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The Coupa community speaks: Their take on the current state and prospects of the ‘business spend management’ suite

04/22/2022 By

Coupa customers and partners are bullish on the business spend management (BSM) suite’s product and strategic direction — although the expanding scope of Coupa’s product line will make it increasingly harder to satisfy all user types, according to some attendees at Coupa Inspire 2022.

Covering Coupa’s flagship conference live, from the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, for the first time in three years, Spend Matters set out to take the temperature of the Coupa community. Our analysts held numerous conversations with Coupa’s “Spendsetters” — exemplary customers from the Coupa community — as well as other current users, partners and prospects who occupy many industries and use multiple Coupa applications within the Coupa product suite.

Given Coupa’s continued transformation since Inspire 2019 — the provider has continued to expand via both organic development and acquisition in the intervening years, including major pushes into treasury, supply chain and T&E — we aimed to gather a sense of Coupa’s current standing in the procurement landscape and the steps it could take to address evolving customer needs.

Specifically, we asked dozens of attendees the following questions:

  • How well do you think Coupa is positioned today to address the full scope of procurement challenges (i.e., multiple directions in addition to core savings goals)?
  • What do you view as the most important things for Coupa to invest in over the next five years based on your organization’s specific plans or needs?

Respondents’ sentiments about Coupa were generally positive, as most agreed that the provider is currently well equipped to handle the changing scope of procurement challenges today. Suggestions, for Coupa’s future product development were, in several cases, based on respondents’ own predictions for market trends that they hoped Coupa would grow into, rather than perceived gaps within Coupa’s current offerings.

Full-scope procurement, today

Overall, responses concerning Coupa’s current standing were very positive.

Several partners noted Coupa’s historical investments in several different areas to address potential shortcomings. Another mentioned that Coupa’s emphasis on aligning incentives with partners to ensure that both parties are fully invested in the relationship makes it easier for the provider to quickly address any issues that may arise.

Moreover, customers mentioned that businesses outside of North America and Europe are increasingly considering Coupa as a contender to their installed procurement systems, as it is gaining greater brand recognition in regions such as Latin America and Asia. CBRE, a provider of commercial real estate services, provided as part of its Spendsetter story this year an interesting example of Coupa’s ability to support e-invoicing enablement for suppliers as part of a rollout in Japan.

At the same time, however, some of the partners, customers and prospects we spoke with raised concerns about how a company as large and as growth-oriented as Coupa, like any other large suite provider, will struggle adequately to fill every gap that users desire. One procurement executive from a services firm, for example, described the roadmap presentation on the second day of the conference as “a bit overwhelming,” given the number of areas the Coupa suite now touches beyond core procurement.

While Coupa can and will continue to make product enhancements and acquisitions to augment its offerings, it will be important for the provider to continue to enhance its messaging tailored to the needs of multiple kinds of customers by maturity, spend focus and scope of the organization as it continues to expand.

Looking ahead: perspectives on Coupa’s next five years

When prioritizing areas of greatest importance for Coupa’s future, customers and partners frequently homed in on a set of topics they viewed as the future direction of the market. These included payments/treasury, supplier management (especially with respect to risk and sustainability) and implementations and integrations.

Bridging payments and treasury

Coupa Pay is a top, and comparatively advanced, module in its industry, and one in which many customers, including, but not limited to, Pay partners, would like Coupa to invest in the coming years. This comes as no surprise, as Coupa’s focus on capturing a greater share of the still-underserved middle market dovetails with a need by these organizations to automate payment and cash-management processes.

Spend Matters analysts interviewed two B2B payment solution representatives and Coupa partners that both see value in investing in Coupa Pay.

According to Earl Mundy of Wex, which specializes in payment processing for the fleet management industry, increasing the number and type of virtual cards offered by Coupa’s payments hub would be beneficial to shared customers.

