When a software vendor describes their product as “artfully designed and visually appealing”, my exaggeration detector is immediately activated. Those are some mighty bold words to throw around in a world where many “modern” software, SaaS, or cloud offerings look like they were built from a nightmarish 1990’s GeoCities template that was virtually impossible to navigate.
Fortunately, there are no such worries with SMART by GEP. GEP has built an aesthetically pleasing, fluid to navigate and, most importantly, powerhouse full procurement suite that can be implemented into a large enterprise with relative ease as it is a device agnostic cloud solution.
GEP focuses on 3 areas of procurement: procurement software, procurement services and procurement strategy. Today, we will be focusing on the procurement software piece of GEP’s business which is called SMART by GEP.
According to GEP, SMART by GEP is, “optimized for mobile computing and is the first and only comprehensive sourcing and procurement platform native to cloud, mobile and touch technologies.”
Currently, SMART by GEP is available on the IOS platform. GEP estimates that it will be available on the Android and Microsoft platforms later in 2014.
In terms of being a procurement solution, SMART by GEP is a true suite, encompassing spend analysis, sourcing, contract management, eProcurement and supplier management. Unlike other self-proclaimed procurement “suites” in the market that have one powerhouse module and only the most basic of capabilities in other modules, GEP’s solution possesses extremely strong capabilities in each of these modules.
SMART by GEP has a fluid, seamless interface between its modules, giving the users the ability to “Flip to RFx” items on a contract and being able to place orders from items sourced through an RFx. All the modules with SMART by GEP can talk to each other.
The GUI for SMART by GEP is very pleasing to eye with smooth fonts, appropriately contrasting colors and easy to read charts and graphs across desktop, tablet and mobile phone devices. It is also a very process-oriented system, with chevrons (>) along the top of the various screens, guiding the user through each step of the process. The user has the ability to go back and forth between screens without getting lost in a complex maze of selections.
Within SMART by GEP, suppliers can update particular elements of their information in the buyer’s system. They have a separate login for each customer, though, because each customer may require different information (e.g., who the sales representative is, etc.). While this may seem cumbersome to the suppliers, it works to the benefit of the buyers, further ensuring that the information and specifications they receive match their particular requirements.
The Supplier Performance Assessment form can more than adequately capture and report on the performance measures that every procurement department should use. Its ability to be customized enables well-educated purchasing professionals to capture and store the wealth of information necessary to make informed decisions.
eProcurement capabilities in the market have matured and GEP certainly has all of the requisite capabilities necessary for an enterprise-based system. The spend analysis capabilities are quite good with robust drag-and-drop customization and drill down features, way beyond the standard reports that others try to pass off as “spend analysis”.
While the spend analysis capabilities are quite good, there is room for further development so that procurement strategists can identify sourcing, savings, supplier rationalization, and other opportunities more quickly. You are able to analyze spend from specific line items to enterprise-wide views in a single click. GEP did share some plans that indicated a very strong vision for future versions.
The contract management module is everything one would want in such a module, with ability to employ templates, author collaboratively (between procurement, legal, sales and key stakeholders), compare versions, work offline, and more. This central contract repository allows for an unlimited number of documents/versions, regardless of size.
GEP partnered with Hubwoo in the past year to utilize Hubwoo’s network of one million suppliers. While GEP claimed that this partnership would facilitate procurement organizations’ access to any of those suppliers’ catalogs through the eProcurement module using list prices, I don’t think that the total value to procurement organizations of this partnership is 100% clear at this point in time.
The sourcing module in SMART by GEP allows for users to rate prospective suppliers on multiple criteria with multiple weighting capabilities. This feature really caught my attention as it gives the user the power to develop complex measurements and then save these scorecards to compare against other weighted criteria developed by themselves or another co-worker within the SMART by GEP system as opposed to cobbling together multiple spreadsheets or hand-written documents. This flexibility enables stakeholder collaboration and excellent supplier ratings summaries with easy drill down into user-by-user rating details wherever they are situated throughout the world.
It additionally had an impressive interface that allowed the user to configure different views of supplier performance trends over time.
Large organizations are typically not satisfied with having just one great procurement technology module – they want them all! In years past, these organizations would have to engage with separate vendors for their sourcing, eProcurement, spend analysis and other tech needs in order to have the best tools available. With its impressive development and organic growth over the years, GEP makes a compelling argument that large organizations may be able to get all the tech functionality they need for all areas of procurement from just one vendor. For more information, visit GEP at http://www.gep.com.