b-pack: Taking Root in Their Brave New World, Part I

When we first introduced you to b-pack in 2010, they were packing it in for a brave new world (Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV), hoping to spread some French Procurement bohemian revolution to the rest of the world.

Unlike other e-Procurement systems of the day, b-pack understood that e-Procurement was more than just requisitions, catalogs, and invoices. Good e-Procurement solutions take you from procurement through purchase through receipt, payment and supplier management to begin the cycle anew. To this end, b-pack brought with them a suite of solutions that take you from the start of a traditional sourcing cycle (RFx), through a contract, to a requisition (which may be from a catalog), against a budget, to receipt (which can include asset tracking information), and an invoice, to payment, reporting, and supplier management. In addition to these core e-Procurement modules, they also brought document management, expense and travel management, asset management, inventory management (which is integrated with asset management), fleet management, dispute resolution, a supplier portal and procurement business intelligence reporting in a solution that was extensively internationalized.

So what have they been up to since then? Quite a bit. In addition to (collaborative) contract authoring and advanced contract management (coming out in the next release next quarter), advanced requisitioning and services procurement, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) integration, project management and project support across requisitions and budgets, an enhanced collaboration portal, a GPO (Group Purchasing Organization) module, and enhancements across the board to all core and supporting modules, b-pack has been working hard to extend their out-of-the-box integrations with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and AP (Accounts Payable) systems, increase usability, and take (RAD) rapid application development to a whole new level with respect to the degree to which the platform can be customized for a new client.

One of the things b-Pack has learned serving 100+ clients globally across 20+ industries in the public and private sectors over the past 13 years is that every single company is different when it comes to the Procurement processes that they use. Furthermore, not only are the procurement (inventory, and receiving) processes (just to name a few) different, so are the types of requisitions, budgets, and projects that they use. And if you try to meet their needs with a one-size fits all platform that doesn’t mimic organizational processes exactly, what ends up happening is that the employees, used to doing things a certain way, do everything they can to bypass the platform, no matter how easy it is to use or how consumer-oriented it is. And what ends up happening is that, instead of Supply Management getting their spend under management (SUM), maverick spend actually increases after the e-Procurement platform is implemented. In response to this realization, b-pack has been very heavily focussed on not only increasing the customization capability of their platform over the last few years, but in doing it in such a way that the platform can be custom configured through user-driven administration options. This achieves three very important goals in the enterprise software world. One — there is only one instance of the b-pack platform – which makes it very easy to maintain and update as every customer runs the same core code base. Two — every customer (administrator) can configure the platform themselves as their needs change. Three — a custom instance can be configured for even the most complex Fortune 500 in a matter of days by a b-pack product manager who sits down with the customer and walks through all of their Procurement processes with them.

In the posts that follow we will discuss some of the unique customization capabilities in the new b-pack solution in detail.