Featured case: SMGE: Strategic Challenges
and Performance Measurement in a Small-Sized Company

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The case

Who – the protagonists

René Vieveen, Managing Director of SMGE, a producer and distributor of matting products.

What?

SMGE’s two main product lines are commercial floor matting and industrial floor matting, marketed under the Notrax® brand.

Why?

SMGEThe goal of the company is to become a market leader in the European matting industry by focusing on product quality (to include marketing materials, communications and packaging), brand, and a comprehensive product portfolio. In addition, a key part of this strategy is high levels of service and market knowledge.

SMGEWhen?

SMGE (Superior Manufacturing Group – Europe) was founded in October 2000 as a subsidiary of SMG (Superior Manufacturing Group). SMG was founded in 1948, based in Chicago.


Where?

SMGE is based in Barendrecht, the Netherlands. Its facility of more than 5,000 square metres serves over 1,000 customers from more than 40 countries across the world.

Key quote

‘People are the most valuable resource we have. Sometimes I feel I should stand at the door in the morning and personally thank everyone for coming to work and for their dedication.’ – René Vieveen

What next?

SMGEHow can SMGE sustain and improve its performance? What is the best way to balance entrepreneurial initiative and the need for strategic planning and control?  By 2008, René felt he needed more tools and knowledge to take his business forward and enrolled on an MBA course. This resulted in a whole raft of different management tools being implemented within the business.

This fundamentally changed the way the company operated, but one particular tool – the balanced scorecard – proved more controversial. René believed that it had created ‘magic’ in his company, but was also concerned that it couldn’t deal with all the strategic challenges they were facing. Originally developed for larger companies, could the balanced scorecard be successfully adapted for a smaller company?

 
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SMGE: Strategic Challenges and Performance Measurement in a Small-Sized Company
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Teaching note
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The author

AuthorsBiljana Pesalj

Biljana explains how her case ended up benefiting both students and the company.


Initial plan

My initial plan was to explore the performance measurement systems (PMS) in Dutch small and medium sized companies (SMEs). I knew that SMGE was interested in the use of PMS to improve its performance and after a few meetings and interviews I felt it would be interesting to spend more time with this company. Eventually, I worked with them for 17 months and the idea of writing a case gradually emerged.

Exceptional

SMGE innovation processThe enthusiasm of the employees and especially of the management team and René is simply contagious. He and I challenged and compared theories which helped us both develop, test, discard, and refine our initial thoughts, enhancing the breadth of the research and collection of data.

Real-life challenges

The case can be seen as a bridge connecting theory and business practice, and this case aims to help prepare students before they face similar situations in real life. René discovered how challenging this can be, but he was determined and found a way to do it for his business. All of the tools he applied helped the business be more successful.

SMGEAmbition

I think it is very important to have a protagonist the reader can easily identify with. However, I do not have much credit here. I just needed to portray René as he really is! Most of our students want to start their own business so René’s experience is very valuable for them. René often guest lectures for us, inspiring a new generation of students, each year.

Reviewing and improving

After reading the initial version of the case, René decided that SMGE needed to review its existing PMS (the Balanced Scorecard – BSC). I was invited to facilitate sessions with the management team and as a result they were able to more clearly recognise the key success factors of the business and develop a shared understanding of the business model. What better outcome of a case could you wish for?

About the author

Biljana Pesalj is a Research Lecturer at University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam Business School, the Netherlands.
e b.pesalj@hr.nl

 
The protagonist
Authors

An insider’s view: René Vieveen, Managing Director of SMGE

Let me start by emphasising that reading the case made me realise once again how lucky I have been with the team I was able to build, and what a great opportunity it was to have Biljana guide the process of our balanced scorecard review as part of her research for this case; as an expert in PMS she was able to challenge my management team and myself by posing questions in way that brought about the most interesting discussions and insights.

Better understanding

SMGEI believe it really helped me to get more of a grip on the organisation as it led to a better understanding of cause and effect relationships between goals, initiatives and what’s measured. The subsequent development of a strategy map based on our updated BSC-model is tangible proof of a very result oriented effort indeed.

Learning experience

I believe the case has been a great learning experience for my company and I would therefore encourage other SMEs to be open to this idea. I tend to use theories that I find usable and appealing, such as the BSC, and I therefore hope that this case will help students to apply the theories they find attractive for use in their future practice. According to my experience, being focused with a vision and a clear set of business goals to start with, really helps identifying such theories.

Less nervous

SMGE team photoFinally I would like to add that the case, through discussions with Biljana, has also made me realise that each business model has something unique because of its many variables – not least, all the individuals that make up a team. What this means is that we can probably be a little less nervous about anybody trying to replicate our model.

 

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