Case Study in Driving SME Growth….


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 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: –






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










+9 F/T &

+20 P/T


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





100% Yes

100% Yes

– 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.


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.

Balanced Scorecards & Strategy Maps


In today’s challenging financial environment there is a fundamental imperative for any organisation to be able to develop a clear strategy for its future success and to deliver on this strtaegy. Too often, however, organisations spend time developing strategies and business plans that fail to be implemented successfully. The use of strategy maps and balanced scorecard enables organisations to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into actions at all levels within an organisation. When fully deployed, the use of strategy maps and the balanced scorecard transforms strategic planning from an academic exercise into the driving force of an enterprise.


The aim of this session is to introduce the principles of Strategy Maps and the Balanced Scorecard and show how they can be used to develop and align objectives and targets, monitor performance and drive improvement. The session will include syndicates giving you an opportunity to begin constructing a strategy map and a scorecard. It will allow you to understand the key elements and aims of strategy maps and the balanced scorecard and how to use and implement them, in an integrated manner, to manage and measure organisational performance.

You will gain learning and insight that you will be able to apply in your workplace tomorrow. This personal development workshop is suitable for people from the private, public and voluntary sectors.


  • Basic concepts of strategy maps and the balanced scorecard and how they can be used to improve organisation performance
  • How strategy maps and the balanced scorecard apply to different types of organizations
  • How to build and implement a strategy map and scorecard for your oganisation
  • How to develop more meaningful performance measures
  • The use of templates to help with its design and deployment.
  • The learning style is highly participative and interactive. You will work as part of a team working on a case study to design a Scorecard and Strategy Map.


This training workshop is suitable for senior and middle managers from any organisation. Experience or prior knowledge, whilst helpful, is not required as this workshop is fully self contained. The focus is on how scorecards are actually done in practice and in the workplace.

Interested? – then contact me on or visit our website at