Daily Archives: February 27, 2009

QuickDraw Procurement with Coupa QuickStart

Earlier this week, Coupa announced the availability of Coupa Quickstart, the second in a string of big announcements they have planned for the first half of this year. (The first was, of course, the acquisition of a new CEO, Rob Bernshteyn, earlier this month.)

As noted in the Press Release, Coupa Quickstart is a setup wizard that visually guides purchasing mangers through the setup process for users, approval rules, payment and shipping terms, billing information, chart of accounts, suppliers, and other basic information that is required to get a purchasing system up and running in less than an hour. Noticing that one of the biggest barriers to adoption of e-Procurement software in small and smaller mid-size organizations was the lack of (technical) personnel to support the acquisition, setup, and implementation of en e-Procurement system, Coupa wanted to build an on-demand e-Procurement system that any buyer, with limited technical capability, and only a browser at his or her disposal, could set-up by themselves quickly and easily. The Quickstart wizard, built on top of a basic, default configuration and e-Procurement process, enables a buyer to get going as soon as they define basic company information and configure the system on an as-needed basis. As a result, most users will be able to be up, running, and cutting their first purchase order in under an hour. (Small organizations with only a few users and simple approval hierarchies will be up and running in under half and hour, and one customer managed to get a basic system configuration defined in only ten minutes!)

The Coupa QuickStart process is a streamlined process that walks a user through:

  • Company Info Definition
    In this stage the user defines the company name and address, uploads the logo, and defines the currencies (default USD), units of measure (default Each), departments (if required), and standard commodities (pre-populated with a basic default list Coupa has found to be common to many small and mid-size business) they buy on a regular basis.
  • User Definition
    In this stage, the system users and approval hierarchies are defined.
  • Financial Rules Definition
    In this stage, the user can define the company’s standard payment terms, shipping terms, billing info, and accounts (& account structure). (The system can auto-generate account numbers if the user simply defines the legal values in each segment.)
  • Supplier Definition
    The user defines the suppliers they do business with. Invitations are sent to the supplier to connect electronically, and if the supplier is already defined as a user in the Coupa system, they will see the user’s company as a customer in their instance when they accept.

Finally, the new QuickStart offering comes with a streamlined help system that contains numerous “visual” entries on how to use the invoicing, receiving, RFQ, budgeting, inventory, contracts, and punch-out capabilities as well as numerous other standard Coupa features.

The Value of Market Intelligence in a Down Economy

A recent Sourcing Interests newsletter contained an article on the value of obtaining market intelligence in a down economy that should not be overlooked, especially since many organizations might be tempted to eliminate (or at least severely reduce) the budget for market intelligence in difficult economic times.

The article makes a good argument for the retention of the effort (and associated budget):

  • the utilization of market intelligence is an integral part of the sourcing process
    (and without it, how likely are you to know what the true cost of a good or service is)
  • the intelligence gathering process is a reiterative one
    it’s not a “one and done” approach, which should be obvious since market conditions are constantly changing and the big winners are those who sense a change early
  • it enables ongoing supplier relationship management
    which is key in difficult times; look at the auto industry: the American automakers (who consistently score less than 200 on the OEM-Supplier Working Relations Index[WRI]) are all failing while the Japanese (and Korean) manufacturers, who coooperate and collaborate with their suppliers, are doing much better (and rocking the WRI charts)
  • it isn’t as expensive as you think it is
    a lot of the data and information you need to spot trends and focus in on the core issues and data points is low-cost, and often free; consider the following providers of low-cost market intelligence

    • Professional Organizations
      the professional organizations you belong to usually have large collections of quality information and data that is free to member (organization)s
    • Trade Publications
      for a subscription that literally costs a few dollars a month, you can often get unlimited access to the complete publication archive on its website
    • Your 401(K)
      Most 401(K) plan websites post analyst reports, which are free to investors. (And those that don’t post on the website usually make the reports available for the cost of postage.)
    • Conferences
      Most conferences these days include a CD with the complete presentation archive, and many conferences are starting to record the presentations and making the DVD(s) available to attendees for a few hundred dollars.
    • Industry Professionals
      If you attend a conference, seminar, or workshop where an individual or organization presents his, her, or its work, chances are they’ll be more than happy to share their research and / or data with you if you just ask.
    • Your Supply Base
      Chances are that your suppliers, who want you to succeed because they need your business, will be more than happy to share any insights and data they have with you (that pertains to your joint business) if you just take the time to talk to them.
    • Your Internal Experts
      Your people on the front lines probably have a decent sense of what’s happening before management does. Talk to them, and let them steer your analysts in the right direction.
    • The Blogs
      Bloggers delight in providing you with free information.

Market Intelligence is critical for good decision making. It identifies risks before they materialize and insures that your contracts have appropriate risk mitigation clauses built in. It leads to savings and cost avoidance that would never be identified without it. And it doesn’t require multiple high five-figure subscriptions to analyst firms … just some elbow-grease, intelligence, and smartly selected memberships and limited-access plans with the appropriate analyst firms that allow you to access the key research you need (identified from lower cost sources) and leave the research you don’t.