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What Is The Difference Between A Platform And A Point Solution?

Put simply, the difference between a point solution and a platform is that one is a toy car and the other is a set of Lego blocks. The best way to think about a point solution is that it’s a very specific piece of software, developed for a specific problem which means you’re getting deep expertise and a very detailed and designed solution for your problem. This is different to a platform that is typically described as a robust foundation for you to build solutions on. It allows you to not only solve one specific problem but also address several others. 

So when would you use a point solution versus a platform?

The short answer is, it really depends on your organization’s needs. There are certain use cases geared towards point solutions that often have uniform requirements across the entire industry. A strong example of this is bookkeeping. As you vary from organization to organization, the way a company structures balance sheets isn’t going to change so if you have a solution that really nails balance sheets, profit, and loss statements, transactions, and reconciliations with your bank account, it really makes sense to purchase an off the shelf point solution. 

However, where a platform would make sense is if the process you’re looking to automate is not uniform across the entire industry. A good example of this is workflows. If you think about all the organizations out there, they’ll have procurement teams, finance teams, and legal teams who all have the same functions and processes but different ways of doing things. If you take for example the legal team, they’ll have NDAs, service agreements, and delegation of authorities in the way they sign off on things. How your NDA looks is different, how your matrix for delegation of authority is different, or how you interface with your finance team on thresholds and who needs to sign off is different.

Thus, a point solution cannot automate these processes because you can’t buy something bespoke and unique to your organization, off the shelf. And often when organizations try to purchase an off-the-shelf product for their bespoke use cases, they end up having to tailor their own business processes around the technology. This means the organization loses flexibility and often means business users are less open to adopting the tech. 

Another way to see if a point solution or platform is right for your organization is to assess your organization’s tech stack and consider if you might have too many tech solutions in place. An ongoing trend, that has stemmed from IT teams and business units, is the need to consolidate the amount of technology they have because of excess license fees, training fees, and the headache of relationship management with several different vendors. The trend of consolidating has really pushed organizations to consider platforms over point solutions. Because point solutions only solve one specific problem and thus requires company’s to purchases many different point solutions to solve problems across the enterprise. 

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