Guest blog by Samantha Hornby
Marketing Specialist at Blue Link Associates
There are many factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing to purchase enterprise software, and as a small business, the benefits of choosing to work with other small businesses should not be overlooked. When searching for vendors, it can be easy to only consider those large companies whose names you recognize and ads you frequently see, but it is important to research all possible vendors, as bigger isn’t always better. Of course, more advertising does not mean a better product. Below are some key benefits to working with small vendors.
First, and possibly most important, is that small businesses speak the same language — no matter what industry they are in. They understand that a limited number of employees could mean employees wear several different hats or are very specialized in their area. Small businesses will have a better understanding of available resources, business goals and priorities and the implications size can have on budget. Big, brand name vendors are less concerned about providing value to their small customers when they have much bigger customers to worry about. If you are a small fish in a big pond, it is often easier for the big guys to forget about you.
The second benefit is small business support. Although support can vary greatly from one company to the next, support staff tend to be in-house for smaller vendors, meaning you get to speak to the same few representatives — who get to know you and your business on a personal level, each time. As a result, no time will be wasted by the support representative learning about your business processes each time you call in. There are, however, a few downsides to small business support. Large businesses are usually more adept at providing international and 24-hour support through outsourcing. This comes at a price, however, as personalization tends to suffer, and support provided through international call centers rarely provides a great experience. The best way to get a true sense of a vendor’s level of support is to speak with their current clients to determine response time, level of expertise and how personalized the service is.
Another benefit to working with small vendors is the opportunity to speak with C-Level executives and the chance to get to know the owners of the company on a more personal level. Getting to know C-Level executives gives your business a face and helps to ensure you’re not just another number/sale.
Lastly, although not always the case, working with small businesses may lead to more affordable pricing options, as they will be able to better understand your resource limitations. Price alone should never be a deciding factor when making important business decisions, but a vendor who provides multiple payment and pricing options can help ease the transition.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a vendor for enterprise software, and even though there are many benefits to working with a small company, one big concern is the longevity of a small company’s offering. Working with larger businesses who have resources and investors in place to ensure the business is around in the long run seems less risky but includes its own set of complications, such as discontinued products. Although small companies can come and go, so too can specific products offered by large vendors. In both situations, it is important to evaluate whether or not the product you are seeking is still supported and likely to be around for a while. Ensure that the product’s source code is in escrow, and get a sense for whether or not the product is a “sunset product” — one not in active development.
Deep pockets, heavy advertising and name recognition do not always translate into a better product or service. Working with a vendor similar in size is the best way to ensure your needs are understood and provided for.
Do you agree? Let us know why or why not in the comments.