In this final blog post on best of breed (BoB) system architecture, we look at the business case for replacing all those systems with a single integrated solution.
A BoB architecture is actually so bad, that the business case for replacing it with an integrated solution has many dimensions or categories.
Let’s start with the first, some would say most important, category, Cost.
A typical BoB solution is likely to contain: a CRM system; a service desk system; a timesheet system; an expenses system in addition to the accounting system. Purchase orders will probably run from the accounting system so that’s not an expense (but does disconnect the data from the project/timesheet system). A quick analysis for say, a typical 30 person company for a typical BoB systems solution architecture can generate an aggregate per user monthly cost of $70-80/m (assuming typical distribution of users by role), well in excess of prices for integrated software.
So, the first stage of the business case is simple: it will save you money that is easy to see.
But more than that, any mix of solutions needs cross-system data alignment for operational and MIS purposes. However well you feel you have this problem automated, we can assure you this problem is costing you money, you just won’t know how much. So, in addition to the hard savings above, there are other soft savings to consider (though probably not quantify).
The second category of the business case is Management Information. As we’ve said in earlier posts in this series, lining data up between systems is real work. Data state across multiple systems can never be relied upon and editing output before analysis is time consuming, difficult and can be ultimately ineffective. Forget real-time profitability, you’re unlikely to get close even given a day’s head-start. The other major issue with timesheets and service desk being separate is that service staff don’t bother to record time at a ticket level (the granularity needed for this analysis) so no matter how much post-processing you do, you won’t get a clean number, only ticket statistic-based approximations.
The third category of the business case is Revenue Leakage. BoB architectures leak revenue all day long. When your service desk doesn’t understand your contracts (who is paying, who has cancelled etc.) how will they know whether to answer a call or not? The fact is that they probably don’t and so help anyway. This is work for free, a remarkably common activity in these companies. Bring it all together and this stops, in particular if the system can place late payers on stop and have that notification on every screen related to the customer.
Revenue leakage also occurs when work you do simply doesn’t get billed. If the process of feeding work through the architecture contains any manual stages, and the vast majority do, any failure can lead to a missed invoice and so back to working for free. If this has never happened to you, well done, you are in the minority. Even if you do spot it later, you’ve lost the cash flow and also probably annoyed the customer. Neither is great, both are more likely with BoB.
So, to summarise, having the market-leading niche systems may sound like the safe option, but it will be more expensive, lack analysis capability and probably cause you to miss billing opportunities. It will certainly create a lack of visibility across your business. Really, is this the best that can be done?
This is what best of breed really means, however, until recently, there was no choice. Now there is.