Who should lead organizations into the digital future? How involved should procurement be with payments? Can you automate and centralize procurement without centralizing AP? Leaders at Coupa customers Juniper Networks, TD Bank and Molina Healthcare contribute their thoughts on these matters, and we also look at two new supply chain and procurement studies.
Keep up with the changing finance and procurement landscape by reading the latest and greatest articles about the cloud, strategic procurement and finance and supplier innovation, all in one place.
In many instances, a company’s most promising digital leader is the CIO, says Bask Iyer, CIO of Juniper Networks. "Good CIOs have experience leading the organization through transformation. They have the real world experience of delivering change over and over again.”
Payment comes at the end of the procurement process, so not your job, right? TD Bank's Carolyne Booth argues that recognising the value of payment terms and activities in the procurement process is actually core to good procurement and deserves more attention than it sometimes receives.
Accounts payable and the cloud may hold the secret to providing quality healthcare. At least that's what Molina Healthcare discovered when it created an in-house centralized procurement operation, a move that kept administrative costs down while it expanded staff and membership.
An Accenture Strategy study found only 48% of 1,014 companies using technology “extensively” in their emerging market supply chain. Such tools are vital for making decisions in uncertain market conditions. Organizations with a strong commitment to technology were more likely to enjoy rapid growth than those without.
A recent UK study found that top procurement teams generate almost a million pounds in financial benefits per employee per year. However, very few organizations have the ability to measure, and therefore manage, procurement value.
Earlier this year, The Financial Women of San selected Sarah Friar, Chief Financial Officer of Square, a Coupa customer, as its 2014 Financial Woman of the Year. The award recognizes Friar for her leadership roles in corporate finance and in high technology startups, as well as for her passionate advocacy for the advancement of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.Francisco
Friar will be honored at a luncheon in San Francisco on October 2. Coupa is proud to be a co-sponsor of the luncheon, which benefits FWSF’s scholarship fund. We had the opportunity to chat with Sarah about her journey from intern at a gold mine in Ghana to managing partner at Goldman Sachs to the C-suite at Square, where she is actively involved with College and High School Code Camps that bring together young women studying or interested in computer science.
Coupa: It seems that many girls self-elect out of STEM fields at a young age. Why do you think that is? And how were you personally able to avoid that fate?
Sarah: At Square, when we look at just how many female engineers are available to hire, we're looking at about 20% of the class. If you look up the funnel at the high school level, the pool keeps shrinking.
We've thought about how to solve that problem. We started with Code Camp, which is oriented towards undergraduates and bringing a cohort of young women into Square. We do it in January and August and they come for five days. We teach them engineering and leadership. We started with 15 young women. As of today nearly 60 young women have participated.
Then we thought, how do we get more people coming into Code Camp? We looked at high school because one of the biggest drivers of young women going into STEM fields, particularly computer science, is that they feel confident in a college environment, which usually means they did something in high school. So, we came up with the concept of High School Code Camp.
It is still a small program, around 10 San Francisco high school girls. We just looked at schools around us in San Francisco, and we took the AP computer science course and turned it into something that we could teach here at Square.
The interesting thing was, our engineers thought the material was very theoretical. They said, "Okay. We need to make this practical. Instead of talking about code, we actually need to show them how they would do it, because the buzz that you get from creating something with a line of code that impacts your phone or your computer, that's what gets you hooked."
Ultimately we're trying to get further down that pipe. Seeing young girls, even at a very early age, decide they're not good at STEM is one of the biggest problems we need to keep thinking through.
Coupa: Do you think this self-selection is more cultural, or is it the way these subjects are taught?
Sarah: I think it's both. I think we need to remember that people learn in many very different ways. Actually seeing something in action in a job context is very important. I think in addition, it is hard when you walk into a room and you're one woman in a group of 100 men. It can feel a little bit lonely sometimes.
Coupa: So the second part of that question . . . How were you personally able to not self-select out of STEM?
