Spend Matters Vendor Analysis: GEP (Formerly Global eProcure) — Part 3
GEP RFx module goes beyond the workflow basics. It uses a project management timeline feature to aid in managing more complicated workflows by segmenting (and delegating) tasks and stages. An interesting twist is how it uses approval tied to steps and not an overall RFx. This is a clever approach to bring other stakeholders such as internal subject matter experts (SMEs), legal, etc. into the process at a granular decision-making level without requiring their involvement more broadly. The toolset also has an elegant means of tracking supplier progress and event completion levels, helping buyers stay on top of their events and showing where they should be paying attention to areas that require their involvement.
The system also creates significant leverage when elements are reused. For example, the event timeline clones with preset separations — to minimize event creation workload. But these can be manually adjusted, if required. GEP RFx has a relatively unique feature that enables smoother bid collection from suppliers, a feature that we haven’t seen before, and it probably won’t work for public procurement, but can be handy in the private sector. However, GEP has asked me not to steal their demo thunder so we’ll leave the details to them.
When it comes to ranking and weights in a sourcing process with GEP, KPIs are assessed via scoring on “Criteria” and “Questionnaires” — the former are used internally and the latter are standard RFI-type surveys. The selective copy-paste creation process here is convenient. Another useful feature is import/export via MS Word. While it might seem trivial to those who don’t live in a sourcing application, it’s actually quite useful to see this, as I’m a strong proponent of enabling offline work.
GEP’s bid page is reasonably detailed with substantial breakdown into components covering not only basics such as item name, description, quantity and price but also signaling demand, delivery locations, packaging and other columns that the buyer made available to suppliers. Best of all, it can be exported and imported via Excel spreadsheet. Users are informed by field colors which fields can be edited by buyers, suppliers and which are derived by computation. GEP RFx supports fairly complex bid breakdown and formulas – but where customers need more advanced sourcing/optimization GEP’s eDecision module is typically added. However, the overall sourcing footprint is not in the same league when it comes to advanced sourcing/optimization and scenario building as vendors like CombineNet or Trade Extensions.
In searching for or adding vendors to an event, suppliers can be added via basic (name or status) or more advanced searches. The more advanced supplier searches are tied to GEP’s own products and services taxonomy, which goes back to their spend analysis classifications. It makes logical sense to tie the two together. Additionally, filters based on various geographical and contact information criteria can help users to refine searches further.
We found it somewhat surprising that there was no folder capability to organize large quantities of RFX. GPX has adopted a different approach; they rely on a Google-like search with similar ways to narrow down searches to find the events you need. Based on GEP’s experience, this is the direction they have chosen. Contrarians as we are at times, we think GEP might be a little too far ahead of the UI curve on this on, our preference is to have a folder format to organize activities by various criteria such as business unit, geography and categories. Instinctively, the GEP approach feels more suitable for small to average RFX quantities and relatively flat organizations (i.e., those not pushing through thousands of sourcing events per year across multiple business units, geographies and categories, with a high degree of centralization). The GEP approach will likely work just as well from a functional point of view, but as stated earlier, this format might be too fashion-forward for many users and could create change management issues.
Still, from a buyer’s point of view, the solution really touches on most sourcing basics and goes particular deep for everyday activities. Moreover, customer support information is available right in the solution — as a premium feature, 24/7/365 phone support is also available.
Stay tuned as our examination of GEP continues.