Not all procurement and eSourcing software are created the same—perhaps your current solution lives up to expectations in some areas but the eSourcing module isn’t quite what you need. Maybe it’s overcomplicated, delivering a poor user experience and mountains of frustration for your team—after you’ve just spent mountains of cash to acquire it. This is a fairly common problem, as businesses have different priorities and nuanced procurement needs. It’s important to understand your options when selecting procurement software to help you reach your goals. Typically, procurement software falls into two main categories: ‘Best in Breed’ and ‘Suite’ solutions. Do you know which is right for your company?
Read on to learn more about these two very different types of platforms, how they compare, and which is the best choice for your individual eSourcing software needs.
Dig Into the Software
Best-in-breed eSourcing software is specific, specialized, and more flexible than suite programs, offering different solutions such as spend analytics or eSourcing capabilities. Best in breed offers a collection of capabilities under one digital roof, each addressing a certain functional area or niche. Best in breed also indicates that the platform is the one best of its type on the market.
Suite solutions can also be considered the best platform of its type, but unlike best in breed, suite programs are source-to-pay, where all of your procurement capabilities and software are interconnected. While this may centralize your data, it can be spread too thin. In other words, suite has many capabilities, from eSourcing to supplier management, but since it does not provide individual solutions for each supply chain or procurement need, it may fall short for many companies.
Best in breed has been the gold standard for years in procurement, but as of late, suite programs have entered the conversation, and it’s worth comparing the two. Additionally, there is an up-and-coming solution known as alt-suite, which we’ll also discuss.
eSourcing Software: Best in Breed Overview
Best in breed has been the most widely used software solution for eSourcing software and e-Procurement for some time. It focuses on solving only one problem—however, it is strategic as it solves many problems with specialized product functions, which is an optimal choice for many different types of businesses, from health clubs to government organizations. Your best in breed software may not all come from one source—what you are looking for is the best possible outcome for your business, your procurement management, and overall—your supply chain. These modular, specialized solutions from one best in breed can seamlessly integrate with another, giving you the freedom to build a composable solution that will deliver the outcome you need.
eSourcing Software: Suite Solutions
Suite software is a fully integrated solution with many features under one roof. For example, it may include eSourcing software and e-Auction software that allows you to perform many functions, such as RFx (RFP, RFI, RFQ) features, contract management, eTendering, and more. Some suites also have accounting and payroll features integrated within the cloud-based eProcurement suite. A suite solution is a solid choice if you want to automate and have a centralized platform.
However, a suite can come with many limitations with its eSourcing software. A company could easily invest in a centralized suite, only to be disappointed when its features are not as robust as desired for an E-Sourcing platform. A suite may seem like the best value at the outset, but one major downfall is being—”stuck” with eSourcing tools that don’t deliver or simply aren’t a great fit for the company’s needs.
eSourcing Software: Best in Breed vs. Suite and Their Competitive Nature
In this day and age, most businesses are using software for their procurement process, and very few are still stuck in the dark ages of paper trails and spreadsheets. Because automation is crucial and can significantly reduce time and lead to cost savings, the e-Sourcing and procurement software industry are highly competitive. It is possible (and readily happening) for a suite to acquire a best in breed. What results is an alt-suite solution, bringing the best of both worlds to a business. This is a relatively new concept in the eSourcing world, which we’ll discuss in greater detail.
Pros and Cons of Best in Breed
While best in breed is currently the gold standard, every type of eSourcing software can have its drawbacks. However, when it comes to best in breed, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Here are some of the key features and advantages of best in breed:
- Complete flexibility. Using best in breed for your eSourcing process allows you to have complete flexibility with each piece of the puzzle instead of depending on a one-size-fits-all software. For example, the strategic nature of best in breed allows you to find potential suppliers via supplier management in one module while using a separate module to perform your eAuctions. Because you’ll need to implement different functions at different times, using multiple vendors offers the most flexibility.
- Agility. You can easily switch over to a different module (e.g., from supplier management to spend analytics), giving you more agility when responding more quickly to any business needs.
