A P2P Vendor Crosses the Analytics Line: Coupa Ventures Into Spend Analysis (Part 1)

Earlier this week, Coupa announced it was entering the spend analytics market with its Spend Optimizer product. Coupa is positioning the solution as delivering "intelligence for everyone" from procurement to finance to line of business managers. At this stage, we can't yet recommend the product as a replacement for companies that value the ability of the most sophisticated spend analysis tools. Yet the Coupa approach appears purpose-built for the spend analytics masses rather than power users. Its interface is certainly among the best we've seen in the market for basic spend reporting (see screen grabs below). Coupa is aware of this and told Spend Matters that it is not their intent to "compete against heavy-duty spend intelligence tools." Still, Coupa's approach might be more successful, gaining traction faster than other toolsets, which deliver more capability but with far greater complexity and less pizzazz. In a series of posts looking at the Coupa Spend Optimizer solution, we'll highlight strengths and weaknesses in detail, as well as provide some context for what the release of this new solution means for the competitive spend analysis marketplace.

One area where Coupa immediately diverges from the rest of the spend analytics pack is that their standard classification approaches relies on the underlying Coupa data model and schema to provide line-level visibility into spending data -- rather than just a standard UNSPSC structure. As users purchase goods and services through the Coupa eProcurement environment, line-level transaction details are classified automatically based on the Coupa data model. Coupa also deviates from the spend analysis norm in their use of GoodData as a reporting front-end environment (other systems in the market tend to rely either on proprietary analytical reporting tools and/or BusinessObjects, QlikView and others -- we're not aware of any other GoodData-based reporting environments in a spend analysis context).

Coupa told Spend Matters that they can get users up and running in a matter of days on their spend analytics platform. The toolset comes with a range of pre-defined templates (including templates closely tied to specific P2P reporting, KPI and performance metrics) and dashboards. Coupa also includes initial cleansing/classification services, delivered by Coupa internally at the outset of a deployment. But over time, Coupa intends to train users to become self sufficient with their own data. In addition, Coupa also plans to partner with third parties in regard to "normalization, classification and data enrichment" from a services perspective. In short, for professional services and third-party partnerships, Coupa appears to be focused most on enabling customers as quickly as possible rather than capturing deployment revenue, which suggests that they'll only "own" what they need to in terms of bench strength professional services capacity for initial deployments. Spend Matters applauds this approach, especially considering we have heard from Coupa users in the P2P area that ongoing support post-implementation was sometimes not what they initially thought it would be (e.g., quickly being moved from a dedicated implementation resource to a shared call center for support).

Stay tuned as our analysis of Coupa's Spend Optimizer Solution continues.

Jason Busch

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