Perfect Rights the Ship

In the past, I've come down hard on Perfect Commerce on Spend Matters. In 2004 and 2005, the complaints that I heard from buyers and suppliers alike on their customer support on what seemed like a platform per employee were constant and similar. But the good news is that things appear to be changing for the vendor -- in a major way. The days of Sandy Kemper's "grow revenue at all costs" approach appear to be long gone. Now, Perfect appears to be focusing much more on serving the needs of the customer and making the hard platform rationalization and support decisions it should have done in the past. These efforts are being led by a seasoned pro in the Spend Management world, John Sharman, who brought with him many decades of procurement and supply chain practice leadership from IBM before joining Perfect as CEO.

Before the holidays, I had a chance to catch up with John on a call. I had planned to go out to Perfect in person -- they had graciously extended an invitation -- but what seemed like a never ending pass-the-cold/flu around the family situation at home required that I stay grounded at the last minute. Still, I must say that from our discussion -- and a subsequent reference follow-up -- it appears that the Perfect ship is finally being righted.

From the outset of his tenure, John told me that his top mandate has been to focus less on the top-line and more on customers. According to John, Perfect has set a strategic course to drive customer satisfaction and value by rationalization their product platforms. He also appreciates the On-Demand nature of the Perfect business which he believes has to make a software CEO extremely focused on business and customer metrics that matter. After all, the customer expectations that used to be put on IT to deliver and support a platform that's already been licensed now go to the third-party provider -- who has to fight for and justify why a customer should renew every few years.

In the coming months, I look forward to analyzing Perfect's progress and new course. By offering competitive eProcurement, sourcing, and contract management applications (among other solution areas) at reasonable price points with new levels of customer support, Perfect will be a player to watch in 2007. Indeed, it would appear that John is finished bailing out the hull of the ship -- now it's time to raise the sails and go full steam ahead.

Jason Busch

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