Do IS consultants enhance IS competences in SMEs?


  • Adrian Bradshaw
  • Paul Cragg
  • Venkat Pulakanam


Keywords: IS projects, IS consultants, SMEs, competences, Resource-based Theory, Accounting Information System


Abstract: Many small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) turn to consultants for assistance with IS projects, for example, to help the firm select and implement a new system. Prior studies have shown that consultants have a major influence on IS success for SMEs. However, despite its importance to IS success, relatively little research has focused on the relationship between SMEs and IS consultants and whether this relationship has any impact or influence on the development of IS competences in SMEs. This study investigates whether consultants compensate for or enhance an SMEs IS competences during a major IS project. A multiple case study approach was adopted involving SMEs who implemented an Accounting Information System (AIS). The case firms provide evidence that SMEs lack many IS skills and abilities. The study identified a number of competences that are compensated or enhanced by consultants. The major finding of this study is that IS consultants help SMEs overcome a lack of IS competences, rather than help develop IS competences within an SME. Managing the relationship between consultant and SME is crucial for SMEs lacking many IS competences.



1 Jun 2013