Understanding IT Management in SMEs


  • Paul Cragg
  • Annette Mills
  • Theek Suraweera


small business, IT management, IT management practices, accounting firms


There is evidence in the IT literature indicating that IT management is one factor that influences IT success. In addition, there is much literature indicating that IT management is important in the SME context. However, much of this literature has focused on the important role of the owner and/or other senior managers. For example, Thong et al (1996) focused on top management support and its influence on IT success. This paper argues that top management support is only one aspect of IT management and other aspects of IT management have received little attention in studies of SMEs. The study commenced with a review of the literature which identified many different definitions of IT management. However, the broader management literature indicated that the classical functions of planning, organising, controlling and leading provide an excellent way of conceptualising the many activities involved in managing (Carroll and Gillen, 1987). The management literature also provided working definitions for the four management functions. A multiple‑case study approach was then used to collect evidence from four SMEs (with between four and 50 employees). The data identified IT management practices associated with each of the four IT functions, ie, IT planning, IT organising, IT controlling and IT leading. For example, one firm had an IT committee made up of staff from different levels of the firm. Some on the committee would be assigned specific IT responsibilities, eg, training of other staff. This practice provided an example of IT organising, ie, of defining tasks and assigning personnel. Similarly, many other IT management practices were both identified and classified. The results provide a significant foundation for researchers of IT management in SMEs. For example, the conceptualisation indicates four IT management functions. Also, the definitions clarify important aspects of IT management. The study also indicated that some aspects of IT management have received little attention in prior studies. For example, while IT planning has received considerable attention, IT leading in SMEs has only been examined in the narrower context of top management support. Furthermore, few studies have examined the role and importance of IT organising and IT controlling in the SME context. Thus the study also indicates directions for future research, including the identification of IT management best practices.



1 Jan 2010