Making Cents

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10 signs your company is ready for new finance software

Are you on Al Gore's list for destroying more than your fair share of trees? Wish you had robots to handle all the repetitive daily tasks that fritter away talented people's productivity? Is checking inventory like a game of "who's on first?" Do you constantly have to badger employees to use your current software systems?

 

It doesn't have to be that way. Using better software can drastically reduce your paper use and provide your employees with better, more up to date information that's always accessible. If you can answer "yes" to eight or more of these questions, maybe it's time to think about making a change.

 

new procurment software

Success with enterprise software projects starts at square one

 

After transitioning into sales from leading a Customer mary flynnMary FlynnSuccess organization for several years, I’ve gained some unique insights about what makes an enterprise software project succeed or fail.

 

Many customers think that success begins at the start of an implementation, or on day one of go live. In my experience, success starts at the very beginning, the moment you realize you have a problem and begin thinking about your project and talking to vendors. 

 

Having watched hundreds of customers on their success journey, a handful of similarities stand out as leading indicators of success or failure. These are usually present from the outset, so much so that I’ve gotten to where I can almost predict by the priorities presented in the first meeting what the project is likely to look like in 12-18 months. Will it be delivering the hoped for return on investment and making the team look like heroes and candidates for promotion, or will they be struggling to revalidate the project and justify their decision?

 

The first conversation is a key indicator of which outcome is more likely. If it’s all about features and functions, checking off boxes on a wish list or buying a solution to quiet complaining, that’s a bad sign. It tells me the company has not yet clearly defined their goals. They’re taking off on a journey without a clear destination, so they’re likely to be distracted by problems, inputs, and competing priorities that come up during the evaluation process. When that happens, they run a high risk of choosing the wrong solution and having to start all over.

 

A Very Expensive Miss

One recent customer comes to mind as a textbook square oneexample of this. His goal when he started evaluating software was to reduce wasted inventory.  But, the project turned into a feature and function wish list that tried to integrate every system across the company. The team lost sight of their original goal.  Their project was a failure within a year and the evaluation began again. He described it to me as a “very expensive miss.” 

 

Boeing’s $30M purchase of database technology from Oracle, which stood for many years as the largest sale in software history, is a well-known textbook example of an enterprise software success. Boeing could have continued to produce planes and operate as they always had. Their technology investment made it possible for them to speed up manufacturing, cut costs and at the same time provide better quality, delivering a competitive advantage for their customers.

 

Boeing quantified the success of their project by pre-determining the exact profitability and production points at which they would be able to take market share from their largest competitor.  The projected increase in profits that resulted made their technology investment seem small by comparison.

 

What was the difference between Boeing’s successful project and my customer’s very expensive miss? They went into the process with all of the three leading indicators I’ve seen in the most successful projects. They had:

 

  •       A clear vision of the future
  •       A clear, metrics-based definition of success
  •       A clear understanding of the project’s impact on profitability

 

By defining these three things before the evaluation began, Boeing was immediately on the path to success and had a set of benchmarks to hold the vendor to over the entire course of the relationship.

 

To understand how you can avoid an expensive miss and deliver a project with an ROI that dwarfs cost, let’s dive deeper into each of these three elements.

 

A Clear Vision of the Future

A detailed understanding of how your project will impact the daily life of the key players in your organization is critical.  A goal such as reducing wasted inventory is a good start, but it’s still too vague. How would that impact people’s ability to do their jobs? How will it change their workflow and how they spend their time each day?  You need to create a detailed before and after scenario.

 

For example, I work with many customers in the healthcare and oil and gas industries. A common pain point is having highly skilled, highly paid employees spending excessive amounts of their time trading voicemails and emails to acquire needed materials to do their work. What would their days look like if they spent less time on administrative tasks and more time doing what they are uniquely qualified to do? What would that look like for the company?

 

Put a number on it

Implementing software to improve a process requires change management and costly IT hours. How do you stay on track towards that future state?  The answer is surprisingly simple: Define it in real numbers.

 

Without quantifying the “after” scenario, projects can stall before they reach success. “Improve efficiency” doesn’t stand a chance in a prioritization process where there are hard numbers attached to IT and change management and you have other projects with more clearly defined benefits competing for resources.

