Did Coupa Inspire?

Last week we asked if Coupa would inspire at Inspire, especially given that most big companies, especially in the Procurement arena, have not given us much to be inspired about as of late. In fact, most announcements in the Procurement Arena have consisted of new UIs, name changes, and acquisitions — none of which does anything for the end user who needs to do a job day-in-and-day-out and spends much of it fighting with an outdated processes implemented by an even more outdated technology causing them to go prematurely bald as they rip out their follicles one by one.

We said that in this day and age you don’t get inspired unless the technology brings value and a technology doesn’t bring value unless it offers something more than the same-old same-old which could include an inclusive design (that also provides functionality needed by suppliers to serve buyers), a multi-functional application (that supports the organizational stakeholders that Procurement must serve), or a better user experience (which is not just a fancy-smancy UI).

So, to this end, did Coupa Inspire?

Inclusive Design?

Definitely. In this release they’ve made it easier for suppliers and service providers to acknowledge POs, flip to invoices, enter timesheets upon services completion, and respond to buyers. The suppliers can determine whether or not they want dynamic discounting, and what terms they will accept (and not need to opt in to or opt out from buyer offers one-by-one). They can maintain their catalogs and use the collaboration tools. With Coupa’s new release, it’s a more inclusive design.

Multi-Functional Application?

With InvoicePay integration, AP can now pay suppliers in 31 countries and know they are being fully compliant with local regulations. Their inventory functionality makes it easy for office managers responsible for indirect inventory. Their single data store gives Finance visibility into all spend under management. And their new risk scoring functionality gives buyers visibility into potential risky transactions that are being directed at potentially risky suppliers. It certainly is becoming multi-functional.

User Experience?

Coupa has figured out the most important feature of a Procurement UI, and that is, simply put, no UI. Procurement is a tactical function that is focussed entirely on servicing a need in the most efficient and effective manner possible. A user shouldn’t see any more than they need to see, do any more than they need to do, and, most importantly if they don’t need to see or do anything, they shouldn’t need to see or do anything at all. If all that is required is an approval for a requisition that completely satisfies all the requirements, and the approval is only required because the total amount exceeds an amount where all requisitions must be approved, then if the approver is aware the approval request is coming, is aware of what it’s for, and has given verbal approval already, then all she should need to do is press a button in the approval request email or send a yes response to an SMS — no application entry needed. In Coupa, she can do that, and a number of other processes have been simplified as well.

So, did Coupa inspire?

For an average Procurement professional, most definitely yes!

But what about a sophisticated sourcing professional, who has to do demand consolidation, new supplier identification and strategic supplier management, complex negotiation, and sophisticated contract creation? Well, that all depends on their read of what Coupa’s acquisitions mean … come back tomorrow.

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