Best-of-Breed

Biggest Procurement Trends of 2021 – Best-of-Breed Software

Single suite versus best-of-breed: It’s a debate that has become heated, with each side advocating its preference’s superior benefits. So, with all of the buzz going around, which one should you choose? We’ll dive into the differences and advantages of each, as well as foreshadow what you can expect in 2022.


First, let’s start with some simple definitions.

What is Suite?

Also known as the all-in-one approach, this refers to an all-encompassing business management solution that offers broad functionality in a single suite. For those who require a wide range of functionality, a single suite allows you to avoid the need to procure any additional add-ons, as you have all of your various functionality areas integrated right out of the box and fully supported by the same vendor. And who doesn’t love the simplicity of an all-in-one solution?

Well, the answer is—plenty of people. One drawback is that although you have immediate access to tons of different functionality in a single suite, you may also be paying for a lot of things you don’t need and may never even use. And no one likes paying for something they aren’t benefiting from!

Traditionally, most large organizations use a suite for procurement, such as SAP Ariba. As well as the drawback listed above, a few other issues with these suites are that they can take a long time to get set up, they are expensive (to the point where some smaller companies can’t even afford them). They can malfunction or never work properly. And sometimes, they hinder entire parts of the procurement process altogether.

When faced with these issues, procurement professionals needed a remedy. Over the last few years, there have been more and more best-of-breed (BOB) solutions for procurement introduced to tackle specific procurement pain points.

What is Best-of-Breed?

When someone talks about adopting abest-of-breed business management solution, it describes a solution that incorporates a wide range of functionality, parts of which are brought to the table by add-on applications (many of which are licensed separately via a business partner). And the final product of this compilation is an A-Team of multiple vendor applications—each of which is the best of the best (hence, the name).

By focusing on a smaller niche of capabilities, BOB offers you the choice to pay for only the functionality you need and use that is also the absolute best. So, while you’re using solutions from different providers, you operate through the same partners and set up, allowing seamless flow. Keep in mind that additional applications need to be set up to be integrated. Depending on the combination of functionality you’re looking for, this might require more implementation time or cost more.

The Focus on Best of Breed in 2021

Nic Walden, a senior advisor in The Hackett Group’s procurement advisory program, pointed out what we all saw trending: BOB became the focus in 2021. Walden said that although a single suite solution may provide more comprehensive options across the board, “if you need to be the best in supply chain risk management, then a best-of-breed solution in that area might actually be better for you.”

What Will Happen in 2022?

So, where are we headed? Our current reality is changing quickly. Why? We are seeing that even a well-designed suite will eventually—and increasingly so moving forward—need to be integrated with other software, devices, cloud resources, and more. Simply put: the concept of a single application being sufficient for all a company’s needs isn’t always realistic.

So, what can we do? For procurement startups to succeed, they will need to be able to speedily perfect their tech, market their tech, and continuously improve their features. No biggie, right? Before you get overwhelmed, procurement and supply chain expert Dr. Elouise Epstein came up with spider chart—a living document that is continuously updated with new tech and BOB solutions—to help guide you in the right direction.

If you want more inspiration and inside info, check out this list from Spend Matters, who came up with 50 procurement tech vendors to watch.

By Michael Cadieux