The small software vendors

Especially these days companies are very careful in choosing their vendors. This certainly also applies for software.

I do get some considerations from customers which I do not really consider being always relevant or true:
  • "We prefer to buy from large software vendors, because as an international company, we need the availability of support in different countries."
    Especially software support can be available all over the world because there is no need to actually sit there. With chat, voice- & video communication plus remote desktop tools support can be done all over the world from a single location.
    Further, a large company could have plenty of people sitting in plenty of countries, but this does not mean that all those people have (the same level of) good knowledge of the software. Honestly, those who really know the product, are always the developers and the people who communicate most with them.

  • "A small software vendor is more likely to fail and go bankrupt and then we have invested in a dead product."
    First, present time shows that even a large company can fail (maybe except banks ;-) ).
    Second, bankrupty is not the only case leading to a dead product! It happens more often that a product is simply discontinued and this happens for products of bigger vendors also. In bankrupty case, if a product is good there will be other companies taking over the product - especially if money can be made from supporting the product. But if nobody is interested any more in the product your situation is worse.
    Third, if you ensure that you have access to the source code (even if only in bankrupt case - which would be sufficient and cheaper in most cases), you always can hire people working on the product implementing the features YOU need (this is a big advantage of Open Source).

  • "At small software vendors the deep know-how is bound to a few people only which also means a higher risk for the customer."
    Nowadays companies do not invest in having a lot of backup resources. This also affects developers. And I have experienced dependency on a few people also at big companies. Just because the company is bigger does not necessarily mean they have more smart people there working on the same stuff. It is more important that the team is continuously motivated and people like to work for the company employing them. A stable and motivated team at the vendor is the key for lasting long-term support of your product.

And last but not least let's not forget about a few advantages of choosing smaller vendors:
  1. Usually more flexible organization.
  2. Better and more direct contact with tech people.
  3. Cheaper - big companies often have a big head of administration and more levels of managment - all those want to be paid.
  4. What a small customer is for a big vendor can be a big customer for a small vendor. So the small vendor is more likely to listen to your needs.
  5. If you are a big company and somehow get too dependent from a very small company, you could take over more easily.
And BTW: There are more smaller vendors than big ones, so the set of applications to choose from is significantly higher if you consider also the small vendors.

Related posts: Small Business Boom, Scope of IT projects, Paying for free and Open Source, IT Outsourcing, IT projects cost explosion, The Open Source idea.

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