In the earlier series of posts on Perfect Commerce -- you can read Part 1 and Part 2 by clicking these links -- I looked at the transformation of the Perfect Commerce organization in recent years as well as provided a high-level overview of the current Perfect solution set. In this post, I'd like to continue this series, discussing my findings from speaking with half-a-dozen Perfect references (four provided by Perfect, two contacted directly) in the past 2 months. In short, the news is good -- Perfect has made a singular commitment to all of the customers I have spoken with in North America and Europe to service excellence. Five references, in fact, were emphatic that I emphasize this point. A recurring theme in all of the discussions was how much Perfect seems to care about going the extra mile to work with customers -- including senior executive involvement at nearly all steps in the sales and customer management process.
The services customers I spoke with who use Perfect from an outsourcing perspective for multiple types of buys (e.g., low-volume parts) were surprised at not only Perfect's aggressive pricing, but how hard they tried to differentiate against larger North American and Indian-based competitors. While Perfect was ultimately selected for both price and capabilities, these companies also felt that the Perfect executive team, at least in one case, was extremely committed to putting the customer first -- and quite honest around the capabilities they currently had vs. what they needed to develop and work-on. In one case, Perfect was serving the complex role of acting as a third-party aggregator. This customer noted that "What came across is Perfect's willingness to be flexible; their willingness and flexibility was a big selling point. It was nice to see a supplier come in and say we're not perfect, but say they want the business. I loved their willingness and hunger for the business."
These experiences carried through to Perfect's software business as well, an organization that has received much criticism between 2007-2008 from failing to meet the needs of a wide range of customers on multiple platforms and applications. But things have changed. The software customers I spoke with -- who were using Perfect for eProcurement to enable P2P implementations through search and content management capabilities -- were unanimous not only in their support for the software over the competition (e.g., Perfect's search manager) but also Perfect's pricing and overall customer support capabilities. Sound familiar? Perfect is an organization which, from these six references, would appear to want to jump through hoops whenever a customer requests it -- and will even sense the question coming before hand. Interestingly, most of the references I spoke to or traded notes with on the customer side were all fairly recent acquisitions to Perfect's client list -- and they were all from Europe.
In many cases, these customers appear to have chosen Perfect to serve as an enabler in one area or another for a broader SAP deployment (though Perfect was quick to point out that they also have a fully functioning hosted P2P platform that could serve as either a temporary or permanent alternative to SAP SRM). One customer, after an extensive evaluation of other providers in the market (and with a previously negative Commerce One experience) suggested that Perfect's support quality had improved dramatically and that they had "clearer vision of where they are going." This view came from an organization who was leveraging Perfect as a slot-in capability -- in this case Perfect's Product Information Management (PIM) capability -- to streamline their P2P process as part of a broader implementation involving multiple vendors.
So what's my take away from these discussions? First, Perfect is a vendor on the move. Especially in Europe. They've done an exceptional job changing perception in Europe and winning deals not only through attractive pricing, but a commitment to customer excellence -- uniformly, across the board, from what I can tell. Even though Perfect is not as well known in North America at this point, the references I spoke to here told a similar story, both on the services/outsourcing and software sides.
Second, Perfect has quite a lot of things in its arsenal to sell. While its current sourcing and related applications might lag others in the market, their catalog/PIM, plus search and related P2P capabilities are proving to be a fascinating alternative to better known providers for those that discover Perfect in the sales process. The last note I'll make is that Perfect appears to be a provider that rises to the occasion in competitive RFP processes -- both technically and from a pricing perspective. So if you're looking for an enabling P2P component -- or even a hosted P2P solution yourself -- why not consider tossing them into the ring. You might be surprised. I can tell you after these interviews, I certainly was -- and in a positive way.
Rather than continue this series on Perfect, I'll plan to take a look and review some individual components of their solution suite one at a time throughout the year. If you have one in particular that you'd like me to prioritize for review (e.g., catalog search / catalog management), let me know.