Introducing Coupa (got to be a pun there, just can’t think of it…)

- February 10, 2011 7:34 AM
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We mentioned Coupa in the context of their tie-up with Emptoris (see our post here). They weren’t an organisation I knew much about, so I caught up with Ashish Deshponde of the firm the other day for an introductory briefing.

They operate in the purchase to pay, transactional management space, covering both procurement and expense management (travel etc.) “Cloud based spend management” is the proposition.  They’ve been going since 2006, the founders being veterans from software firms including Oracle.  At the moment their customer base is largely US firms, which takes them into Europe via the subsidiaries of those clients, but they are looking to develop more presence this side of the Atlantic. Tesco Bank is an early UK based client; Salesforce.com an example of a US based client with major EMEA operations as well.

They work with partners (often consulting firms)  in various countries who provide a sales channel – for instance Procurra in the UK.  Serious moves into Europe are coming ‘later this year’ with multi-language product versions being launched.

The product itself offers a platform with 4 elements; ’smarter procurement’, expense management, an ‘executive dashboard’ and ‘real-time benchmarking’.   It provides a single interface at the point of demand; so it gives the client a single solution for controlling all non-payroll spend ‘in the cloud’.  The proposition is around ease of use for the end user, which Coupa believe (and I agree) drives better compliance and adoption. As Jason Busch said last March;

Coupa excels in the overall user, administrator and management experience. At all levels, Coupa has really thought through the essential information a user needs to consume with a minimum amount of navigational fuss.

For instance, approvals (of requisitions for example) can be carried out via mobile devices, making it more likely that managers will do what they’re supposed to in a timely manner.  There are some innovative features as well; the technology can automatically ‘score’ expense management claims against the organisation’s expense policy, then report with suggestions as to which claims need to be manually inspected. And the benchmarking facility is interesting, allowing the user to compare their own performance with other Coupa users (not in terms of prices, but in areas such as cycle time and process efficiency).

Coupa connects with ERP systems and in effect sits on top of them offering a more user friendly approach to controlling the P2P process.  And Deshponde had an interesting take on this; ERP systems are as he put it “the system of record”.  They probably need to sit within the organisation’s ownership and firewall as it were.  But cloud-based platforms like Coupa can work with core ERP systems and offer much more flexible and user friendly options in terms of transactional management processes.

They’re up against tough competition of course; Ariba obviously, but also serious European players such as Basware, Proactis, Hubwoo and others. But Coupa’s growth in the US has been impressive, and they’ve got a reputation for feisty, assertive marketing, as seen when they took on Ariba directly in a marketing campaign. So once they are fully active in Europe, they will be an interesting option to consider in this space.  And I did like this blog post on their website!

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