Best of Breed vs. Platform Solutions: Which Should You Choose?

  December 11, 2017

Testing tools come in a variety of different forms, which can make deciding on new tools for your team daunting. There are many different things to consider, not the least of which being whether to invest in many specialized products, or one suite of tools designed to fit your every need. Before you sign that contract, let's go through the pluses and minuses of best of breed and platform solutions:

Best of Breed:

A best of breed tool offers a niche solution in an individual area. If you go with this option, your company will probably end up using several different tools from a variety of different companies that are the best in their field, rather than a suite of tools all from the same big brand name that integrate together.

Why Best of Breed is Great:

Best of Breed solutions are often more flexible in a variety of ways. With best of breed solutions, your team does not have to buy tools that you don’t need. Additionally, these solutions are often less expensive and do not require long term commitments.

Best of Breed tools are also more likely to respond to market trends and new technology faster. Since these niche products have very focused requirements, it is much easier to develop and enhance them.

Things to Consider:

Best of Breed solutions are more flexible, but this can sometimes mean that the tool comes with less product support.

“When choosing a Best of Breed tool, their open-ness is really important,” said Christian Wright EVP and GM of API Business at SmartBear, “If it doesn’t integrate with anything else, even if it gets the job done 100% better than its competitors, it won’t get you where you need to go.”

Platform Solutions:

Investing in a platform solution will provide your team with a suite of products all from the same vendor.

Why Platform Solutions are Great:

Platform solutions often offer a variety of support and consulting services with their products. Further, all of your testing tools are from the same vendor and therefore integrate easily.

Things to Consider:

The support services offered in platform solutions frequently come at a cost.  These platforms also often require long-term contracts, which compounds the ultimate cost to your organization to use these tools.

While the big brand names behind most platform solutions will guarantee a certain level of proficiency across all of your testing needs, it is rare that a platform solution will be considered excellent in any one area.

“If you have a large team and need a standardized tool to train them on, platform solutions are easy to buy,” Christian said, “However, larger more integrated solutions evolve at a slower space which means that they can become antiquated much quicker than a best-of-breed point solution.”

So How Do I Decide?

Now that you have all the information, how do you pick which type of solution is right for you? Here are a few things to consider:

  1. What problems are you trying to solve?

Does your organization just need a code and document review tool, or are you also looking for an automated testing solution? The more problems you are looking to fix, the more you want your tools to work together. And along those lines…

  1. Does my new solution integrate with my existing solutions?

If you already have tools in place, whether they are paid or open-source, you want your new solution to fit into your workflow. Platform solutions often do not integrate with other tools easily, while best of breed solutions are more flexible.

“Either approach can work, but if you look at the speed at which the world is changing, what is the shelf life of a fully integrated monolithic application?” Christian said about choosing the right tool, “If you are in a slow-moving business this may not matter, but if you are in a competitive, dynamic business, then a smaller best-of-breed investment actually is a better long-term hedge against a sunk investment in a tool that may not meet your needs in a year.”

What problems are you looking to solve? Let us know, and take a look at all of the tools that SmartBear offers to meet your needs.