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What is your preference???

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gechurch

How people answer this will depend on their own organisational size. The differences tend to be:

Capability - A smaller firm will probably be very good at general support, but probably won't have the experience or expertise in specialist areas, particularly in enterprise level stuff (SANs, high-availability etc)

Cost - This will vary, but generally the bigger IT provider will be more expensive. They normally have big, costly internal systems, more structure around things like overtime and often more pressure from high-level management to make a profit. All those things push the price up. Smaller IT shops will be varied. Some will be just as expensive, but many will be cheaper.

Access to staff - The smaller the provider, the more access you will have to the people that can fix your problems. Often you'll have a single point of contact, and that'll be the technical person that can make the change straight away. The bigger the provider, the more likely you will have reception or help-desk staff as your first point of contact. You will probably have different techs working on different issues, so won't have the contiguity of experience that you may get from a smaller provider.

Flexibility - Smaller providers have fewer hurdles to getting things done, both internally and for you as the customer. Many bigger providers put the onus on you to submit the job in their system, whereas smaller providers you can often just call the tech and they will do it for you. Internally, smaller places will generally have fewer rules and restrictions. As places get bigger, they need more restrictions on what people can do. They have more policies and red-tape that are good from a governance and control point-of-view, but are often a hindrance to getting stuff done. You may also find smaller providers are more flexible about things like payment options, where bigger places tend to be very rigid.

Guarantee's - Larger providers will have more insurance, more governance, will have set SLAs that they take very seriously, will have internal systems that track all aspects of their business better than your average smaller shop, and usually a job system that you as the customer can log in to to view current and past jobs. Smaller providers will vary a lot in this area, but will have fewer of these guarantees in place.

So basically it comes down to what is more important to you; flexibility and speed in getting things done, or governance and safe-guards.