The Endless Debate: Best-in-Suite vs Best-in-Breed?
The best-of-breed strategy surpassed the best-of-suite solution in the late 1990s, but then the collapse of the internet bubble and the subsequent recession seemed to alter the IT tendency toward centralized control and single-vendor suites. However, since the global economy started to recover, the same debate between the two approaches has re-escalated.
Almost all companies have a mix of suite-based and niche applications regardless of which approach is currently the most popular. What are the pros and cons of each strategy?
In the case of best-of-suite, the assumption is that the suite approach can enable users to have a consistent data model, common user interface, and process integration. What IT departments like about this approach is the idea of dealing with one major application provider and having consistency. From the senior management’s perspective, the selling points are taking less risk and doing business with a well-established suite vendor.
The disadvantages of suites are cost, time, complexity and rigidity. Another point is that the suite requires a level of readiness across all departments, which is not always easy to accomplish. In fact, the suite approach works great when a CMS meets the needs of the business goals. Besides functional fit, internal consensus to alter existing structure is another critical motivation.
In the case of best-of-breed, the assumption is that this approach provides more comprehensive functionality as well as flexibility. Also, the implementation is faster and easier resulting in better user satisfaction with adaptation. IT departments like this approach as it is more convenient due to the smaller scope, the lower cost, and time- efficiency. From the senior management’s perspective, the motivation includes having more tailored applications, better functional fit, and the ability to easily modify based on the needs and priorities of the business.
One of the disadvantages of the best-of-breed approach is real-time process and data integration is fairly hard to achieve even for the big players in the application vendors league, not to mention small and medium sized providers. Another serious concern is the size of the specialist vendors compared to their suite counterparts, as it means having limited resources and geographic coverage as well as more financial risk.
As a result, each approach contains its own benefits and potential defects. Therefore, picking between integrated suites and best-of-breed systems is one of the hardest decisions to make. Best of breed systems are best applied to a few functions, facilitating some system maintenance. However, best of breed systems may not be able to handle new requirements if needed. In this case, the right thing to do is to employ an integrated system for handling most requirements, allowing best of breed systems to handle items requiring focused performance and specialization.
I would also highly recommend those who need more insight before deciding on the best system for their organizations’ needs to stay tuned for the CMS-Connected upcoming show, airing on Wednesday, December 23rd. During the show, Butch Stearns and Scott Liewehr will welcome our featured guest, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, who is the VP & Managing Director VOCalis at DCG and Member of the Board of Directors at AIIM International. Alan, alongside our hosts, will dive into the topic a little deeper of whether or not the suite approach to CMS is dying.
Tune into the web broadcast to learn:
Should Enterprise CMS Vendors be taking a Suite approach or should they be looking at connecting into existing products?
Where does Governance fit in to these two approaches?
What is a good way to begin uncovering whether a suite solution will work, or whether a best-of-breed approach is more beneficial?
And more on how to adopt the appropriate business support systems (BSS) software strategy.
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to choose and execute the best approach for your organization in 2016!