Question

Do you prefer to buy a narrow, best-of-breed product, or a broad solution that replaces many products?

One of the eternal debates of technology and IT departments since basically they were invented is: Should we buy best of breed and integrate? or buy a Full Stack Solution that provides ~80 of functionality?

I know the answer to this is largely drive by the context that you operate in as well as the eco-systems that your tools are developed on. I'm curious to know how organizations of various sizes are approaching this.

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iCanAutomate's avatar
8 months ago

After having evaluated more than 30 products before deciding our growth stack, I can say with confidence that choosing best-of-breed tools over the jack-of-all-trades is any day the wiser choice.

6 points
danieldcn's avatar
@danieldcn (replying to @iCanAutomate )
8 months ago

It would be helpful to know the following: What industry are you in/server, number of users, relative tech savvy-ness of users number of SaaS Apps, Who is building the "stack" and what is there experience like? My personal observation is I'm seeing a lot of opinions here with very little context as to what informs them.

2 points
iCanAutomate's avatar
@iCanAutomate (replying to @danieldcn )
8 months ago

Sure. I lead growth at Integromat, a leading workflow automation tool that serves over 100k businesses. We recently rebuilt our growth stack by implementing tools for product analytics, in-app experiences, and lifecycle emails with a goal to double down on product-led growth. I led this initiative and in the process, evaluated over 30 tools that serve growth-stage companies and enterprises.

1 point
kil0ran's avatar
8 months ago

I forget where I saw this (it was one of the SaaS Management tool providers) but user behaviour often means if you select a full stack tool, even with a strong IT department governing it , by year 3 around 40% of your users will have bled away to a best of breed solution. I guess one of the reasons for this may be headcount churn - new hires bring new ideas and also weren't around when the big adoption drive was made

4 points
maguay's avatar
8 months ago

I feel like the decision comes down to how much you use the product and the specific feature you need.

For example. Google Sheets isn't the best-of-breed spreadsheet technically; it has far fewer functions to Excel, almost none of the add-on ecosystem Excel has, doesn't support anywhere near as large of spreadsheets, barely works offline, etc. And yet, Google Sheets is far better at two things: commenting and live collaboration with others, and working online in the background where other apps can add data on their own via integrations.

Thus I think most people end up picking Google Sheets as a "broad solution" because it's good enough and free, assuming they'll buy an Office 365 subscription for Excel if they end up needing more features. But on the flip side, I actually need a connected spreadsheet that's easy to share with others, and so Google Sheets is my best-in-breed solution for that use case.

Broad solutions are perfect when you need the lowest common denominator features. You need a spreadsheet, a word process, whatever—anything could work, just need feature X.

Best in breed solutions are best when you live in something, use it all day, see it as mission-critical. It's easy for me to pay for say writing apps, even say Ulysses with a monthly subscription, because I write all day. Whereas I'd get by with iMovie that's bundled with my Mac, say, instead of buying Premiere to edit a video on a rare occasion.

Generally I lean towards best-in-breed software, but am glad to use broad solutions for occasional tasks where not being best isn't the worst problem.

4 points
andraz's avatar
8 months ago

From what I've seen the best approach is best-of-breed with gradual convergence of non-critical SaaS into a broad solution.
For example, you might use broad solution for HR/directory/presence tracking (let's say SuccessFactor), but decide that hiring process is too important to be governed by horrors of broad solution ATS module and instead take up best of breed SaaS for it.

3 points
joepayneco's avatar
8 months ago

Best-of-breed 100% of the time. Software trying to be all things to all people, in my experience, always ends up full of bloat and half-baked features. Being spread across multiple platforms certainly introduces its own set of challenges (account management, subscription overload, etc.), but they're worthwhile trade-offs.

2 points
danieldcn's avatar
@danieldcn (replying to @joepayneco )
8 months ago

I wonder how you account for integration. Especially in a cloud context where keeping 2 cloud apps in sync appears to be a non trivial challenge. Even with well written APIs and mature version control standards there is a significant amount of data variation from one product to the next.

1 point
joepayneco's avatar
@joepayneco (replying to @danieldcn )
8 months ago

Yeah, those are valid callouts. Some context that's probably worth noting is that we're a relatively small agency, so our data problems look different than a larger organization's. We've been evaluating PSA's as a potential solution to some of the issues we have with visibility into our numbers. None of them will solve all of our challenges. We haven't come across too many issues with support or integration yet, but that doesn't mean we won't in the future.

2 points
MrDisinterested's avatar
8 months ago

Few factors that come to my mind for Full Stack tools:
1) Ease of Integration with Existing tools that you use.
2) Migrating Existing data from current tools
3) Ease of collaborating with People outside your Organisation ( This is where network effect comes in)
4) Imagine using that tool with a large workforce (50+). You will see issues here.
and lastly
5) Why now? Why am I thinking about migrating to this new tool? What sort of workarounds have I been employing to get this job done? In short JTBD it.

2 points
gentoftech's avatar
@gentoftech (replying to @MrDisinterested )
8 months ago

We favor best of breed for ourselves and clients, but are cognizant of the issues that arise with adoption and integration (especially with new solutions).

If an all around solution is easy to use and widely integrated we generally end up using or recommending it.

2 points
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