The initial assumption may be that there are consolidated growth stage models
available for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to address this lack of business
skills. However in a review of relevant material [2, 4, 7, 9-10, 12] there is evidence
that this assumption may be questionable, specifically due to the status of such growth
stage models for SMEs. In their review of research on small firm growth Davidsson,
Achtenhagen and Naldi  define growth stage models as a description of the distinct
stages of SME growth and the set of typical problems and organizational responses
associated with each stage. They noted that authors of review articles on growth stage
models for SMEs agree that it is not easy to extract a coherent picture from research,
but the inherent complexity of the phenomenon is at least acknowledged. One of the
critiques is that the growth stage models tend to assume all SMEs pass inexorably
through each stage. A second critique is that growth stage models of SMEs are not
sufficiently supported by empirical observation.
This criticisms of growth stage models is of concern since these models typically
contain the knowledge that appeals to managers of small enterprises [2, 9].
Enterprise architecture (EA) is widely claimed to be an approach to manage
change and complexity [6, 18]. EA not only constitutes a baseline for managing
change, but also provides the mechanism by which the reality of the enterprise and its
systems can be aligned with management intentions . We argue that EA can con-
tribute towards a solution to the criticism against growth stage models that a small
enterprise may not pass through all stages of transformation.
This paper explores using EA to enhance existing SME growth stage models with
the objective to provide guidance for SME managers during the transformation proc-
ess from being a small enterprise to becoming a medium enterprise. The rationale to
combine the concepts of growth stage models and EA is based on the level of change
and complexity associated with the growth of small enterprises into medium enter-
The output of this research is the proposed ‘SME EA growth’ (SMEAG) model.
Experience in industry assisted with developing the SMEAG model through combin-
ing theories from the SME growth stage models and EA domains. The SMEAG
model is derived by combining the existing growth stage model of Scott and Bruce
, the Enterprise Architecture Framework by Hoogervorst  and the EA as Foun-
dation for Business Execution Model discussed by Ross, Weill and Robertson .
The SMEAG model allows for judicious selection of appropriate states and transition
during the SME growth process. The proposed SMEAG model is illustrated, using as
case study, the operating model of an SME that is in the transformation phase from
being a small to becoming a medium enterprise.
The value contribution of the SMEAG model can be summarised as the enrichment
of the existing SME growth stage model concept with the following three concepts
from the EA domain:
• Replacing the stage concept with a current to future state transition approach.
• The Hoogervorst Enterprise Architecture Framework  to indicate the areas of
concern, design domains and the architecture principles and standards.
• The Foundation for Business Execution Model  to identify the operating
model and the level of standardisation and integration required.
The SMEAG model is developed keeping the constraint of resource poverty in the
SME world in mind.