This paper seeks to examine the factors which influence the ability of SMEs to align their enterprise‐planning systems with the requirements and constraints of supply chain relationships in order to meet their own and their customers' strategic and operational requirements. The objectives are to: identify the range of trading relationships that exist between an SME in the manufacturing sector and its customers and suppliers; examine the implications of these external relationships for the SME's internal enterprise‐planning system; develop a composite framework of enterprise planning and supply chain management which allows manufacturing SMEs to understand how these interact and can be aligned.
The paper develops a composite framework that allows first‐ or second‐tier manufacturing SMEs to identify the types of relationships in which they are involved and how they can understand and address their internal arrangements in order to meet their external obligations. In developing a composite framework, the primary objective is to understand how short‐term enterprise planning and supply chain trading relationships interact.
The paper has shown the developed understanding of aligning trading relationships and enterprise planning for the benefit of the supply chain. It has shown the importance of a manufacturing SME's strategic and operational requirements in achieving this alignment.
The next stage of the research is to undertake an in‐depth longitudinal case study of a number of manufacturing SMEs with the aim of gaining a greater understanding of the issues emanating from the developed composite framework. Since these mechanisms will be the responsibility of a small group of people within the SME it is planned to collect data that focus on the interactions of both short‐term operational issues and a longer‐term strategic view within each of the selected businesses.
A manufacturing SME's strategic and operational requirements may be an area where those supplying products upstream have an advantage over their bigger manufacturing brethren. For a manufacturing SME, these issues and mechanisms will be the responsibility of only a few people whose interactions are likely to focus on short‐term issues, but they can begin to move their perspective from day‐to‐day pressures and take a more holistic, long‐term view of the business. By so doing, they can achieve a more effective alignment of external and internal requirements and mechanisms which will benefit themselves, their customers and the entire supply chain.
This composite framework of supply chain management and enterprise planning should enable those who run manufacturing SMEs to take an overview of their business and better align their internal priorities with the external requirements of their customers. Understanding these convergent topics is central to improving supply chain performance.
Towers, N. and Burnes, B. (2008), "A composite framework of supply chain management and enterprise planning for small and medium‐sized manufacturing enterprises", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 349-355. https://doi.org/10.1108/13598540810894933
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