Demandbase Connect

Making Cents

Welcome To Our Blog. Read our opinions and perspectives on the market and share some of your own.

Is it time for a smartphone approach to spend optimization?


On Spend Matters blog last month, filed under “incendiary tidbits,” tony darugarTony DarugarPierre Mitchell asks, “Is it time to blow up T&E once and for all?”


His main point is that our current way thinking about expense management has run its course. We need to better identify the goals of our T&E policies and the best ways of ensuring that they are met. According to Mitchell, the way we think about expense management now—as a bunch of different categories lumped together under the T&E umbrella—is neither cohesive nor strategic. I wholeheartedly agree. 


I’ve been as guilty of this kind of myopia as the next person. When I founded Xpenser, I was just looking for an automated solution to one problem—dealing with my own expense reports. I took me a while to see the bigger picture.


Mitchell doesn’t come right out and say how we should view expense management, but I think where he’s going with it is that all these expense categories should fall under the umbrella of one holistic spend optimization solution. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me now.


For expense management to become strategic, it has to be looked at as one of the three pillars of spend, along with procurement and invoicing. But ultimately, to be really strategic, we need to go further. Our three pillars need to be consolidated into one function governing all of the ways a company spends money-- much in the way we’ve consolidated our various forms of communication with one tool—the smart phone.


Up until now, our thinking about spend management, and expense management as a subset of that, has been informed by the tools that we’ve had at our disposal, just like our thinking about communication was informed by the tools we had before smart phones.


Before smart phones, we just thought of the phone as a way to have voice conversations smartphone assortmentSmart phones unified communication. New tools can do the same for spend optimization.with people who were not with us physically. If you wanted to text them, you could do that with a pager; if you wanted to email them, you could do that with your computer. If you wanted to share a photo, you’d use a third-party host, or before the internet, put a print in the mail.


There’s no particular reason all these ways to communicate had to be handled separately, except that that’s how innovation occurred. It took a while of living with these separations for someone to think, “I want a unified communication platform that can handle voice calls, text updates, emails, photos and even videos,” and a while longer to put all that core functionality into one device.


Now that we have that tool, we communicate differently. Moreover, we think about communication differently. It’s easier and more fluid. It’s driven by the content and situation and not by the tool. That’s where we’re going with spend management.


The distinctions within expense management that Mitchell refers to, and between expense management, procurement and invoicing are also artificial. They’re all just ways to buy something.


If you’re inside a company and you’re going to buy a laptop, you can procure it--you order through the procurement system and it shows up for you some time later. Or, you run down to Best Buy, pick one up, pay for it and then put it on your expense report. Or, you could even order it and have an invoice sent to your company. Ultimately you're buying the same commodity on the company’s dime. But the systems you can use to complete your order and pay for it differ, with each system yielding a different result—and a different data set.


The only reason these things are separate is that parts of these business processes have been automated at different points in time, and separately, with different vendors tackling different areas. These automated systems have become entrenched. Anyone wishing to reform the system can expect to hear the dreaded words, “This is the way we’ve always done it.”


I don’t want to take anything away from previous advances in automation that have solved many big problems around managing spend. But now we see a different problem: all these different systems don't talk to each other and or address the bigger picture.


As a company, if you manage your invoices, your procurement, and expense reports with separate tools, a task as simple as figuring out how many laptops you’re buying using one method versus this other one becomes a big exercise. You've got to gather data across three different systems, you've got to put them all in the same format and you've got to put together an analytical tool that shows you this overlap on spending in laptops; this much in expense reports and this much in procurements.  It requires a significant commitment of resources.


Based on what we see from our customers at Coupa, very few companies have a holistic approach to spend management, or even support for something as simple as visibility across these silos.


I had never thought about these issues before I connected with Coupa and Rob Bernshteyn talked me through his vision for a unified spend management solution. Up until then I was knee-deep in unreimbursed expenses and applying my technical skills to a better way to process. I wasn't really thinking about where my expense report fits into the big picture of how money is spent and accounted for.


I see it now, and we are now at a point where we can address that bigger picture. There is no reason to do it piece-meal. Yes, there are still big problems around automated processing. Automating procurement, invoicing and expenses separately is often more feasible and manageable, but that doesn’t mean that should be the end game. We now have the tools to break down these artificial distinctions between different areas of spend and be truly strategic. Now we just need to change our thinking.


Tony Darugar is General Manager for Coupa Expenses and the founder of Expensr. A version of this article previously appeared on Spend Matters.






