All-in-one software is commonly referred to as Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP solutions. This includes software offered by the so called ‘tier one’ solution providers who are a handful and have a global presence.
The breath of functionality covered by such is generally vast and covers Finance, Manufacturing, Distribution, Retail, Customer Relationship Management, Human Resource Management and Point-of-Sale just to name the more common ones.
An advantage of deploying such a (ERP) solution is that the software generally cater to all those sectors (Accounting, Manufacturing, Distribution, etc.) in modular form. Therefore, you have one Software solution that caters to diverse functional requirements of typically the larger Organisations including conglomerates.
This may also make life easy from a (IT) Management perspective as you deal with one point of contact. Furthermore, when it comes to support and upgrades it should be that much easier to manage and coordinate.
So are there any downsides? Yes. One of the most obvious ones would be the overall cost. Generally, tier one solutions would cost you an arm and a leg. The big Corporates that own them invest heavily into R&D and also carry huge overheads that makes their solutions that much dearer.
Another disadvantage is that such software may be more of a ‘jack of all trades’ as it has to cater to hugely diverse market segments and hence lose the ability to cater to specific or special requirements.
Therefore, most often, Organisations are required to change their procedures to suit the software.
Are there options? Yes. Situations such as the ones mentioned above, have given rise to the growth of ‘bespoke’ or specialist solutions. One such example is Human Resource Management. Given that different countries have different statutory and employment policies, it is inevitable that extensive ‘customisations’ are carried out to cater to Country specific requirements.
Another instance is Point-Of-Sale (POS) solutions. POS solutions have the added complication of the ‘vertical’ it operates in. For instance, a POS solutions for a grocery store setup would be different to that of a fashion outlet or to a restaurant. As a result, there are providers who specialise in different POS segments.
How about a hybrid solution? Yes, there are many instances where top tier ERP vendors have ‘allowed’ 3rd party providers to ‘integrate’ their bespoke solutions with the core ERP in order to provide a ‘best of both worlds’ solution. And today, to enrich this experience even further, there is software that have come up with the ability to provide a holistic view of your entire operation (even if it has multiple Application systems running in multiple platforms) using what is called Business Intelligence (BI) tools.
Therefore, in summary, there is necessarily no single solution deemed as best. The optimum solution could be one that assimilates the ‘best of breed’ to provide you with the ultimate solution in terms of Information Technology!