This Executive Summary is a summary of the author's Engineering Doctorate\ud research and the application of that research. The Executive Summary has sufficient\ud detail and description to be read independently from the other pieces of research,\ud called submissions, to which this refers.\ud In outline, the three areas of research arose from the three research programmes with\ud which the author was closely involved.\ud The first area of research involved the identification of critical success factors within\ud customer-supplier relationships in the automotive industry. An extensive literature\ud review was performed using Lamming's Lean Supply Model (1993) as a starting\ud point. A number of gaps in the body of knowledge were identified and were grouped\ud into five areas for the purpose of further research. One area was subsequently\ud addressed as part of the second area of research.\ud The second area of research was aimed at assisting small and medium sized\ud enterprises (SMEs) in their use of the internet to improve their performance. A means\ud of assessing the effectiveness of the operations of the SMEs was a critical part of this\ud programme. A new tool called the SME (Operations) Assessment Tool, (SOAT) was\ud developed because it focused on key business processes as the basis for assessment\ud instead of the more traditional financial analysis. Having developed SOAT within the\ud specific research programme, it was applied to three SMEs as a test of the\ud methodology as a more general tool. Feedback from the three SMEs and those within\ud the research programme showed that SOAT was straightforward to apply.\ud The third area of research allowed the author to develop his interest in customer\ud supplier relationships, as this was seen to be the main focus of concern within\ud companies within the programme. A Memorandum of Understanding and Intent\ud (MUI) was developed and justified, but was in the process of being applied by other\ud researchers
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