Coupa Inspire '14 Day Two Recap and Wrap

Our six a.m. fun runners weren't looking quite as chipper, and our morning yogis were fewer on day two of Coupa Inspire '14, perhaps due to previous night's inspiring celebration. A fabulous breakfast got them revived and ready for the day's presentations.inspire day2 1


Coupa VP of Product Management Raja Hammoud lead off the morning with details of all the new features of Coupa 11, including inventory management. We also announced integrations with Box and DocuSign.

inspire day2 2


Our keynote speaker, artist and entrepreneur Erik Wahl gave an amazing performance, painting three canvases on stage while he talked about unleashing your creativity by "unthinking." We also heard from Spend Matters' Jason Busch on the future of procurement and from Armstrong Industries' Scott Cooper about lessons learned during the company's global Coupa deployment.

inspire day2 3


We'd be remiss if we held a conference in San Francsico and didn't show you all a little food porn, from the lunch sponsored by Coupa partner The Shelby Group:

 inspire lunch

 After the afternoon's breakout sessions, we called it a wrap for 2014. We had a fabulous time learning and sharing and celebrating with the people who inspire us the most: you.

 inspire you

Y'all come back now, hear?

Coupa Inspire '14 Day One Recap

Coupa Inspire opened last night at the Marriot Marquis, with a welcome reception that was a feast for the eye and palate. Coupa employees and partners welcomed customers and prospects with an evening of networking and socializing that set the tone for the event. There was lots of opportunity for networking and socializing, accompanied by assorted sliders and jicama-citrus salad shooters.inspire day1replace inspire day2


Day one started early with morning yoga and a fun run through the streets of San Francisco and of course breakfast featuring the best congee ever, canadian bacon and french toast strips.  


inspire day1

Coupa CEO Rob Bernshteyn kicked off the morning talking about the vision for optimizing spend that we share with our customers and partners, and shared major news about partnerships with Alibaba and Keboola as well as announcing SAP NetWeaver Certification for the Coupa suite. Rob was followed by a CIO panel discussion on cloud computing, and afternoon breakouts for every industry and interest:

inspire breakout3


inspire breakout tweets

We ended the day with a party at The Mezzanine:

inspire party1

inspire party2

inspire party3

The spend optimization revolution will not be televised . . . But it will be live-streamed!


We’re fired up and ready for Coupa Inspire in San coupa inspire sold out Francisco this week. We begin Tuesday, with three fast-paced days of fun, networking, new product announcements, and of course lots of ideas and inspiration for improving your business.


We’re thrilled to report that this year’s event, our second annual, is sold out.  If you’re one of the 700+ people joining us, we are looking forward to seeing you! If not, no worries—we’ll be live-streaming all the of keynotes and speakers from the main stage. Register here to get set up. It’ll be the next best thing to being there.


You’ll hear from top executives at customer companies on how Coupa is helping them transform their business processes and save money. Here’s the streaming schedule—all times are Pacific Daylight Time:


Wednesday, April 16

9:00 a.m.Opening Remarks, Rob Bernshteyn, CEO, Coupa

9:45 a.m.Gaining the Cloud Advantage: CIO Panel Discussion with Bask Iyer, CIO, Juniper Networks; Beth Devin, CIO, Silicon Valley Bank; Ross Meyercord, CIO,; Curtis Miller, CIO, Amerinet and Daniel Rosenbaum, Director of Technology at Land O’ Lakes

11:00 a.m. – Lining up your P2P Business Case, with Dave Lorz, Senior Director, Greif and Dipan Karumsi, Managing Director KPMG


Thursday, April 17

8:15 a.m.  – Opening Keynote, Raja Hammoud, VP, Product Management, Coupa

9:00 a.m.  – UNThink: Rediscovering Your Creative Genius, Erik Wahl, Author, Artist and Entrepreneur

10:30 a.m.Customer Success Story, Scott Cooper, VP Global Procurement & Logistics, Armstrong World Industries

11:15 a.m. - Procurement Game Changers, Jason Busch, Editor in Chief, Spend Matters


We won’t be able to live stream the breakout sessions, morning Yoga, the fun run or Tuesday evening’s welcome reception in the INSPIRE hall, so you'll just have to come next year to get the full Inspire experience. Meanwhile, we’ll be bringing you the highlights right here on Making Cents, so stay tuned.



To win sales, go where competitors fear to tread: Security


Incidents like the recent Target credit card data breach sanket naikSanket Naikheighten awareness of the need for better security, but they don’t really drive change. Awareness is usually short-lived (anyone remember the T. J. Maxx security breach of 2007?) and everyone goes back to business as usual unless there is some kind of legal requirement to change.


This creates an opportunity for vendors who can proactively address security to create a strategic advantage for themselves during the sales cycle and beyond.


I was recently involved in a sale where the prospect sent the vendor a 1,300-question security survey. The vendor actually answered every question and got it back to them in a couple of days. The prospect had never seen such a detailed response. In fact, they’d never even seen a vendor answer all of the questions. It put the vendor head and shoulders above the competition and helped them win the deal. Here’s how you can do the same.


