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Concept and project objectives

At any moment in time, the decision makers within SMEs have a wide range of development opportunities available to them to advance the competitive position of their firm. These opportunities typically include development of new products or the improvement of their process performance. However, it is very difficult to determine, ex-ante, to which combination of improvement opportunities they should devote resources in order for the firm to maximise its performance. The ValuePOLE project is focused on delivering a Model, an ICT Tool and a Methodology to answer this challenge for the SME decision maker so that they can maximise their competitive position with the minimum investment of resources.

Competitive advantage and sustainability for European manufacturers require that they are competitive in many domains. (Manufuture). Traditionally a manufacturer would be competitive if they produced a product that met the quality, cost and delivery requirements of the market. Today and in the next decades, European industry in general, and SME firms in particular, are presented with many seemingly conflicting performance objectives;

  • improve efficiency in the entire value chain in order to meet ‘better, cheaper, faster’ objectives;
  • meet ‘greener, safer, securer’ policy objectives,
  • while simultaneously juggling strategies for incremental and breakthrough innovation in product and process development. 

When an SME decision maker currently reviews his operational, tactical and strategic options, in light of the above, he currently relies on his own empirical knowledge and judgement. There exists a theory practice gap in the provision of decision support tools for SME practitioners in this domain.

The primary objective of this consortium is to develop and implement a ValuePOLE ICT tool with a supporting model and methodology. The ValuePOLE tool will prioritise the best value improvement opportunities for the SME practitioner from a portfolio of potential new products or process improvements. This will enable the decision maker to rapidly identify the risk/reward position of any project or combination of projects vis-à-vis a suite of pre-defined key performance indicators. ValuePOLE, contains:

  • a new Predictive Performance tool for SMEs, to maximise value creation in the entire product, process life cycles. (ValuePOLE will maximise value creation by providing an infrastructure for the ex-ante, i.e. before the event, prediction of performance outcomes in planned innovations).
  • a model for performance Prediction and Optimisation of the product and process Lifecycles in SME value chains.
  • A methodology that goes ‘beyond lean’ in that it enables organisations to better deploy its resources to be both operationally effective through the selective application of improvement methodologies to current organisational configurations for today’s customers as well as strategically flexible in the adaptation of new configurations of products, processes, technologies, competencies, and systems that enable the satisfaction of tomorrow’s customers. ValuePOLE will support organisations for improvements in processes and innovations in products based on either existing or new technologies.