Best-Of-Breed Versus Integrated Solutions

Posted by Rob Shropshire on November 29, 2019

best of breed

Twitter Tweet it: 'Best-Of-Breed Versus Integrated Solutions.'

Over the last few year's I've witnessed growing debate over best-of-breed versus integrated solutions. 

When I first started out in the industry, businesses were certainly looking for one system. Often they had their data in Outlook, folder structures and Excel spreadsheets. Quite often this resulted in a lot of time spent searching for information, version control was difficult, and monthly reporting processes took far too long.

In recent years however, I have experienced an increasing number of businesses asking about the benefits of best-of-breed. 

And this is largely down to the fact that integration between systems appears to be much easier.

Given this increasing trend, I think it's important that businesses carefully consider the implications of such an approach.


[Webinar] PIM For Dummies

Master email, document & drawing management.

Watch Now


Best-of-Breed Benefits

  • Best-of-breed solutions are often cheaper and require less investment upfront. They are often out-of-the-box, which makes implementation easy;
  • A lower investment represents less risk to a business;
  • It is perceived that these point solutions are often easier to use as they cover less ground;
  • The vendor focuses on a very small set of functionality, which means they can progress development of those areas quicker.

Best-Of-Breed Considerations

  • Multiple systems will mean that staff have to get used to using those tools. Most businesses I speak to can’t even get staff to use a time sheet system let alone getting them to successfully use multiple solutions. 
  • If you do not get them completely integrated you are probably going to enter data more than once, you then risk error and inaccurate information.
  • If you are going to complete integration work, who will do it? Do you have your own IT team? 
  • When you get a system integrated what if it goes wrong? Who has ownership of that integration? 
  • What if one company upgrades their version and does not tell the other, how will that impact the integration work? 
  • Who is going to be responsible for administering multiple systems, negotiating multiple contracts and dealing with support? 
  • Is it really cheaper? By the time you have bought the 4 to 5 different solutions to successfully manage your business, and spent the time implementing and training staff on how to use them, you may not have made the savings expected.
  • How configurable is the solution, can it be changed to meet your business requirements? 
  • How will you use all of that data for reporting purposes? 
  • How will you successfully respond to GDPR related requests when records are held in multiple systems? E.g. a client record may exist in a CRM, Project and Finance system.

Document management software

The Suitability Of Best-Of-Breed For Project-Based Work

Best-of-breed probably works very well for many industries. My concern is its viability for firms carrying out project-based work, where you are exchanging high amounts of information throughout and dealing with the complexities of managing project finances - I struggle to see how this could be achieved without some form of central database to enter, report on and manage information.

I believe we should be focusing on the overall business outcomes and take a holistic approach when making buying decisions rather than investing in point solutions which only stand to benefit particular departments or people. 

By taking this approach we switch our mind-set from focusing on features, to outcomes, which should be around the tasks that software can streamline or the insights it generates.

Perhaps a smarter approach would be to invest in a central database, understand what the potential limitations are and then look for additional products to solve those business issues. Rather than starting out with a vision of buying 4 or 5 different solutions.


"Perhaps a smarter approach would be to invest in a central database, understand what the potential limitations are and then look for additional products to solve those business issues."


Furthermore, when we talk about new technologies such as AI and Machine learning, I struggle to understand how you can leverage these technologies with a best-of-breed approach. These technologies rely on good data. If this data is held in different systems, it makes using and benefiting from the latest technologies more challenging. Business should look ahead to the future rather than just focusing on what they need today.

You do have the ability to create data warehouses to centralise data from multiple applications, but this requires significant resource and money. Most of the businesses I speak to have limited IT resource - if any - meaning that they are not likely to be able to achieve this.

I hope that for some this article will provide food for thought and encourage debate. I would love to hear from businesses that have managed to successfully integrate various best-of-breed solutions to deliver the same outcomes as a fully integrated solution.

[Webinar] PIM For Dummies

Master email, document & drawing management.

Watch Now