Coupa Inspire: Release Updates and Product Goodies – Sourcing

Coupa is finally (almost) a sourcing vendor. From an availability perspective, Coupa Sourcing (announced at INSPIRE this morning) will be in beta in the next “week or two” and will go GA later in Q2. For Coupa partners, which include IBM Emptoris, BravoSolution, ScanMarket, Iasta and others, this product represents an e-sourcing substitute that should capture their attention.

But the tool is not a replacement for specialized sourcing solutions -- at least not yet. Those with advanced sourcing capabilities and category specific focus areas (e.g., logistics, packaging, MRO, contingent labor) should not be concerned at this point. And customers should applaud the move and release of this simplified sourcing product which is integrated with the Coupa suite.

It’s our guess that inside most companies Coupa Sourcing will end up existing alongside more advanced sourcing toolsets. The idea of Coupa Sourcing is to free up sourcing/category managers by empowering frontline users to conduct sourcing activities with minimal oversight—or to simplify a more advanced approach than “three bids in a box” with sourcing teams leading the way, but with less effort than traditional events. Coupa told INSPIRE attendees that “we will be relying on partners” for more advanced sourcing activities.

On the main stage at Coupa INSPIRE this morning, Raja Hammoud (VP of Product Management) shared some of the features of Coupa’s new Sourcing module. These include a sourcing management cockpit that can support RFIs, RFPs, RFQs & reverse auctions.

It has all the basics to support lotting and line-level analysis on a foundational level. Coupa Sourcing also includes a range of other features including “project tagging & event reuse” and the ability to “filter competitive responses.” Self-service event management capabilities include message-board for suppliers with real-time event feedback.

Suppliers can also “view competitive bids in real-time, answer questions online or upload responses and use message boards for interaction with customers.” Coupa Sourcing is linked with other Coupa suite components to allow, for example, automatic catalog and contract creation and the ability to support “spot bids for off-catalog requests resulting in POs.” The Coupa Sourcing dashboard also includes a sourcing opportunity analysis based on data in the Coupa system. This might include suggested events based on contract expiration.

From a usability perspective when it comes to event creation, it’s possible to cut, paste and upload information in a number of ways. Lots, items, events, etc. can all be added by spreadsheet upload or “drag and drop” capabilities. It’s slick and a much more modern UI than others in the market (with the potential exception of Zycus, which is similar). Beyond this drag/drop and cut/paste capability, Coupa Sourcing includes a messaging system that is available to each supplier and buyer. This is much simpler than other event messaging tools we’ve seen. For those of you with iPhones, UI rather looks like iChat.

Spend Matters looked at the product prior to INSPIRE, and Coupa asked us to sum up our thoughts on it. Here’s what I provided:

“Coupa has made it easy for customers to drive buying compliance in frontline purchasing activities. The new Coupa Sourcing application adopts this same strategy. It simplifies complexity around basic requests for proposals and negotiation while tightly integrating sourcing to the broader requisition-to-pay process. This capability and suite integration is likely to drive an increase in formalized sourcing activity, especially for categories and spot-buys which were not competitively bid in the past."

In other words, we can thank Coupa for what is likely to be future sourcing tool proliferation inside their larger customers, which will result from the adoption of Coupa Sourcing alongside other sourcing tools. Still, we could argue that there’s good reason to use multiple sourcing tools for different types of needs and events inside organizations. However, middle market customers may find Coupa Sourcing sufficient as a stand-alone toolset (especially companies without a formalized sourcing/category management group within procurement).

Stay tuned for a full dissection and analysis (and comparative recommendations) for Coupa Sourcing on Spend Matters PRO next week. We’re quite sure that Coupa customers, prospects, partners and competitors will want to read our detailed analysis on this new entry in the sourcing market and how it stacks up in specific areas, from RFX creation to bidding/evaluation features.

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