Large Projects: Are Small Integrators Better Than Larger Ones?

IFSEC has an interesting op-ed piece from a US consultant. Here's the money quote:

"Our thinking used to be that bigger was better; size meant stability, and a large firm was unlikely to fail, as it would have the resources to finish the job no matter what went wrong. While I’m not knocking the big firms, we’ve recently begun to evaluate this competitive aspect differently."

A few specific points he cites are:

  • The strength of the local office is critical regardless of how big an integrator is
  • Smaller integrators tend to be more motivated than larger ones to get references and to get paid

Contrarian

First of all, it is a contrarian perspective because most industry people equate bigger integrators with bigger jobs (ADT/Tyco, Diebold, JCI, Siemens, etc.). To that end, it is interesting and refreshing to discuss this.

Word Choice - 'Boutique'

One immediate objection is that most small integrators are simply not qualified to do an airport, military base, major commercial center, etc. That's true and acknowledged on both sides.

However, there are many integrators that can be considered 'boutique' or 'specialist' - smaller teams, but of highly skilled professionals.

Concentration of Expertise

Certainly mega integrators have quite a number of skilled, expert professionals. However, as a percentage of the company, it is certainly quite low. Even on big jobs, the presence of just a few stand out engineers/PMs can make or break a project. A local 'boutique' integrator who has those people can likely outperform the average to above average staff member at a mega integrator.

Thoughts?

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