b-pack will b-interesting if you’re looking 2b-P2P e-nabled (part 2)

Yesterday, in part 1 of this series on b-pack, the French / US P2P firm who came out so well in the recent Gartner study, we provided an general overview of the firm and product suite.

When I spoke to Pierre-Marie Rallu from the firm I asked about the typical client. “We tend to have high spend coverage – we have retail clients with 100% of the indirect spend going through the system. Our target is mid-market, often where there are many users so the scalability and simple implementation is key – we have clients with thousands of users.”

And that’s not just private sector – 20% of their business is public sector, including the City of Paris who run b-pack, and they work with Accenture in France to drive the public sector business.  They’ve also recently won the French “Economat des Armees” purchase to pay automation business. “The processes targeted by this project include Catalog Management, Requisition, Approval,  Purchase Order Management and also the integration of invoices for payment”.

As the purchasing centre of the French Ministry of Defence, Economat des Armees operate “ a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries, material and services to military personnel”.  We understand this is a pretty substantial (big six-figure) win - other key b-pack clients include GSF, Suez Environment, AON and United Drug (which includes some UK operations) and Rehmann in the US.

In terms of more technical features, the product is highly configurable and can be tailored for individual user profiles and page views very easily. You can create your own forms and requisitions, which aids high spend coverage. Workflows, rules and approvals are very flexible. There is real-time budget management, and the ability to customise reports very quickly.

The “my commodities” feature picks up your most commonly bought items,  and you can save preset lists – useful perhaps for a head office to define regularly bought items for their retail or similar branches perhaps. The whole thrust is on making it easy for the end user, who in most cases is not a procurement person.

There’s no doubt we’re seeing a theme in P2P – even I can spot it without being a deep expert in the technology. Software firms are focusing not purely on more and more technology cleverness, but on making the product easy for users as well as functionally  rich. And that seems very sensible, given the pain many of us have gone through over the years trying to get users to learn how to use complex, non-intuitive P2P processes and systems.

Firms like b-pack are well aware of this, and they’re winning business on the back of this more flexible, rapid adoption, user-friendly approach. It will be interesting to see if the giants of P2P are capable of responding to the challenge, or whether the likes of b-pack can eat into their market share.


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