ETR Insights: Coupa Feedback Panel

Spend will Return Post Covid for "Best of Breed" Vendor

Erik Bradley | Jake Fabrizio

| June 11, 2021

By client demand, this ETR Insights Product Feedback Series focuses on Coupa, where we leverage the experience of the IT executives in our community to dive deeper into the cloud-based business spend management vendor and the alternatives in the space. Our panelists include: the Sr. Director of IT Infrastructure for a large financial services enterprise; the VP of Technology Sourcing for a large financial services enterprise; the Senior Enterprise Application Architect for a large IT services enterprise; and the Global Head of Data Analytics for a large financial services enterprise. The summary below delivers the key takeaways from the panel, including Coupa product evaluation, decreasing spend patterns, and competitive positioning. 

Evaluation and Critiques. As usual, our panel was straight to the point in stating that Coupa has a better user experience than both SAP and Oracle, calling the platform “very simple, user friendly and attractive visually.” One panelist added that when implemented properly, it is “idiot proof.” Coupa clearly stands out among the ERP modules offered by its legacy competition with “themes like agility, velocity, automation and simplicity being the reasons for Coupa’s success.” Conversely, “if you want a highly tailored and customized process, then you might want SAP or Oracle.” One panelist is actively moving away from Oracle and implementing Coupa due to the vendor’s vale added offerings like “existing negotiated supplier contracts, enhanced payment capabilities…analytics and automation capabilities.” Despite the praise, criticism around spend analytics managing the entire procurement cycle was prevalent among the group with one panelist stating that “Coupa’s spend analytics is very busy and you get better results using Ariba.” Another added that the “expense functionality is weak.”

Decreasing Spend Pattern. ETR’s most recent data captured a deceleration in spending intentions on Coupa, and our panelists supported that trend stating that “Coupa is not a revenue generating software…and when something like COVID hits you have to make tough budget decisions.” Another explained that the need for “procurement and travel related expenses both went away when COVID happened…so my spend in Coupa plummeted.” Lastly, one panelist blamed the “toilet paper rush” where the initial panic buying frenzy due to COVID has “come to a screeching halt now that reality is setting in.” Pressed for a timeline for spending to return one stated that, while “I don’t want to panic anyone, spending will definitely be delayed until next year.” Another was slightly more optimistic predicting that when the new normal settles in, spending will return, “although that is yet to be seen.”

Competition. In addition to the comments above in the evaluation recap, other panelists added that while Coupa has competitors in certain functions, “they don’t really have a competitor that has all those capabilities.” Another more bluntly stated, “we looked at Oracle’s cloud offering but it is not even close to what Coupa is doing.” One panelst added that Oracle’s cloud is “not an Amazon style cloud because they are stuck with old technology and their innovation will suffer.” Meanwhile, one was “extremely disappointed with SAP because every time you buy their software you can not integrate it.” Lastly, Procurify came up as a vendor with good functionality, but one that does not have the breadth and ecosystem that Coupa offers. 

Coupa Pay & LLamasoft Acquisition. Although not core to Coupa’s product offering, both Coupa Pay and the LLamasoft acquisition are growth stories for the company that were viewed favorably by our panel. One panelist is a banking partner of Coupa Pay that stated, “the payment tech space is changing fast and Coupa is wel positioned within it.” Two others were very excited about LLamasoft potentially enhancing the analytics side of Coupa’s offering, an area where the vendor previously lacked in their opinion. One stated, “right now we have separate modules for analytics than we do for our expenses, so the potential to handle everything in the Coupa environment is the exciting piece of the LLamasoft acquisition.” Another added, “hopefully the acquisition pulls in those intelligent insights that I didn’t see in Coupa when I did the evaluation.” 

Closing Comments. In sum, Coupa is best of breed with a superior user experience and no real competition when it comes to functionality; however, spending on the vendor is obviously muted due to macro conditions largely out of their control. So where do we go from here? One panelist suggested that “Coupa will continue to grow their offering and spend will skyrocket again.” Another panelists explained that he is finally able to “decouple from big platforms and buy best of breed and I have every intention of doing that because buying consolidated solutions from Oracle and SAP is no longer attractive. When a company does something simply and well, that’s where I would bet my money.”