Software Decision: Best of Breed vs Integrated Solution

Software Decision Making

Software Decision:
Best of Breed versus Integrated Solution (Part 1 of 3)

Upon initiating a search for software solutions to manage business activities, decision-makers immediately encounter a decision point.  Should they go with a “Best of Breed” product to solve their business need, or should they look for a more integrated solution?  Each vendor will surely espouse that their side is best, so what considerations are critical to making this decision?

Take stock of your business processes and fully understand what the team does. 

  • Where are your specialization points and how many other business components does the team touch?
  • How many places does your team’s work interact with other departments within your organization?
  • How broad is the need for a public-facing component or even an app to connect with millennials?
  • How can the new product help you expand your brand?

Prior to beginning the search process, the company needs to define the business problem needing solved.  This should be conducted on two levels – first, to define the specific gap or deficiency that needs to be covered; and second, to develop more of a wish list that not only includes the specific gap, but also includes potential ancillary needs related to the main problem.  By tending to both of these issues, you are able to enter the demonstration process fully aware of the range of options to consider as solutions.  During the interview process to assess whether you will attend a demonstration, ask the potential vendor what business solutions they solve, prior to providing the gap(s) you wish to solve.  The vendor is motivated to solve your business problems, and some may claim to be able to do so even if the solution is not a strength of theirs.  Identify whether they consider themselves a “Best of Breed” platform or if they have a broader integrated solution.  This should become apparent by forcing them to detail the solution they have.  If you tell them your business problem, they are then allowed to focus their efforts there, and suddenly have the proverbial keys to the castle.  Remember, the business challenge you face today may not be the same tomorrow, and you need a solution that can adapt to solve future challenges as well.

In rounding out the background segment of your search, consider your financial position with regard to the new software.  An integrated solution carries a higher price tag because of its long-term potential and broader appeal.  A single focused solution may appear to cost a great deal relative to the functionality it provides.  However, if you know what gaps you are trying to solve, you can determine whether you may need multiple best of breed solutions which can greatly influence the financial decision to be made.  One of the more expensive mistakes buyers make is to spend too much time declaring their uniqueness, when in reality, there are not an infinite number of permutations of business challenges.  By announcing how different you are, you also just increased the price of the product you are seeking.

In summary, buyers need to realize they are in control of the process.  By knowing specifically what you need today, plus what you expect to need tomorrow, you can enter the buying marketplace fully prepared.  Finally, make the vendor identify the solution, rather than you leaving the breadcrumbs for them.

If you would like to know more, stay tuned! In part two, Ken will discuss the importance in the infrastructure of the solution you choose. 

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