Thursday, November 20, 2008

Does vendor size matter?

Yesterday I attended a demonstration by a smallish firm whose product automates the job application, exam administration, and applicant tracking process. We talked about a lot of different things, including how easy it would be for end users to understand.

After the vendor left, I had a discussion with another of the attendees about the meeting. But our conversation wasn't so much about the product as it was about the company. We talked about the small size of the firm and how much of an issue that is when selecting the vendor.

On the one hand, it would seem small firms are more susceptible to succession planning issues. They're typically run by a charismatic, passionate, and extremely talented individual whose energy continually sustains the business. What happens when they're gone? They may also not have the built in redundancies that larger firms have, as well as the capacity to handle larger projects.

On the other hand, in my experience it's the quality of the product and the support that matters most for an IT implementation, not sheer size. Does the vendor "get" the customer? Do they have experience with the relevant issues? Are they honest about the product's capabilities and time frames? These are the factors I've found to be most important.

What do YOU think? Is vendor size relevant? Is it a make or break issue? I've temporarily turned off the registration requirement for the blog, so anyone can comment. I'm interested in hearing from users as well as vendors.


Rajeev Vaid said...

Definitely you are taking a huge risk if you are investing in an enterprise wide application if the vendor size is small. Young companies may have a great idea and that Gung Ho attitude but may not sustain themselves in the long run and that can cause major challenges for the company that invested in their product/services. The factors while evaluating the small company will be their business age, number of customers, road map and how desperately (cheap) priced is the service. If they are not making money they may not survive.

Prakash said...

With you on this Bryan.Well since I myself am a small Business owner - got to be.

even otherwise - consider this - would one go to a specialist doctor for a surgery or treatment or would one go to large hospital even though it doesn't have any single specialist as renowned as this Doctor.

Some times I feel the companies muddle it up with their long term thinking.

klynnismail said...

I had the experience of working with a smallish vendor, with vast experience and expertise, as well as being a user of large corporation. So, based on these experience, here's my two sen:

If the small vendor is established, with a good track record of support, given that they have the experience and expertise you're looking for, by all means go with them. but if it's just a budding company, though having the strength of experienced staffs, you're actually in for a gamble, unless of course it is an easy peesy project. Because what happened was, that former smallish company I worked with, successfully developed and installed a good system for a library (a big one, too) but wasn't around at the end of the project to provide support. The library was left to assist themselves if they face problem, else engage in other companies to help them. which wasn't very easy either because some of the codes needed time to be understood.

and if you're a big company, expecting to face inconsistent number of problems, go with an establish company that could be available for support at anytime.

i guess my concern here is always the after sales and installation support. because that's when you start to see problems arising.

neal said...

Conferencing has been a popular and necessary service for large businesses and enterprises for years. Meanwhile, small and medium businesses have suffered. The size of the organization is one of the most important factors where core infrastructure is managed by vendor.




Jennifer said...

Very interesting issue has been raised. Well, in my opinion the vendor size is relevant but it is not a make or break issue. I think product quality is much more important than the size.
With good assessment techniques even the small companies can solve their succession planning issues like we do at HireLabs. We use latest pre-employment techniques to have people who, in the first place, rarely leave us and if they do we can hire the next with the appropriate fit with our organization. Leaving no room for such issues. Thanks to our latest testing and evaluation techniques!