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2020 GEP Outlook report: ‘In this increasingly tumultuous world, more will be asked from procurement’

GEP, a provider of a full suite of procurement technology, released its 2020 Outlook report that itself has a suite of forecasts for the year, including economic and geopolitical developments as well as trends in technology and business that bear watching.

Since Brexit just began after years of uncertainty, we got an update on GEP’s expectations for the UK and Europe. And we’ll explore some of the report’s more interesting findings — which focused on the concept of “budget-to-pay” and the resurgence of should-cost modeling.

GEP

As part of the SolutionMap RFI process, Spend Matters continuously solicits customer references to determine a procurement technology provider’s placement on the ranking graphics. This is a Spend Matters curated summary of verified customer feedback for GEP, a SolutionMap-ranked provider.

GEP: Vendor Analysis (Part 7) — Competitive Landscape

This final installment of our seven-part Spend Matters PRO series on GEP will look at how it compares to its competitors, like SAP Ariba, Coupa, Ivalua, Jaggaer, Corcentric’s Determine, SynerTrade, Wax Digital and Zycus.

Previous installments provided an in-depth look at GEP as a company (Part 1), its specific solutions (Part 2 and Part 3), and a detailed analysis of solution strengths (Part 4) and weaknesses (Part 5). A SWOT analysis and commentary followed in Part 6.

GEP competes in several market segments and brings varying degrees of capability, differentiation and strength in many areas. In certain segments of the market, it is more successful in positioning an overall suite value proposition rather than individual modules (individually or together) for several reasons. Clearly, GEP “keeps coming back to suite” as its technology mantra for good reason.

For example, Spend Matters’ analysis suggests GEP is stronger within the strategic sourcing services and solution areas than in the P2P components of its suite from an “absolute” functional capability perspective. Yet the provider is effective at selling both areas together when they are equally valued. GEP has indeed won some large-scale P2P customers, replacing other solutions, based on the integrated suite value proposition.

Or consider how GEP’s e-invoicing and e-payment capabilities are part of its integrated source-to-pay (S2P) suite solution but are not yet on par with specialist solutions. As another example, GEP has a strong analytics offering but typically positions it within the context of its suite, so while it could compete against specialists in this area, given its classification capabilities, it typically does not.

In this PRO analysis, we’ll set up our coverage primarily relative to technology application segments such as:
* Fully Integrated (and some “loosely coupled”) Source-to-Pay Suites
* Full P2P Suites
* End-to-End and best-of-breed strategic procurement technology (SPT) offerings
* e-invoicing and e-payment specialists
* Supplier and master data management (MDM) providers

But, we’ll also touch on major consultancies, BPO players and niche MSPs.

GEP: Vendor Analysis (Part 6) — SWOT and Commentary

Global Risk Management Solutions (GRMS)

For those procurement organizations that have not looked at GEP’s technology suite in recent years, they will likely be surprised when exploring its breadth of functionality, as well as the nuances associated with capabilities that differentiate it from other suites. These areas include clever takes on category management, integrated suite analytics, mobile support, and a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and cloud-native solution built and hosted on the Microsoft Azure platform.

This sixth installment of the seven-part Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering GEP provides an objective SWOT analysis of the company and offers our commentary on its platform. In our next installment, we will close out with a competitive market analysis, with recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to GEP, and some recommendations and provider selection guidance for companies that may consider GEP’s suite or even individual modules and capabilities. Previous installments provided an in-depth look at GEP as a company (Part 1), its specific solutions (Part 2 and Part 3), and a detailed analysis of solution strengths (Part 4) and weaknesses (Part 5).

GEP: Vendor Analysis (Part 5) — Solution Weaknesses

In Spend Matters’ previous installment of our seven-part GEP review, we called out some of the real strengths of the SMART by GEP platform, including some that are rare in the market today. In this Part 5, we are going to balance our analysis by also pointing out some of the "weaknesses" of the platform, at least against peers. (A weakness isn't a weakness unless you are looking for, or need, a certain capability, which, of course, you may already have in-house in another platform.)

While we may have hinted at these by way of omission of coverage in our solution overview in Part 3 and Part 4, we are going to get more specific so you understand precisely what isn't there (and can make a judgment call as to whether you even need the capability). We’ll look at deep optimization (especially logistics), asset management for direct, VMS, trade financing, T&E and more.

GEP: Vendor Analysis (Part 4) — Solution Strengths

procurement software

In Part 2 and Part 3 of Spend Matters’ seven-part review of GEP, we provided a relatively complete overview of GEP's SMART S2P solution that it takes to market and uses to power the S2P efforts of some of the largest companies in the world. And while we may have hinted at some of the stronger parts of the offering, in today's installment we are going to call out the real strengths of the platform, some of which are (relatively) unique in the market. Those strengths include analytics/master data management, strategic sourcing with expert insight, mobility, network intelligence, opportunity management and more. Let’s take a look at each.

