Coupa take it to Eleven

The ladies and gentlemen of Coupa (spend management software) were in London Town recently on their global “ELEVEN Crank the Savings World Tour”.  (Yes, they are from California, how did you guess)?  And if you’re wondering why they called it that, see the video clip at the end of this post... And just to confuse things numerically, their new software release is “Coupa 8”.

I couldn’t make the ELEVEN session but met up with Tony Wessels and Raja Hammoud of the firm afterwards. Following their new Spend Analytics add-on earlier this year, the latest developments presented at the recent events are more about incremental improvements, rather than dramatic moves into whole new fields - so no Coupa Sourcing module yet. But - let’s wait and see...

You may know already that the fundamental principle that has driven Coupa’s explosive growth (continuing at a pace, by all accounts) is user convenience and ease of use  – the ability to get effective software up and running quickly with a minimal or even non-existent requirement to train users. Their focus is on simplicity and “customer success” rather than developing clever features for the sake of it.

So the improvements are very much based on listening to customers, and what they call the 80:20 principle – focusing on what capability can be most quickly and easily added as enhancements, to benefit the mass of users (the 80%). That sounds like an obviously strategy, but I suspect it isn’t one every software provider follows. It doesn’t lead to wholesale platform re-launches, but rather a continuous sense of step by step improvements.

For instance, the budgeting features now includes the ability to put a “hard stop” on spend in real time once the budget is spent – something that no doubt a CFO client asked for!  More happily for budget holders, they are now able to develop their own reporting more easily with regard to Purchase Orders.

And within what Coupa define as contract management there are a number of new capabilities. There’s greater visibility into discounts – so at the point of purchase, you can see discounts offered directly or based on cumulative volume across the organisations. You can quickly view the “most ordered” lines within a catalogue, and there’s improved searchability of contracts and catalogues. Very well presented visuals show history of spend against a contract, including a record of call-offs, cumulative spend, trigger points for discounts and so on. What I like is that pretty much everything is information that you can actually imagine a real life procurement person, or budget holder, finding genuinely useful.

As well as contract management, the other major area of development has been invoicing. Suppliers can “flip” purchase orders into invoices for example; and there’s the capability to create invoices without a purchase order (I know that’s sacrilege to a lot of us procurement purists, but we all know there is a need there!)

They are beginning to make waves and chalk up customer gains this side of the Atlantic – we’ll see and hear more from them over coming months I have no doubt. And thanks to them for providing an excuse to feature a clip from what is perhaps  my favourite film of all time (the amazing Spinal Tap).


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