RFPs no longer get stuck in firewalls and can see vendor progress with them real-time

What is our primary use case?

We use it for streamlining the source-to-contract process, from opportunity identification through to negotiation and contracting for preferred vendors.

It's a SaaS model.

How has it helped my organization?

One of the key functions of the sourcing group is to have a detailed understanding of who we spend money with, how much we spend with them, and what we're buying. It's helped us achieve that objective because we have multiple financial systems and it consolidates all of them for us. It identifies opportunities to save money through our procurement processes.

The fact that it's a single, unified software platform for our whole organization has positively affected our procurement operations because we get a single view of each of our vendors. Unlike some of the other source-to-contract suites, all of the modules are integrated. If we want to look up a particular vendor, we'll be able to see everything about their spend, what contracts we have with them, what sourcing events we invited them to, any of their supplier ratings, any savings that we've achieved around them, and all of that in a single view.

In terms of the efficiency of our procurement processes, in the past we were sending out all of these RFPs through email and they would get stuck in firewalls and we wouldn't have any idea of the progress of the vendors until the due date had arrived. Here, we can see in real-time which vendors have acknowledge receipt. We can see that they are 30 percent done or they're 40 percent done. They can put questions on their bulletin boards that we see, and the other vendors see anonymously. We wouldn't be able to manage these processes manually. Sometimes we invite 20 or 30 vendors for a request for information process to down-select to finalists, and it would be almost impossible to manage without the tool. It saves us days of time. We wouldn't be able to initiate some of our procurement processes without this tool.

It uses AI machine-learning to help us categorize what the vendor does for us and the particular goods or services they have. It looks at various data points and it learns if it's this GL account, the description it should have, and which category that spend should be mapped to. As a result, we understand who the vendors are that are providing fulfillment services or creative agency services. We wouldn't be able to do that without the AI and machine-learning capabilities for the spend analytics solution.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features is the opportunity-identification through the spend analytics. Another is around the RFX options to benchmark various pre-qualified vendors that are invited to participate.

It has a user-friendly user interface. You don't have to be an IT expert. It's intuitive in terms of drag-and-drop and maximizing the functionality. Everyone who's used it has found it to be user-friendly and beneficial. That is positive.

What needs improvement?

Their contracts module is kind of clunky and It took a while for them to correct some of the basic functionality, some of the "Contract Management 101" functions, but it seems to be coming around. It wasn't working the way we'd expected.

In terms of additional functionality, most of what we'd like are on the roadmap, like bid optimization functionality. 

Also, some of the modules don't have the same user interface as the others. We'd like to see them all made uniform.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using SMART for about a year-and-a-half.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been relatively stable. We had some performance issues in terms of availability this past week, but they were resolved. There were a few days when the performance was spotty for the sourcing module, but they corrected that.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability has been fine.

Particularly on the contracts module, it's underutilized right now, but we plan to expand usage over time.

How are customer service and technical support?

They are responsive. As soon as we send something, they acknowledge it. There have been a few things that have slipped through, but for the most part they're responsive and they eventually take care of the issue.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had nothing before this. This is a new, center-led procurement organization. We introduced a whole new team, new processes, and a whole new technology suite. Everything was manual before.

I was brought in to lead the new team and I had used similar technology at my previous employer and realized that we needed to implement it here. We were a small team and had to be as efficient as possible.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. They did everything for us since it's software as a service. There were regular project meetings and they helped us with integration testing. It went smoothly. The deployment took three months. There were only three people involved from our team, so it wasn't anything significant from that point of view.

The goal was to get it up as quickly as possible so that we could benefit from the efficiencies.

What about the implementation team?

We did not use a systems integrator.

What was our ROI?

We saw ROI right away, even after the first year. There were cost savings that we validated which were achieved through the tool.

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

The solution was somewhat comparable to what is on the market. 

There are no other "gotchas." The licensing and maintenance are all in one. There was a project implementation team cost but that was just one time and they didn't overrun.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We engaged about a half-a-dozen vendors, including SAP Ariba, Ivalua, Zycus, and BravoSolution.

We went with GEP because of the single view, their customer service, and the fact that they also have a professional services arm — sourcing and procurement practitioners — that they use in their software development.

What other advice do I have?

It's a huge efficiency tool and it has really accelerated our ability to drive the procurement business case in terms of cost savings.

I would recommend it. We have had some challenges with the contracts module and some performance issues but they recently resolved all those.

We haven't integrated it with our ERP, which is SAP. If we were to implement procure-to-pay, transactional procurement would have to integrate with that.

We don't maintain the GEP solution, we just use it. They're responsible for uptime and ticket resolution. We have biweekly meetings with our customer account manager to review all the enhancements, issues, and improvements. They do all the work for us.

We have about a dozen end-users of the solution.

**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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