GEP: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — Solution Overview (Midstream and Downstream)

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As we highlighted in Part 1 of this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series, GEP is a diverse company that is a provider of source-to-pay solutions, BPO services and consulting. In Part 2, we discussed how SMART by GEP is a unified S2P solution platform built from the ground up as a cloud-based solution, with full integration capabilities into back-end systems, built and hosted on the Microsoft Azure infrastructure. From both platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and hosting perspectives, this brings the same advantages of Amazon Web Services virtualization (e.g., ability to rapidly “scale up” and “scale down” at any layer in the architecture). But further, the entire GEP platform is Microsoft native, which theoretically means tighter integration into the Microsoft ecosystem of products (e.g., SharePoint, Office, etc.) than competing products. The Azure platform and hosting model provides another layer of scalability insurance for GEP customers.

In Part 3, we’ll look at the midstream and downstream functional S2P capabilities — contract management, supplier management, procure to pay (P2P) — that GEP offers within SMART by GEP. We also take a critical look at GEP’s emphasis on user experience.

GEP: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Solution Overview (Upstream)

SciQuest

SMART by GEP is a unified source-to-pay solution platform and, as GEP is quick to point out, it doesn’t sell “single modules as widgets” on a price list. SMART by GEP can, of course, provide its customers with modular functionality. (See Part 1 of this seven-part Spend Matters PRO series for a company overview of the S2P provider, which also has BPO services and consulting.) However, GEP claims that the majority of its new platform customers will continue to embrace full suite adoption from the get-go, versus a minority that will desire a point-based solution at the start.

SMART by GEP is a cloud-based solution, with full integration capabilities into back-end systems, built and hosted on the Microsoft Azure infrastructure. From both platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and hosting perspectives, this brings the same advantages of Amazon Web Services virtualization (e.g., ability to rapidly “scale up” and “scale down” at any layer in the architecture).

But further, the entire GEP platform is Microsoft native, which theoretically means tighter integration into the Microsoft ecosystem of products (e.g., SharePoint, Office, etc.) than competing products. The Azure platform and hosting model provides another layer of scalability insurance for GEP customers.

In Part 2 of this series, we will cover key upstream functional S2P capabilities — spend analysis, category management, sourcing — that GEP offers within the unified SMART by GEP platform:

GEP: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Company Background

GEP, formerly Global eProcure, is an integrated source-to-pay (S2P) solution and services firm that offers managed services including full BPO capabilities, transformation services (i.e., consulting) and its own internally developed S2P technology suite. The combination of these individual capabilities from a single provider, especially as they become increasingly synergistic, makes GEP truly a standalone in the industry.

Founded in 1999, GEP has been known primarily for its deep knowledge in upstream strategic sourcing and its flexible approach to building and delivering capabilities to its paying clients. These capabilities grew organically, and perhaps somewhat opportunistically, into more repeatable technology-enabled solutions (e.g., spend analysis, e-sourcing, etc.). They also grew when they acquired (and subsequently replatformed) Enporion, a small supply chain management provider that had select upstream strategic sourcing and downstream e-procurement applications, primarily to energy, manufacturing and distribution clients. This acquisition provided GEP with an IP base to further its downstream development capability and better serve these industries.

In the early days, like many companies founded around its time, GEP was a traditional provider of hosted / ASP sourcing technology, but earlier this decade, GEP made the strategic decision to develop its own native source-to-pay cloud platform suite (“SMART by GEP,” first released in 2014), which replaced its older hosted or SaaS offerings. It was a strategic bet that procurement organizations of varying sizes want the agility and depth of a single provider that can flexibly assemble a solution of technology, managed services and transformation services to support their dynamic needs, and one that has continued to pay off. While GEP may not have as many customers as Coupa or SAP Ariba, GEP has more F500 / G2000 clients than any other provider in the S2P space, and, in fact, whereas many of its S2P competitors can count F500 customers as a minority of their customer base, for GEP it’s a majority.

The wager was prescient on many levels, and is starting to massively pay off in growth and business scale, which no one could have imagined at GEP five years ago when its SMART suite was released, and definitely not seven years ago when it would have first begun its new development effort (after the Enporion acquisition). This growth not only includes cloud-based standalone application growth outside of services, but also more transformational services around digitization and automation as well as category management and overall "procurement transformation" once new capabilities are installed. And this success is increasingly creating consternation with traditional software, solution and service providers alike, which is both a boon and a bust for GEP, as we will discuss later in this series.

