Best-of-breed vs integrated HRMS: which should you choose?

It’s an age-old argument in the world of software: best-of-breed or integrated software suites? In HR, companies face the same decision, and must weigh up the value of each approach.

Let’s look at the advantages of best-of-breed HRMS and integrated suites to help you decide on which HRMS to choose.

Best-of-breed HRMS

Best-of-breed software excels in one particular field such as talent management, staff scheduling or payroll.

By definition, the features in these software packages win out over those offered by modules within integrated HRMS suites.

Other notable advantages of these systems include:

  • Quick and easy installation and implementation. Fewer employees need to use each system so training is easy.
  • Updates tend to be frequent. It’s easier for providers to make changes to focused, niche software.
  • Switching systems is easier. Your business won’t grind to a halt if you decide you want to switch to a different provider. 
  • No reliance on a single vendor. If one of your provider’s servers drop or they unexpectedly go out of business, it won’t scupper your company.
  • User-friendly. These systems are designed to be easy to use, and by their nature, they’re not as complex as full suites.

Need some help with your HRMS selection journey? Check out our comprehensive nine-step guide to HRMS selection

Overall, best-of-breed software is perhaps best-suited to companies which are looking for flexible, short-medium term solutions. Generally, this includes startups and smaller businesses, or those in specialist sectors where general HRMS is  inadequate.

Integrated HRMS

Integrated HRMS provide businesses with all (or most) HR functions in one system, with data automatically shared between the modules to ease management of larger data sets. Although this is the main advantage of integrated HRMS, there are plenty of others:

  • A single point of contact. For all of your software support purposes, there’s only one company you need to contact. 
  • Lower costs. After a certain point, several of best-of-breed packages become more expensive than an integrated HRMS. When training costs are taken into account, suites tend to provide excellent value.
  • No export or integration concerns. Data doesn’t need to be exported or transferred between modules. You don’t need to worry about compatibility or data conversion. 
  • Simplifies processes for employees. Admin tasks can be completed within the same software package. There’s no need to switch between multiple systems and the interface remains familiar. You also eliminate the need to duplicate data entry.
  • Reporting. It’s far easier to generate reports from data in a single system rather than drawing data from multiple systems.

The importance of these benefits will vary significantly based on the size and structure of your business. As a general rule, integrated HRMS are better suited to large companies, or those looking for a long term solution that will accommodate business growth. It’s worth noting that HRMS vendors are increasingly flexible so integrated suites might still work for smaller companies.

Is there a perfect HR system?

In short: no. There are dozens of variables you must consider before you find the right HR system(s) for your company. There’s no single system that ticks the boxes for every company.  

The above discussion is a strong starting point for your HRMS search. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of suites and best-of-breed solutions, you can start to narrow your search and perhaps even create a shortlist of your different software options

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Anna Roberts

About the author…

Anna is Head of Content at RotaCloud, a UK-based provider of employee scheduling software. Anna previously worked as an online journalist and as a copywriter at a leading content marketing agency. Follow Anna on Twitter @RotaCloud_Anna.

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Anna Roberts