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. In Part II, we discussed the major improvements in Release 9 around expense management, invoicing, and catalog management. Today we will discuss the new e-Sourcing module and how it makes Coupa one of the first providers to offer an integrated end-to-end e-Sourcing and e-Procurement solution.
The new Sourcing Module is e-Sourcing 1.0. RFPs, RFQs, RFIs, basic reverse e-Auctions, and basic e-Sourcing project management form the foundations of the new suite, which, to be honest, is not much more than you’d find in any e-Sourcing suite on the market, including the free WhyAbe solution available from SourceOne, but that’s not the point. The point is that the inclusion of this module in the Coupa platform makes Coupa, as far as SI can tell, the first Supply Management provider based in North America with an integrated end-to-end Sourcing and Procurement platform. SI has been saying for years that It’s Sourcing AND Procurement and that the only way to truly revolutionize Supply Management is to have one integrated end-to-end platform, and with Coupa’s current offering, with the exception of Decision Optimization (which is only critical for high(er)-dollar (complex) spend in an average organization just starting their e-Sourcing journey), the platform has the foundations of the remaining four stages of e-Sourcing and nine stages of e-Procurement. Some applications, like Spend Analysis, Contract Management, and Tax Reclamation have a ways to go (as tax codes outside North America can get quite complex), but the point is that there is a foundation that allows the entire process to be e-Managed. End-to-end projects can be created that follow the process from cradle (the initial RFI) to grave (when the final order is shipped, received, invoiced, reconciled, paid, and added to the Spend Under Management database for analysis).
Moreover, the entire process can be made available to every user of the platform. While complex sourcing events need to be driven by senior buyers, there is no reason that simple events for simple commodities or services needed by only one department can’t be driven by a senior person in that department, under the supervision of the appropriate Manager or Director. Why should Supply Management oversee every single sourcing event for temporary labour for a system implementation? If there are approved suppliers, approved budgets, and known requirements, there is no reason that a domain expert can’t drive the project with the help of Supply Management, if required. And if the spend for these one-time projects exceeds a threshold, which will be easily detected if budgets are exceeded or reports show significant spend in a given category, then the category can be the next Supply Management sourcing opportunity.
The sourcing module is as easy to use as the rest of the platform, and sourcing events can be created just as quickly as requisitions can be created. RFXs can have as little or as much content as is required; one or more questionnaires can be attached to get information about finances, supplier capabilities, insurance, Corporate Social Responsibility, etc.; an e-Auction can be triggered from an RFX (and initial bids imported); an award can be pushed into the contract management system and the catalog populated; requisitions can be created against the budget associated with the contract and the catalog items; purchase orders can be created on requisition approval; good receipts can be accepted and tracked against requisitions; invoices can be automatically correlated with the purchase orders; and payment approvals can be automatically submitted to your e-Payment system. It’s end-to-end automation of the tactical process, freeing you up for the strategic work.
It’s a great step in the right direction. While Coupa‘s e-Sourcing suite is still at least two versions behind what is being offered by the large e-Sourcing suppliers, it’s the perfect solution for a mid-size organization that doesn’t have a sourcing solution or a current Coupa customer that doesn’t have a widely used sourcing platform due to cost or personnel restrictions. It’s a step in the right direction, and one that is sure to keep the big sourcing providers on their toes, as the big sourcing providers will have to keep innovating to keep two steps ahead of this fast-moving SaaS company.