SaaS and software, in general, have evolved to a point where you’ll find a tool for nearly every significant pain point. But the growing number of specialised tools hasn’t made all-in-one solutions obsolete, because they offer a single, unified experience.
There isn’t a universally “best” way to build your tech stack; instead, you need to consider how your business operates and what your needs are before committing to one or more solutions. And that’s what we’re going to help you out with, in this article. We’re going to compare niche software with all-in-one solutions and explore which tools are best for different businesses.
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Why have single-purpose SaaS solutions become so popular? The advantages
Single-purpose apps are tailored to very specific pain points, making them especially effective at what they do. They’re popular for single-user needs – apps like Basecamp, Evernote, Make – have large user bases because they improve the way individuals work in specific ways (time-saving, improved productivity, etc.).
For business needs, the specialised experience that niche tools offer makes them popular choices. Slack helps your team communicate quicker and more effectively, Notion is great for knowledge management, Asana helps you keep track of projects, tasks, and milestones, etc.
Using different niche tools almost means you don’t have to rely on a single vendor too much. So there’s more room to choose or even negotiate plans and pricing, and if you’re unhappy with a vendor, it’s relatively easy to switch to a competitor. You can also avoid paying for features that you don’t need by making sure you only purchase subscriptions for tools your team really needs.
The drawbacks of single-purpose SaaS solutions
Although specialised SaaS tools bring a lot to the table, there are a few reasons why they’re not the best choice for many businesses. Here are some drawbacks of using multiple single-purpose solutions that you’ll want to factor in:
- Communication and collaboration issues. When you’re working in teams or departments, people need visibility into each other’s work to collaborate effectively. But if you have people communicating on Slack, creating internal documentation on Notion, and managing development projects on JIRA, then you’ve got knowledge scattered across different platforms. When your teams work like this – in siloes – it discourages visibility and collaboration, which is a big drawback of using multiple niche tools.
- SaaS sprawl. SaaS sprawl is when your organization is using lots of niche apps, with information scattered across each. Using too many apps can really hurt your organization’s productivity; when information is scattered across different systems, people find it difficult to locate the information they need. Teams also lack visibility into each other’s work, and your workday is flooded with notifications from different apps.
- Centralisation is a major challenge. Many businesses aspire to create a single source of truth, but when you’re using too many niche apps, aggregating the relevant data in one place is challenging. Your typical options are to use APIs or automation to copy and paste the information across different systems, but these options aren’t always ideal. Integrations can be lackluster, and if you can manually aggregate data into a centralised dashboard, you’ll still lack granular insights into how the data relates to your wider business processes and operations.
- Administrative challenges. When your team relies on different SaaS, you’ll need to administer all these solutions separately. That means managing licensing and subscriptions, renewals, user roles and permissions, tracking changes, onboarding and training new hires, negotiating discounts, and more.
The advantages of all-in-one software
While all-in-one solutions might not let you customise individual features as well as niche platforms do, they offer a more unified experience without compromising on core functionality. All-in-one solutions also bring many added benefits to the table, which is why you might consider choosing them over niche ones altogether.
These benefits include:
- Centralisation. All-in-one solutions offer what niche SaaS has yet to achieve; a single, unified source of truth for all your data and core business functions. Platforms like Caflou lets you aggregate and unify your data (customer data, budgets, resources, projects, etc.) in one place, making knowledge more accessible to your team and increasing visibility across your organisation.
- Save on costs overall. This potential benefit really depends on your company’s tech needs. If there’s an all-in-one solution that can fulfil multiple functions, which you’d otherwise need several niche tools for, then you can save yourself from multiple subscriptions.
- More visibility, transparency, and collaboration. All-in-one solutions encourage visibility and collaboration by design. One team can see what another is working on, including granular details of specific projects and client accounts. Your team members also have immediate access to context; they can see comments from other team members, view milestones, see who’s working on what accounts, and what projects are linked to an account.
- Offer unified, omnichannel customer experiences. By virtue of having a single, connected system that gives your team members all the information they need (and the context around it), you can serve your customers better.
For example, when a customer reaches out for help, your support agents can see their previous interactions with your business (e.g., with your sales team or another agent). This helps your team deliver a connected experience by giving the agent more context.
- Less reliance on IT. When you use multiple niche solutions, you need to engage IT to help with integrations whenever you add a new tool to your tech stack. With an all-in-one solution, you’re less reliant on IT for integrations, managing licenses,and general administration.
- Easier to train and onboard employees. Instead of needing to train new employees on multiple platforms, you just need to help them get familiar with one. You also don’t need to add them to multiple platforms and tweak their permissions and responsibilities.
The drawbacks of all-in-one solutions
The advantages of single-purpose solutions are typically the reasons why you wouldn’t want to choose an all-in-one alternative. For example, all-in-one solutions make your business very reliant on that one vendor. This is great if you have a solid relationship with the vendor or you fully trust the system, but less so if that relationship starts to sour or the system starts having issues.
You might also have to deal with development roadmaps that don’t necessarily reflect your business’s needs. Let’s say your team needs extra features in the project management module, but the vendor is prioritising updates for the CRM or finance management. In this case, you won’t get the updates you need on a priority basis, and it’s also not easy to switch to another vendor (since all your business operations are on this single platform).
So, while there are many compelling reasons to consider an all-in-one solution, it’s not the best option for everyone.
All-in-one vs. single-purpose software: which is right for you?
When you’re trying to decide between building a tech stack from multiple SaaS tools, or opting for an all-in-one solution, you’ll want to consider factors like:
- The size of your organization, department or team. How big your organization or team is typically influences your tech needs substantially. Larger organisations may have complex workflows and operations and more accounts (or larger ones). So they might need more specialized, custom software that reflects the way individual teams or departments work. For example, Sales might need a mature CRM that’s uniquely customized to your business.
In contrast, smaller organisations, typically with 1-50 employees and definable business processes, may prefer all-in-one solutions like Caflou that deliver core functions from the standard app mix (CRM, business economics, project management, etc.). Additionally, even in larger organizations, some teams or departments might prefer these all-in-one solutions. For example, a medium-sized enterprise might prefer an all-in-one solution for the sales, marketing, and customer support departments (and niche tools for development teams).
- The maturity of your operations. If you’re just getting started with some operations, you might not need specialized, custom solutions just yet. For now, you might just need a ready-to-go all-in-one solution to help different teams perform their functions effectively. But as your operations mature, you might want to introduce specialized tools to your stack with more advanced features.
- Your business goals. If you have specific, and maybe aggressive, business goals to meet, then you might need specialized SaaS. For example, let’s say you need to meet certain lead generation targets — you might want to invest in a sales CRM and a platform that helps you run targeted, personalized ad campaigns or email automation campaigns. Similarly, if you want to meet ambitious hiring goals in a quarter, you might consider investing in a recruitment platform.
- Your budget. As we discussed earlier, all-in-one solutions can save you money by reducing the number of subscriptions. However, if you only need one or two specific features, you might save more by subscribing to cheaper niche tools instead of a fully integrated solution. It really depends on your needs.
There isn’t a “right” way to build your tech stack. You just need to carefully consider your business needs and the way your teams work, and make the best decisions you can. That might involve using several niche solutions, or opting for an all-in-one platform, or maybe even using a combination of the two.