Owners and IT managers in small and midsize businesses (SMBs) often lament that they can't offer the salaries and perks that larger enterprises do, but the SMB IT value proposition can be very compelling. Here are six areas where SMBs can offer IT pros real advantages over larger organizations.
1: Less red tape
SMBs have fewer departments and employees; this can translate into less politics and an easier time of securing buy-in and cooperation for new technology initiatives. Securing interdepartmental buy-in and cooperation is a major effort in large enterprises that can grind new projects to a halt. Impasses like these occur less often in SMBs, which can't afford the "stall" time.
Leaner IT budgets also have everyone poised to do projects quickly so they can see results. This fits nicely with most IT professionals' aspirations because they tend to be results-oriented.
2: More lifestyle flexibility
Many companies, including large enterprises, have relaxed working conditions to give employees more work options that take account of lifestyle needs. This includes giving employees the option to work from home.
Nevertheless, SMBs continue to demonstrate more flexibility and adaptability when it comes to employees balancing their personal and professional lives. This is because larger enterprises have far more employees, which in turn requires more formal guidelines for what can and can't be done. Workplace flexibility is very important to employees, and IT professionals are no exception.
3: More sharing and resource leveraging
It's common for SMBs to get together to share best practices and IT resources such as data centers. Even though the businesses might be competing in the same industry, there is a willingness to share technology resources so everyone can get ahead. This is good to relay to IT pros who worked at larger organizations with greater resource pools, because it means they can still do the projects they want and continue to build their professional resumes.
4: More teamwork
SMBs rely on teamwork across the business and in IT. It's an important point, because the failure of project stakeholders to agree on project goals not only kills projects but also contributes to sinking employee morale. In an SMB, limited resources create a sense of urgency in everyone to make a technology project work. IT pros would much rather work out a technical glitch than defuse a political problem.
5: Better access to the business and the boss
In a small business, IT pros find it easy to interact with line business managers and even the CEO. This gives them a great opportunity to accurately frame business cases for IT, and that improves the odds of project success. IT pros also acquire valuable first-hand knowledge of the end business, which is something every company likes to see on an IT resume.
6: Greater technology agility
SMBs are often first to market with new technologies. The biggest reason is that there is far less red tape encountered in new technology launches than there is in large enterprises (see #1 above).
Also read: IT Innovation for Small Businesses (ZDNet and TechRepublic Special Feature)
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.