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School of Business | Department of Accounting | Accounting | 2015
Thesis number: 14038
Exploring performance measurement in SMEs - opportunities offered by new technologies and services
Author: Tulokas, Mikko
Title: Exploring performance measurement in SMEs - opportunities offered by new technologies and services
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Accounting
Academic subject: Accounting
Index terms: laskentatoimi; accounting; pk-yritykset; smes; suorituskyky; efficiency; arviointi; evaluation; mittarit; ratings; tuloskortti; balanced scorecard; tilitoimistot; firms of accountants; taloushallinto; financial management
Pages: 95
Key terms: SME; performance measurement; Balanced Scorecard; dashboard; accounting service provider; financial accounting system; mobile application
Even though performance measurement has gained a lot of attention in accounting research, it is still a quite scarcely researched topic in the SMEs context. The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) has been the best-known performance measurement framework during the last two decades, but its feasibility for small companies has been doubtful. Simultaneously, technological development has increased the supply of different performance measurement applications and also accounting service providers' SaaS -based financial accounting platforms have started to include more features for performance measurement. It is expected that the technological development and accelerating digitalization are having a substantial effect on the whole accounting industry, which will shift accounting service providers' focus from traditional bookkeeping to business advisory.

Based on this background, the purpose of this thesis is to: (1) investigate how SMEs are currently measuring their performance, discover the main obstacles to performance measurement and compare the findings with the previous literature, and (2) offer practical information to the accounting service providers how financial accounting systems and service could be developed in the light of performance measurement. The empirical part of the study is based on the 14 semi-structured interviews with the management of Finnish SMEs.

The empirical part shows that the interviewees have a good knowledge of the BSC but it is not in use in any of the companies. The company representatives' attitudes towards the BSC can be classified into three groups: (1) companies, which found it too heavy and unnecessary for their business, (2) companies, which consider it as a potential development area when their business grows; and (3) companies, which have implemented their own and customized performance measurement frameworks that best fit in their organization. Cash-flow and other monetary based indicators are the most important measures in all the companies. The main barriers to performance measurement have been the lack of time and resources and also IT-related problems.

All the respondents find dashboard feature, which combines financial and non-financial indicators, as a good idea, but have different opinions about its properties and implementation method. The most desired features are cash-flow forecasting and budgeting tools while the respondents have mixed opinions about the separate mobile application. The interviewees have open and positive attitudes towards different controller services offered by the accounting service provider, but the majority see that the scope and quality of the services will restrict to ad hoc based advisory concerning financial accounting and taxation.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.