 

The key is to put numbers on your before and after scenarios, as we did for this customer. We were able to translate a 40% process efficiency improvement into a time savings equal to the annual productivity of 100 engineers. For a company with about 1000 engineers, the impact would be like hiring 10% more engineers—without adding actual headcount.

 

 efficiency analysis

 

This helped place the IT and project support costs in context and let everyone see that this project would pay off much more quickly than others that had been given higher priority.  The vision of saving more than 190,000 hours of field time every year kept the everyone focused and driving towards that goal.

 

What is your end game? Improved process times? Financial savings? Increased revenue? Whatever it is, these goals need to be stated in actual numbers that you discuss with vendors up front. This gives you a simple framework for evaluating vendors, for keeping everyone on track and for demonstrating the success of your project.

 

Stay Focused on Profit Impact

Let’s think about how leadership is measured. According to research by the Hay Group, more than 50% of the average CEO’s compensation is based on a company’s financial performance. You can bet your CEO is always thinking about costs, productivity and profit.

 

Think like a CEO. Think about the big picture. How does your project contribute to the company’s bottom line? In the example above, the company will be able to complete more jobs with the same resources, thereby improving the bottom line.

 

Conversations about bottom-line impact need to happen at the start of an evaluation, and they need to include vendors and all internal stakeholders to ensure the project is a success and not an “expensive miss.” 

 

An enterprise technology project is a journey. Every journey starts with a destination.   Define your destination as clearly as you possibly can. Paint a picture of the future and support it with numbers that tie directly into a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.  By doing so you’ll have created a map that you and your vendor of choice can follow right to the treasure chest.

 

Mary Flynn is Enterprise Accounts Director for Coupa Software.

 

Simple integration models enable cloud success

 

As much as we love the cloud, the cloud and feathersCloud and legacy solutions can be integrated with a "light-touch" approach. fact of the matter is that today's cloud solutions need to live side by side with legacy applications. Simple integration models are key to getting more value out of both, writes Lindsey Clark in ComputerWeekly.com. If cloud and on-premise applications are not connected, organizations are forced to resort to manual intervention which wastes time, can introduce errors and dilutes the value of both systems.

 

Surprisingly, the majority of companies using cloud applications do not closely integrate them with on-premise systems. Clark cites a study from Ventana research, which found that 56 percent of organizations use spreadsheets or data exports as a means of integrating systems, while 39 percent rely on custom coding. That may be because they don't realize what's possible with the cloud.

 

Users are better off with what Alastair Bennett, a solution architect at Coupa, calls a “light touch” approach to integration. This simpler, more streamlined integration allows the

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Promote, fire and hire, or redeploy: Strategies for growing your management team

 

How do you build out your management organization as Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 12.33.00 PM  Rob Bernshteynyour company grows? It’s one of the toughest challenges high-growth companies face.

 

As your employee headcount grows, you need to layer in more management. You also need to recognize that the growth of the company will expand some roles beyond their original scope, such that they effectively become new roles. For example, someone who was hired to manage 10 people in the U.S. could now be managing 30 people globally. That’s become a new and much more demanding role which the original occupant may or may not be suited for. 

 

How you fill these leadership roles will have a big impact on the success of the company-- for better or for worse. A big company can survive a few bad management hires; a high-growth company not so

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Coupa customers, partners rock Inspire EMEA

 

inspire emea collage

 

We're making a splash across the pond with amazing new customers in EMEA. We were proud to host many of them at the Rosewood Hotel in London last week for Coupa Inspire, and we were humbled by their enthusiasm for Coupa and their willingness to share it with the world.

 

This was a beautiful event with outstanding food and company. inspire emea-bernshteyn mcgeeverNetSuite COO Jim McGeever and Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn. It was quadruple the size of last year's event, which is a testament to our record growth in the region.

 

We were delighted to play host to so many procurement and finance leaders from 16 countries in the region, and to see them so engaged in connecting and sharing information and best practices. Their energy and excitement throughout the day was almost tangible.

 

In addition to sharing case studies and best practices, we had several Coupa announcements, including Coupa Release 12, a new partnership with NetSuite and our new customers in EMEA.

