Coupa Announces First General Availability Release of Services Maestro

Coupa announced Tuesday the general availability (GA) release of its complex services procurement solution, Services Maestro. The news comes as a part of the company’s R20 platform release, where Services Maestro is described as “a new platform application that helps organizations manage the spend associated with complex services.”

Last spring, an earlier version of Services Maestro was made available to a limited group of customers within the company’s “early access program.” The solution is now available to all Coupa customers. Coupa will continue its development of Services Maestro, and new capabilities and enhancements influenced by customers will be made available in subsequent tri-annual platform releases.

In a recent briefing, Donna Wilczek, Coupa’s vice president of product strategy and innovation, told us that addressing customer needs in the area of services procurement is a critical focus for Coupa.

“Our customers run a number of siloed, point solutions to manage their complex services, which increases total cost of ownership and prevents a holistic view into business spend,” Wilczek said. “Services Maestro was designed from the ground up to provide a unified cloud platform for both complex services and goods spend management. This delivers maximum value through system consolidation, real-time contract compliance, and fully mobile experiences for both employees and third parties — suppliers and independent contractors.”

At this point in time, the product focus of Services Maestro is on the management of SOW/project-based services, a significant unaddressed pain point prioritized by Coupa customers, Wilczek said. SOW/project-based services is expected to be a primary focus of the Services Maestro product roadmap over the next few releases. Expansion of the focus to also include additional contingent workforce management capabilities further down the road is planned.

Historically, procurement has had little visibility into and control over services spend, despite it being a large, complex and growing category at nearly all enterprises. Solutions for managing services, for all intents and purposes, had been lacking until vendor management system (VMS) providers began building out functionality for managing SOW/services in addition to their deep traditional contingent workforce capabilities.

Still, those VMS capabilities are far from a complete, full lifecycle source-to-pay solution for services. Additionally, the services spend that has been captured under these VMS providers, while growing, is just a nibble of the complex services pie. And VMS providers are hungry for a bigger piece, given what appears to be diminishing returns on investment in their core, traditional contingent staffing market.

When it comes to complex services such as consultants and fixed-price deliverables, organizations may be able to “negotiate service rate cards, define deliverables and come to agreement on terms and conditions with their suppliers,” but after that, Coupa’s announcement points out, “there is often no easy way to track if a supplier is, for example, meeting service-level agreements (SLAs) or determine if the timesheets and related invoices conform to negotiated rates.” With Services Maestro, Coupa says its customers will now be able to begin getting a handle on those issues “through automated contract compliance, improved supplier experiences and greater visibility into spend for both goods and complex services — on one unified spend management platform.”

Services Maestro is Coupa’s first step into the services procurement spend category, as well as into the emerging, greenfield market for services procurement solutions. At one level, Services Maestro adds one more component to Coupa’s unified business spend management platform strategy. At another level, even though it will not be a standalone product, Services Maestro now shows up as a new player in the nearly vacant complex services procurement solution space, where competition may turn out to be based on platforms rather than products.

Given Coupa’s track record of aggressive client-centric innovation, we will be interested to see how the company’s ongoing development of Services Maesto squares with its customers and whether it can spark more activity in the services procurement solution space.

We will be following up shortly with a Spend Matters PRO analysis to take a more detailed look at what Coupa Services Maestro is and what it means in the context of the evolving contingent workforce and services solution market.

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