As a software strategy, all-in-one compared to best-in-breed (and a word on platforms)

At some point of departmental size or maturity, general counsel often have a stake in several kinds of legal software. They and their managers confront whether to license “point solutions” that provide specific capabilities or to license fewer solutions that combine capabilities. Some departments favor a single vendor whose offerings cover the waterfront, an all-in-one path; others want to mix and match from however many vendors are needed, a best-in-breed path.

In the e-discovery space, the strategic fork often crops up. Do you license different software to manage the collection, processing and review of documents or do you use one package that handles them all? Similarly, with matter management do you use a database from one vendor, an e-billing function from another, a dashboard from a third, and license a third-party report writer?

KMWorld, Feb. 2012, at S4-5, covers the basic pros and cons of these software strategies. All-in-one has deployment and training benefits as well as simpler vendor management. Best-in-breed provides more speed and agility to innovate, it can allow a law department to align capabilities better with needs, and it can give cost flexibility.

Following the strategy to pick the right tool for the need, brings up a third consideration: a platform. As the article explains, a law department can center the various applications around a hub application – a platform. With API (application program interfaces), developers can tether their additional functions to the mother hub of matter management software: e-mail linkages, document management, research tools, benchmark data come to mind as candidates. At least two of the matter management system vendors have explicitly marketed their software as a platform, where point solutions can co-exist with it and extend it and the hub serves as the integrative core (See my post of Feb. 15, 2011: possibility of SharePoint as platform; Aug. 24, 2011 #3: Datacert and Passport; and Oct. 24, 2011: Serengeti’s Tracker.).

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