Daily Archives: July 27, 2012

Robbie and the Coupa Factory

Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee-do
We’re still building great products for you!
Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dah-dee
If you are wise you’ll try it for free.

What do you get when you get lots of cash?
Filling coffers and enlarging the stash?
Teams of developers coding like mad!
Making the app work on your iPad.

You’ll like the look of that!

It’s been a long time since Davie ran the Coupa Factory, and while there may have been a number of notable changes in management, one thing hasn’t changed at Coupa — and that’s the original product direction (and the heart of the development team*). Coupa’s goal is still to make the best P2P platform out there that’s so easy to use that even your grandmother and three-year old can use it and get all your spend under management (SUM).

In terms of progress since our last major review of the platform in 2009, which focussed on QuickStart, there has been a flurry of development — of a very interesting sorts. Having built one of the richest web-based P2P platforms on the market in three short years (with everything capable of being custom configured by an administrative user), Coupa made a very important realization — 90% of P2P is simple, straightforward, and limited in terms of required functionality. Find what you need, put in a requisition, get approval, cut the PO to the vendor, accept delivery, accept the invoice, queue it for verification and approval, issue the goods receipt, and make payment within the agreed upon timeframe when the invoice has been verified and the goods accepted. There’s not a lot of inventory management, logistics, payment structuring, etc. in an average corporate purchase made by an end-user outside of the Supply Management organization.

What there is, in fact, is a lot of bypassing of e-Procurement systems that make the process of getting your printer, paper, or widget for your production line more troublesome than going to the Best Buy website, the Office Depot website, or just calling up the supplier and asking for another shipment. So, if you want widespread adoption, which is the key to maximizing your SUM (Spend Under Management), you have to make it at least as easy to use as Amazon. Whether you’re using vendor catalog, punch-out, cXML, or an in-house catalog, searching, shopping, and requisitioning is seamlessly integrated. And it’s all accessible through their new Super Search Bar that seamlessly integrates Google search for what you need, Amazon browse by category, and free-form item/service search (which also allows product/service retrieval through internal or vendor product/service numbers) which can be global, by commodity, category, or vendor — depending on your configuration. Plus, their new dynamic shopping cart, which integrates accounting and budgeting data (so you know against what budget item a requisition will be charged, how much is left on the budget item, and how much will be left when the requisition is approved the minute you add an item to the cat), allows for split-billing and overrides in the cart in a process that is as easy as Amazon’s “one-click” checkout. And, policies can be linked to each item and service that allow for additional information within a search to be “popped-up” so the user can get full information (which can include budgetary and billing information) before an item is even added to the cart. Supplier taxes can be imported and validated against your own tax tables, fending off future nightmares for finance down the road. And when all is said and done, payments can be recorded and integrated with you ERP (and Coupa now supports out-of-the-box integrations with a couple of dozen major ERP and e-Procurement platforms).

Upon checkout, the system will automatically create the necessary requisitions (which will be sent to each individual who needs to approve an item in your master requisition), and, upon approval, the necessary POs for each vendor will be automatically generated and delivered — and all are easily accessible from your order history page with a single click.

The other big developments since our last major review are their Expense Management Solution, which was still in its infancy, and their new Spend Optimizer Solution, which could more accurately called a 360° Spend Visibility solution (which you can use as a starting point in spend analysis and spend optimization). Their Expense Management application is a great way to get your T&E under control (as iPhone integration allows expense reports to be automatically generated by users who simply have to take a picture of their receipt and import it into the application). They’ve taken usability to a new level with this one.

Spend Optimizer is their mega-dashboard reporting solution that is completely configurable and allows for the creation of just about any spend report you can dream up. Done right, you can have it display off-contract spend; late payments; budget overruns; high-spend categories, commodities, and vendors; and other spend hot-spots that could get you or your organization into hot-water down the road if not proactively managed by exception. It’s still a dashboard (which can be dangerous and dysfunctional), but you have the option to see green, see red, or see where the black holes are. It’s this last capability that makes the real difference between useless reporting tool and powerful spend miner, because, generally speaking, off-contract is where the trouble starts.

And brand-spanking new functionality is lined-up for fourth quarter. Their recent announcement that 9.635 Billion has passed through their platform is impressive, but when they pull off their next round of application development, that will be more so. Coupa is still a company to watch, so don’t take your eyes off them for too long.

Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee-do
They’re still building great products for you!
Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee-dar
They have the goal to take your spend far.

* Dave and Noah may be gone, but David Williams is still there as VP Technology, overseeing day to day development.