Managing your Global Brand’s Digital Footprint: Deciding on a Multiple VS Single Vendor Approach
When it comes to global brand management, deciding whether or not to take a multiple or single vendor approach is a topic that many executives can relate to. As the tech space proliferates, the choice of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) partners to choose from also increases – as does the confusion over comparing, evaluating and making good purchase decisions.
With the above in mind, here’s a list of key factors to consider when deciding whether or not to take a multiple vs single vendor approach.
What to Consider Before Deciding on a Multiple VS Single Vendor Approach
1. Superiority in different application areas
While ERP partners may offer a vast array of solutions, that’s not to say they’re experts in all of them. The fact is, it’s difficult to excel in every niche; an integrated solution might be impressive overall but not every function will be the best in the market.
Companies often invest in solutions from different vendors with the goal of obtaining the most superior solution for each application area; for example, a social package from one single vendor and an online news package from another. This factor is arguably the most compelling for a multiple vendor approach.
Before deciding on whether to invest in a multiple or single vendor approach, research whether the vendors you’re considering are specialists in the software categories important to you; you don’t need every component in your tech stack to be the ‘best of breed’. Companies often send Request for Information documents to the vendors they’re evaluating to understand where they score in their business-critical areas.
Realistically, you have four options you can take:
1. Choose multiple vendors who are superior in your required fields
2. Choose a single vendor that’s superior in most fields
3. Explore whether it’s feasible to build your own command centre type solution and then leverage the enriched data you need from multiple vendors (assuming they offer an API to do so)
4. Invest in a command centre and then leverage the enriched data you need from multiple vendors (assuming they offer an API to do so)
Having multiple vendors opens up competition and reduces ‘vendor lock-ins’, so you have more flexibility on price. With that being said, consolidating vendors helps to reduce costs on a larger scale as you’re able to bundle offerings together and package them up to receive volume discounts. A single vendor approach is, therefore, more efficient – it’s also easier from a procurement viewpoint – one contract, one invoice, one point of contact, one negotiation process etc.
While technology greatly assists leaders, investment alone will not deliver goals. In order to take maximum advantage of your investment, support from your solution partner is vital. Executives need to understand how to implement insight found from the huge amounts of data the solutions they’ve invested in are tracking. The level/ quality of onboarding, training, local/ global support etc. are all valid factors to bring up during your evaluation process. Some vendors will charge you for this, while others offer unlimited support at no extra cost.
4. Complexity of integrations
When the project is deemed complex, it’s likely ‘off the shelf’ solutions won’t solve business needs and so custom solutions are required. When this is the case, it’s advisable to opt for a single vendor approach due to compatibility and governance reasons. Multiple vendors will all have their own models and processes, and this tends to have a negative knock on effect on efficiency and compatibility – something that’s needed when working with a complex task. Often differences can come down to when, where and how the data is collected and structured. Unless you’re using the same provider throughout, it’s near enough impossible to compare data. A single version of truth combats this challenge.
5. Problem handling
Working with a singular vendor can be like putting all your eggs in one basket; if there’s a fault, the effects will be felt throughout your team. On the other hand, it can be challenging to hold one of your multiple vendors accountable for errors, as blame is often passed around. With a single vendor approach, it’s relatively easy to ensure that the supplier is contractually responsible for the services throughout the outsourcing term, therefore, errors can be rectified more effectively.
If scale is a focus area for you, a single vendor approach is wise as it improves alignment amongst teams, making it much easier to scale processes. For example, it’s likely that the problems your regional teams have are shared across the board on a global scale too. By consolidating your vendors, you can implement and action solutions to business problems a lot more fluidly.
If scope of your media intelligence goals is wide/ diverse, you’ll want to invest in a vendor that offers unlimited searches, tracks a superior number of sources in your areas, and operates in your desired languages/ countries. It’ll be easier to decide on a multiple or singular vendor approach based on how the vendor/s you’re evaluating in terms of scope also stack up on your other required areas. A Request for Information is an easy way to source details to help with evaluation.
Different enabling and constraining forces influence companies motives to move towards a multiple or single vendor approach and the importance of the forces vary from company to company. As such, there is no standardised right or wrong approach. The path you take should depend on your strategy, business priorities, budget considerations, and the type of relationship you want to foster with your Enterprise Resource Planning partner.
If you’d like to discuss the best path for your organisation (single vs multi-vendor) based on your specific needs, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!