Human Resources

Small and big companies


After I had worked for years in small web agencies, I decided to try something new and got a job in a rather big (3500 employees) IT-company 5 months ago. What I have seen at my new working place, turned out to be far from my expectations. At numerous requests of my friends, I want to share some observations about the differences between big and small IT-companies. As it is known, tastes differ. This article is not the ultimate truth; this is what I have faced and what was important for me.


Bureaucracy is everywhere. More people – more managers and more discussions. A question, which you can decide within 5 minutes in a small company, having discussed it with the project manager or with the client directly, can be solved within hours or even days in large organizations. Sometimes it seems that these people enjoy schmoozing. Evident decisions are represented under the pile of thoughtful conclusions and agreements with several higher officials.

Managers-lazybones and optimization

Many managers of the big companies are not interested in the optimization of the working process. Optimization is a direct threat to their working places. Therefore, it is quite difficult to promote the use of many products / approaches. A person who gets salary for the performing of the bug tracker’s functions is a normal phenomenon.
In small companies, a well-established operating process is one of the survival conditions in the market.

Software developers – lazybones

I was lucky enough to work in good companies and almost not to meet software developers – lazybones. It turned out that many of them hide in large corporations working over the big projects for years. Many of them say, when I am 40, I will understand them. I hope that this will never happen.

Dig from here and until dinner

In big companies, people are resources, just the units with a sample set of skills. Of course, in small companies there are also some plans and people are also some kinds of resources. Nevertheless, in small companies there are more chances to influence the wrong decision by expressing your point of view. In big companies, you can get the following answer: “Yes, you are right and I agree with you, but I have to stick to the plan and there is nothing I can do about it”. It is almost impossible to get the attention of those who can change the process running.

We are all in the one boat

In big companies, not a lot of things depend from one person. The working atmosphere here is much more relaxed than in small companies, in which almost every project can seriously influence the financial stability. Small companies’ employees work under the greater pressure of responsibility. Very often, they hear such words: “You have to be patient, it is necessary to help the company during this period of time”. Sometimes, employers tend to forget that employees work primarily for the money, and only then for the interest and for the future of the company.

Corporate Programs

In big companies, you will get much more components of the employment benefits: health insurance, various discounts, free fruit and buns. Sports, health improving and cultural events also exist. All this exists in small companies, but the order is completely different.


As we know, airboat is easier to crash than aircraft carrier. People who work in big companies dress better. They are more confident about the future. They take loans more safely and meet the coming second wave of the crisis with a smile.


As a rule, the big companies have big clients. They rarely fritter away their resources for the projects that last only several months. The preference is given to the long-term developments. People change, but the legacy code, often of a low quality, remains. Lack of documentation is also quite common. Much time is wasted on the study of existing solutions, instead of to be spent on the development. In addition, the usage of the latest tools / technologies is out of the question.
In small companies, you can choose the tools for a certain project and try something new every several months. The support of the projects, even of the age dependent ones, gives less pain, because usually these projects are created by the small teams, not by the dozens of programmers, working on the project over the years.

Career Growth

A small cog in a big machine has to do its best in order to achieve something.
In small teams, this is much easier. It will take many years to build a career working in a big company. Devotion and length of service are often more important than efficiency of work.
“Either amoebas or disruptive people with the endless source of internal energy and steel balls should work in big companies. Undistinguished workers will pass to the category of amoebas within the time and even strong ones can be broken.”

Professional Growth

Because of the projects’ specifics and work organization, it is more difficult to succeed in big companies than in small ones. People can perform monotonous tasks working over the large projects for years; become experts in the subject area, almost without developing their skills of developers.

Once again about the optimization

In a big company, you can sit and do nothing for weeks, waiting for the project and get money for blogs reading and writing of the articles on mumble. Someone can be bored stiff during this time, someone enjoys idleness. Small companies cannot afford that luxury.
As for me, I have seen more advantages of work in small agencies and soon I will return to working there. Big company is rather comfortable place, but this comfort is not for everyone.

Not all the statements in this article are true for all small and big companies. But, unfortunately, many of the things described here are often met. Still, some other positive and negative criteria can also be found. You can see this when reading comments to the article. Small companies with bureaucrats can also exist, as well as big companies with interesting projects and excellent organization of work. Moreover, different people look at the same things in different ways.
One should be critical when choosing a company, find out more about work organization, future colleagues, potential pros / cons of working in a particular place before employment. Be careful when choosing a place of work!
Sparks 26 october 2012, 12:52
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