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 (www.sml.zhaw.ch). 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.
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.
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?