Sarah: I was lucky to have some amazing mentors. I had a math teacher who was slightly crazy, but he really brought math alive. He had no bias. He just wanted the folks who were best at the subject to excel.
Also, I went to a very small school. The classes were tiny, about eight to 10 people by the time we were doing A-levels (16-18 years old). I think there were three of us, three girls, who did physics. We were three out of 10, but that's actually not a bad percentage versus bigger school systems where you would probably be three girls out of 50.
I think by the time I got to university, the foundation had already been laid. I thought I was good at math. I knew I loved physics. I knew I loved chemistry. At that stage, I never felt that sense of, "I don't know if I belong here," because I had already had a really strong grounding. That's why I think it begins very early in our school systems.
Coupa: When you were at Oxford, studying Metallurgy, Economics, and Management, were there many women in your classes?
Sarah: MEM was a very small group. There were probably 20 of us in a year, versus engineering which would have been 100 plus. So when I was in my MEM cohort, it was again, three or four women out of 20-30, still not a bad percentage. But when we went to courses with the broader engineering group, we were definitely walking into a lecture hall of all men. But because you got to come back into a very small cohort, it never got completely overwhelming.
When I left Oxford, even though I did an internship in engineering and thought a lot about it, I didn't do it as a career. That internship, while it taught me a lot, definitely taught me that there were no women. So it just didn't feel like a place I was going to excel.
Coupa: Is there anything that you took away from that internship that still resonates for you today?
Sarah: It was probably the first time in my life where I felt like I couldn't actually do it all. I'd always been that kid that, whatever it was, I was going to stretch and try to do it. The great thing about my parents is they always had such blind faith in me. They certainly never told me anything wasn't possible.
I knew I wanted to do an engineering-focused internship, and I wormed my way into this internship in Ghana. I can't even remember how many people I worked on to get me there. Then I had a "Holy crap," moment.
I got picked up from the airport by Ashanti Goldfields (now part of AngloGold Ashanti). I got driven in a Jeep, probably four hours, to a place called Obuasi where the gold mine was. They dropped me off at this little house where I was going to stay.
In my head, I imagined I was going to live in a dorm, and there would be other people. Suddenly I'm in a foreign country all by myself. It's dark because the electricity doesn't stay on all night. I think I had a flashlight or some sort of kerosene lantern. I was terrified of the insects, which were ginormous.
Then I showed up for work the next day. I felt like a spare wheel. They didn’t really know what to do with me. They ultimately figured out a program that I could work on, but they were very white-glove with me as if they were thinking, "Oh, my God. She's a woman. What do we do with her?"
Coupa: Well, they must have known that coming in, right?
Sarah: You would think. But yeah, it was definitely a bit of an eye-opener of as in, okay, maybe I stretched a little too far. Holy moly. I'm going to have to live with the consequences for the next six weeks, because I can't go home. Terrifying but ultimately an amazing experience.
I got a lot of practical learning about being in an engineering situation. I definitely came back and said, "I don't think this is for me. I just don't see how, as a person but especially as a 20-year-old woman, how I could possibly be successful in this context."
People always say, "You worked on Wall Street. Wasn't that a very kind of male-dominated environment?" To which I say, "You should try working in a mine."
Coupa: So, this was the first time you really had that experience of being the lone woman, but that is the reality many girls experience in STEM classes in school.
Sarah: Exactly, and probably why now, today, I feel so strongly about changing it.
Coupa: What’s at stake here? How can businesses be better by bringing more women into leadership roles?
Sarah: There's got to be a business reason if companies are going to change. First and foremost, it's just talent. I love this Warren Buffet quote: When someone asked him how was he so successful he replied, "Well, for a start, I only had to compete with half the population."
Talent is talent. We've gotten to a point where more than 50% of doctors are female. I think in law, it's a very similar statistic. Clearly, there's a huge amount of intellectual horsepower that you're missing out on if you're not looking at both genders.
Second, you need to look like your customer and feel like your customer if you're actually going to create products your customers love.
