For most of us this sounds like a simple question. We all have a definition of some sort in our minds and have used this term probably for years.

Having had several conversations surrounding best of breed ERP over the past weeks, it has become clear that there are very dramatic differences as to what this could mean in different organizations. I am guilty myself of using this term with various intention. The best of breed concept has also disrupted the list of top ERP systems of 2019, which includes some non-traditional ERP solutions.

Traditionally, the term “best of breed” grew from reference to a stand-alone system or systems that performed better than similar functionality included in a fully integrated system. As stand-alone products, these systems were limited to their niche functional focus and could not be considered “ERP” solutions in themselves.

Over the years these best-of-breeds have become commonplace in cases of CRM, HRMS, WMS, etc. and have been integrated into core ERP systems to fill gaps. Many companies, when asked, however, will not acknowledge that they are using a best of breed system since they do have what they consider a “core ERP.” These additional packages are simply “bolt-on” or “stand-alone” products working alongside their ERP.
With this in mind, consider the following potential definitions for best of breed ERP:

  • The individual stand-alone system or systems that bolt onto a core ERP
  • The complete enterprise systems portfolio that includes stand-alone systems as well as a core ERP
  • The enterprise systems portfolio that includes a compilation of multiple systems that are integrated to form an “ERP”, but none of which are considered “ERP” on their own
  • Any combination or hybrid of the above

There really is no right or wrong answer here, and how you define best of breed versus someone else doesn’t alter the actual structure or use of your enterprise platforms. It simply makes it easier to communicate with coworkers, consultants and vendors to come to consistent understanding.

Next time the term best of breed comes into conversation, don’t be afraid to validate the definition and associated assumptions that are being assumed. This is where independent ERP consultants such as our team at Third Stage can help.

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