Coupa CEO implores procurement pros to lead businesses through the coronavirus crisis

Coupa CEO and Chairman Rob Bernshteyn

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Coupa CEO and Chairman Rob Bernshteyn, whose letter about procurement’s role in tackling the coronavirus crisis originally appeared on LinkedIn.


From: The Chairpersons of many Boards of Directors 

To: Procurement Everywhere

Please Step Up and Lead           

It's been a long time coming, and no one wanted it to occur under these circumstances, but procurement is now a primary focus of attention at your company. It’s time to show everyone what you can do. Your company is asking for you and your department to step up like never before, under the tremendous pressure we are all under, and lead. Specifically, you can provide leadership in at least these key areas right now:

Your CEO: She wants to know the company will have the goods and services it needs to maintain the company's business flow, so there won’t be a disruption in the ability to serve customers. She wants to know how you will proactively aid the company in mitigating supply-chain risk. She wants to understand the degree of those risks and how they will be avoided with contingency plans. She wants to be able to dynamically re-prioritize all areas of spend in ways that are vital to the business. She needs to lead your company through the storm.

Your CFO: He is looking for assistance as he quickly compiles the latest revenue projections and manages the newly appropriated spend-profile for the company. He needs access to the right systems and processes to prevent people from spending more than what these newly defined budgets allow. He wants to be able to push out a revised set of budgets and ensure a more rigorous approval process takes hold. He wants to take advantage of opportunities for rapid renegotiation with suppliers. He wants to look at new short-term contracts to increase flexibility. He wants to be able to dynamically shift spend to new areas of focus. He needs to help your company weather the storm.

Your Functional Leaders: They want to optimally manage what they can control. They want to optimize their budgets and have the ability to get quick support in renegotiating contracts and deals for things that might not be as relevant today as they were just a few months ago. From Marketing to Sales to Services to Production to Support, and beyond, they need help in re-prioritizing their spending. They need help in doing their part in helping your company weather the storm.

Your Suppliers: They want to understand where your company stands. They need to know about your willingness to continue with anticipated order volumes, and whether you will pay per previously agreed terms. They need to understand how their cash flow will be impacted by their relationship with your company. They need to know what will change and what will not. They need your help in discerning how they can best navigate through the storm.

Please Come Together as a Community 

There's arguably never been a more urgent moment for the procurement community to come together, share real-time learning and data through phone calls, conversations, webinars, systems-based bulletin boards and the power of community intelligence.

Many leaders are already working together. They are not only helping their companies but are also collaborating to help the community at large, via timely initiatives such as jointly sourcing much-needed safety supplies and equipment for all.

Now, more than ever, is the time for procurement to come forward, take their seat as a strategic business adviser and on-the-ground leader to help navigate through this environment for everyone's benefit.

Now's the time to lead. Let's do it. Together.

— Rob Bernshteyn, Coupa Software CEO and Chairman

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Voices (2)

  1. Jason Busch:


    You are entitled to your opinion. But what I will say is that folks like Coupa (via a joint buy program for medical supplies), SAP Ariba (via opening up Discovery) and GEP (with a new portal initiative I read about today) are giving back around the crisis. Many others are too. No bullshit. They are investing to help out and providing free offerings to non-clients.

    I would urge you to take a deep breath and be empathetic. I did not view this as a marketing stunt. Sometimes words do not come out precisely in the perfect tone, and in nearly all cases, they can read one way in a manner that the author did not intend.

    Many people are fighting this together. I believe, too, it is time for procurement to lead from the front. It’s a crisis that is made for a procurement mindset.

  2. Joe Harold:

    Been a long time since I have seen such a badly pitched article. Apparently Coupa are positioning themselves to take advantage of the current global crisis. What an appalling message. Yes, companies should be helping where they can and attempting to carry on business as normally as possible. But this is a blatant call to arms to piggy back onto the pandemic and increase the Coupa profile. Utterly disgusting and Bernshteyn should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

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