Coupa: How do you think women might be able to help with some of the issues in finance today?
Sarah: Corporate finance, I think, is generally improving. There is still not the number of women CFOs that there should be. I've always found that once you do get women promoted to senior levels--this is true of any minority, by the way--people typically get more comfortable.
In my corporate finance group at Square, I think we're over 50% women. I don't walk into an interview and say, "Oh, we have to hire the woman." It just kind of naturally starts happening. Diversity breeds diversity.
I think also recognizing that mentorship, which is what SWSF is all about, is so important. When I was at Goldman, the year I made managing director, I had this wonderful sponsor. About a year out from the whole MD process, which is a pretty big deal at Goldman, she had been assigned to be my mentor.
We had a meeting, and she asked, "So how's the MD process going?" I was kind of coy. I said, "Oh, I probably should ask you. How do you think people think about me?"
She said, "Okay. Enough of that. What are you doing for your MD process?" I was taken back. I said, "I'm just trying to work really hard." She said, "Terrible idea. You need to be very strategic about how you think about this. " I was awed. No one ever told me this.
I really appreciated that this mentor took me in hand and forced me to stop being coy about something that was actually really important to me and start focusing on it. I think that's one side of mentorship, pushing people out of their comfort zone.
I think the other is the emotional side of it. When times are dark, if this woman or this person, because it doesn't always have to women that are your mentors, if this person went through something similar, and look how successful they are, then of course I'm going to survive, so let’s move on. I think it's a very important part of mentorship.
Coupa: It sounds like it was important that your mentor was a woman, and one of the things that's at stake here, as we bring more women up, is that there are more women available to mentor.
Sarah: Exactly. I mentor a lot of young women that are going on a maternity leave. That's something that a man can't really tactically help you with, because they’ve not experienced it. It's very personal.
I like hearing someone's story and saying, "Okay. I think I could do that, or that doesn't work for me, but maybe there's a nugget in here of something useful." I think that's the point of mentorship. I always say you're creating a patchwork quilt. Everyone's patchwork quilt looks different, but from each mentor, I'm pulling a different shade of material that I'm going to pull together into what is right ultimately for me.
What I don't love when I talk about gender and mentoring is to come across as a complainer, because I think it's not constructive. I’d much rather talk about tactical things people can do to solve the gender gap, and get into the actual practical activities.
We have a value at Square called "Start Small". If you just start small, and you can impact 30 women, then 40 women, then maybe we can get it to 50 women. Maybe we can persuade three other companies to do this. Then you're at 150 women. If you can just step-by-step help individuals, that to me is certainly one way to make a difference.
In my last post, I talked about how timely access to data can help procurement organizations avoid embarrassing moments with suppliers. Now let’s turn our attention to getting quality data downstream.
This requires not only having broad adoption of the eProcurement tool, but also having a well-defined category taxonomy and making sure people know how to use it accurately. The taxonomy is where many organizations fall down; they simply don’t put enough time and thought into developing it, and thus create continuous challenges in getting access to quality spend data.
Developing a well-defined taxonomy takes discipline and thought. Yet, in the rush to deploy the system, organizations may create a bare minimum of categories without the appropriate levels, leave the category field optional, or even skip this step altogether, which then creates a rush to create this information at the time of go-live.
Or, they maycreate a category called “other.” If you want analytics you can trust, you need a category for everything. There can be no “other.” “Other” gives people who don’t want to think too hard an easy way out. Before you know it, you’ve got “other” showing up as 20% of your overall spend, which requires a significant re-categorization effort and can cause considerable data distrust.
An unorganized taxonomy also creates a lot of churn downstream. If you have transactions being routed by category to the buying organization, they’re going to have to research and identify the correct categories, adding time and manual effort into the process. The most efficient way to get quality data out of your analytics system is to make sure your taxonomy and process is defined across the entire value chain from the start. Think of it as pre-analytics.
One of the first things we do when we work with an organization on sourcing or procure-to-pay is look at the spend taxonomy to see how it’s organized and understand how well the organization aligns around it. Is everything in alignment, or are there a number of unmanaged categories that have significant areas of spend? Is there a lot of spending in an “other” category?
For many organizations, the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC®), a standard product taxonomy that’s on the market, can be a good starting point for building or cleaning up categories. It provides standardized reporting, but it can also be overwhelming for some enterprises because of the level of detail it contains. This can end up creating more confusion, depending on the skill and experience of the people using the system.
You can edit the UNSPSC® down or roll some things up into larger categories, keeping organizational fit and alignment in mind. If you have too many categories and the distinctions are too fine, you’ll get the same item showing up in different categories. Then you’ll start to get those, "Where did my spend go?" types of questions which quickly lead to data distrust. On the other hand, if you decrease the categories available to the end user, sometimes they just won’t have what they need.
Every organization is different, and you have to identify what makes sense for your situation. Your taxonomy has to strike a balance between providing the visibility and data you need to manage effectively, while simultaneously not being too onerous for end users to adopt easily.
One key note: Taxonomy development should not be done in a bubble. Creating a spend taxonomy should be a collaborative process that includes a broad group of stakeholders. The more input you receive, the greater the buy-in will be on utilization and self-service reporting.
While some organizations opt to refine their taxonomy as they mature, I recommend they clearly define and deploy it up front. Constant changes in the way users see the taxonomy can cause confusion. In addition, spend reporting will be impacted if categories are removed, edited, or added, and alignment of workflow approvals to categories will need to be updated each time it is changed.
Most importantl of all, do not create a category called “other” (or “miscellaneous” or “uncategorized”.) Getting real time visibility into spend is one of the big goals here. Allowing this kind of category automatically introduces the need for a manual process, which causes delays and inaccuracy.
If “other” is not an option, end users will learn to find the right category. Procurement can provide information and training to help. Since most requesters concentrate on a handful of 10-15 categories, they'll be very effective at selecting the right ones once they learn them.
An up front investment in creating a thoughtful taxonomy is going to give everyone across the enterprise the ability to run accurate, real-time ad hoc reports in the eProcurement application. This is the power of analytics, and once people experience it, and see how much easier that makes their jobs, having no “other” will be no issue.
In my previous two posts on how we can improve thepublic procurement process, I’ve talked about how procurement differs in the public and private sectors and why it’s unfair to compare the two, and pinpointed the protest process, which is unique to government procurement, as one area that’s ripe for overhaul.
The other major area for improvement is human capital – namely, taking better care of the people who oversee and implement the public procurement process. They need to get paid more and work in an environment where the best ideas can be brought to bear on the problems of the day.
I spent most of my career in procurement in the private sector before I transitioned to the public sector to work as Secretary of the Department of Management Services for Florida under Governor Rick Scott. I have observed a shortage of
Why does our government get procurement outcomeslike the healthcare.gov website and $600 toilet seats? One of the biggest reasons is the protest process, which adds a dimension of risk and uncertainty that isn’t part of private procurement at all. This process needs to change.
I experienced a protest first-hand as Secretary of the Department of Management Services for the State of Florida. We were procuring healthcare for state employees. I had inherited a very tight timeline; we had to run the procurement and get everyone insured before the mandated open enrollment deadline.
We designed a county-by-county procurement, wherein at least two health care companies would be assigned to provide coverage in each county, so employees
The travails of healthcare.gov earlier this year threw thespotlight once again on government procurement, providing the public and pundits alike plenty of fodder for criticism.
But let’s put things in perspective. The high cost and lack of performance of the healthcare.gov website is not the sole responsibility of the current administration. It’s just the latest installment in an ongoing series that has brought us the $600 toilet seat, the $100 hammer, and the $900 control switch.
Before we jump to conclusions about government ineptitude and corruption, we need to realize that the bigger problem is the system itself. Comparing government and private procurement is not a fair comparison. They’re two different processes. We get the outcomes our process drives.
