P2P Southern Comfort: Verian (Part 1)

There's something about working with an application that continues to perform with the same level of consistency you originally expected -- at every single instance. A very good friend and fellow finance/consulting geek turned blogger and writer knows the famous author Christopher Hitchens, and once told me a story about the drinking tastes of the infamous literary critic and essayist. "Hitch" apparently prefers Johnnie Walker Black, especially when he travels at hotel bars. Now this is a man with far better tastes than this -- and thousands of admiring fans (including this one) would happily send a dram of Oban or MaCallan 18 across the bar to thank him for his great works. But Hitchens actually prefers the lesser scotch because he knows that wherever he goes around the world he can always find it, and it will always be the same.

The same could be said of Verian (on a slightly more robust and complex scale, and despite the vendor's lack of the name recognition compared with the metaphorical drink reference). This P2P vendor competes against the likes of Ariba, Basware, Coupa, SAP and Oracle. Verian is probably closest in footprint and focus in the procurement area to ePlus, given its strength in tying asset management to purchasing workflow, process and inventory management. But what separates Verian from the crowd is its consistency of capability across modules and the ability of users to walk away from one solution (e.g., Ariba) and use the capabilities without, to stay on the metaphor, spilling a drop of their drink -- and at a fraction of the cost, at least in one case we're aware of. Please excuse the label of this post series -- especially if you're a spend teetotaler -- but we're calling the Charlotte, North Carolina headquartered Verian the "Southern Comfort" of the sector. In other words, any one walking up to it will know what to expect from an interface and capabilities and foundational capabilities perspective, especially if they're familiar with Ariba, SAP SRM or other similar P2P solutions.

In a series of posts looking at Verian, Spend Matters will begin by exploring the vendor's background and solution footprint. Next, we'll turn our attention to the product itself. And finally, we'll share what a number of customers we spoke with had to say about Verian's solutions. Perhaps the best place to start is Verian's marketing -- or near complete lack thereof. If you haven't heard of Verian, it's not because their product is lacking complexity and breadth. It's because they don't spend much time or resources on tooting their own procurement horn. But over the years, the vendor has amassed a solid customer list, meeting P2P and asset management needs in what Spend Matters knows are often complicated and unique environments (both from a systems/integration perspective, and a workflow/process one as well). Verian supports both software deployment models (CD) as well as SaaS deployment models, depending on customer preference.

Verian's solutions span the standard P2P solution set. These include a requisitioning and general eProcurement toolset (Purchase Manager) and an electronic invoice presentment payment capability (Invoice Automation). But the vendor also provides invoice management (Invoice Manager), asset management (Asset Manager) and expense management (Expense Manager) modular solutions as well. All of these capabilities sit on top of a single platform that encompasses a portal framework, workflow engine, integration toolkit, analytics/intelligence capability, reporting front-end, configuration/customization capability, single sign-on and related enabling components.

Verian now employs 60 people, up 20% from 2009. And they have a very good sense of who their target customer is: someone who already knows what they want, has a complex environment (or at least one with detailed workflow requirements), and wants a competitive price. This target profile makes sense -- without a question, Coupa, Rearden/Ketera and others offer a more streamlined UI, for example, and are more likely to win in a basic, quick non-custom demo-script bake off. Yet companies looking to customize a system will quickly realize that Verian is probably closest in spirit (besides the ERP vendors) to where Ariba was when it focused on CD Buyer releases, albeit at significantly lower price points. Perhaps it's no surprise then that recent competitive "take-aways" include both Ariba and PurchasingNet CD customers. In the case of Ariba, Spend Matters spoke with one Verian customer who was not dissatisfied with their previous vendor's capabilities, but migrated to Verian due to the comparative cost of upgrades and was quite happy with the results.

Stay tuned for further coverage on Verian in the coming weeks.

Jason Busch

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