For years, all-in-one software suites were a favorite of corporations around the globe. It seemed convenient that one encompassing system could meet the needs of an entire enterprise. More recently, however, large-scale platforms have given rise to a new trend: best of breed software. 

What does this term mean and how does it apply to your ERP strategy? Read on to discover how it could be the missing link in your business initiative.

The Challenges of Single ERP Solutions

While it intuitively makes sense to seek a single solution that encompasses all the data your organization needs, the reality is that these monolithic solutions are not right for every company.

Once these multi-year implementations are finally live, many companies find that the ERP software cannot meet the needs of every user. In response, users develop workarounds and manual processes, resulting in a piecemeal solution that goes against the unified approach the company hoped to establish.

Not only does this result in an inefficient workplace, but it also can lead to more serious consequences, such as lapses in data security and integrity. 

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What is Best of Breed Software?

To avoid these roadblocks, many organizations are turning to a best of breed software approach. In other words, they are implementing smaller-scale, agile solutions that aren’t meant to be “jacks of all trades.” Each of these solutions focuses on a specific functional area, and companies can integrate these solutions to create a fully optimized software system that aligns with its business needs.

What Does Best of Breed Mean in Terms of ERP?

An ERP implementation is a complex undertaking, meant to streamline and centralize all the functions that drive your company forward. A best of breed ERP strategy allows you to select strategic functionality for each of these functions.

Many ERP vendors offer single, integrated solutions that consist of numerous enterprise applications. The idea is that this will satisfy a company’s need to address each functional area individually.

However, not all those applications are necessarily best of breed. What you’re left with, then, is a system that could excel in one area but fall short in another.

Instead of relying on one platform to supply all your ERP needs, we recommend evaluating multiple, purpose-built, systems from multiple vendors. Then, you can integrate these specialized functions to create a custom solution that’s just right for your organization. 

A few of the benefits of this approach include:

  • Lower costs than a full ERP platform
  • Individual department control over IT strategies, system maintenance and upgrades
  • Stronger functionality within each module
  • Differentiation from competitors
  • Greater number of specialized systems and vendors to choose from in the future
best of breed vs integrated systems

What Does Best of Breed Mean in Terms of ERP?

In the 1960s and 1970s, the development of computer technology began to influence how companies approached supply chain management. Automation was now on the scene, and managers began to replace the manual efforts of each department with machine-based solutions. 

This was the early era of best of breed software, but it was far from sophisticated. Instead, business owners were left with hodgepodge solutions that failed to successfully integrate and didn’t support their business strategy. 

To remedy these issues, monolithic ERP systems came on the scene in the 1990s. This ERP model was built on the premise that one vendor could provide a massive suite, comprised of various smaller suites, that could handle all a company’s strategic needs.

While this did provide much-needed visibility, it also led to many problems, including:

  • Difficulties upgrading the platform as technology evolved
  • Advanced interfaces decreasing user adoption rates
  • IT departments losing a degree of autonomy

Recently, the best of breed approach has returned bringing along with it what is known as postmodern ERP. The postmodern ERP strategy improves on the original best of breed strategy, combining it with the best features of the modern ERP movement. A postmodern ERP strategy typically involves an on-premise ERP solution that is integrated with specialized cloud solutions.

The integration between these systems is more complete than what you’d see in a typical best of breed strategy. This improved integration has been one reason for the rise in popularity of postmodern ERP as there are many benefits of ERP integration.

Overall, postmodern ERP is becoming popular for the following reasons:

  • Easier, more complete lifecycle planning
  • Improved usability and adoption rates
  • More flexibility and agility
  • Interaction between supply chain, suppliers and customers
  • Robust data integration 

Best of Breed vs. Single ERP: Which is Right for You?

While the benefits of a best of breed approach are obvious, this strategy isn’t for every company. As you evaluate your options, consider the following:

  • Your company size
  • Your unique business needs
  • Your ERP budget

While best of breed systems can be less expensive at the outset and can help a small-to-midsized company grow, keep in mind that costs can add up as you integrate more components. 

An independent ERP consultant can help you more clearly understand which approach is best suited for your needs.

Flexibility and Control

Postmodern ERP combines the flexibility of a best of breed software strategy with the centralized control of single solutions. For many companies, this can be the ideal strategy, but before beginning ERP selection, be sure to reach out to our team. We can help you understand your current state and define your future state to guide your software selection. Request a free consultation below.

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