What drives these kinds of outcomes? Having been in both corporate and government procurement, I chalk it up to four things: Budgets, management,
What is the second machine age and how canwe prepare for it? Should the worlds of AP and procurement collide? How can we continue to drive innovation?
Keep up with the changing finance and procurement landscape by reading the latest and greatest articles about the cloud, strategic procurement and finance and supplier innovation, all in one place.
According to a survey by financial services company UBS AG, over half of American and European CIOs plan to shift to cloud services. The speed of adoption depends their ability, willingness and commitment to the change management processes and education of their employees when rolling out new cloud applications.
The second machine age is coming! That was the keynote at a recent Procurement Leaders event in Frankfurt. What can procurement do to prepare? Data must become central to everything we do, and decisions taken by gut instinct must become a thing of the past, says David Rae.
How can business leaders best ensure that their companies generate new ideas and retain a competitive edge? Innovation from the supply base can come at a lower cost than from a formal R&D group when properly managed by procurement, yet this avenue is often undervalued and overlooked, says Paul Teague.
AP and procurement teams have historically operated independently, but as companies increasingly rely on the two to work together to increase savings, improve processes and compliance and drive innovation, they will succeed or fail together says CPO Rising’s Andrew Bartolini in a new report. PYMNTS.com recaps and comments.
Companies are looking to sourcing and procurement organizations to do a more than cut costs, although ironically it is their success in doing so that’s led to them gaining trusted advisor status. Here are five ways to live up to new, higher expectations and deliver value beyond cost cutting.
I’m thrilled to announce that Coupa has joined th(UCIT) movement. The name sums up the group’s charter; UCIT is aimed to guide IT in moving toward a framework that puts the needs of employees first, empowering them to be more productive, agile and effective. This aligns with Coupa's commitment to building software that works the way people do, and not the other way around, so when we heard about this initiative from Box, a Coupa customer and charter member of the group, we immediately raised our hand to join.e User-Centric IT
The initiative was launched recently as an outgrowth of a series of conversations between thought leader and author Geoffrey Moore and business leaders from Box, Marketo, GoodData, Jive, Zendesk and Okta, in which they defined these five guiding principles of user-centric IT:
Engaging, thought-provoking, delicious and dare we say, fun? Well, we had fun hosting fifty or so local Coupa customers and prospects at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco for a day of conversation, exploration and inspiration. Thanks to everyone who joined us. We loved having you!
Every year at this time, we hit the road to share a sneak peak at our product roadmap and provide a forum for Coupa customers to share their successes and best practices with each other and with companies evaluating our suite of solutions. Our San Francisco event kicks off a world tour that continues on to Chicago, New York, Toronto, and Zurich before wrapping up down under in Sydney in November.
At Tuesday's event, we had a Q&A from Mark Arrigotti, Head of Purchasing and Operations at Salesforce about his three-year journey with Coupa, which has included deploying the solution globally and rolling it out to an acquired company. Based on participant feedback from last year, we had roundtable discussions both before and after lunch for everyone to talk shop and share best practices.
We have equally great customer and speaker lineups for the rest of our tour. If you haven't signed up for a One Vision Roadshow yet, click here and register to join the fun.
New, larger screen size options for the iPhone 6 are a step forward for enterprise mobility, as Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn noted in his comments on Bloomberg News about Apple's announcement.
As a sales executive, I'm keenly interested in mobility. I sell a solution that's mobile, and I travel a lot for work.I work while I travel, so naturally, I’m a big user of apps. I love apps. I use the United app to check my flights, Uber to get around town and the USA Today app to keep up with the news while I’m on the road.
These apps work great for those specific tasks, but when it comes to getting work done, it takes more than just apps to have true mobility. To me, true mobility means being able to easily complete eighty to ninety percent of my regular work activities from a mobile device.
Larger mobile screens should help with that, but there's a bigger mobility issue