The Best of Breed Myth


Over the years, I’ve advised companies on whether or not they need a suite of “good enough” or a collection of “best of breed” solutions. There are pros and cons to each approach and I’ve now decided that both approaches stink.

What people really need is the best solution for their “most important business problem” and then everything else can be good enough. Some systems are too important to not be the best but it is prohibitive to expand that to everything.

Looking in the Mirror

AIIM is an association, so it should go without saying that our most important system is our Association Management System (AMS). This is the system in which we track everything about AIIM. This system has to be Best of Breed, or at least meet all of our needs today and tomorrow.

Everything else can be good enough. The AMS drives things in our world. The website needs to reliable but it doesn’t have to be the fanciest one out there. Our finances aren’t that crazy so we don’t need the top-of-the-line system there either. In fact, we can trade off features for cost on almost anything.

When I was in consulting, our financial systems were the most important systems. We had to track all hours worked against thousands of projects and be able to measure the profit against how much we invested in winning the work. Almost every decision made was driven by the financial systems. That had to be top-notch. Everything else could be worked around.

Flexibility in Approach

My new advice is to have you sit back and determine what one or two key systems “stir the pot” in your organization. Those are the systems that you can’t afford to compromise upon. Sure, there will be bells and whistles that you don’t need, but you need the system to work and meet your needs for the foreseeable future.

As for everything else, it has to basic meet the basic requirement of not getting in the way of business and be able to support the key systems.

None of this is as easy as it sounds but nothing worthwhile ever is.

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