Articles / IT system fundamental questions

  1. Single or multi-user?
  2. Internal or external hosting?
  3. Multi-function or best of breed?

This post explores these questions; outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each option. There are no right answers, but as you consider them, don’t just think about your requirements now. Think about how you will grow into the system.

Single or multi-user?

Advantages Disadvantages
Single-user
  • Low cost
  • Simple to install
  • Difficult to work collaboratively
  • Difficult to share data
Multi-user
  • Collaborative working made more easy
  • Data can be shared and aggregated
  • Higher cost
  • More complex to deploy

Internal or external hosting?

Advantages Disadvantages
Internally hosted
  • May be lower cost if equipment and people are already in place
  • You retain total control of your data
  • Often more expensive – especially with teams who do not understand the software being deployed
  • You are responsible for maintaining the hosting platform, its security and disaster recovery
Externally hosted
  • Total cost of ownership may be lower – especially if the supplier already has experience with the software being deployed
  • Economies of scale with Software As A Service products means that platform maintenance, security and disaster recovery are likely to be first class (but check first!!)
  • You lose control of your data and its security – make sure you can get it out if you need to, or if the company goes bust
  • You are reliant on the quality of your internet connection

Multi-function or best-of-breed?

Advantages Disadvantages
Multi-function
  • The component parts are likely to be well integrated, in terms of single-sign-on and data use
  • Only one interface for people to learn
  • May be less capable than a combination of best-of-breed tools
  • You may end up paying for elements that you do not use
Best-of-breed
  • You pay for the parts you use
  • You will get an overall “best-of-breed” system
  • Integrating multiple different systems may prove problematic and costly
  • Multiple interfaces may make it harder for users to get started

Posted: 02 August 2012

Tags: Technology