IS consultants and SMEs: a competence perspective

Bradshaw, Adrian, Cragg, Paul, and Pulakanam, Venkat (2012) IS consultants and SMEs: a competence perspective. In: Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation, pp. 25-33. From: ECIME 2012: 6th European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation, 13-14 September 2012, Cork, Ireland.

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Abstract

Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lack in-house resources, including IS knowledge and skills. As a result, they often turn to consultants for assistance with IS projects, eg, helping the firm select and implement a new system. While there is some evidence that this practice increases IS success, there has been no attempt to discover if SMEs gain anything other than a new system from such projects. Thus this study aimed to determine what SMEs gain from engaging IS consultants. In particular, the study aimed to identify any improvements to internal IS competences. In brief, did the consultant engagement help improve IS skills and abilities within the SME? A multiple case study approach was adopted. Data was collected from SMEs that had engaged consultants to implement an accounting information system. In addition, to provide a broader perspective, interviews were conducted with consultants who specialise in assisting SMEs with IS. Resource-based theory was used as a lens to help analyse the case evidence. Each case was examined to identify instances where consultants influenced a competence, ie, had an impact on the creation or use of any competences. The cases provide evidence that SMEs lack many IS abilities. The findings indicate that consultants compensate for a lack of IS competences rather than help build in-house competences. Consultants help many SMEs overcome their lack of IS competences. The study adds to our understanding of consultants acting as intermediaries to assist and advise firms. In this intermediary role as 'conduits', consultants provide advice to assist many SMEs by finding appropriate products, implementing the system, integrating software with existing systems, and training and support. Consultant attributes, eg, technical, soft skills and training skills, influence project success. The study provides new insights into a particularly significant relationship for SMEs and thus provides a step towards improving our understanding of IS success in SMEs.

Item ID: 36904
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
ISBN: 978-1-908272-65-2
ISSN: 2048-8912
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2016 22:35
FoR Codes: 08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0806 Information Systems > 080609 Information Systems Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 89 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 8999 Other Information and Communication Services > 899999 Information and Communication Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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