The Uncharted Waters of Innovative Project Best-Practices . An explorative study of Innovation Portfolio Management and Project Management in Dutch Service SMEs.

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Innovation Portfolio Management (IPM) has had a lot of attention over the years. However, this attention is mainly focused on the bigger organizations who mainly operate in the manufacturing industries of society. This study aims to broaden our knowledge of IPM in the service-oriented field of the “forgotten” smaller and medium-sized firms (SMEs) which can be seen as the backbone of the industries in the Netherlands. Therefore, this research aims to advance our knowledge of the IPM practices in Dutch service SMEs. By gathering multiple theories and exploring how applicable these are in the practical fields the following research question has been formulated: “How do Dutch SMEs in the service sector structure their Innovation Portfolio Management?”. Furthermore, these insights from theory stimulate to advance our knowledge about IPM in a more practical manner. This has been done through seven semi-structured interviews with SMEs in the service consultancy sector. Two additional interviews were held with experts on the matter of IPM. This was done to verify certain results and see if it was generalizable for further research. In addition, it is important to note that in the transcripts there was a mixture between customer order projects which include Engineer to Order (EtO), Configure to Order (CtO) and Innovate to Order (ItO) projects and the actual innovation projects in the firm’s portfolio. However, in the case of Dutch Service SMEs, most of the projects which can be read as EtO or CtO had a correlation with ItO projects or could even lead to eventual innovation projects for the firm. The results show that firms in practice often deviate from the suggested best IPM practices on both strategic and operational sides. Informal structures which provide flexibility are adopted instead. The most common method Agile: Scrum is used by almost all respondents which could be generalized based on the opinions of the two experts. Structural providence is the main added-value of IPM in SMEs who mostly operate IPM in a very basic and low form. In the end, this study extends the existing literature and knowledge about IPM and Project Management in combination with the gaps in the literature regarding Dutch Service SMEs. The outcome of this study is an incremental step towards an overall accomplishment to mature literature and knowledge about both combined matters. The proposed outcomes and insights enable researchers to start future studies about IPM, Project Management and SMEs in the Netherlands.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen