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Business ICT Bureau ERDF Objective 2 — Aimed to improve operational efficiency through technology and technical innovation. Supported introducing new ICT developments to improve accounting, costing and budgetary control systems, and electronic communications, emphasising the benefits of broadband for the period October 2002 to June 2008.

All required outputs were met; final statistics are shown below:

Number of SMEs assisted 116 125
Number of New Start Businesses Assisted 23 24
Jobs Created 116 145
Jobs Safeguarded 116 150
Number of female owned SMEs assisted 25 58
Number of Businesses supported to increse their use of ICT 116 131
Number of Businesses trading online 50 55

Many of the targeted SMEs in the Clothing and Textile sector of the East Midlands had similar financial and monitoring problems, just a case of their size determining the scale of the problem and the solution required. In general, companies had very poor control of their finances and even less on their cost accounting.
On the financial/bookkeeping side, computerised packages such as Sage have revolutionised the basic ledger control work of businesses, many started on basic packages then when their appreciation and understanding of the advantages increased, moved onto more complex systems, incorporating items like stock control and purchase ordering.
On the cost accountancy side, most manufacturing companies had not progressed as effectively, or had adequate systems to monitor their profitability on a weekly basis. A computerised costing programme developed by the Project Manager has enabled bespoke systems to be written, delivering real and lasting benefits to participating SMEs.

In the 6 years the Business ICT Bureau was running for there have been great advances in Information and Communication Technology. Computers have become more powerful, quicker yet cheaper, making them affordable to virtually everyone. Similarly phones can access the web, e-mails and take and send photos and videos.

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