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Spend Matters Vendor Analysis: GEP (Formerly Global eProcure) — Part 4

06/20/2012 By


Please click here for the first, second, and third posts in this Vendor Snapshot series.

Within its sourcing modules, GEP’s supplier view begins with a bid envelope — typically with an NDA and bid participation acknowledgement as the first step. Buyers can tweak their process to use the NDA as an access gate as well as to accept scanned and uploaded attachments in this process. GEP’s module can even be set up to allow vendors to view RFX details prior to passing the NDA step — perhaps a public procurement option? Suppliers can also review prior activities.

Bid analysis supports standard review options such as the manual selection of which suppliers to include. One format is the horizontal layout, with multiple suppliers tied to items horizontally, instead of presenting supplier activities vertically. Based on our experience, we question the utility of this reverse pivot layout approach, especially with supplier counts exceeding two or three. Thankfully GEP also provides the “normal” layout.

In scoring supplier bids, GEP offers a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis capability via weighted score bid page calculations. The toolset also enables allocation recommendations. The ability to analyze and split allocations between suppliers is straightforward. GEP has an (optional) optimization solution that allegedly can handle logistics and other fairly complicated events, albeit without CombineNet, BravoSolution, Trade Extensions or Emptoris-like complexity. We have not seen the solver in use and cannot comment specifically on its capabilities other than the approach that GEP described.

For analyzing award possibilities and decisions, users can model savings compared with current pricing during and after the award process. This is quite useful in tactical events where price and capacity are all that matter. GEP’s design requires a bit of a learning curve in this area compared with more straightforward solutions, but is quite useful once mastered.

The RA (reverse auction) feature has its own dashboard. Right now, GEP provides a laundry list of events with a limited means to create hierarchies and folders. This is another area where I would like to see a folder structure to organize the content better. As we mentioned earlier, GEP has chosen to design around a Google-like single-folder format, and with sufficient training, we see no reason why this can’t be successful, even if it isn’t our preferred approach.  Auction formats include standard reverse auctions, Dutch, and Japanese RA formats. Another useful feature GEP deploys in this area is “staggered lots” — essentially a way to run many RAs inside one “event” — which simplifies event building and dodges at least some steps in a traditional auction building/lotting process.

For all you auction junkies out there, GEP allows users to create multiple lots in one RA where suppliers can be enabled selectively (e.g., on a lot-by-lot basis). This is a simple but important feature in the better strategic sourcing tools in the market that bring auction capability. GEP lets users manage currencies on a per-event basis and there is no centralized auto update feature. This is a slight inconvenience and points to a design that is more likely to appeal to casual users running fewer events per user, per year.

Our other quibbles include no bid page with total cost calculations displayed for suppliers, and no internal item libraries, no document libraries and no ability to attach items at the item level.  We also believe GEP has an opportunity to better aggregate information across its deployments for metadata analysis (e.g., savings/category trending) and benchmarking within the application in an automated manner that does not require professional services.

This last point is, perhaps, most telling of GEP’s capabilities in the spend analysis and sourcing areas today. With its current solution, GEP compares favorably as an average vendor on a feature/function basis within sourcing and for spend analysis, their solution begs comparison to just about every other spend tool in the market for reasons outside of feature/function checklists. They’ve included a number of clever features throughout and we want to like the tools. And we do. But we feel they may leave power users wanting in a few areas.  GEP is actively enhancing their solution, and from our dialog with their senior product management during this evaluation, we have found them to be quite approachable and open to discussing pros and cons around design choices – a critical quality that is something users evaluating GEP or any other solution should value.

Still, based on GEP’s current spend analysis and sourcing strengths and limitations, we believe companies should include them on their shortlist of candidates, especially when looking at the need for an integrated source-to-pay suite. While we will review GEP’s capabilities in the supplier management and P2P areas in a different post, we clearly believe this is a provider that the market will be hearing more and more about outside of its services and BPO strengths. As a software provider, we believe it will continue to quickly add core features and functions, especially in the sourcing area, to catch up to its better-known competition. Stay tuned!

Vendor Analysis