Single Vendor vs. Multi-Vendor: Factors To Consider – Part I

Over the past year, we’ve published multiple articles on how Cloud-native software can help drive down costs while automating business processes. Unlike 10 years ago, there’s now a consensus that Cloud-native solutions are the way to go. There are many concrete producers who are looking for cloud-based batch, dispatch, and GPS software alternatives to their current on-premise systems. There is now another challenge to be resolved: How do you decide between engaging a single vendor or multiple vendors to automate all the myriad tasks that can benefit from Cloud technology adoption?

Here are some factors when deciding single vendor vs. multi-vendor:

1. Best-of-breed

The term is fairly self-explanatory, but just in case: A best-of-breed product is acknowledged from a professional standpoint as the best product in its field. More often than not, this refers to a specific product or module focused on a specific feature. Simply put, it is nearly impossible for one to be the best in everything. In general, an integrated solution may be great, but not every component module will be the best-of-breed. For this reason, many businesses combine solutions that take individual components from separate vendors. To be more specific, vendor types include:

Single vendor – it’s very unlikely to get best-of-breed functionality for every feature with a single vendor. With careful selection, you should be able to find a single vendor that will likely be the best-of-breed in one or more areas. When choosing this option, be sure to do your research!
Multi-vendor – this is basically the key advantage of choosing a multi-vendor solution.

2. Implementation difficulty

Regardless of the system you purchase, you’ll likely encounter difficulties during the installation and setup process.

Single vendor – Installing single-vendor solutions will usually be much easier and will take less time if the single vendor already built integrations between its own products. For example, Sysdyne’s ConcreteGO and iStrada are fully integrated – During the setup process, you only need to set up the divisions, customers, plants, trucks, mixes, drivers, user access controls, etc. on the ConcreteGO side and they’ll be accessible automatically in iStrada.
Multi-vendor – Multi-vendor solutions typically require more effort to implement. For example, if your dispatch system and GPS system are from different vendors, you need to set them up separately and be sure that the data you enter into each system will be in sync on top of the integration work that needs to be done.

3. Integration Complexity

The complexity in integrating and implementing solutions involves many factors. It’s true that there is definitely a trend toward making everything compatible, but there are still many hoops to jump through in order to fully integrate batch, dispatch, QC, GPS and back-office/ERP systems.

Single vendor – this has the advantage – using a single vendor only requires integrating its own product with a pre-existing system. This may be challenging, but it’s at least a closed set of details to consider.
Multi-vendor – integrating everything is your responsibility. A wide range of systems and details makes it extremely difficult for outside vendors to integrate everything into a single cohesive whole – at least not without a hefty price. Speaking of which…

4. Cost

There’s no getting around it – pricing is going to be different across the two categories.

Single vendor – typically, due to volume discounts, this will be lower in price.
Multi-vendor – the price will be higher because you must purchase each module separately to construct your solution.

5. Product Updates

Modern technology is constantly being updated and upgraded. Overall, upgrading is a good idea because it improves the functionality of the software.

Single vendor – Updates and upgrades will probably be more comprehensive, with full consideration of the entire product suite.
Multi-vendor – A good intention could lead to a bad outcome here. Since the upgrade is focused on a single product (GPS, for example), the upgrade may break the integration between GPS and dispatch, thereby causing problems with operations. When that happens…

6. The Blame Game

The multi-vendor environment could have you shuffling from vendor to vendor, with each pointing fingers at each other – The blame game is contagious. According to a recent study, people are inclined to blame others for unrelated failures even when they are exposed to someone else blaming them for a mistake. This is different from the “kick-the-dog” phenomenon, in which an individual blames someone below them if they themselves have been blamed by someone above them. To “catch” the blame virus, all you have to do is be exposed to someone else passing the buck.

Alternatively, there is an old saying, ‘one bloke to choke’ that can apply when working with a single vendor. Avoid all this “blame game” nonsense, as there will be one phone number, one contact, one invoice; it’s just easier dealing with a single vendor. Period.

Read Single Vendor vs. Multi-Vendor: Factors To Consider – Part II