b-pack will b-interesting if you’re looking 2b-P2P e-nabled quickly and e-sily… (sorry..).

One of the good things about the Gartner e-Procurement report we featured here and here was that it pointed me in the direction of a few firms I haven’t come across previously. The first of those we’re going to feature is b-pack.

They’re not to be confused with b-process, who Ariba bought the other week. But b-pack, like b-process, are of French origin, just like Vanessa Paradis (see below). So I had a chat with Pierre-Marie Rallu from b-pack recently to get some background about the firm. This is not full product demo stuff, I should point out, but it was a good introduction and I’m sure we’ll have more about them in the future.

Vanessa Paradis is from France, just like b-pack

They (we’re talking b-pack now) are still head-quartered in Paris. With around 60 people in the firm, they’re small but have grown steadily since they were formed 10 years ago, are profitable, and internally funded with revenues of approaching $8 million this year. They have over 100 clients and 35,000 daily users. Outside of France, their expansion has been largely in the US, (one of their founders moved there to drive the business) with offices in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Skyline

One aspect of the conversation I found particularly useful, and all credit to Pierre for this, was his comparison of where b-pack sit in the competitive landscape. So he talked about the positioning of b-pack against competitors, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Ariba, Oracle, SAP as well as smaller firms like Coupa, Wax Digital and Proactis very openly and honestly.

Given this, b-pack are very clear as you might expect about their own positioning. They are “technology innovators” , with a primarily product focus, driven through their R&D and software centres. They work with partners to deliver and implement, including large and smaller consulting firms, and in some cases partners who use “white label” versions of the b-pack technology. So there’s no doubt they are very much a software rather than a services firm.

They offer the full P2P process – requisition to payment, including catalogues, budget and asset management, travel and expenses, and spend analysis. There is multi language and tax capability, and they have recently added a contract authoring and management capability. The next product developments are around sourcing capability (RfX etc) but it is fairly early days for that. Somewhat confusingly, they call the P2P suite “e-Procurement” and the sourcing products “e-Purchasing”, which is probably not the nomenclature I would have used. But anyway...

b-pack position their offering very much as a cloud based, SaaS offering. They highlight rapid implementations and a strong focus on usability and innovation as product benefits. Their claims on speed of adoption are impressive - they reckon the product can be delivered, integrated, users trained and up and running within 8 weeks.

If that puts them up against the likes of Wax Digital and Coupa, Pierre wouldn’t disagree although he believes there are differentiators. While b-pack stress the rapid deployment benefits, they are also willing to tailor and be flexible to meet more specific customer needs – so they do offer an on-premise option for instance, and will customize the software to need customer demands.

Stay tuned for more in part 2, including some client information and more on product features and benefits.

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