Monthly Archives: July 2013

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

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.

Purchasing Blues Redux

Well, it’s time to raise a fuss
  and it’s time to raise a holler
About diminishing returns
  from the almighty dollar
I just heard from my boss
  who governs me
If I don’t save the cash
  he’s gonna fire me

Sometimes I wonder
What I’m gonna do
If there ain’t no cure
For the Purchasing blues

My CPO he told me to
  go beat on the supplier
That his margins must be high
  while ours are under water
So I talked to the supplier
  he said costs were elevated
He was losing all his money
  at the rates we had created

Sometimes I wonder
What I’m gonna do
If there ain’t no cure
For the Purchasing blues

So I found a consultant
  told her about my problems
She discovered that
  the supplier was not stalling
Material costs were rising
  and the exchange rate was bad
I had wasted all my time
  just acting stark raving mad

Next time I have a problem
  I’ll find me a solution
I’ll find a sourcing expert
  and get my retribution

No more will I wonder
  What I’m gonna do
I’ll find me a cure
  For the Purchasing blues

Seventy Five Years Ago Today, The US Department of Justice Took on the Studio System …

… charging violations of the Sherman AntiTrust Act and, ten years later, won! It was a historic suit, and one we have not seen the likes of in years. In order for progress to be made, the US DoJ needs to take down the MPAA and the RIAA, or at least their lobbying arms which continually attempt to introduce acts like the the DMCA, the new Performance Rights Act, and California Senate Bill 550 which allows law enforcement to enter optical-disc plants and seize disc-stamping equipment without a court warrant. Every year the MPAA and RIAA claims of what is required for artistic creativity and expression and IP protection get more and more absurd to the point where they will soon be demanding bills like Florida HB 155 which make any computer and smartphone capable of accessing the internet illegal!
We need to end their existence now before they put an end to innovation permanently! Otherwise, we’ll be lamenting a dark and dreary future where corporations rule the world and we are all slaves to the corporate machine. (In other words, Continuum will become an accurate documentary of our future.)

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.

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

Since we last checked in on Robbie and the Coupa Factory last summer, the Coupa Oompa-Loompas have been coding up a storm developing Release Nine, in full deployment, and the upcoming Release Ten, to be released in Q4. Even though it’s been almost four years since we had Davie and the Coupa Factory and seven years since we had Procurement Independence, the Oompa-Loompas are coding like they’re still a start-up trying to build a product to take on the big guys, even though they’re already there with over 350 customers that do business in 17 languages, 40 countries, and 150 currencies with over 650,000 suppliers. It’s time to update the song (which first appeared in Davie and the Coupa Factory)!

Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-de-do
We can’t stop building 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 have lots of cash?
Filling coffers and enlarging the stash?
Teams of developers who never sleep.
Making the app work on Android’s heap.

For accessibility.

Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee-dar
If you are willing, you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee-do

Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-de-do
We’re at release nine but we can not stop.
Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dah-dock
Coding improvements around the clock.

Rapid expenses, enforced policies.
Frictionless invoices, support for AP.
Enhanced catalogs, a universal cart.
Taking Procurement to state of the art.

As we make your process smart.

Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-de-dart
But here at Coupa, that’s just the start.
Now you will source in happiness too.
Like the Oompa-Loompa doom-pa-dee-do

Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-de-do
We now have new e-Sourcing for you.
Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-de-door
It’s integrated, savings will soar.

We’re Source to Procure, and Procure to Source.
We’re true end-to-end, ’cause we stay the course.
To get all your spend managed for you.
Is the goal of the Oompa Loompa too.

Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-de-do
We can’t stop bulding products for you!
Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dah-dee
If you are wise you’ll try it for free.

Just like the original, this is to the tune of the Oompa Loompa chant, as first heard in Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Come back tomorrow for a deep(er) foray into Release 9!