and understanding of this methodology, the enterprise can implement a more organized  strategic management, referring its technology strategy to its business strategies.

 

 


R&D should be chiefly understood as development and engineering activities, since SMEs rarely perform research activities. The methodology proposed should be adapted to address each specific enterprise. For many small enterprises, technology strategy means mainly deciding on what kind of improvements make in the manufacturing process and/or what equipment to purchase in order to satisfy the company needs.

In these cases, a technology project is reduced to the purchase of a new machine along the related engineering project. At times, an engineering project must be executed in order to ensure the implementation of the new machine. When the enterprise is technologically more advanced, development projects may then be envisaged. In these cases, the technological decisions are more complex and involve evaluation of different approaches to technology acquisition and to management of the portfolio of technological projects.

    

 

The present guidelines have been conceived as a sequence of steps. Each enterprise should use this methodology, applying the steps appropriate and relevant to its level of complexity.

 

 

The Three Steps

 

 

 

Enterprise survey and technology auditing

This helps in understanding the level of attention paid to technology in the enterprise and facilitates the involvement of employees from different divisions of the enterprise in the technology management process.

The first section provides an instrument for auditing the enterprise's technological capabilities and its awareness of technology as a means of improving competition. It can be used to assess whether the enterprise management has the appropriate level of understanding of technology and technology management, and whether the required climate to use technology is in place.

  

 

Development of the enterprise business strategy

This provides a simplified methodology for formulating the enterprise business strategy. This phase has been divided into three steps: product-market analysis, trends analysis, and identification of market competitive factors.

This section proposes a simple methodology to develop a business strategy ending with the definition of the strategic priorities and lines of action.

 

 

 

Formulation of a technology strategy

This addresses the issue of how to identify the critical technological needs and identifies the basic dimensions of a technology strategy. It consists of three steps: Technology assessment; Technology selection; Definition of the portfolio of technological projects, and Strategic priorities and actions.

This third section presents a methodology deals with topics rather neglected in SMEs, its use requires the assistance of an expert.