AN ANALYSIS OF WORKFORCE MANANGEMENT SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS
In the workforce management industry, a debate continues to rage regarding the most effective usage of software solutions. Some organizations are opting for a simpler way to get everything they need by purchasing an all-in-one software suite, but looks can be deceiving. Advancements in internet technology and the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) delivery model have made all-in-one applications unnecessary.
This guide will highlight some common myths about all-in-one software suites and why the latest technology favors best-of-breed solutions.
MYTH #1: ELIMINATE COMPLEX INTEGRATION ISSUES
The myth here lies in implying that complex integration issues still exist when selecting multiple best-of-breed software solutions. In the 1990s, the integration of all business applications was the full responsibility of the customer. Attempting to integrate four or five on-premise systems with no interoperability standards required a staggering amount of work from IT staff or a large amount of money to hire outsourced system integrators. Although there were drawbacks, an all-in-one software suite could spare customers time and money by offering one pre-integrated system.
Times have changed. The primary benefit of an all-in-one suite to eliminate integration headaches is no longer a major issue. SaaS allows customers to use software applications without installing or maintaining anything on their end. Best-of-breed solution providers now strive to be user friendly and have accepted the role of maintaining integrations. Internet standards for interoperability like XML and HTTP have made integration much simpler, with some best-of-breed companies providing integration to hundreds of other systems.
A software suite should eliminate many integration problems, but best-of-breed providers in today�s market have eliminated most issues as well. It is also likely that organizations using suites still require additional software, creating the issue of integration that suite providers claim is a major problem.
MYTH #2: GET MORE FOR YOUR MONEY
For small to medium sized businesses, suites can be entirely too costly. Due to the nature of all-in-one solutions, it is common for some features to be very robust, while other features fail to meet the needs of organizations without additional customization. Purchasing an all-in-one solution typically involves more departments throughout the company, and requires more executive buy-in - greatly increasing the time to implement. Upgrades to the entire suite also drive up costs in comparison with best-of-breed solutions that you select when, or if, you want to upgrade.
Additionally, some customers will not need all of the suite features, in which case implementing the best-of-breed solutions as needed can be more cost effective. Some software suite vendors allow feature sets to be selected and implemented separately. However, if an organization wishes to implement new software systems piece-by-piece over time, it may be more efficient to select the best software available for each piece, rather than being limited to a single vendor�s options.
MYTH #3: REAP THE BENEFITS OF A SEAMLESS SOLUTION
An all-in-one software suite is not necessarily a solution that was originally designed to work with all of its components. To an extent, a suite is no different than the customer selecting all of the individual components and integrating them, except that someone else has done the work and packaged it as an all-in-one solution. Suites developed with components from other suppliers or added through corporate acquisition may not work as seamlessly as expected. Unless all of the applications were developed on the same platform, customers may still experience integration, administration and functionality issues.
MYTH #4: MINIMIZE YOUR RISK
All-in-one software systems actually require organizations to take a big risk by investing in one large system before its effectiveness has been proven. If the functionality of the suite does not meet an organization�s business requirements, a significant amount of time and money has been wasted. Risk and time to implement can be minimized by investing in best-of-breed solutions as you need them.
Best-of-breed software can help compartmentalize maintenance and lower overall risk. If a suite fails, all applications are knocked out of order until the single provider can fix the problem. If one best-of-breed system fails, other systems will continue to work, reducing the total impact to business processes.
MYTH #5: GAIN MORE INSIGHT WITH A SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT
Perhaps the most alluring aspect of an all-in-one suite is having a single point of contact for the majority of business software processes. With any well-built software suite, data is centralized and provides easier insight into employee behavior and workflow. However, if some pieces of the suite are not up to par, organizations may be missing critical data that they would have access to with a best-of-breed solution. As the old proverb states, �Don�t put all your eggs in one basket.�
By selecting a software suite, an organization becomes locked in with one vendor. Switching to another solution becomes much more complicated when multiple applications are operated by a single provider. Some organizations will be reluctant to move away from a software suite due to the difficulty of switching, which can leave the company susceptible to expensive upgrades and obsolete technology. A best-of-breed solution provides organizations with the flexibility to swap out individual systems to capitalize on the latest features.
As with all business decisions, organizations should carefully consider all of the options available and determine what will fit their business model best. Suites do offer multiple benefits, but the concepts pushed by some of the larger vendors are inaccurate. There is a risk involved with having one vendor manage all of the core business software, both financial and technical. The internet, SaaS, and interoperability standards have made integrations simpler, allowing business to more easily pick and choose what systems they want, when they want them.
In some ways, one could look at a software suite as a multi-tool and a set of best-of-breed solutions as a toolbox. A multi-tool is capable of handling a wide variety of tasks fairly well, and all its components fold nicely into a single unit. A toolbox is heavier, but when you open it you have access to the best tools available. If you are building a bookshelf, will you reach for the miniature screwdriver on your multi-tool, or will you grab the electric screwdriver from your toolbox?