Technical know-how and funding continue to be the clog in the wheel of progress of small and medium enterprises. The persistent problem is either that they are looking for start-up funds or they lack the knowledge of what it takes to expand their operation.
Most entrepreneurs are aware of the different business interventions provided by the government and non-government organizations. According to Clive Lewis, the head of the enterprise at ICAEW, many companies seeking help get confused by the vast array of initiatives and will eventually stop looking for assistance.
The major challenge businesses seeking help encounter is pinpointing which type of aid they require. In a bid to assist small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), the government of England and Scotland came together to form an agency know as Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), and its duty is to advise manufacturing companies.
Manufacturing Advisory Services comprised of Pera, Grand Thornton, SWMAS Ltd, and WM Manufacturing Consortium whose duty was to reach different regions of England and Scotland, identify with the SMEs and help them grow. This mandate was to be achieved in six different ways which are designated as levels:
- Level 1 (Enquiries): Small teams of advisors were dispersed geographically around England. They comb their geographic area and offer invaluable advice to the manufacturing industries in their region. MAS also had an online support (helpline) through which SMEs can contact them for information.
- Level 2 (Manufacture Review): It will either take MAS team one day for small and simple businesses or two days for complex businesses, to provide manufacturing diagnostic review on-site, using its new diagnostic tools premised on the principle of “Manufacturing Excellence” co-developed with Warwick Manufacturing Group to pitch the company against best-in-class.
- Level 3 (Events): The knowledge of technical know-how and logistics are provided through different activities championed by MAS team – including training and networking. This is the focus of Level 3. MAS team also used social media to advertise peer-led assistance as well as lower cost forms of self-help.
- Level 4 (Consultancy): MAS introduced a three-tier project structure:
MAS Foundation Services: this provided funding up to £1,000 (or 50% maximum) for project improvement and the target company was those with basic low-level help.
- MAS Step Change Service: this provided funding up to £3.000 (or a maximum of 50%) for a more significant improvement program.
- MAS Transformation Service: provided funding up to £10,000 (or a maximum of 50%) for the business’ strategic change.
- Level 5 (Referrals): MAS advisors will identify partner organization that is willing to provide support but will maintain responsibility until the client confirms that the partner organization has equitably met their need.
- Supply Chain: Focus on the diversification of SMEs into an advanced manufacturing supply chain. They also help to enhance the relationship and efficiency between Original Equipment Manufacturers and their supply chains.
These levels were structured in such a way that irrespective of the type of aid your manufacturing firm requires, it will fit into one of the levels. The different levels are packaged with customized implementation packages to be delivered by a dedicated team of experts.