FIT SIGMA in Small and Medium Enterprises
Small and medium enterprises (also known as SMEs) are companies whose headcount or turnover falls below certain limits. As shown in Table 7.1, an enterprise with a turnover of less than €50 million and employing fewer than 250 people is classified as an SME.
Source: European Commission (2003).
SMEs are underpinning the economy of a country, accounting for 50% of the annual turnover in the private sector in the United Kingdom (Berr, 2008). One of the more familiar challenges in business today is how to implement Six Sigma in small and medium-sized companies. This trial is compounded when larger companies are beginning to demand Six Sigma applications to their supply base, comprising SMEs as a condition of conducting future business. However, when the SMEs solicit advice and proposals from Six Sigma consulting companies, they learn that the traditional Six Sigma implementation approach can require a disproportionate investment and the dedication of their best full-time resources. An empirical study by Antony et al. (2005) has also found that many of the SMEs are not aware of Six Sigma and several do not even have the resources to implement Six Sigma projects. The authors also indicate that there is currently insufficient research into the effects of Six Sigma on SMEs, making it very difficult for ...