16 May 2024

Best of breed vs ERP software: which is best for your organisation?

A man in a suit, and a lady in a white blouse, stood with their arms crossed smiling.

It used to be there was one digital transformation strategy: ‘implement an ERP.’ The world of work has changed, however, and now there are other, more efficient options. What are they, and how can they support your organisation?

Enterprise resource planning systems were once the gold standard of support for large or complex organisations, particularly government institutions. They’ve dominated the market for some time, and there are many reasons that this has happened. The temptation for one massive system that effortlessly fixes everything is strong, particularly when you’re beholden to citizens or customers. 

But there are a lot of drawbacks, some well-known and others more obscure that need to be considered in the conversation. 

The benefits and drawbacks of ERP

There are numerous benefits to bringing in an ERP system. They often take the form of an all-in-one solution, meaning you don’t have to worry too much about how different systems fit together.  That leads to a lot less friction in the day-to-day running of an organisation, which can improve customer service, reporting and futureproof planning. 

However, there are some concerns with ERPs. 

The biggest drawback? Think of it like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. ERPs tend to be fairly inflexible, often coming bundled with solutions you don’t need.  As an example, you might have outsourced your payroll and thus not need that functionality. But if your ERP comes with that built in, it can spike your costs and leave you with a useless bit of software. 

As an example, ERPs are often implemented for finance-focused reasons. But that doesn’t account for the rest of the organisation.

It can also lead to some cultural issues. Often people want to bend the new system to support existing processes, instead of adjusting processes to match the new system. This is particularly problematic with ERPs, because they don’t flex well. 

There have been several high-profile cases where this has led to issues for organisations, often contributing to inefficiencies, and even bankruptcies in extreme cases. This is particularly problematic for local governments, who are often particularly robust levels of scrutiny regarding procurement. They have to prove they’re getting value for money, and that’s seldom the case with ERPs. That’s before you get into the often enormous implementation costs. 

For some, an ERP will be the best option. For many, there’s a fresh approach that’s worth considering.  

The benefits of best of breed

If enterprise resource planning can lead to major budgeting issues and inflexibility, what alternatives are there? Do you need to pick a solution for every single aspect of your business?  

Not quite. That’s where the idea of best of breed comes in. It’s not quite as universally understood a term as ERP, but it’s growing in popularity among business leaders. 

In short, a best of breed solution is a lot more customisable. It brings together modules built around best practice in the industry and pulls them under one roof. This ensures they deliver an excellent user experience, remove unnecessary admin and streamline key processes from around the business, without leaving you stuck with solutions that you don’t need. 

This is a significantly more intuitive approach than an ERP. Think of an ERP as a pre-built house in a set location. You have to take everything it comes with, and making adjustments can incur big costs. A best-of-breed solution is a house that includes everything you want out of the box, exactly where you want it. 

There have been numerous examples of best of breed solutions helping save a huge amount of time and money when replacing an ill-suited ERP. Warwickshire County Council, for instance, saved over 300 hours a week after swapping to iTrent

Despite this personalised approach, best of breed solutions have a much faster return on investment, thanks to their lower implementation costs. You’ll get all the benefits of an ERP without the cumbersome drawbacks. It makes deploying innovative technology really easy, without leaving your team split off into silos. Data from one function can be shared with another, creating a more holistic view. 

Final thoughts

A best of breed solution offers up the best of all possible worlds. You get to pick solutions that follow best practice but bring them together to ensure maximum efficiency. You don’t spend a penny more than you need to and can implement the system in a way that works for you. 

Want to find out more about our best of breed solutions? Then it’s time to book a demo and see everything People First, our latest best of breed solution can offer you and your team. 

Emma Reid headshot

Emma Reid

Content writer at MHR

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