A P2P Vendor Crosses the Analytics Line: Coupa Ventures Into Spend Analysis (Part 2)

- November 17, 2011 12:11 PM
Categories: Spend Management |

Please click here for the first post in this series.

When users log-on to Coupa’s Spend Optimizer solution, they are greeted with a welcome screen that allows them to quickly navigate to different reports and activity-specific dashboards. What immediately stands out about Coupa Spend Optimizer is how the solution is tightly integrated with Coupa’s P2P capability. Popular reports not only show purchase price trending, on/off contract spend and related reports, but also trending details and insights focused on the actual P2P approval process, including average approval times, number of orders and recent spending. Users can also opt to analyze new data “mashups” — an actual tab! — that can combine both internal and third-party enrichment data to provide an even deeper view into spending insights. Coupa shared with Spend Matters that this type of mashup information might include supplier demographic data, market data (e.g., index information), commodity rebate information, pricing data and general market trending information.

While this may sound powerful, the overall guiding philosophy behind this mashup feature and the rest of the suite is simplification. Coupa is focused on “80/20″ benefit of showing the right type of information in context without overcomplicated approaches. In addition, because of its close functional linkages — not just reporting ties — to Coupa’s eProcurement and T&E modules, Coupa Spend Optimizer is really an extension of the existing suite rather than a stand-alone application. This should help make the selection of the tool, especially given the aggressive pricing we expect, a “no brainer” for users driving any material volume through the rest of Coupa’s products.

The standard reports you would expect in a basic Ariba or Emptoris spend analysis deployment all reside in what Coupa delivers, albeit navigation is certainly more straightforward than legacy providers. However, the ability to truly drill into data and begin to interrogate information to discover opportunities beyond just the basics and get at detailed cross tabulation details and reports that more advanced organizations often will require remains to be seen. Here, we still give the edge (by far) to best-of-breed spend analytics vendors. Still, if companies are looking to begin to analyze information such as typical order quantities and even the metadata that the platform can deliver in simple visualizations (e.g., providing insight into supplier distributions by number of orders over a finite period of time), then they’ll be more than satisfied with the broader buying and P2P analytics of the application, rather than just the typical sourcing-driven view of opportunities that other spend analysis applications provide.

Especially for a typical procurement manager, one could make the argument that the Coupa spend analysis tool is more useful for their everyday activities. For example, with just a quick click of a tab, a user can pivot from looking at invoice submittal and approval trending (and on vs. off contract invoice spending) to examining contract status and details, showing the number of active contracts, expired contracts and soon-to-be expiring contracts. In the same view, the user might also glance at a chart highlighting month-to-month trending for on vs. off contract PO spend. From this view, our manager might then hop over to examine spend analysis trending in the context of budgets, including overall budget utilization and how actual categories, business units, users, etc. spending activities are trending against budget.

To summarize our initial reaction to Coupa’s Spend Optimizer product, we’d like to reiterate that Coupa’s creation really amounts to broader procurement analytics rather than just spend analytics. Which is precisely why an organization using Coupa for P2P and potentially another spend analysis vendor for drilling deep into spending details might be likely to keep and use both analytical and reporting systems for different users and different sets of activities.

In our final post profiling our first glance at Coupa Spend Analyzer, we’ll turn our attention to how the product stacks up in the market and could shift the competitive landscape, potentially driving other source-to-pay and procure-to-pay providers to focus more on the broader analytics opportunity rather than pursuing stand-alone analytics toolsets.

Jason Busch

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