Best of Breed
An Online Calculator
Sponsored by IFS
Does a Total Solution
Add Up for Your Company?
This tool will help you determine whether an integrated suite of applications
or a collection of point solutions is the best bet.
have more choice than ever in terms of what type of applications they
will implement to run all aspects of their businesses. These days, software
tools enable just about every organizational function, from
sales force automation tools to sourcing of raw materials to product design
to plant floor systems to executive information systems to customer support.
The challenge is applications architecture.
Companies considering adding enterprise applications have two major strategies to evaluate: whether to implement an integrated manufacturing suite (in which one vendor provides all, or nearly all, the applications the company needs) or whether to piece together a solution based on technology that is recognized as best-of-breed in each application space. The choice is far from clear-cut.
To help manufacturing
managers choose the right strategy, IFS North America (a unit of Industrial
and Financial Systems AB of Sweden) is sponsoring this online decision
support tool, also known as a calculator. IFS' enterprise suite of over
60 fully integrated business applications provides companies with rapid
payback, allowing them to quickly improve their bottom line, optimize
resources and achieve faster ROI.
For a more detailed explanation of the integrated suite vs. the best-of-breed approach, please refer to this series of articles.
When it comes to deciding
between an integrated manufacturing suite or a best-of-breed approach,
most companies are looking for easy answers. And, in fact, there are some
good rules of thumb.
Note that there are
hundreds of enterprise applications vendors. Many of the largest vendors
promote the integrated suite approach. And a sizable number of large,
medium and small vendors offer what they claim are best-of-breed solutions.
Key Decision Factors
The decision about
applications architecture should not be made strictly based on the size
of the organization. Other factors are crucial. This calculator will provide
some initial guidance about which approach would be more appropriate
for your organization. But this tool is only one step.
You must create
your own short list of important variables, with business strategy
and business processes appearing near the top of the list. Then, with
the help of this calculator, you can begin to home in on which approach
makes the most sense for your own unique circumstances. Furthermore, a
host of vendors and consultants can provide guidance.
"It all comes down
to personal decisions," explains Greg Gorbach, director of collaborative
manufacturing research at ARC Advisory Group, in Dedham, Mass. "Two different
companies in the same industry can make two different decisions, and they
both may be right--or wrong." Still, the calculator will help you define
where your company fits in terms of criteria that affect the decision-making
Aside from company
size, other important factors in making the decision include business
process (such as whether the company has a centralized or decentralized
structure), complexity of supply chain (having thousands of suppliers
tends to make using an integrated suite from one vendor more difficult),
complexity of end product produced and complexity of company structure.
These criteria are part of the tool, which you can begin to use by clicking
The short questionnaire--it
will take you less than three minutes to get an answer--and insights on
the following screens were developed with extensive input from
vendors, users and consultants. EnterprisesoftwareHQ.com would like to
thank the following individuals and organizations for their extensive
- Mike Burkett, research director, global manufacturing strategies group, AMR Research Inc., Boston.
- Greg Gorbach, director of collaborative manufacturing research, ARC Advisory Group, Dedham, Mass.
- Cecelia Casillas, industry manager, high-tech and electronics, IFS North America,
- Jack Wagner, marketing executive for global solutions, IBM, Southberry, Conn.
Let us know what you
think of this calculator. Send a letter to the editor.