Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has emerged as a go-to solution for business automation and data processing, allowing organisations in a broad range of industries to embrace innovation and move away from legacy systems. But single-vendor, off-the-shelf ERP platforms – which are easily the most popular choice for those new to ERP – do have their limitations, giving rise to a new type of integration strategy: best of breed.
Here, we’re taking an in-depth look at best of breed, explaining what it is, how it works, and how it can integrate with your existing ERP ecosystem. Use the links below to navigate or read on for the full guide.
- What is the Best of Breed Strategy and How Does it Compare to Single-Vendor?
- What Are the Pros and Cons of the Best of Breed Strategy?
- ERP and Best of Breed: How the Two Integrate Together
Best of breed (or BOB) is an approach to technology integration whereby a business uses software from a range of vendors. This ultimately means they can pick and choose the best-in-class functions and applications to suit their needs, integrating multi-vendor features across their organisation.
When defining a best of breed strategy, it’s useful to consider why such an approach came to be. After all, the single-vendor solution was considered cutting-edge for a time, only for best of breed to emerge and trigger a change in attitude for some businesses.
The single-vendor approach to ERP remains a popular strategy. It’s fast, convenient, and, for certain businesses at least, offers comprehensive functionality that makes day-to-day operations more efficient and easier to manage.
It can be limited, however, when it’s relied upon across multiple business functions. In this instance, when employees are reliant on a fixed suite of programs and applications, the technology may work better for some but not so well for others. In short, it rarely provides an optimised solution for all the facets of a business.
Best of breed, on the other hand, remedies this problem by allowing businesses to cherry-pick functionality from different vendors – thus ensuring that all departments have the right tools and programs for their needs. This is facilitated by integration services that let you run multiple functions from a single, centralised hub, so you can enjoy the same level of unification as a standard single-vendor solution while benefiting from enhanced functionality.
However, it is important to note that a successful best of breed approach hinges on selecting a core system that has been designed and built for integrations. We’ll touch on this below, but if you are looking for an ERP system that will integrate and collaborate with your favourite programs and applications, it’s vital to select one built for purpose.
Not all modern ERP systems are built for effective and efficient integration, with some providers looking to steer customers down the single-vendor route. So, if you’re looking for a system that will integrate with your required third-party functionality, it’s best to choose one built on an open architecture.
When compared to single-vendor solutions, a best of breed strategy sounds like the obvious choice. And while it certainly has its advantages, there are a couple of things to note about this approach which you should consider before investing in such technology.
Here, we address the pros and cons of best of breed solutions, so you can decide if it’s the right approach for you.
- Rapid Innovation – The pick-and-choose nature of best of breed ensures rapid innovation, so your business can react to emerging technological changes and trends. This is ideal for innovation-led brands operating in a competitive market space, whose continuity relies on staying ahead of the curve.
- Optimised Solutions – Opt for a single-vendor solution, and the time may come when personnel request the use of another third-party application, diminishing the system’s long-term value. With a best of breed approach, you can update your system to suit the changing needs of your team, so they’re always working with the right tools and applications.
- Scalable – If you’re an SME or start-up with big ambitions, a best of breed approach gives you the freedom to scale up your technology stack as your business grows. Having the ability to add new applications to the mix at any time is of huge benefit to growing businesses whose needs are ever-changing.
- Enhanced productivity and efficiency – The best of breed approach means your teams will always have access to the appropriate applications, which helps maintain high levels of productivity and efficiency.
- Simple integrations – Integrating best of breed applications is increasingly efficient, with new middleware removing the need for complex coding each time you wish to adopt a new application. That means easy connectivity across multiple third-party functions, for a comprehensive, do-all management system.
- Excellent ROI – The nature of best of breed means rapid onboarding and intuitive functionality, both of which feed into immediate and consistent ROI. And, because you can continue to grow and enhance your system, the value-add benefit of a best of breed approach will be felt in the long term.
- Complex (particularly for small businesses) – There’s no getting away from the fact that the best of breed approach can be a steep learning curve, particularly for small businesses not used to working within an ERP ecosystem. Dealing with multiple systems, databases, vendors, and applications, and ensuring they all align and bring value to your business, can be complicated and challenging to utilise.
- IT resources and infrastructure – While integrating best of breed applications shouldn’t be all that difficult for experienced IT personnel, smaller organisations may struggle to secure the manpower, resources and IT infrastructure required to make full use of such a strategy and manage it effectively.
- Compromised data security and integrity – If you opt for a best of breed solution that relies on multiple data stores, you need to accept the challenges of integrating, sharing, and siloing the data across multiple software solutions. This can cause problems with data security and integrity, leaving your assets vulnerable to loss, inaccuracies, and cybercrime.
- Significant software investment – While ROI is strong with best of breed technology, the costs can mount up, so it’s vital that you’re getting the very most from your chosen solutions. And don’t forget, it’s not just the cost of the software itself that you need to factor in, but also the resources required to manage and integrate it effectively.
- Inconsistent interfaces – Though not a deal-breaker, the nature of best of breed means that employees may not be using the same application interfaces across the business. This isn’t just a matter of appearance, either, but could also affect consistency and accuracy, not to mention make it more difficult for personnel to collaborate.
While some of these disadvantages may have caught your attention, a best of breed approach is generally considered a worthwhile solution for businesses with the required IT infrastructure, supported by an open ERP platform that facilitates integration with ease. Offering myriad benefits and a centralised management platform, it’s an effective strategy for businesses whose teams rely on lots of different applications as part of day-to-day operations.
When selecting an ERP system for your business, integration should be at the top of your wish list. Why? Because integrating with your current systems and applications can be of huge benefit from an operational standpoint, ensuring simple onboarding while making life easier for your employees.
At Intact, we designed our flagship ERP solution, Intact iQ, with integrations in mind. Featuring REST APIs, the software affords seamless connectivity with third-party applications, so you can keep the services you need while also having the option to add new best of breed systems in the future.
So, whether you’re happy with a single-vendor approach or like the sound of best of breed, our ERP solutions make managing your business simpler whatever your requirements and objectives.
To find out more about our future-aligned ERP and business management solutions, and to arrange a free software demo, visit the homepage today or get in touch with our specialists via the contact page.