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Recently we found an interesting working paper dealing with selection criteria of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) when trying to find a suitable consultant in the area of IT ( Although this paper had a slightly different focus by positioning universities as alternative option for IT-consultants we found it of value to SMEs in general.

Interviews conducted

The authors conducted interviews with Swiss based SMEs trying to find out the skills and criteria these companies use when selecting an IT-service provider or consultant. They distinguish between small (1 to 100 employees) and medium (101 to 700) enterprises as well as between certain roles that consultants can have. Those roles can be hands-on-expert, technical advisor, coach or others.

Criteria identified

In the interviews the authors found that the most common motivator or criteria for hiring an IT-consultant are the lack of or shortage of certain skills and expertise. The results regarding the role of the consultants were not that easy to articulate. In some cases the role of a “partner” in others the role of a “technical advisor” was key.
Foremost, IT-service providers or consultants are selected using “hard” criteria such as professional skills and customer references. The research paper confirms this, but also states that all (but one) interviewees emphasized the demand for social skills and their importance. Although not surprising, we find this an important insight into how SME think and would like to share our thoughts about the implications we can draw from this in the specific scenario of offshore or nearshore SW services which is the focus of pliXos.

Implications for the pliXos B2B marketplace?

In our new B2B marketplace ( we offer customers multiple options to identify fitting SW service providers. Soft factors are not yet included but their implementation is under way. This will be incorporated with the rating of specific service providers. At present, a university thesis is working on this subject and has collected first insights from analysis of existing publications and solutions in the market (e.g. refer to (e.g. refer to!). Before finalizing our criteria and implementing the rating functionality, we would like to encourage all representatives of SMEs, consultants and service providers to give us their feedback on: what is the importance of social competence when selecting an IT-service-provider? What are your thoughts on fitting criteria for a provider rating in general? Kindly contact us at Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein! or Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!.