It’s 24/7 for Robbie and the Coupa Factory, Part II

In Part I we announced that Coupa has been coding up a storm since we last checked in on them last summer (in Robbie and the Coupa Factory), completing Release 9 with major enhancements in expense management, invoice management, and catalog management; the android app; and the first version of their new sourcing module as well as some major improvements to their cart that will show up in release 10 later this quarter. Today, we will discuss the major improvements in Release 9 around expense management, invoicing, and catalog management.

The major changes in Expense Management focus around rapid entry and ease-of-use. Designed to work with their Mobile Expense Reporting app for iOS and Android, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for a user to:

  • capture their expenses with easy line item entry,
  • submit their expenses into the system with one button submit,
  • get a scanned copy of their receipt into the system by a single click with the smart phone camera, and
  • get an approval, rejection, or hold for further information by an approver who can also approve, reject, or hold on the go.

In addition, the expense module makes it easy for an approver to:

  • see expenses by day as the system can automatically itemize multi-day expenses like hotel bills and compute the average cost per day,
  • see expenses against budgets and benchmarks to see if a user is spending more or less than the company budget and/or industry average, and
  • stop fraud in its tracks as the expense report audit feature automatically detects missing receipts and/or line items, expenses over category maximums, expense similarity across expense reports, and audit score history.

Catalog Management has also been improved as well, with a big focus on usability and flexibility, with the most significant improvements in the free-form request capability. The reality is that no matter how many vendor catalogs you integrate with, you’re never going to be able to buy everything out of a catalog. Temporary labour, event catering, moving services, etc. just aren’t in your Staples or CDW punch-out. However, you still need to get all external spend flowing through the e-Procurement solution if you ever hope to get that Spend Under Management, widen the funnel, and increase the contribution you make Straight to the Bottom Line.

If the service, or product, you need is not in the catalog, it’s easy to create a requisition and route it to the appropriate manager for approval. All a user needs to do is define the product or service required (using a free-form description if necessary) and any additional information that is known, such as price (range), need by date, (preferred) payment terms, (preferred) supplier(s), etc. and the request is routed to the appropriate approver in the appropriate department, and, if necessary, up the approval chain. In addition, if a match is made on the free form text, the product or service recommendations are automatically displayed. Also, Coupa has built in the ability to do dynamic real-time comparisons on multiple items brought up during a search. A user just has to select / de-select the products or services of interest and they are compared, in a grid-like manner, on all attributes defined for the product or service of interest.

This takes us to invoicing, which is where the most significant improvements to the existing platform occurred. Coupa has also realized that e-Procurement doesn’t deliver savings unless the end-to-end Procurement cycle is automated. In Procurement, a significant amount of the time is spent entering, reconciling, and approving invoices. Savings come from automating the entry, reconciliation, and approval of invoices that match purchase orders which have been appropriately approved. So, in addition to the XML and EDI submission options, the Coupa Supplier Network, and the ability to send scanned invoices through 3rd party OCR networks, Coupa has created a new tab-based quick entry invoice module that can be used by supplier AR clerks and buyer AP clerks to quickly create an invoice using the tab-based entry system that finance people are accustomed to. Plus, the system supports full invoice matching and exception handling at the line item level. If something doesn’t match, an exception is generated and an alert is displayed to the appropriate approver who can review the alert, and depending on the nature of the exception, either approve (if it was an approved cost increase), send it back for more information (if a new item appears), or reject it (if the quantities, etc. don’t match). As per our recent piece on Points to Ponder when People are Pushing Off Procurement Platforms, it has to be automated, it has to be usable, and it has to work. And it does.

Come back Monday for our next post where we’ll cover the new Sourcing Module, which is the most significant new addition to the Coupa platform in a number of years.