 

What really made our day though was how many of these customers showed up to share their successes using Coupa, including Amber Ritson from infrastructure services company Cofely UK, who posted this photo on LinkedIn:

 

inspire emea linkedin

 

TD Bank was also among customers presenting compelling successes they've achieved in just a short time using Coupa:

 

inspire emea tdbank

 

We're thrilled to be able to help customers achieve these kind of results, and were quite flattered that UK procurement advisor, mentor, coach, and trainer Grahame Ball took notice, tweeting:

 

inspire emea grahame ball

 

If you missed the event we'll be making some of the presentations available on our website over the next few weeks.  Be sure to join us next year. As Simon Hurst says, we do know how to put on a show. Our secret -- it's all about the guest list, which includes the best customers in the world. 

 inspire emea thanks

 

Thanks to all of you for making Inspire EMEA a smashing success!

Why Coupa 12 is a milestone release

 

We were very excited to announce Coupa Release 12 at Inspire EMEA in daryush mistry  Darayush MistryLondon today. This is a milestone release because it disrupts traditional supplier business network concepts to further consumerize business-to-business transactions between buyers and suppliers, creating efficiencies and cutting costs while meeting the most stringent global regulations. With this release we've also raised the bar on user-centricity. These are the cornerstones of our strategy to help companies get results through unprecedented user and supplier adoption and with Release 12 we’ve taken our game to the next level.

 

The most important and innovative element is what we’ve done with

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SaaS Customer Success movement pushes customers to redefine "success"

 

In a previous post, my colleague Ravi Thakur eloquently articulated the kevin turnerKevin Turnerevolution of the Customer Success movement in enterprise software, and outlined the differences between customer service and Customer Success.

 

As he explained, Customer Success represents a shift in the mindset of how software vendors interact with customers. SaaS companies are aligning on this more proactive, partnership-oriented approach to software implementation, and the term Customer Success is popping up in marketing materials and org charts across the industry.

 

Using the system does not equal success

Now somebody just needs to tell the customers. Customers can benefit greatly from leveraging this more proactive approach on the part of vendors, but what I find working in the Customer Success

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Get Inspired at Coupa's coming out party in Europe

I'm very excited to be welcoming over 250 finance and alex kleiner  Alex Kleinerprocurement leaders from all over Europe to Coupa Inspire EMEA next Thursday, 16 October at the Rosewood Hotel in the heart of London. This is Coupa's "coming out party" in Europe.

 

For the past couple of years, we've had a big, multi-day Coupa Inspire event in San Francisco for our North American customers and prospects. Last year we had a half-day mini-Inspire event here in EMEA. This year we have a full-day event, from breakfast through to evening reception.

 

The expansion of the event is indicative of the market interest we're seeing all over EMEA. Over 40% of conference attendees are coming from outside the U.K. Fourteen different countries will be represented, so this is truly an opportunity to connect with and learn from

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Customer service is dead. Long live customer success!

 

Customer success has become a buzzword in high tech ravi thakurRavi Thakurover the past few years, with the phrase increasingly cropping up in sales presentations, on business cards and org charts. But what does customer success really mean? Is this just customer service with a fancy name?

 

Done right, customer success is more than just an aspirational job title or a new spin on the customer service function. It’s really an evolution of customer service, requiring new skill sets and mindsets to staff the customer success organizations that are cropping up in tech companies.

 

The customer success model aligns the interests of the service provider with the interests of the customer in a quantifiable way. It denotes an organization that’s much more

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Sales negotiations should be a tango, not a breakdance

 

It’s the end of the quarter, and I’m in my office, tied to my Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 12.33.00 PM  Rob Bernshteynphone and email waiting for the last few outstanding deals to come in, same as at the end of every quarter. This is business as usual in virtually every company in my industry, enterprise software, and in countless other industries as well: many of the deals close at the last minute of the quarter or end of the year.

 

We all know the drill. Customers think they’re going to get the best price and terms by waiting until the last minute, when they have the vendor’s back to the wall.

 

There are good reasons for that, mainly that it very often works. As a vendor I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there is a strong incentive to lower prices to make the quarter, especially for a public company. Many companies do just that.  But, does it have to be this way?

 

For enterprise software, the shift to the cloud and its subscription-based, recurring revenue business model lowers the stakes around the one big bang sale somewhat, but let’s be

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