GEP SMART Review

Spend module gives us up-to-date information for reports, but the solution needs to be more flexible


What is our primary use case?

We use it in our supply management group for contract management and spend analytics.

On our contract side, we're in v2.0. And on our spend side we're also in v2.0.

How has it helped my organization?

We brought in a third-party company, Adobe, to do our e-signature. There's an integration there which was very beneficial for us and what we do. And it enables our vendors to not have to log in to the system to sign an agreement. They get a direct email from Adobe, sent from SMART. They can just click on the link and sign it and then it comes back to SMART. That was a huge thing for us. 

The basics of what we use it for and what the product offers work really well for us in terms of contract creation, from beginning to end. Overall, it does what we need it to do. 

What is most valuable?

Since we only have the two modules, we actually find them both very valuable. It gives us everything that we need for building a contract from scratch and using electronic signatures.

On the spend side, it's integrated with our accounting system and has bimonthly uploads of data. So we have pretty current spend information that we can access and build reports on. On that side it's very easy to use, very straightforward. We don't have a lot of issues in spend.

What needs improvement?

On the contract side, we have definitely come across a lot of pain points since I've been here. There were some issues with our initial implementation. It wasn't done correctly and it's been a process over a few years to recover from that. There were a lot of lessons learned on their side and our side, and there are still things that we're trying to work through that, maybe, weren't understood properly in the beginning. We're still continuing to try to build it for what we use it for, which is different than what some of their bigger clients may use it for. We've had to do a lot of cleanup and make a lot of changes.

We had a lot of challenges and disagreements with SMART. It's been a long road, for sure, on the contract side. There is a little bit of pushback on their part when we need stuff done. Things aren't done very efficiently. I'm still waiting on some changes that were requested well over a year-and-a-half ago. These certain items have been bumped up to the president of the company.

In addition, there is a lot of information that we have to put in that is not useful for us, but we have no control over that because it's hard-coded into the program. There's a lot of stuff there that we just don't need or use. It would be better if we were able to turn off all the things that we don't need. The way it is right now makes things seem unclean and not tidy because there's all this information we have to put in that we don't even use. Being able to turn off tabs and fields that other SMART clients use but we don't would be nice, just to simplify it and not have to see them or fill them in.

For how long have I used the solution?

The company has had this solution for about four-and-a-half years. I came in when it had already been in use for a year-and-a-half to two years. In the past, I still was doing manual agreements and printing paper and having people wet-sign documents. So for me, this is a way better solution than how we did things in the past.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's hard to say what the solution's stability is like. I feel like it would be nice to start from scratch, because we still have some nagging issues with our categories and certain other things. However, we've made the best of it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

For what we use it for, the basics work great for us. We haven't used the other module. I've never personally used another contract management system, so I have nothing to compare it to.

How are customer service and technical support?

Overall, SMART's technical support is slow. There has been a lot of miscommunication. There's a time barrier with a lot of the technical support people being in India, as well as a language barrier in understanding.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't involved in the initial setup but it was kind of an ongoing thing, even when I started. There was never an implementation person from SMART who came here to help with implementation. I think that was an issue. Nobody came here, to our Canadian office, or to our US location. So our US officed opted not to use it because the functionality was a bit of a mess.

One of our employees who is no longer here deployed the SMART solution and one of our team leads was involved as well.

Our implementation strategy for the solution, initially, was to get every single vendor we deal with into the system. And if we didn't have the proper information, they put in "dummy information" such as a made-up email address. This caused a lot of issues for us because when you create a profile, the first contact that you put in becomes your primary contact and also holds the username for logging in. Because there was a dummy user email, none of our vendors could log in. There were a lot of phone calls and it caused a lot of issues. On top of that, we did not need all of our vendors in the system, so I'm not sure why that was decided. We really only needed vendor profiles in there for vendors who had a live contract or agreement with us.

We ended up dumping over 4,000 vendors into the system, and it was a nightmare. When I came on board, I spent a lot of time cleaning that up and had GEP delete thousands of profiles. We don't have the ability to delete a profile. They will not give us that ability. So I had to run reports and send them to SMART and have them do mass deletion. But it didn't come easy because they were very resistant to that for the longest time, until we said this is not an option anymore. We want them gone. There was no need to have all those vendor profiles in the system when we didn't even have contracts or agreements with them.

What was our ROI?

I think we have seen return on investment by going with SMART.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We pay an annual fee but I'm not sure how much it is.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson we've learned from using the solution is around the thinking through of the implementation, having support for that, and doing better planning for it. Most companies have an implementation team and that's definitely the way to do it. If you have to initially, with any program, start manipulating the system by using dummy information, that's probably a red flag.

One of the enhancements that just came out is an idea that came from our group several years ago for a contract and spend integration — bringing in contracts and spend together for reporting. They have always been reported separately. We could report in contract or in spend, but not contract and spend together. They liked this idea, and it's taken them a couple of years to roll it out, but they wanted to roll it out for all their clients. They reprogrammed that into the system and that actually just finally came into production about a week ago, so we haven't had a chance to really use it at this point. But hopefully, we will be able to use it for what we need.

Only supply management is actively using the system here in our Canadian office. We have about 15 to 20 users, mostly on the spend side, and a handful using the contracts side of things. And about three people using it in our US office. Deployment and maintenance of the solution pretty much all falls on me. I'm the admin of our GEP system. Our IT does have admin access as well, but we don't use them, for the most part, for adding or deleting users. It all comes through me.

I don't know how many vendors we have in the system but I would estimate it at 1,000. However, once they do their profile and registration, I would say they don't use it.

Overall, I would give the solution a seven out of ten. It does need some work and there needs to be more flexibility. The big reason we used it was the fact that we could customize a lot of things to fit our needs. However, the system still seems very rigid in how it works, so we've had to do a lot of workarounds. There's definitely room for improvement.

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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