Coupa Sourcing – enabling end users to professionalise their procurement?

We featured in brief the Coupa Inspire event last week and the various posts from Jason Busch based on his time at the event. One of the announcements there was the new “Coupa Sourcing” product, an addition to their software’s capability and range.

The announcement wasn’t a big surprise. To recap, Coupa started with spend management software focused on ordering (requisition and order management, catalogues) and expense management, then broadened out into invoicing and spend analysis in more recent times. Sourcing always looked like the next piece of the jigsaw.

It does raise some interesting market issues, as it take them into a different competitive landscape, including putting them potentially up against some firms who were previously partners on some accounts and deals.  Here’s Jason’s take on where the new product fits:

But the tool is not a replacement for specialized sourcing solutions — at least not yet. Those with advanced sourcing capabilities and category specific focus areas (e.g., logistics, packaging, MRO, contingent labor) should not be concerned at this point. And customers should applaud the move and release of this simplified sourcing product which is integrated with the Coupa suite.

I’ve seen a quick demo of the new product, and what is interesting is how it follows the Coupa philosophy. That is all about making it easy for the end user (the people actually making spend decisions day to day) to work with the software, so that compliance comes naturally. That in turn leads to better capture of spend and the related information, to the benefit of the client firm. So it’s fair to say that Coupa focuses at least as much on the budget holders and end users as it does on the procurement department in their thinking – although their products also has positives for procurement in terms of simple configuration options and so on.

So this philosophy also applies to the Sourcing product. It is aimed primarily at the end user who wants to run a competitive sourcing process, probably without too much involvement from  the procurement function.  Looking at it positively, it could free up procurement professionals by empowering users to run less complex activities themselves. Larger firms will probably run it alongside other tools which will be used for more complex sourcing exercises, but Coupa Sourcing may well be more than enough for mid-sized organisations.

As such, simplicity and ease of use is again at the heart of the design.  So it is not directly competing with the most advanced sourcing platforms in terms of features, and (for instance) you wouldn’t run a full EU public sector tender on it.

But it is not a basic product by any means. It runs RFX processes, reverse auctions, and as Jason says  “It has all the basics to support lotting and line-level analysis on a foundational level.. it also includes a range of other features including “project tagging & event reuse” and the ability to “filter competitive responses.” Self-service event management capabilities include message-board for suppliers with real-time event feedback. Suppliers can also “view competitive bids in real-time, answer questions online or upload responses and use message boards for interaction with customers.”

It links with other elements of the Coupa suite too, so sourcing can link straight into catalogue and contract creation. And as we’ve come to expect from Coupa, it has a very user friendly and intuitive interface - you’re not going to need to send you budget holders on a lengthy training course, I suspect...

Final word, and a positive one, from Jason. “This capability and suite integration is likely to drive an increase in formalized sourcing activity, especially for categories and spot-buys which were not competitively bid in the past.”

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