Has Coupa Settled on a Coupe? Part I

Has Coupa, which opened the Cabana Cafe a little over four years ago with the goal of enabling Procurement Independence for all with it’s Rails-driven cloud-based EC2 platform, given up its quest for a coupasonic flying car and instead settled for a mini-cooper?

Now, while the original goal of Coupa, that wanted to fill your e-Procurement gas tank, was to bring e-Procurement to the masses, it would seem that they are now content with the fact that you can buy anything you want in The Coupa Store as it would appear that they are no longer charging ahead on the innovation front. While it’s true that they’ve been quite busy ever since they enabled QuickDraw Procurement with QuickStart, what they’ve accomplished since then isn’t all that spectacular compared to their historical rate of innovation … and they’ve missed most of the opportunities for innovation that could take their platform to the next level with their latest release. And while it’s true that you don’t need a very powerful solution if you’re selling fertilizer to farmers (and can get by with a simple cart and a good old-fashioned hoe-down), you’re never going to get the design engineers. (i.e. You’ll get the tactical buyers requisitioning office supplies, but never the strategic buyers trying to order a bill of materials for engineering.)

Basically, besides revamping the UI for the upteenth time (which seems to be a waste of resources to me as it was already [among] the easiest enterprise procurement solution out there and as easy to use as Amazon.com), all Coupa appears to have accomplished in the last eighteen months is:

  • improved ERP integration through upgraded APIs and Boomi,
  • drag-and-drop expense management,
  • transaction metadata for OLAP reporting,
  • a new inline spend dashboard,
  • real-time budget-based alerts during requisitioning,
  • the iPhone app,
  • iRequest,
  • opt-in community benchmarking, and
  • supplier ratings.

Considering that:

  • they’ve had APIs since day one, Boomi handles most of the integration, and ERP integration is always just a matter of time and resources,
  • it’s about data capture (not slick UIs),
  • they’ve had the ability to capture this data since day one,
  • dashboards are dangerous and dysfunctional,
  • they’ve always had alerts and the usefulness of this should have been obvious years ago,
  • if you have an iPhone, you have e-mail, and that’s good enough for approvals,
  • the goal is not to buy outside the system,
  • benchmarks are pointless unless you’re benchmarking against peer data, and
  • optional surveys are about as useful as snowshoes in summer

while it is still forward progress (which is more than a few of their peers can claim these days), it really isn’t much considering their historical rate of innovation. (Of course, that’s when Davie ran The Coupa Factory.) While their new strategy may have enabled their rate of growth to skyrocket, going from a few dozen customers to over one hundred and fifty in under two years, it appears to have put a crimp in their rate of innovation — especially considering the unprecedented power Coupa could have brought to their platform if they had taken the last two features to the next level.

To be continued.

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