Undiscovered Diamonds for 2008: Finding the Acres of Diamonds in an Evolving Market (Certify Profile: www.certify.com)

Posted on December 16, 2008


“For every acre of that old farm, yes, every shovelful, afterward revealed gems which since have decorated the crowns of monarchs.”

From Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Conwell


Often times we have a tendency to overlook that which we either take for granted, or lacks the perceived big bang impact that places a matter directly on our immediate radar screens.

This by no means suggests that a relevant and real-world impact doesn’t exist.  For example, the majority of e-procurement/supply chain initiatives usual focus on the large dollar, low transcational volume expenditures while simultaneously relegating the low-dollar, high transactional purchases to a secondary status.  Or even worse, redefining low dollar purchasing practices in an attempt to conform to an existing program.  Programs which are usually ill-suited for the task at hand but require a concerted “square peg in round hole” comittment.     

With this mindset, innovation and in particular technologically advanced solutions are often overlooked as not being a priority and therefore do not fit in with the current budget.

However, and taking into account these challenging economic times, Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,” takes on an almost prophetic meaning in that senior executives are now being forced to focus on making strategic and incremental imrpovements outside of the over-arching initiatives that for far too long have dominated the decision-making process.

And it is in this spirit that Certify has been propelled to a position of imminent prominence in the area of effective expense management, and is therefore one of my 2008 Undiscovered Diamonds.       

Undiscovered Simplicity that Delivers Enduring Excellence 

Like the pristine beaches of Ixtapa, Mexico when it was a little known haven in the mid-to-late eighties, or the enduring appeal of an ice cold Coca-Cola on a hot summer’s day – how can you tell that it is the middle of winter and I live in Canada – Certify’s solutions are overwhelmingly simple to implement, and even easier to use.  Yet they deliver an incredible punch in terms of truly effective expense management.

Launched in August of this year, Certify’s founders have a long and well established history in this area of practice having sold their previous (and obviously successful) enterprise to a more than eager giant.      

With a wealth of knowledge and an abundancy of experience, the concept for the Certify “expense management made easy model” is similar to the highly successful SalesForce.com self-service platform.  A platform in which Certify has successfully addressed the capture, record, submit, intergrate and reimburse elements that are essential to overcoming the traditional obstacles associated with stakeholder resistance.

And while the company focuses on the small-to-medium size business community (200 to 5,000 employees), I can see no reason why the Certify offering would not be able to carry its weight in the Fortune 500 world.  In fact, with features such as automated policy enforcement, receipt uploading, support for 132 different currencies as well as seamless data integration with core ERP systems, being a “completely internet based” solution that is available on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis almost becomes a secondary consideration.

Add into the equation instant usage – the ultimate plug and play offering in an ERP-dominated world, with a “30 day free, no obligation test drive,” and I would be hard pressed to come up with a reasonable excuse not to at least try the Certify offering in a live environment.  Especially when a 2007 Aberdeen Report found that “73% of Employer’s surveyed do not use a fully integrated company wide expense management solution.”  A critical point that was further underscored when the same survey found that 68% consider the adoption of technology to automate the expense management process to be the “top strategic action for improving expense management.”

An Economic Imperative

Taking a page from the popular credit card commercial that asks the viewer “what’s in your wallet,” Certify’s solutions answers the question what is coming out of your wallet – or in the case of increasingly budget conscious enterprises, what expenses are slowly leaking from a rapidly declining revenue base!

According to the figures provided in the Aberdeen Report, the level of automation has opposed to a lack of accountability and control or non-compliance with existing policy has an equal if not greater impact on effective expense management and lost bottom line dollars.     

Specifically, in those organizations operating under a largely manual system, the cost of processing an expense report is $31.40 as compared to the $15.10 per report cost in a fully automated environment in which an enterprise-wide, integrated system is in place.

While the delta between a manually versus automated process seems paltry at a mere $16.30 per expense report, like individual snowflakes in a storm, it doesn’t take long for these costs to add up into a significant amount.

And while smaller companies are the ones who traditionally watch the pennies and nickles, given the economic climate and the pending (if it is not here already) recession, it is a practice that makes sense for all organizations regardless of size.

Why Certify?

For those of you that are part of my regular readership, you already know that an important tenet of the Procurement Insights Sponsorship Program (which includes these profiles) is my total commitment to neutrality.  And as such I will continue to leave the assessment surrounding the viability of the Certify value proposition in your hands, (as always, I will direct you to the Link To Our Sponsors and Sponsor Presentations Sections of the PI Blog to investigate the Certify solution in greater detail, and at your own convenience).

That said I obviously would not have selected Certify as one of Procurement Insights’ 2008 Undiscovered Diamonds, if I had not seen the core characteristics of a complete offering.  An offering that delivers tangible bottom line results through a streamlined, cost efficient implementation process and a superior end-user experience.  

The personification of powerful simplicity, the organization’s free trial speaks volumes relative to the “if you try us, we know that you will like us” refrain that reflects an unwavering confidence in both the company and the solutions it offers.  And in a world where initiative failure rates run at 85% and are accompanied by million dollar write-offs, Certify is a refreshing resprite in terms of both cost and performance.  

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