Similarly, Todd Morgan of Transfermate said further expansion of the ability of Coupa Pay to bridge working capital and treasury management topics with payment processing (e.g., managing foreign exchange/currencies challenges) would be valuable for mutual customers.

Notably, Coupa customer sessions included a new focus this year on bridging payments and treasury, providing a one-stop-shop approach to cash management that in particular appealed to mid-market organizations that Spend Matters spoke with. While many payments-treasury synergies still remain to be realized on the roadmap, we were surprised to hear customers and prospects embrace the potential of bringing these two functions closer together, perhaps indicating a new direction in the market in line with the “SpendFi” suite we described in a recent research brief.

Supplier risk jumps up the agenda

According to our interviewees, supplier management is another focus area where they would like to see continued investment from Coupa. Coupa’s supplier management solution features tools that businesses can use to assess and manage risk, which Coupa partners can implement and integrate with their systems. (Coupa’s customer advisory boards prioritize capabilities for customers.) According to Celia Landesberg of Coupa partner EcoVadis, an investment in Coupa technology required to embed sustainability on an individual user level — beyond the typical supplier/entity level — would be advantageous to businesses that want to measure their sustainability and risk performance.

Moreover, Caique Zonolo, Senior Director and Head of Project Management at Interos, said that Coupa “should focus on having a best-in-class vision for the future,” by providing a holistic view of supplier risk and potential disruptors. One item Zonolo suggested was for Coupa to develop a feature that investigates why a company has been flagged for a risk event, in addition to the specifics of what happened and where.

Coupa currently scores among the top 2 in our Risk persona in the Supplier Management SolutionMap, which is partly testimony to its approach to developing its own risk monitoring and assessment products, rather than rely on partnerships for such capabilities, and its position as a “hub” for numerous risk and sustainability partners, augmented by insights and trends gained from data.

The Risk Aware product, in combination with capabilities gained from Coupa’s Supply Chain Design and Planning solutions, is increasingly moving from a third-party and n-tier risk-centric application (i.e., entity level) to a more holistic supply chain risk management solution, giving it greater overlap with vendors like riskmethods, resilinc, Everstream Analytics and partner Interos.

Other suites and standalone players (e.g., LevaData) have more often chosen to address the SCRM question via a partnership model. Coupa, however, combines its own data and ability to operationalize risk with partners and their data, like EcoVadis, Security Scorecard and Interos. This approach helps it more deeply embed risk “in context” through the S2P cycle, and we expect to see more concrete details of synergies from Supply Chain Design and Planning that complement Risk Aware in coming releases.

Data and integrations form the foundation

Finally, implementations and integrations were mentioned by some Coupa partners during our discussions as an area of their focus in the coming years.

Raphael Almeida is a Pre-Sales Manager at Procurement Garage, a consulting group in the procurement and supply chain space, and the largest Coupa partner in Latin America. According to Almeida, his organization would like to see increased investment in supporting procurement and supply chain implementations with considerations specific to his regions, as well as in improved usability for sourcing optimization.

Yuchen Qin of Connor Group also offered her input on how Coupa can go about investing in integration and implementations. Her organization is a specialized consulting firm that assists clients with ERP and Coupa implementations, in addition to providing buy-in services for processes.

For Connor Group Qin would like to see investments in integration bundles, between ERP and other systems including custom integrations, plug-ins and implementations, for example the NetSuite and Coupa integration.

A like-minded community

As our conversations revealed, Coupa and its community members remain, in most cases, aligned on current and future priorities for the business spend management suite. To wit, many of the investments mentioned by our interviewees are already under way in Coupa’s 2022 innovations and roadmap.

However, Coupa customers and partners have many insightful ideas on how Coupa can best innovate based on specific needs, and we expect that feedback to become increasingly diverse as Coupa product lines both expand in scope and meld previously siloed areas.

We look forward to seeing how Coupa continues to innovate, especially at its current pace of growth and expansion into new customer types and markets.