Go where the competition fears to tread

Most technology purchases are driven by revenue opportunities related to product features and functions. Security is non-revenue producing and not usually related to product function, so unless vendors are selling to an industry that must meet certain regulatory requirements, they have a tendency to avoid the security discussion and hope the customer won’t bring it up. If it does come up, they try to address it with smoke and mirrors.


In my experience as both a buyer and seller of technology cloud securityAddressing security concerns proactively can win trust--and deals.and as an advisor to startups, this is usually for one of two reasons. First, they don’t know how to talk about security in a way that customers can understand. They might have a security person, but he or she is not the kind of person you’d bring into a sales cycle, and the salespeople don’t have any collateral to support the discussion. Second, they fear the product doesn’t adequately address security and therefore they have something to hide. They don’t talk about it because they are afraid of not meeting the requirements and losing the sale.


Sometimes these fears are unfounded. No service provider is going to meet 100 or even 90 percent of a customer's security requirements. It's simply not possible. Every customer has unique business needs, philosophies, and processes and so does the service provider. If you can show that you meet even 80 percent of the requirements, and then do a traditional risk assessment and management plan for the other 20 percent, you will most likely put yourself ahead of your competition. That’s the discussion you need to equip yourself to have.


Essentially what you need to do is work with the customer to identify the gaps between what you provide and what is needed, assess the remaining risks and come up with a plan. Are you going to just try to avoid them? Are you going to accept them? Are you going to mitigate them with workarounds or compensating controls? Or are you going to buy insurance? Those are the four classic ways to handle risk.


The key is to address this proactively. Then there’s a good chance you can work collaboratively through those issues with the customer and at the same time build trust in the relationship. If you try to avoid the issue and it turns into a one-sided, buyer-led interrogation, not so much.


Invest intelligently in security solutions

Of course, this pre-supposes that you actually have given some thought to security and invested in it intelligently.


You should absolutely do that, and this is one of the things I talk about in my initial discussions with startups. Given that no one, even your more established competitors, will be able to meet 100 percent of anyone’s requirements, what can you invest in that will show commitment and progress toward maturity in this area?


How much or how little you need to invest will depend on what industry you are selling to. For some industries maybe all you need is a whitepaper detailing what you’ve done and checking the boxes. That at least shows that you care about security and have made some basic investment in it.


If you’re selling to a regulated industry, there may be different kinds of compliance assessments that need to be done, such as HIPAA for a company that stores patient health data, or PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) if you accept credit cards.


Then there are different kinds of audits you can do which range from basic security scanners that run a few hundred dollars a month to sophisticated five-figure investments. Some startups and even early-stage companies get intimidated thinking security is a huge investment, and they might not be ready to do that. What you do will depend on the needs of your customers, your budget and stage of maturity of your company.


What's important is to do what you can do even if it’s limited in scope. It doesn’t have to be best in class when you’re just starting out, and if in addition you think through some of the ways customers might address security risks you can’t, you’ll likely be ahead of many competitors. Having some measures in place, having a plan and having the right collateral on hand to communicate that assures customers it's a priority and you're making an investment in it. As you have more revenues, you can invest more.


At this point maybe you’re thinking, that all sounds great, but my customers truly don’t care about security and my smoke and mirrors are closing deals just fine. Why should I bother?


Futureproof your product and sales process

Consider the way technology is being sold today. IT used to be the gatekeeper for most enterprise technology purchases, but that has changed. Especially with the cloud, software has gotten less expensive and easier to implement. The business, tired of hearing that IT didn’t have the budget or the time to help them, has grown accustomed to just going out and buying what they need so they can get to market faster.


What a lot of companies are finding out is that when these business-led deployments grow and usage increases beyond a certain point, IT and security need to be engaged.


One common scenario is the need to do some integration with other systems, maybe with the ERP system, or with some other service provider. If IT was not previously involved and aware of the project, they might have to rethink the whole strategy.


Or, maybe the business starts using a solution that brings them under the purview of some regulatory requirement, maybe around data storage, where they need to engage IT to help with security.


These are the kinds of scenarios that impact project timelines, reopen negotiations, stall implementation, and kill the prospect of renewals.


That's why it’s so important to be prepared to proactively engage, and in some cases even seek out customer resources on the IT and security side of the business to try and build bridges at the CIO level to make sure these concerns are addressed ahead of time. It’s a different approach, and one that will set you apart from the competition, help you win deals, prevent surprises in the sales cycle and keep customers on board even after the deal is signed.


This article previously appeared on






CPO Rising: Emergence, convergence and the new normal

The new CPO Rising report for 2014 is here, and it’s chock full of insights andrew bartoliniAndrew Bartoliniand trends that will be of interest to anyone involved in the procure-to-pay process.


