Unsure of which software approach is best for your business?
You have two options when it comes to technology solutions - all-in-one aka best-in-suite or best-of-breed. We’re here to help you make the right decision for your business.
Both options have their own benefits and drawbacks, so you need to choose the option that will work best for you.
First off, what’s what?
What is Best-in-Suite and What is Best of Breed?
A best-in-suite, or platform solution offers an integrated solution that can handle most of your business requirements, without necessarily specialising or offering the most optimal solution for a particular pain point. It’s basically an all-in-one solution approach.
Companies pay for this all encompassing solution, investing in one single vendor, and allowing the vendor to become one central source for all their applications, data and information.
Whereas a "best-of-breed" approach marries together many different systems into a tech stack. A stack refers to a combination of independent technologies that help businesses optimise their operational processes.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, and it really depends on the unique needs of your business.
What are the benefits and disadvantages of each approach?
The benefits of a best-in-suite platform approach
Consistent user experience: When users are familiar with one interface, it makes it easier for them to use the different applications included in the suite.
Lower support costs: With one vendor, you only need to train your employees on how to use that specific software. This saves time and money in one area, but it could be more expensive as a whole. We’ll come to that later.
Easier integration: Best-of-suite applications are designed to work together, so you can be confident that the applications will integrate with each other seamlessly.
The disadvantages of a best-in-suite platform approach
Suitability: With vendor selection, one size often does not fit all. The lack of flexibility and customisation is a real disadvantage. Companies have individual needs and best-of-suite vendors do not cover the nuances required. This will lead to outsourcing and paying for other applications to meet those needs or a continued use of manual processes.
Time wasting: A lot of best-of-suite systems take a long time to be implemented into a large company. For some this can take years, depending on the size of the company.
This can impact your company by leading to a lot of wasted time that could be far better spent productively working within your company. It can also lead to a backlog of inaccurate data as it can become harder to keep things up to date when dealing with long complex software updates.
Slow to innovate: Best-of-suite vendors move at their own pace aka slowly. As best-of-suite vendors cover a lot of different uses, and are inherently large companies, they can fall behind on trends.
Having to implement changes to their software can take a tremendous amount of time. They will release updates and changes when they want to, not when you need them. This can be frustrating for companies that are trying to keep up with the latest trends or need to meet compliance requirements.
You may find your software is lagging behind other systems that offer a more efficient and productive approach.
Expensive: When buying from best-of-suite, you are investing in one single vendor. By default they will have significant control and influence over your company. Migrating to another vendor will slow your company down, data will be difficult to migrate to another system. This can cause a lot of headaches for your IT team, and you may feel trapped in an agreement and at the mercy of large price increases.
The arguments in favour of a best-of-breed approach are strong:
More specific focus: leading to better fit and functionality.
More agility, less risk: Best-of-breed solutions have lower implementation and start-up costs which means less risk of vendor lock-in. It’s also easier to switch to something else if necessary, making you more agile in responding to business needs. Some systems reduce risk further by offering ‘proof of concept’ or trial periods so you can try the solution before committing to a long-term contract.
Faster ROI: Due to faster/cheaper implementation and lighter training best-of-breed is a good fit for teams that need results today and can’t wait for a lengthy, time-consuming implementation. Best-of-breed solutions are often quicker to deploy, with intuitive design, and are easier for end users to adopt than full product suites, which means a faster return on investment.
Frequent updates and innovation: Best-of-breed software prides itself on retaining the title “best.” To do this, it needs to constantly stay up to date on consumer feedback and market trends, and react accordingly by rolling out new features and improvements. As a customer, it’s always nice to be on the receiving end of these continual updates.
Scalability: Having systems that are adaptable to change is critical. As your hospitality business grows, you'll need to be able to scale your technology solutions accordingly. Best-of-breed software is designed to work for all clients ranging from small businesses to large enterprises. With a best-of-breed tech stack, it's often easier and less expensive to add on new components or to increase the capacity of existing ones. On the other hand, all-in-one platforms can sometimes be limited in their ability to scale.
Despite the many benefits of best-of-breed software vendors, there are some disadvantages to pay attention to.
Complexity: A large business might end up needing to choose and manage a lot of different vendors to fit all their needs. This can make things quite complex, especially when onboarding new staff members and keeping all members of your team on the same page. Troubleshooting can also become a complex process when working with many different vendors.
Fragmentation: Due to there being more vendors, fragmentation is likely. This can lead to fragmented teams, fragmented apps and fragmented communication.
Overlapping: Best-of-breed vendors can often share the same type of use cases. For example, two separate best-of-breed vendors may have great video messaging platforms or staff communication tools.
Decision Making Factors
Now that we’ve defined both software approaches, their benefits and drawbacks, let’s take a look at what factors you need to bear in mind when deciding which to implement in your business.
Fit: Make a list of what you need to solve a particular pain point you’re dealing with. If it’s scheduling, payroll errors, leave management, high labour costs, demand planning - list them all out. Once you know what you need, then you can figure out whether there’s an efficient best-of-suite vendor that suits these specific needs and does them well or whether you might need to choose a best-of-breed vendor.
Onboarding and implementation: The second factor to consider is how long you’re able to spend on the onboarding and implementation phase. Best-of-suite vendors tend to take longer to onboard as they have to integrate into a company wide system rather than fit a specific need. Best-of-breed apps are often faster to onboard and start using.
System maintenance: You’ll need to consider how often you’d want the software to be up to date. Best-of-breed software tends to stay updated and innovative faster than best-of-suite software simply because it’s a specialist solution whereas a platform solution is more integrated and takes longer to implement software development changes.
Control: Consider how much data control you want. Do you mind one vendor having significant influence over your data and information, or would you rather that was spread out over numerous vendors? In a best-of-breed system, when a spoke breaks or is removed, the wheel still functions. In a best-of-suite approach, when one spoke breaks the whole wheel collapses.
Cost: Think about how much you’d like to budget. Best-of-breed solutions offer subscription plans which can make costs more manageable. Plans are generally per user so you only pay for what you need. Some best-of-breed vendors may even offer free versions of their products so you can easily swap them out and customise your use to your budgeting needs. Best-of-suite solutions tend to be more expensive as you’re paying for the entire system rather than just specific applications. Bear in mind that the “you have to have it all” locks you into their system whether you use all the features or not.
In summary, best-in-suite offers some advantages because they are convenient and easy to use, but they can’t always offer the same level of customisation and flexibility as best-of-breed solutions because best-of-breed is best for addressing specific issues that your business might be facing.
Best-of-breed solutions give you more control over your technology stack, and they allow businesses to pick and choose applications that best fit their specific needs without being as costly.
Some businesses could benefit from an all-in-one solution. However, bear in mind that the possibility of a solution containing all the needs of a business is low, and most businesses will still need to pursue a best-of-breed, or software stack approach.
Ultimately, it depends on what you need and what will work best for your team. If you need more specialised features or functionality, then best-of-breed might be a better option for you. Weigh the pros and cons of each option and see which makes the most sense of you.
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