Best-of-breed vs best-of-suite – which solution works for you?

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If you’re in the market for ITSM software, one of the choices you’ll have to make is whether you want a best-of-breed or a best-of-suite solution. But when does it make sense to choose one over the other? What are the pros and cons? Let’s find out.

What is best-of-suite?

Best-of-suite software offers one solution for a variety of business needs. Think of ERP software that includes features for accounting, budgeting and risk management, but also project management, HR tasks and reporting. You purchase one suite, from one vendor, that offers all these capabilities.

What is best-of-breed?

If you’re looking at best-of-breed software, you purchase various solutions from various vendors that each offer their own unique tool. While this means you’re dealing with multiple vendors, the individual tools are most likely more tailored to your organizational needs.

Best-of-suite vs best-of-breed?

So which solution works best for your organization?

As you might expect, the answer is: it depends. Both solutions have their own pros and cons, and your choice should be informed by your priorities.

Here’s a few things to consider when facing the best-of-breed vs best-of-suite dilemma.

How critical is the process you want to support?

The first questions you should answer, are: what process should the software support, and how critical is that process to your organization? The more critical the process, the more important it is that the software meets your needs.

In general, using best-of-breed software is the preferred choice for your critical processes. A best-of-breed tool usually offers more functionalities than best-of-suite, and is better tailored to supporting that one specific process.

If the tool supports a not-so critical process, you’ll probably manage fine with best of suite.

Best-of-suite software might excel in one or two areas, but is unlikely to offer the best solution for all the components in their suite. As Gartner states, when explaining best-of-breed, using ERP software as an example:

“Enterprises often purchase software from different vendors to obtain the best-of-breed offering for each application area. For example, enterprises may purchase a human-resource package from one vendor and an accounting package from another. Although enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors offer numerous enterprise applications and claim that their integrated system is a superior solution, all modules in an ERP system are rarely best-of-breed.” (source)

Compare it to photo editing. If you only do some occasional cropping and editing of photos, the default functionalities included in Microsoft Office, or on your phone, should serve you just fine. If on the other hand you edit photos on a more regular and professional basis, at some point you’ll need functionalities that only tools such as Adobe Photoshop offer.

How much time and money do you want to spend?

In general, choosing best-of-breed software means lower costs in both time and budget. Mainly because the implementation has a relatively low impact on your organization. The implementation usually involves fewer colleagues, fewer functionalities, and can therefore be handled quicker.

Two things to consider though.

Best-of-breed generally has lower costs to get started. But if you continue to string a bunch of paid tools together, you might end up paying as much as for one best-of-suite solution. As long as you keep track of which tools you purchase for which purposes, you should be able to keep your spending in check.

On the other hand, some best-of-suite solutions offer modular pricing structures, where you only pay for the features you actually need. In that case, it might be worth considering a best-of-suite solution.

How many vendors do you want to work with?

Choosing a best-of-suite solution means you only deal with one vendor for several tools. This in itself has pros and cons.

The benefit of working with a single vendor? You’ll save time implementing, training and supporting the various tools. And you’re likely to have one single point of contact for your support and customer success questions. Especially if you have a good working relationship with your vendor, this can be an efficient way of working.

At the same time, there’s also a risk involved. If the relationship with your vendor isn’t great, or if the software at some point no longer suffices, it makes it harder to switch to a different solution. You run the risk of vendor lock-in. And if you decide to switch, it might be quite expensive and time-consuming to do so.

Say you have a best-of-suite ERP solution. Your HR department is happy with its payroll functionalities, but the project planning functionalities don’t live up to your Project Management Organization’s standards. They would like to purchase a new project management tool. This is a problem if the team is expected to continue to work in the same suite.

Why TOPdesk believes in best-of-breed

While there are many legitimate reasons for choosing a best-of-suite solution, we’re not hiding the fact that we believe in the best-of-breed approach. We decided long ago that we can’t excel in all areas. We aim to make the best service management software. And let other vendors do what they do best.

APIs, ecosystem, marketplace

Because TOPdesk doesn’t offer all the functionalities an IT department needs, it becomes extra important to offer integrations with other tools. That’s why we invested in developing APIs. We currently offer a number of standard integrations, such as for MS Entra ID (formerly known as Azure AD) and Power BI. Using the APIs, IT teams can also build integrations themselves. In addition, we have built a marketplace where IT teams can find all kinds of solutions to add to their TOPdesk environment. It features over a hundred solutions for different kinds of applications. From communication tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack and several live chat and chatbot vendors, to IT asset discovery solutions (like Microsoft Intune and Lansweeper) and various AI solutions.

Increased scalability and flexibility

For our customers, the most important benefits of a best-of-breed solution are scalability and flexibility.

Lots of things are changing constantly for your organization. Your customers expect more and more, whether it’s the technology you support or how quickly you can adapt to your customers’ needs. An ecosystem of best-of-breed tools makes it easier for IT organizations to add, optimize or replace certain components or features, rather than having to adapt or replace an entire best-of-suite solution.

Decide for yourself

This is why we believe in the power of best-of-breed. But it’s up to you to decide what works best for your organization when selecting a new ITSM tool. Knowing whether you’re looking for a best-of-breed or best-of-suite solution will help you to narrow down the list of vendors.

Have you made your choice between best-of-breed and best-of-suite but not sure where to look next? Get one step closer to choosing the right vendor for you: check out our blog 5 questions to ask when shortlisting solutions.

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