Critical success factors for lean implementation within SMEs Pius Achanga, Esam Shehab, Rajkumar Roy and Geoff Nelder
Department of Enterprise Integration, School of Industrial and Manufacturing Science, Centre for Decision Engineering, Cranﬁeld University, Cranﬁeld, UK Abstract
Purpose – The aim of this research paper is to present the critical factors that constitute a successful implementation of lean manufacturing within manufacturing SMEs. Design/methodology/approach – A combination of comprehensive literature review and visits to ten SMEs based in the East of the UK were employed in the study. The companies’ practices were observed to highlight the degree of lean manufacturing utilisation within these companies. This was followed by interviewing of the relevant and key personnel involved in lean implementation. Results were analysed and validated through workshops, case studies and Delphi techniques. Findings – Several critical factors that determine the success of implementing the concept of lean manufacturing within SMEs are identiﬁed. Leadership, management, ﬁnance organisational culture and skills and expertise, amongst other factors; are classiﬁed as the most pertinent issues critical for the successful adoption of lean manufacturing within SMEs environment. Research limitations/implications – Continued scepticism within SMEs about the beneﬁts of lean to their business is one of the fundamental limitations this research faces. SMEs are, therefore, not very willing to provide useful information and data, timely for further investigation. Originality/value – The novelty of this research project stems from the realisation of critical factors determining a successful implementation of lean manufacturing within SMEs environment. The results would provide SMEs with indicators and guidelines for a successful implementation of lean principles. Keywords Lean production, Small to medium-sized enterprises, Critical success factors Paper type Research paper
Received October 2005 Revised November 2005 Accepted December 2005
Introduction Globalisation and emerging technologies are having enormous impacts on the manufacturing industry around the world. This scenario has seen the exponential upsurge in new entrants to the market environment, prompting stiff competition in the market place (Umble et al., 2003). Many SMEs are vulnerable in that they operate in sectors where there are few barriers to new entrants and where they have little power to dictate to suppliers their needs as shown in Figure 1. This scenario puts SMEs in a very precarious position since they must operate in a very reactive manner to ever changing circumstances. As a result, the manufacturing environment in the UK is witnessing a decline in the number of manufacturing SMEs, as work is transferred to far east and elsewhere, in search of cheaper operating costs. However, SMEs are valued as part of the business ecology Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management Vol. 17 No. 4, 2006 pp. 460-471 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1741-038X DOI 10.1108/17410380610662889
The authors would like to thank the Engineering Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and the MAS in the East of the UK (MAS-East) for sponsoring this research project. Special appreciation is also extended to members of the Cranﬁeld University Centre for Decision Engineering for their valuable support and resourcefulness.
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Figure 1. Porter’s ﬁve forces
for their role in the sustenance of most national economies, and are an important element of governmental strategies (Achanga et al., 2005a, b; Denton and Hodgson, 1997; Levy, 1993). The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the UK commissioned a productivity improvement initiative known as the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), to...