It's not uncommon for companies to begin their dive into the realm of automation without understanding the scope of options that are available for purchase. Although there are software vendors for just about everything these days, the types of products and services that are available can be roughly divided into two groups: point solutions & platform solutions.
These two solution types can differ greatly in flexibility and scalability and each has its own strengths and weaknesses that you'll need to weigh. As your team begins preparing for the vendor evaluation process it is important to be aware of the two different solution models so can you make the right choice for your organization on the first try.
Traditionally, point solutions are defined as programs that are built to solve a single problem. Whether providing AP automation, document management, payment processing, or something else entirely, these services put their complete focus on offering an effective and efficient solution within their area of expertise.
- Limited scope can make point solutions quick to get up and running
- Usually less expensive than more complex platform options
- Narrow application is often (though not always) made up for with specific expertise
- Only works for originally intended uses. Different problems will require different software.
- Each solution requires the development and management of an integration that lets it work with other solutions and your core line of business applications.
- Point-solutions don’t commonly scale with your growth as they struggle to adapt to new factors that add additional layers to processes.
- Managing multiple point solutions is unwieldy for IT and can result in communication lapses between departments.
Whereas point solutions are built to solve a single use-case issue, platforms provide a foundation of flexible tools. These tools are then utilized to construct custom workflows and automated systems that can replace pretty much any paper-based processes or repetitive tasks. These solutions are highly configurable by design so they can be applied to multiple use-cases across every department or industry.
- Solutions can be tailored to meet different industry requirements, integrations, regulations, or equipment.
- Platforms scale with your company, filling new needs and solving new problems with adaptable procedures and workflows.
- Flexibility in implementation allows for further optimization over time as driven by results.
- An entire organization can operate in a single software, increasing transparency, efficiency, and communication between departments.
- New hires will get up and running faster when they only have to learn one process system.
- Paying for a comprehensive toolset usually incurs a higher upfront investment than buying just one point solution.
- Requires honest internal evaluation and cooperation to maximize value across an entire enterprise.
The Point Solution Dilemma
There are plenty of great point solutions out there that do an excellent job tackling the issues they are designed for. At the end of the day, all that matters is that the software solves your issue as promised, right?
Unfortunately treating every pain point as an isolated incident can create cascading side effects. As you plug holes across your organization with a collection of targeted solutions, you risk discovering entirely new problems that crop up when those solutions can't organically collaborate.
When a company has acquired too many of these single-purpose solutions, investment and administrative costs begin to pile up. As your company changes, each of these solutions will need to be individually adjusted to conform to your shifting needs and the fact of the matter is, they won’t all play nice.
If your department truly struggles with only one thing, perhaps a point solution is the best direction to move in. Unfortunately, we’ve seen far too many clients come to us only after realizing that their point solutions just aren’t flexible enough to address greater process dysfunctions, or adaptive enough to grow alongside them.
The Platform Difference
By now you can probably tell where we land in this debate. After all, we are not unbiased commentators. DocuPhase is a platform solution designed to be a one-stop shop for automation technology and we stand behind our comprehensive approach to enterprise transformation.
Platform solutions offer the tools needed to systematically overhaul all processes AND how those seemingly distinct pieces interconnect. When all your departments are talking to each other, management can see how everything fits together and use that data to make more informed decisions that drive growth and reduce costs.
Start Your Search Smart
Put your organization on a path to future success by taking the time to honestly evaluate your needs and goals. When you’re ready to begin the search, review our free ebook which contains essential tips and strategies to ensure a successful process improvement initiative.