Case Study in Driving SME Growth….

COLERAINE BOROUGH COUNCIL LED COMPETITIVENESS PROGRAMME

PROGRAMME CASE STUDY – 1 NOVEMBER 2012 TO 31st December 2012

Project Title – thinkBIG:thinkINNOVATION Programme

 Background and Context

This was an EU and DETI-NI part funded programme led by Coleraine Borough Council in partnership with the Centre for Competitiveness.  In line with the programme objectives, ten companies were recruited at the start of the programme. Business baseline profiles were conducted for all 10 participating companies. This profile was the Business Juggler, details are to be found at http://www.businessjuggler.com The Business Juggler report is a 22 page document that sets out: –

i.         Simple benchmark of performance

ii.         Identified 9 areas of strength that can be developed into areas of Competitive Advantage

iii.         Identified 9 Areas of relative Weaker Performance to be developed and improved

iv.         A total of 18 suggestions for performance improvement to kick-start the conversation on Improvement Action Plans

v.         An action plan template

vi.         A comprehensive list of European Best and Better Practice indicators of performance

From the discussions around the Juggler report, a SMARTened action plan is developed with a clear focus through: –

i.         Specific

ii.         Measurable

iii.         Achievable

iv.         Realistic

v.         Time bound

Mentoring Support Delivered

Mentoring was delivered to all participating companies at 24 hours per company, meeting the programme target. In addition, an extra 59 hours of mentoring was delivered to the participating companies.

Best Practice Visits

The programme permitted one best practice, or similar, visit per participating company. The value of visits out to other companies or organisations cannot be underestimated. It always proves to be a source of ideas for improvement and growth.

Summary of Programme Impact of Benefits

At the completion of the programme, a comprehensive ‘Distance Travelled’ form was completed with each participant, which clearly captured all the programme impact, short-term benefits and longer-term outcomes. This is summarised as follows: –

COMPANY

TURNOVER £

INNOVATIONS – NEW PRODUCTS

INNOVATIONS – IMPROVEMENTS

NEW STAFF TAKEN ON OR JOBS CREATED

2012 2011 +/- % Products Lines Variations Projects Value New Jobs

TOTAL

£8339k

£7925k

+5.2%

2

1

18

36

£88k

+9 F/T &

+20 P/T

Company

How satisfied were you with the programme?

How satisfied were you with the mentor?

How would you rate the value of the programme?

How would you rate the effectiveness of the programme?

Have you or your business benefitted from the programme?

Would you recommend the programme to others?

Total Average

81%

87%

78%

77%

100% Yes

100% Yes


COST SAVINGS
– The programme recorded a total of £88,000 of direct cost savings as a result of improvements and projects.JOBS – It is clear that the programme has had impact and brought many different benefits to all of the participants. Overall job creation was +9 Full Time and +20 Part Time new jobs.

SALES INCREASE – The programme recorded an increase of +5.2% sales increase, which equates to an extra £414,000

COMPANY SATISFACTION – 100% of participating companies received benefit and would recommend the programme.

Summary

Overall, it can be said that the programme went very well. In fact it can be considered as a Best Practice case study in the design and delivery of a company growth programme for small and medium sized companies delivered in partnership with a local council. It has applications Ireland-wide, as well as in the UK and further afield.

The question to ask is – ‘Why has this programme been successful when many similar programmes are, at best, average, and often ineffective?’ The answer lies in our experience to design a programme that is relevant and built upon proven method, uses talented people as mentors, and is well managed.

From a programme performance perspective, the metrics are impressive, increased turnover, reduced costs and job creation.

It is true of any programme of this type, when working with a range of companies of different sectors, maturity stages, sizes and experience, that not all companies will benefit in the same way. Some companies may have recorded a decline in sales or fortunes if they had not participated in the programme. It is therefore noteworthy that 100% of companies said they benefited and would recommend the programme to others. Also, the satisfaction levels were all above 75%. The reported creation of 9 F/T and 20 P/T jobs is also a strong indicator of performance.

Companies have been signposted to other opportunities where it is hoped they will continue their journey on using innovation to drive business improvement and business growth.

Dr Adrian Gundy.

Centre for Competitiveness.

1st March 2013.

Minister Launches Gold Star for Customer Service Excellence

A word from the Minister at the launch of Gold Star for Customer Service Excellence Recognition Scheme on 23 June 2011.

A healthy and vibrant SME business community is vital if we are to grow the private sector, rebalance the economy and create new jobs. Northern Ireland, as a relatively small regional economy on the periphery of Europe, faces significant economic challenges.

The capability of our SME community to compete in Europe and further afield is essential if our private sector is to grow and prosper.

The ‘Gold Star’ for Customer Service Excellence Recognition scheme implemented by the Centre for Competitiveness, working with NI Chamber of Commerce and The Consumer Council, is a significant milestone in the area of business support.  The pilot programme of six companies has been particularly successful with the participants all reporting tangible and real business impact.

I welcome the opportunity to launch the Gold Star Scheme, which will help small and medium businesses develop the world-class levels of customer service that will help them to compete effectively on the global business stage.

 

Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Industry

Arlene Foster

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment