Electronic business (e-business) is of vital importance to the small and medium enterprise sector (SME); failure to participate may disadvantage them. This has been recognised and numerous SMEs are now adopting e-business. However, there has been little systematic research into how e-business is being adopted or the resulting changes that occur within the organisation. The investigation sought to discover whether the existing research into large organisations was applicable to the SME sector; the research found that it was not always relevant. Through an exploration of their level and sequence of adoption., structural re-alignment and process change, a greater understanding of how SMEs in the North West of England are adopting e-business is provided.
Previous research has failed to de-lineate the actual use of e-business to depict the potential benefits available through adopting e-business. This research has addressed this issue along with providing an account of the areas where the benefits occurred. Positioned in the infonnation systems discipline from a business process perspective at the enterprise level, the implementation of e-business is investigated throngh a mixed mode methodology of research. The research which was conducted by the means of two empirical stages (questionnaire and interviews) found that SMEs do not always follow the sequential linear stages of progression suggested in the literature (DTI, 2000). The route taken is dependant on the use of e-business and the existence of an e-business strategy. It was also discovered that e-business causes minimal structural re-a1ignment When changes did occur, it was dependant on the use of e-business; with some of the organisations interconnecting components needing to be changed. Adopting e-business does not always cause SMEs to change their processes; neither does it affect all of the III different business activities. The research has identified where and how the processes are transformed; resulting in the presentation of a new model for SME e-business adoption.