No one ever got fired for buying IBM

Technology consulting firms are everywhere. Many have familiar names like IBM, Accenture and McKinsey. Some may be vendors you're working with. But in most cases one thing is almost certain.

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Technology consulting firms are everywhere. Many have familiar names like IBM, Accenture and McKinsey. Some may be vendors you're working with. But in most cases one thing is almost certain. They sold you on their "reach" and their "scale". In fact, in many circles there is an adage that gets passed around like it's sage advice, "you don't get fired for hiring IBM."

...or do you?

So how do you choose a technology consulting firm or vendor? How do you choose which organization is going to get your limited budget (and in my experience budgets are always limited even if they are seven figures). Many folks :go with their gut," or in some cases, they will issue an RFP or, in most cases, go with an incumbent vendor. These are all legitimate paths, but I'd challenge you to go deeper before placing your money into a technology partners hands.

  1. Being huge can be a problem and not a benefit to you, the client. Now, I'm not just speaking personally here (I mean, I AM working on losing some weight!) but being a globally monolithic organization comes with some baggage. Cycle times always take longer, there is inherently more bureaucracy to overcome. In many cases, the amazing sales team that helped get you to sign on the bottom line is quickly replaced by a project team of relative strangers who may not have a great grasp of you and the particulars that made your project unique.
  2. Global scale is great. But is it great for you? If you don't know the scope of the challenge you're working to solve, it's impossible to know if hiring a firm with a global scale is valuable to you. Do you need versioning of your product? Is your customer base globally relevant? Is being compliant with European regulatory practices relevant to your effort? Understanding what a win needs to be for you, your team and your business unit is the first step in determining who should be hired to offer a solution.
  3. Brand names don't matter anymore. There was a time when prestige came hand in hand with large consulting engagements. However, I would argue that ship has long sailed. In fact, no less than the New York Times has exposed some questionable practices with respect to McKinsey. I encourage my clients to think less about brand names and more about work processes, outcome and culture; are those aligned with the consulting firm you're considering working with? Do you need to pay for their brand marketing and the building downtown with the huge logo? I don't think so.

None of this is to suggest that working with a big consulting company is a waste of resources. In some cases it might the only solution that works. If you need an army, you should go to the only place that sells them. But I encourage managers and executives who are looking for outside support to do some research and learn from their peers and speaking from experience; smaller firms will often work harder to earn, retain and expand their business with you. They don't have 100 year legacies to relax on. They only have the success working for you might offer.

Metal Toad is one of those companies.

We are nimble. We are staffed with world class talent. We offer access to solutions on a fractional cost basis and a 15 year history of satisfied clients (check out our Clutch reviews.) This means we put our client's needs first. We orient around being helpful, and most importantly, we are going to operate on the assumption you shouldn't have to change your business model to work with us.

So, in closing, size isn't everything. It's one thing. Be smart, look at the whole package and decide to award business on more than a logo.

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