Coupa Introduces Supplier Information Management

Earlier today, Coupa announced its latest module: Coupa Supplier Information Management (SIM). While I will leave it to the supplier management professionals at Spend Matters to cover Coupa SIM in more detail after they’ve seen the product, it’s worth sharing some of the highlights of the announcement before we’ve had a chance to look at the tool given the critical nature of such a module to an integrated procurement suite.

For example, SIM has been one of the weak points of Ariba in complex suite sales (costing the provider source-to-pay deals) and one of the stronger differentiators for Ivalua (helping it win similar deals). SIM has also helped fuel the Coupa-like growth of independent supplier/third-party management vendor Hiperos, among other providers in the area (which also counts Aravo, HICX, Emptoris/IBM, Lavante, GXS/Opentext, Oracle, Zycus, GEP and BravoSolution, among others)

In the press release announcing the SIM product, Coupa suggests that the product can be used to “configure many supplier data collection templates so they [procurement] can tailor forms to specific supplier segments (i.e. by country, commodity, tier, strategic importance, etc.).” Templates and collection areas can include “financial information, disclosures and diversity certifications, tax forms,” and related areas.

Coupa SIM also includes canned “supplier dashboards with summarized views of sourcing events, contracts, purchase orders, and invoices” that “allows category managers to view supplier information and transaction summaries together, so they can quickly understand the complete source-to-pay (S2P) picture for each and every supplier.”

A Walkthrough of Coupa SIM

On stage at Inspire today, Raja Hammoud, vice president of product management, described the product in more detail and took attendees through various use-case scenarios. At its most basic core, Coupa suggests, SIM is just about asking suppliers to fill out forms when users request a new vendor. In this use-case scenario, Coupa “puts the forms in the same place as everything else” that users might go to shop or purchase various items.

Once a request for a new supplier is approved, a procurement, A/P or other administrator/manager can decide to have a supplier fill out additional information that may be required as part of the onboarding process. Forms can be customized by any criteria including region, supplier tier, critical nature of the supplier/category, etc. Messaging can also be customized in the email communication to the vendor. Suppliers also have the chance to create an account with Coupa (if they desire to join the Network) as part of the sign-up process – but do not have to.

MDM, SIM with Teeth and a Partner Question

After these initial steps, before an email goes out to a supplier externally, Coupa SIM makes sure the supplier does not already exist in a vendor master. Then the system can do a D&B or other check on the supplier after a form request goes out to suppliers to fill out information. After all the information is confirmed and approved, Coupa SIM can synch with the ERP environment to enable vendor master data management. (Editor’s note: there are many levels of supplier MDM that leverages SIM – further investigation into this specific capability is essential. The devil is always in the MDM details!)

Cleverly, Coupa SIM can also shortcut supplier invoice submission and payment processes if procurement wants to collect more or updated information on a vendor before that supplier’s invoice is accepted and ultimately paid. As Coupa notes in its press release announcing SIM, “one feature of Coupa’s SIM enables suppliers to receive an alert in the context of a transaction – purchase orders, e-invoices, etc., – reminding them that critical supplier information is needed before the transaction can be completed.”

Now that’s supplier management with payment teeth! However, Coupa will need to decide when to push its own SIM product versus that of partner IBM – which has broader and deeper capability around supplier management, performance management, supplier risk management and supplier master data management – and is also selling Coupa’s solutions.

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