- Focused. Each piece of your best in breed will focus entirely on its specific function. For example, if you have a reverse auction you wish to run or need to send an eRFQ, each module is designed and highly concentrated on a specific task as opposed to a suite, which concentrates on many different tasks at once.
- Less training. Best in breed requires less training, faster implementation, and comes with a dedicated support team—an outcome that can boost your ROI.
- Less risk of locking in a vendor. Best in breed lessens the opportunity to lock in vendors. While this may sound restricting, locking in vendors can lead to potential risk. If you lock in a vendor and want to take your business elsewhere, you cannot do so because of the complexity, added cost, and how long it would take to make a switch. With best in breed, you can implement a separate vendor risk management program to help avoid this.
- Less security risk. With best in breed, a breach may only occur with one module, making the breach easier to contain and eradicate. This is important because your entire application is easily compromised with a suite solution, and trying to fix it can be cumbersome.
Best in breed is clearly a standout choice due to its many benefits.. However, everything has some disadvantages. Some cons of best-in-breed software include:
- Data reporting issues. Because you’re using separate modules to perform different eSourcing and other tasks, it’s up to you as to how you plan to organize and centralize your data.
- Juggling vendors. Because you’ll have integrated best-in-breed (different modules from different software companies), you’ll have to manage relationships with more than one provider.
- Multiple sign-ins. Instead of logging into one centralized unit, such as in-suite, you and your procurement teams will have multiple logins to manage daily.
Pros and Cons of Suite Solutions
While best in breed is a standout choice, that doesn’t necessarily mean suite solutions don’t have advantages and still may be a better fit for some businesses. Some of the possible advantages of suite solutions include:
- Easily adaptable. The suite is often tailored for specific business requirements and offers more real-time options.
- Fewer applications and vendors. Instead of signing into multiple platforms and juggling different vendors, there is only one login and one vendor in a suite.
If easy adaptability and juggling fewer vendors are your top priorities, a suite solution may be for you. However, the downsides of using a suite include:
- The one-size-fits-all approach. Using a centralized suite has the tendency not to quite ever fit perfectly for any one company. It can be too constrained for some or too broad for others.
- Being stuck. It can be a significant investment. Businesses can feel stuck in their decision if you’ve purchased a suite and it’s not delivering.
- Failing at solutions. While big procurement technology is ideal for companies that only want to deal with one supplier or want an easier fix regarding troubleshooting, it fails to deliver on some key features, such as eSourcing, deep analytics, and tail spend management.
- Adaptation problems. Suite solutions may not adapt well to real-world scenarios.
- Watered-down features. All of the features included within the suite are not as robust as best in breed, which targets each specific area.
- Higher stakes. If suite software breaks down, everyone is frozen and can’t perform their jobs. With best in breed, if only one module breaks down, work can continue.
- Failure to address. Suite software cannot perform certain functions necessary to procurement management, such as cross-functional and strategic procurement initiatives.
eSourcing Software: The Rise of Alt-Suite Solutions
An emerging type of procurement technology is the rise of alt-suite platforms, which can be described as the “best of both worlds.” However, it must stand together collectively as a unit. For example, procurement, supply chain, and finance must be the key. It includes platform and app components to give you the best of both platforms, expressed as a lifecycle.
Some benefits of composable procurement technologies, or alt-suite platforms include:
- More cost-efficient and easier to manage
- Built by experts within each category, thus highly specialized to meet individual needs
- Works seamlessly with other best-in-breed solutions
Increasingly more companies are turning to alt-suite for specialization and delivering the best possible outcome for their procurement strategies.
Hopefully this gave you some insight into the types of procurement software currently available: Best in breed, Suite solutions, and the newcomer, Alt-Suite, which is rapidly transforming the procurement software industry by offering companies the chance to mix and match solutions to suit their specific needs.
Simfoni offers alt-suite solutions with an outcome-based approach to payment, aligning payment schedules with value delivery, so your investment essentially pays for itself. Build a solution that fits your needs. Contact a Simfoni representative today to find out more.