EPM software selection - best of breed versus best of suite

EPM software selection: best of breed versus best ofsuite6Minutes estimated reading time

Companies looking to replace their EPM tooling have no shortage of choices. Today's offerings are vast and growing. EPM software companies are popping up like mushrooms.

You would think that the wider range of offerings would lead companies to get best of breed. In other words, that they choose the best software solution per EPM need. Practice, however, shows that many companies opt for best of suite. In other words, a total solution from one vendor. Why is that? Is this choice wise? And where will the software landscape eventually go? EPM expert Bart van Velzen will be happy to advise you.

Playing it safe

Having lots of choice seems nice. In theory, it is. The condition is that you know exactly what you need. And that's precisely where the crux lies. Most companies have insufficient knowledge to make a good software choice. They don't know what they need and can't see the forest for the trees.

So what's a logical step if you want to play it safe? You first put the big, reputable names on your shortlist. Parties like Oracle, Tagetik or OneStream. They have an application for every EPM discipline within their suite or all-in-one solution. To your mind, you are making a safe choice.

The vendors in question and their implementation partners obviously welcome that choice. Indeed, they will present their total solution as the egg of Columbus. And prove them wrong, commercially speaking.

The risk of 'safe' software choices

Yet there is a risk in such a "safe" software choice. Most software players excel in certain things, such as consolidation or planning. But then again, in other EPM disciplines, alternative software solutions are better.

In other words, a total solution is not the best solution for everyone. In fact, for most companies, individual suite solutions are simply the best choice. One size doesn't fit all.

Needs first

My advice? As a customer, don't look at what vendors offer. Look at what you need. What are your needs, now and in the future? Can't figure that out by yourself? Then get assistance from an experienced, independent advisor without commercial interests.

Apart from functional considerations, financial motives also play a role, of course. Here too, unfortunately, I see that companies still often cut themselves in half. They mainly look at the implementation costs, but the monthly maintenance costs are at least as important. Some tools are so technically complex that it takes a lot of consultancy hours to keep them up to date.

In addition, be aware of vendor lock-ins. Is a project entering the next phase? What does that mean for costs? How tied are you to your vendor? What are the costs if you want to switch?

Why best of breed is going to win anyway

I think best of breed will eventually win out. You already see this happening in other ICT domains. Almost everywhere you look, the ICT market is moving toward best of breed. For you as a customer, that's often the best too. Because you not only get the best solution. You are also less dependent on one party.

Integration is still a challenge, though. The market is not yet ready to let all those different software packages easily talk to each other. At Bart & Partners we are working on that now. The need is there, so that's where our attention is.

Another challenge is the commercial game being played. But you can read more about that in my next blog: How commercial interests get in the way of good EPM solutions.