Daily Archives: June 13, 2008

Fill Your Gas Tank with Coupa e-Procurement

These days, prices at the pumps are on everyone’s mind – consumer and business owner alike. And whether you’re a 3PL or a call center, your business depends on gas. Just like a 3PL will go under if it can’t afford to keep the fuel tanks in its fleet full, so will your business if your employees can’t afford the gas they need to get to work and you can’t afford to help them offset their transportation costs. But how are you to do that if everything else is going up in cost as well?

These days, the only way many businesses can consistently keep their costs down is to use e-Procurement – which has been found to lower an average organization’s costs by 4.8% (according to a recent Aberdeen study). But if you’re a small business, or even a smaller mid-size business on a limited budget, chances are you just don’t have the cash for the solutions offered by the self-proclaimed market leaders. (Ariba and Ketera, if you’re wondering.) But all is not lost – because there’s Coupa, the first e-Procurement platform for the mass market that any organization can afford. (Not just the Fortune 3000!) A true on-demand SaaS platform that takes advantage of Amazon’s cloud computing to keep prices as low as they can go, prices start as low as $295/month or $3540/year! Chances are that’s less than you’re paying Microsoft annually for it’s bloated, unstable, operating system that you run your business on – and within the reach of even the smallest of operations!

There’s no better time than now to investigate Coupa, who just today rolled out their latest update. On their seventh release (since their initial launch in July 2006), the platform is now well rounded for buyers, suppliers, and administrators alike – and still easier to use than Amazon.com. (Let’s put it this way, if Amazon truly was “one-click”, Coupa would be “no-click”.) Their search functionality now supports lists and gallery views and sorting by supplier, price, and relevance. Their form-based ordering now allows for “requisition copy” for instant re-ordering. You can now receive notification of approvals (which can be done by system administrators through e-mail) in real-time through your Instant Messenger client! And their checkout is still a marvel in simplicity – everything that can be pre-populated (such as shipping, billing, and receiving information) already is, and most of the time all you have to do is click “submit”! And, unlike many other systems out there (including the B2C leaders) if you have to order multiple items that require different billing information, whereas most systems would force you to create multiple orders, with Coupa, you can choose to specify billing at the line item level. And if only a few items require special billing information, you only have to specify the information for those items. Default billing information will be automatically populated for all of the other items.

It’s all based on Coupa‘s philosophy that no piece of data should need to be entered twice – ever – a philosophy that is even extended to suppliers. (A philosophy that the doctor wishes more software companies would wrap their head around and stop wasting time building flashy Cadillac UI’s to mask their problematic Model-T Ford engines.) With Coupa, your supplier can automatically generate an invoice off of your purchase order with a single click, and they only need to enter information (such as shipping, billing codes, etc.) not available on the purchase order. Considering that the vast majority of EIPP systems only allow for electronic submission of a supplier invoice, this is a huge benefit. Millions, if not Billions, of dollars are lost annually due to invoicing errors – which are easily prevented when the supplier does not have to re-key in data, as every keystroke increases the chance of an error. Furthermore, Coupa supports standard catalog formats and “punch out” (and has over 2300 suppliers already enabled in its system), so the chances of a pricing error are greatly reduced as the supplier does not have to create a separate price list for every client for off-contract goods and services (and only has to create one price-list for on-contract goods and services, and never has to re-key pricing on an invoice).

But most importantly, because it’s 100% hosted, Coupa does not require anything besides the browser already sitting on your employee’s desktop. Furthermore, since it supports the creation of buying policies during set up, it’s essentially 100% touch-less buying from an administrative point of view. You don’t need any IT resources. You don’t need your approvers double checking every order to see if every good or service is on contract and at the contracted price (because you can set the system up to only allow on-contract purchases at contract prices without authorizations), and you can eliminate manual review of all purchases that represent normal business conduct (by setting up regular purchases and rules for what purchases require approval and human intervention and what purchases don’t).

And you can take comfort in the fact that as good as Coupa is today, it’s only going to get better with time! Between July 2006 and May 2008, Coupa had 7 major releases and over 13 updates! That’s at least 3 releases and 6 updates a year! And when you consider that they were

  • the first open-source e-Procurement platform
  • the first e-Procurement platform built for the mass market
  • the first mass-market e-Procurement platform built as SaaS from the ground up
  • the first supply chain platform to use Amazon cloud computing
  • the first e-Procurement platform to offer a free 30-day trial
  • the first, and still only, e-Procurement platform to offer drag-n-drop shopping
  • the first, and still only, e-Procurement platform to include “how to buy” policy support
  • the first e-Procurement platform that allows employees to contribute feedback

and that

  • the rate at which spend through the platform doubles decreases every quarter (it’s now down to 25 days)
  • the supplier count is exploding month over month (over 2300 connected suppliers and climbing fast)
  • the average “go-live” time for a new client is decreasing by the quarter (average is now 17 days to get the system fully configured for “touchless” buying and the suppliers who represent 80% + of your business enabled)
  • the average update has 100′s of improvements … and over a dozen new features
  • it also comes with extensive reporting for finance, logistics support, and even basic inventory management capabilities … with new functions being added every major release

you just can’t go wrong giving it a try if you’re an average small or mid-size business. (Especially since it has a free 30-day trial!)

And chances are, with Coupa, you’ll save enough to keep that gas tank full, even when everyone else is running on empty.