P2P Southern Comfort: Verian (Part 4)

Please click here for the earlier posts in the series (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

As part of our diligence process in examining Verian, Spend Matters spoke with three of the vendor's customers, each presenting a very different use case and procurement environment. Perhaps the most vanilla environment of all was a former Ariba shop. This company opted to migrate off of Ariba due to the upgrade costs involved when they took back control of their procurement organizations from a BPO that had previously specified an Ariba Buyer package and made hundreds of customizations to it (most likely, it would seem, to help justify all of the bodies they were throwing at the outsourcing and consulting opportunity). This company's negative experience with Ariba had nothing to do with the underlying code base or technology, but rather that its own procurement organization (and BPO partner) were the application's toppled the efficacy of the most proven P2P application in the market. Literately -- and this is a good story for any organization that thinks it must completely customize its P2P deployment -- the company was "its own worst enemy."

After taking back control of the procurement function, this company decided to put its eProcurement needs to RFP to identify and implement a more standardized packaged. Ariba made all the cuts and presented a "great new product" relative to what they were on, but in the end was simply "too expensive." Verian had "sufficient functionality to meet their needs and was able to deploy a full solution in less than three months from contract signing to broad usage." This organization, which is using Verian's Expense Manager and Purchase Manager modules -- and currently exploring Invoice Manager -- was able to make a clean transition off of their heavily modified old CD version of Ariba Buyer. The company uses the system to purchase both externally from suppliers and also from inventory, via a self-managed distribution center. Throughout the deployment process and with ongoing support, the Verian team provided "very competent and responsive" support. Based on their experience, this company is looking forward to seeing Verian's upcoming modules in new areas (e.g., sourcing, spend analysis) and has requested to serve as a "guinea pig" for forthcoming suite expansion capabilities.

The second company we spoke with has been a Verian user for over a decade, and one of the pioneers in the industrial, B2B distribution/dealer space to use an eProcurement toolset to both buy and manage inventory. Interestingly, their choice to go with Verian was simple: "we chose them because they were regional and they wanted to learn from us," the eProcurement lead told Spend Matters. This organization uses a behind-the-firewall customized deployment and upgrades on a yearly basis. It has deployed a range of Verian modules and has fully integrated the P2P toolset into its own parts system to manage inventory and tie demand to supply. Overall, the company observes in its ten year history with Verian that it has had a "very positive working experience," even when certain upgrades did not go as planned.

As with other reference accounts Spend Matters spoke with, this company was won over by Verian's responsiveness and support, especially in highly customized environments where upgrades are never just a question of flicking a switch. Curiously, this company did its homework in recent years and examined what it would look like to fully standardize on their ERP provider, but after a brief look, the answer was no. They're "embedded with Verian" and very much like it that way.

What is your experience working with Verian? Post a comment or drop us a line. In short, based on our own review of their modules and our discussions with numerous users, we have added Verian onto our shortlist of P2P products that we recommend on a regular basis for customers evaluating these solutions for the first time. Spend Matters also recommends that any company considering a replacement of an existing installed P2P system where cost is remotely a concern -- and even where ERP migrations are a possibility -- owes it to itself to look at what Verian has to offer.

Verian is clearly a company that gets most of what it does right (despite the occasional hiccup). But more important, it's one that truly partners with its customer base, even when modest sums are on the line, especially in comparison to Ariba CD deployments, SAP SRM, Oracle iProcurement, PeopleSoft SRM, etc. As I mentioned in the first post in this series when I compared the choice of Verian to Christopher Hitchens preferred beverage when traveling, it's clear that the Verian environment presents a safe bet, and one that users of legacy systems will have no problem trying on for size. Indeed, I agree with Verian that an educated and experienced customer is probably their best prospect.

- Jason Busch

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