Process Management for SMEs: Barriers, Enablers, and Benefits

Process Management for SMEs: Barriers, Enablers, and Benefits

Lidia Sanchez-Ruiz (University of Cantabria, Spain) and Beatriz Blanco (University of Cantabria, Spain)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1949-2.ch014
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More than 90% of companies in Spain, and other European countries, are SMEs. Therefore it is imperative to support and develop their competitiveness due to their contribution to the national economy. Thus, process management is said to be a useful means to improve efficiency and achieve a competitive advantage. Taking this into consideration the aim of this study is to identify and rank the barriers, enablers and benefits that SMEs encounter when implementing process management and to propose different initiatives to ease the implementation process. In order to fulfil this objective, a survey was conducted among SMEs that have already implemented process management so that their experience could help other SMEs. Finally, a ranking of barriers, enablers and benefits is obtained and some suggestions for managers are proposed.
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Theoretical Framework

Literature Review

PM has been widely studied in literature as Sidorova and Isik (2010) and Houy, Fettke and Loos (2010) concluded in their studies (see Table 1). In fact, both studies highlighted the dramatic increase in the number of articles published related to PM topics during the analyzed periods.

Table 1.
Main characteristics of the international PM reviews
TITLEBusiness process research: a cross-disciplinary reviewEmpirical research in business process management-analysis of an emerging field of research
AUTHORSidorova, A.; Isik, O.Houy, C.; Fettke, P.; Loos, P.
(not specified)
METHODOLOGYLatent Semantic Analysis (LSA)Scientometric methods
PERIOD09/1927 – 12/20081991-2010
ORIENTATIONTheoryEmpirical papers

Source: Authors

However, that increase was not equally distributed among countries (see Table 2) and more research is needed in certain areas. That was the case of Spain, which was placed in a rather unfavorable position with only four published papers about PM. Although the results may be biased because the used databases were mainly Anglo-Saxon, the difference was large enough to be taken into consideration.

Table 2.
Number of PM papers published by country
CountryTotal number
of articles
First article published in the year...
United Kingdom1051993
United States971994

Source: (Houy et al., 2010, p.632)

Given this huge difference and the absence of literature reviews on PM focused on the Spanish literature, a review using Dialnet database, which is the largest repository for Spanish-written publications, was carried out by the authors (Sanchez & Blanco, 2014). Their study concluded that practitioners are interested in the PM concept. However, research is in the early stages of development.

Furthermore, a thematic analysis showed that, as in the international case, the implementation of PM systems is a recurring theme. However, some research gaps were detected on topics such as main PM factors (barriers, enablers, motivations, and benefits), human resources management, corporate culture and innovation.

Overall, it is considered that the PM field, despite being a relatively mature field in the Anglo-Saxon literature, still presents many opportunities for development in the Spanish-speaking environment, especially in the above mentioned topics.

The Spanish business framework has a significant share of SMEs, greater than 99%, as in other European countries (INE, 2016). Consequently, guaranteeing the survival and efficiency of SMEs is essential due to their contribution to the national economy. Thus, PM could be the means to achieve this goal.

Overall, based on both national and international reviews carried out, a conceptual review of the PM concept together with its main barriers, enablers and benefits was done. In the following lines, the main results are summarized. It is important to highlight that the obtained results are not only referred to SMEs because authors did not find studies devoted specifically and exclusively to SMEs. Thus, the relevance of these kinds of studies is reinforced.

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