This seven-part Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot series provides facts and expert analysis to help buying organizations make informed decisions about GEP’s source-to-pay capability, as well as limited background on its associated services capability. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company background and overview to set the stage, as well as a few key differentiators to help in short-list decisions. Parts 2 and 3 will provide a detailed solution overview of each key area/module. Part 4 will dive deep into the GEP platform and solution strengths, while Part 5 will balance the analysis by diving into the GEP platform and solution weaknesses, at least with regard to other solutions on the market. (A weakness isn't a weakness if it's not a capability your organization needs, either due to its industry or the presence of that capability in another platform that is already being used.) Part 6 will provide a full SWOT analysis as well as commentary on the solution and recommended fit. Finally, Part 7 will finish up with an overview of the competitive landscape.

GEP: What Makes It Great (E-Procurement SolutionMap Analysis)

While not as well known some vendors for its e-procurement capability, GEP delivers a standalone cloud-based software platform, SMART by GEP, that holds its own in a highly competitive field. Based on both its Solution and Customer Value scoring in the Q2 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap, GEP is a recommended fit for all five e-procurement personas. The unified processes offered by the GEP platform underpin one of the best order management capabilities in our benchmark, as well as the integration and visualization of information across the procurement, sourcing and supplier management lifecycles.

In the e-procurement market, GEP differentiates itself in a number of functional areas. As the Q2 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap illustrates, GEP delivers above-the-benchmark functional capability in approximately 50 individual e-procurement requirements. Its SolutionMap performance provides compelling evidence that the provider is a must-shortlist candidate for all e-procurement buying scenarios.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

GEP vs. SAP Ariba: E-Procurement Technology Evaluation and Head-to-Head Comparison

GEP and SAP Ariba could not have more different e-procurement DNA. GEP, as we like to say, is the Swiss Army knife of procurement, combining business process outsourcing (BPO), consulting, managed services, market intelligence and procurement technology under one roof. SAP Ariba is the opposite: it has a legacy as a purely enterprise software company that had two major pivots, first to SaaS and later to the combination of cloud applications tied to a networked business model and value proposition.

This begs the question: How the heck can GEP compete against SAP Ariba — including winning on SAP’s home turf — when its ambitions are less focused than that of its competitor? The comparison between GEP and SAP Aiba in Spend Matters Q1 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap on a functional scoring basis must not be cut and dried. Or is it?

Join us in this unfiltered SolutionMap results analysis from our Q1 2018 dataset, supplemented by commentary from Spend Matters Founder Jason Busch. These recurring Head-to-Head columns share insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider Subscribers, providing unique comparative cuts of SolutionMap benchmark data, along with the trademark quips that have defined Spend Matters analysis since its inception.

So prepare for some real data and expect at least a modicum salty opinion as we pit GEP and SAP Ariba against each other in the Spend Matters evaluation ring. Not yet an Insider member? Here’s a preview: In the majority of e-procurement categories — which overall span catalog management, shopping/requisitioning, ordering, receiving, supplier network, configurability, technology (overall), general services and an overall summary e-procurement average — SAP Ariba disarms the GEP Swiss Army knife. But in at least one area, GEP takes the prize — which might be the secret to how it wins its share of customer battles.

The Q1 2018 E-Procurement SolutionMap benchmark is now based on an underlying dataset featuring 19 separate providers, including nearly all of the must-shortlist invoice-to-pay technology providers procurement organizations can expect to consider in a typical selection process (as well as those they should consider but might overlook). Whether you’re in the market for a new invoice-to-pay product or just want to know if you made the right decision for your organization, our SolutionMap analysis and benchmark data can tell you the answer. Curious to learn more? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

GEP: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — Competitive Analysis and Recommendations

For those procurement organizations that have not looked at GEP’s procurement technology suite in recent years, they will likely be surprised when exploring its breadth of functionality, as well as the nuances associated with different capabilities that differentiate it from other suites. These areas include clever takes on category management, integrated suite analytics, mobile support and a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and cloud-native solution built and hosted on the Microsoft Azure platform.

This third and final installment of this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot covering GEP series provides an objective SWOT analysis of GEP and offers a competitive segmentation analysis and comparison. It also includes recommended shortlist candidates as alternative vendors to GEP and offers provider selection guidance. Finally, it provides summary analysis and recommendations for companies that may consider GEP’s suite or individual modules. Previous installments provide an in-depth look at GEP as a firm and its specific solutions (PART 1) and a detailed analysis of solution strengths and weaknesses and a review of the product’s user experience (PART 2).