Modern cloud ERP solutions have become much smarter in the last ten years, and they now offer far more capability and flexibility than they once did. Look to leading platforms like NetSuite or Dynamics 365 and you’ll see a wide range of functionality that meets just about any technical need, all packaged into a single, integrated solution. 

This isn’t to say, of course, that Cloud ERPs are the be-all and end-all! There are plenty of businesses out there that really will benefit from picking up best-in-class modules when and how they are needed, and a tailored solution may be a better fit for them. The key is to seek out the solution that will help your unique business thrive and grow.  

So how do you make that decision? Here’s a quick run-down of the key benefits and differences between unified ERPs versus best-in-breed configurations. 

Breaking it down

In the past, the trade-off was clear – a unified ERP system provided streamlined operations and simplified maintenance, but often lacked the flexibility to accommodate specific business needs. On the other hand, best-of-breed solutions offered specialised functionality but introduced complexity and integration challenges. 

Young businesses often opted for simple, cheaper solutions that they could easily implement. But as they expanded, there would come a tipping point when their solution could no longer keep up with the increased demand, quantity of transactions, and complexity of data integration. At that point, implementing an ERP helped streamline the growing costs of maintaining, integrating, and fixing breakdowns in a piecemeal solution.  

The choice was simple – businesses looking to save costs or incorporate highly specialised modules would go for best-in-breed solutions, while businesses wanting a streamlined, growth-compatible solution would lean towards all-in-one platforms.  

Today, however, there’s a great option waiting between these two. 

How do you choose which ERP?

Download your free guide to find out which ERP has the right ‘fit’ for your business.

ERP comparison guide

Bridging the gap with modern cloud ERPs 

Today’s best cloud ERPs provide both breadth and depth, offering a range of capabilities compared to traditional ERP systems, while still allowing for high configurability and easy extensibility.  

This evolution means that more businesses can cost-effectively leverage a unified solution and don’t have to take the more complex route of a best-of-breed approach. As today’s ERPs cater to a wider array of business requirements, and bring with them unparalleled integration technology, they are seen as a secure, simple solution that doesn’t come with the high price tags of future hard-coded modifications.  

Unified ERPs are becoming more compelling than ever before. Between their reduced complexity, data centralisation process, and the seamless ability to grow alongside a business – they are becoming a go-to option for businesses at all stages of maturity.  

Are unified ERPs for everyone?

The simple answer is no. Some businesses, especially those who rely heavily on specialised or highly technical digital tools, may still benefit far more from a solution pieced together based on their unique needs.  

Knowing which kind of solution is right for you comes down to six essential attributes. Consider these before making a decision about your digital solution type: 

  1. Functional Needs: Does your business demand special features? Will you likely need to leverage outside modules for these needs, or will a cloud ERP solution be able to cover you in this area?  
  2. Integration Complexity: How complex is your operational management? Assess how the integration challenges posed by a best-of-breed approach may impact your business and contrast those with the seamless data flow offered by a unified ERP system. 
  3. Scalability and Futureproofing: Consider how well each approach aligns with your business's growth trajectory and its ability to adapt to evolving requirements. 
  4. Total Cost of Ownership: Compare the costs associated with implementing, maintaining, and upgrading a unified ERP versus managing multiple best-of-breed applications. ERPs may feel too expensive for young or small businesses, but remember to consider the costs later down the line of transitioning a complex system as your company grows.  
  5. User Experience and Training: Examine how each approach impacts staff adoption and training efforts, as well as the overall user experience. 
  6. Vendor Ecosystem: Evaluate what kind of support you are likely to receive from your vendor. ERPs like NetSuite, when implemented by an experienced partner, come with ongoing expert support and implementation advice. Best-of-breed solutions may vary significantly when it comes to long-term support from your vendor.  

At the end of the day, it's all about balance

While choosing between a best-of-breed versus a unified ERP solution may not be the stark decision it once was, there are still plenty of factors to consider for businesses.  

Remember that it all comes down to choosing a solution that offers your business balance. You want to stay economical, without sacrificing smooth future growth; you want to ensure flexibility without taking on too much complexity.  

Ultimately, it’s about choosing the solution that will encourage you to grow and thrive. To help with this tricky decision, you can always lean on the advice of our friendly team at Fusion5. We can talk you through the pros and cons of both options and get to the bottom of exactly what your business needs now – and in the future. 

Great outcomes start with great conversations


Great outcomes start with great conversations

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