Coupa Charges Ahead!

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have a long chat with Dave Stephens, fellow blogger (Procurement Central) and founder of Coupa. We talked about a number of topics (and I’ll post more when I get the chance), including what Coupa is focusing on for their next enterprise release as they slowly grow (and set up shop in their new offices in Foster City, California).

Besides a lot of minor updates (which appear in both the open source and enterprise version), to appease the open source community at large (like better sorting and slicker interfaces), they are making improvements in three key areas – administration (much easier to use), buying templates and (visual) form construction (enterprise-only), and budget-based procurement (enterprise only) – probably the first “killer-app” for Coupa.

One of the problems with most approval-based eProcurement systems is that they don’t take budgets into account – which is very important not just in a budget-based shop where the approver would first have to log into another system to see how approving a large requisition would affect his budget, but in any business as a manager needs to see how an approval affects not only the total budget, but her unit’s spending to date. After all, you don’t want to overspend your (share of the) budget without a good reason, and you want to make sure that non-priority purchases are only made if it makes fiscal sense.

I was fortunate enough to see the work in progress on the enterprise edition, and it’s looking really good. The admin functionality, and functionality in general, has advanced nicely since 0.1 (and to some degree, since 0.2) and the form-based templates, definable and customizable at will by the system administrators, will give Coupa a great boost as it will now be perfectly suited for not only your office supplies, spot buys, and other odds-and-ends MRO spend, but also for your services spend as well. One-time legal services or consulting project spend, special advertising, promotional, or print spend, and other odd purchases (such as visa or passport application fees) will now all be able to be processed through the same system. This is VERY SIGNIFICANT. After all, Aberdeen has found that MRO is 26% of the total spend of a company (on average), and can be as high as 63%! Even if you’re not able to negotiate significant savings into your contracts, the presence alone of an eProcurement system, like Coupa, will save you bundles of cash since you’ll be able to virtually eliminate maverick spending with the built in compliance – one of the most significant costs to your organization!

I’ll post more later when I have the time, including some of the benefits of their forward thinking architectural choices, but for now, I suggest you download it and check it out. It might still be a pre-release, but there’s enough there to start giving it serious consideration – after all, it’s the early supporters and adopters that will get to guide its development over the next year or two, since open source projects build their roadmap based on customer feedback, not what an arbitrary executive or investor thinks is the right solution for the marketplace. Plus, they have documentation now!