It’s the age old question, do I want one throat to choke from a partner that “does it all”, or work with a bunch of “best of breed” partners and corral them all in to a single unified service?
As always with these things there is no one size fits all answer that is right for everyone. Now I am obviously biased here, we are 100% a best of breed provider, but I have also been on the client side and operated under both models, plus I have also worked for large integrators that “did it all” – and for me personally, its best of breed all the way.
So, what are the pros and cons of a best of breed model?
You get highly focused specialists that deliver a small set of solutions but do it better than our competitors. As specialists we take immense pride in best practice and making a complex thing easy for our clients.
We spend most of our time working with other best of breed providers, it’s what we do, and we love it. When you specialise, you accept that you never “own” the customer relationship and inherently understand that the best outcomes for the customer comes from us working closely and effectively with others.
Our teams are not pulled all over the place reacting to the demands of one client or project, we focus on what we do and ensure that we deliver to our ongoing commitments. We know exactly what our roles are and what we are working on day to day, week to week and month to month.
Innovation & Agility comes naturally to us, we are innovating on a smaller set of products and services and therefore are able to keep abreast of the market and how its changing – then we are agile enough to move quickly and bring new technology to our customers in a controlled and well managed way.
We are extremely customer focused. When you only have a smaller set of products or services to deliver, you appreciate how easy it is for a client to move away from you. So our focus is ensuring that these products and services sing today, sing louder tomorrow, and that we keep the client front and centre every day.
You do need to manage multiple contracts and suppliers, that’s just a fact, but I’d argue if you pick the right partners then it won’t be an issue.
It may not always be obvious who to call for support or help at times. Because best of breed providers work with others more often, it won’t matter who you call – they will all put you in contact with the right people that can help, even when its not them.
When things go wrong the fingers are all pointing all over the place. I think we have all been here before, and its not a great place to be as a client. This is as big a problem with both sides of the equation, for us at vBridge, we just get on with helping the client out and working with whomever else is involved. We live in grey area diagnosis, like everyone needs to. I think this is more about the partners and their culture.
You don’t have access to as many people with diverse skills and capability. I put this in here as it’s a common item on the list, but really it’s a fallacy – your best of breed providers with their specialist teams will give you access to deep, diverse skills with a wide set of capabilities.
For me the benefits of a best of breed provider far outweigh the few negatives. In one of my past roles we managed 7 best of breed providers across our tech infrastructure management disciplines - this was over and above our general support partner and our application providers.
With good discipline and a culture driven on high value outcomes, our partners worked well together – including the “all in one” providers that had a part to play.
Here at vBridge we operate in a competitive market, our direct competitors are sometimes also our clients support partners, this means that at times our competitors are our partners. It makes no difference to us as long as our clients are getting the service that they need.