In demoing the Verian P2P environment, what really stands out is the tight integration between inventory and asset management with the purchasing process. The end-user experience can be completely transparent regardless of the source of supply (or not) depending on the level of information a specific deployment exposes. In purchasing from inventory, Verian can tell the user (or not) what warehouse an order may be coming from. System administrators and process owners can also define how multiple levels of users purchase and then supply to the rest of the organization. For example, a company may decide to purchase in one set of units (e.g., pallets) using the Verian toolset but then distribute, either internally or to third parties also buying on the system in an alternative system of units (e.g., individual units).
Verian also supports complex procurement and asset management environments such as those in the oil and gas vertical, where it is critical to manage not just physical assets (including continuous valuation of different elements based on condition) but also to factor in transfer pricing between operating units. The only other vendor that Spend Matters is aware of that goes to similar lengths with inventory and asset management integration and tracking is ePlus (with an emphasis on IT-intensive environments). I suppose it would also be possible to create similar linkages between different modules in SAP and Oracle, but the cost would likely be quite high.
For workflow and approvals, the Verian system is completely customizable (e.g., split GL coding is a walk in the spend park). Verian can enable administrators to treat each line item individually from an approvals standpoint. In the field, this might take the form of a single approver seeing the first six line items in a requisition, but the subsequent three might require alternative and/or additional approval routing based on any set of predefined criteria (e.g., all hardware spend might also have to go to an IT manager). As with other vendors like Ariba, Coupa and related competitive eProcurement systems, approvers have line level veto authority to approve both PO and non-PO spend.
We did a quick drive-by of Verian's electronic invoice presentment payment (EIPP) capability and our initial take is that it could prove sufficient for organizations not looking for a Basware-level of capability. It certainly touches on all the basics and provides more than adequate visibility into the invoicing process allowing A/P to see, for example, the status of all invoices in the system (e.g., inbound, pre-release, discrepancy, approval, post approval, payment). Dynamic discounting capabilities appear limited based on what we observed, but the system does support basic discounts.
In terms of catalog management, Spend Matters only had limited time to consider the nuances of Verian's product. However, the solution does support multiple content management formats, ranging from supplier managed catalogs (hosted internally) to internally administered catalogs to punch-out situations where significant order configuration may be required (with look-ups based on T&Cs, pricing, etc.). The process to create maps and linkages to update catalog content in the system appears straightforward based on our limited interaction.
Verian's T&E module can give Concur and Rearden a run for their money in a basic submittal and tracking environment (more advanced use cases may vary). If companies are deploying Verian for P2P, they also owe it to themselves to check out their capability in this area. The T&E module enables the basics (e.g., enabling a user to automatically add a booked ticket to an expense report) and even supports integration with Tripit to manage and share complex itineraries.
How do all of these modules come together in the field?
One reference user we spoke with uses three Verian components: Purchase Manager, Asset Manager and Verian's budgeting toolset. This company is considering Invoice Manager as well. With a deployment and working relationship spanning over six years, the company originally leveraged Verian to consolidate spend across five regions and five different purchasing departments, each with their own PO numbering system and running different versions of Oracle. Based on the complexity and integrations tied to the deployment, the company hosts the application internally (i.e., non-SaaS).
This company has thousands of end-user requisitioners in field positions that use Verian and Oracle, though many users use Verian exclusively, to handle their purchases. The company uses Verian to do a three-way match for PO spend, but still processes non-PO invoices in Oracle. From an upgrade perspective, the organization has observed a few hiccups along the way, but Verian recovered very quickly and support has been "very good" overall. As their eProcurement lead told Spend Matters, "If I tell Verian a solution is not critical, but needs to be fixed, they'll fix it quickly anyway. But if I tell them that something is critical, they'll drop everything to work on it".
Stay tuned as we continue to investigate Verian. In our final post, we'll consider the experience of two other companies using the Verian toolset and provide our summary thoughts.
- Jason Busch