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Project support products: final review report (Business product review)


The report presents the findings of a review of six Project Support Projects (PSPs) offered by Scottish Enterprise (SE) to client businesses: Business Efficiency Project Support; ICT Project Support (ICTPS); Management Development Project Support; Organisational Development Project Support (ODPS); Market Development Project Support; and Strategy Development Project Support. The report aimed to assess the usage patterns of each product, provide recommendations and suggest actions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the application of the products. For each PSP, the report considered: the original rationale for and description of the product; the take-up of the product in the period 2008-2011, in the context of other products in the Framework; the range of applications of the product; and the trends in product usage.


The methodology comprised: a review of relevant information and documentation; an analysis and interpretation of the information, reviewed in the context of overall expenditure in their product frameworks; and consultation with the project managers and a senior manager in the SE Products team. Analysis of product application by type of intervention, sector and application is based on information for a sample of applications of each product. Analysis of the levels of expenditure on the products and their respective Intervention Frameworks is based on financial information for all applications of the products.


The report finds that, in general, all of the PSPs appear to have been used in accordance with their Product User Guides. There were instances of the application of each of the PSPs to businesses of scale, where there are likely to be lower levels of additionality. There were instances of products being used to provide, develop and support core business infrastructure: low levels of additionality would be anticipated for such interventions where, in the absence of support, the business would need to invest in the infrastructure to sustain its business. There is a high degree of focus for assistance on businesses within SE key sectors across four of the six PSPs, with potential for further focus within ODPS and ICTPS. The use of the ICTPS for a significant proportion of the total expenditure under the Business Improvement Framework is inconsistent with the concept of the PSPs (which are to be used as an intervention of last resort). The intervention rates recorded for the products are broadly in line with those recorded in the 2008 review of flexible products: it might be anticipated that these rates would reduce over time. The report suggests there are significant numbers of low-value applications of the PSPs across all Frameworks, which has implications for the application of proportionate resources to the administration and appraisal of product applications. There are issues over the attribution of economic benefits to these low value applications.


The report suggests that decisions to provide support through the products should be based on an assessment of net economic impact. The focus on both SE priority sectors and growth businesses should be maintained, and sharpened where necessary, in order to maximise net economic impacts. Consideration should be given to the high proportion of low-value assistance currently being provided through the products. The rationale for the provision of support through the products to businesses of scale should be re-visited. In terms of specific products, the report recommends that the specification of the ICTPS Product should be re-visited and amended where necessary (to avoid its use in the provision of core business ICT infrastructure) and the specification of the Strategy Development Project Support product should be focused on strategic interventions (to direct and drive the sustainable growth of businesses).

Author Malcolm Watson Consulting
Published Year 2011
Report Type Research
  • Enterprise
    Support to existing/growth businesses