We’ll be speaking about this year’s findings with report author Andrew Bartolini, Managing Partner and Chief Research Officer at Ardent Partners, and Publisher of, as well as Bryce Berg, VP of Corporate Administration at Molina Healthcare, in a live webcast Thursday April 10th.


We caught up with Andrew to chat about some of the points that stood out about this year’s findings and we’ll be sharing his comments in a series of blog posts. Since the subtitle of this year’s report is “Convergence” we thought we’d start there.


Coupa: One of the main themes of your report this year is convergence. Not is only doing more with less the new normal, procurement is emerging as


The high cost of paper processing

We've been talking a lot about e-invoicing on Making Cents lately. Terry Kohn from Hackett Group shared his insights on how to develop an e-invoicing strategy and also his prediction how the cloud will transform the value proposition from e-invoicing in the near future.


Coupa's J.R. Robertson weighed in on why just processing paper better is not the answer in his post, "Why using OCR for electronic invoice processing is like hitching a buggy to your horse." And, Henry Ijams of Paystream commented on the findings from his annual state of e-invoicing report, "Electronic Invoice Management: A Move to the Middle." According to Henry's report, while large enterprises are leading the pack, new tools and technologies are bringing electronic invoice processing within reach of more small-to-medium enterprises. 


E-invoicing has many benefits, not the least of which is saving paper. How much paper? We came across this interesting infographic visualizing paper usage and the associated costs, created by using data compiled by The Paperless Project.  How much of that comes from paper invoices? We can't say for sure, but we've got to imagine it's significant. We'd suggest you could do some back of the envelope calculations based on your organization's invoice volume, but that would involve, well, paper. Better do them electronically instead!

cost of paper

Bernshteyn: Come to Coupa Inspire '14


I’d like to personally invite you to Inspire 14. There’s no better, faster way for you to personally evaluate us. You’ll see the product in detail. You’ll talk to experts from all functions within our company. You’ll learn more about how we’re investing in the future and you’ll have candid discussion with hundreds of Coupa customers who’ve already registered, including TD Bank, Vail Resorts, Toyota and so many others. What you’ll learn at Inspire will change your plans, and I’m confident it will improve your business, whether you decide to choose Coupa or not.


And, you’ll have fun. We’re planning a great party, morning yoga and group runs in San Francisco. We’ve got lots of activities planned. I hope to see you there!


Coupa Inspire 2014 will take place in San Francisco April 15-17. There’s still plenty of time to register. For the latest details on speakers, sessions and registration, check the INSPIRE '14 site.



Cloud set to shift e-invoicing benefits, value proposition


In an earlier post, Terry Kohn, director at the Hackett Group and a consultant specializing in e-invoicing and e-procurement strategy for companies in the $1- $15 billion range, shared his insights on crafting a successful e-invoicing strategy. As a self-described e-invoicing geek, he watches the market and helps companies get up to speed on the options available. Here he shares his thoughts on some of the new tools that are enabling better strategic approaches, and new e-invoicing benefits, chief among them the cloud.


Coupa: Paystream Advisors recently published a ‘state of the state’ paper on e-invoicing. One of their significant findings was that as the economy has recovered, there’s been a jump in the number of einvoicing benefitsThe Cloud will change the way e-invoicing is costed out to companies.companies, particularly SMEs, planning to implement e-invoicing. Can you talk a little bit about some of the changes and tools that are enabling more companies to move in this direction?


Terry: Sure. There are a couple of things in the marketplace that are changing the way this is accomplished, versus five or ten years ago. The first thing is the advent of intelligent OCR. It used to be that OCR required almost a one to one match up with your suppliers.


You can imagine the ERP overhead for having ten thousand templates that an OCR engine would have to sort to find the proper one in order to ingest an invoice. Companies became aware very quickly that that was not the optimal way to go. Intelligent OCR, which uses artificial intelligence to identify specific characters and do a geographical search around them


Developing an e-invoicing strategy


So you say you want an e-invoicing revolution? Meet Terry Kohn, director at the Hackett Group. As a consultant specializing in e-procurement and e-invoicing strategy for companies in the $1-$15 billion range, Terry is a veteran of many such transformations. Since he often leads execution of the strategies he develops, Terry is a pragmatist, not a theorist, formulating strategies that are tailored to each company’s needs and capabilities. We sat down with Terry to get his thoughts about how organizations of any size may best approach developing an e-invoicing for maximum success.


Coupa: How do you go about developing an e-invoicing strategy?


Terry: It all starts with a dialogue around invoice processingTransitioning to e-invoicing is a big change. The strategy will be unique to every company. the facts of the business. It’s one thing to talk about the e-invoicing market and how things generally work and how others have done this. It's quite another to take a look at a specific company’s technology foundation, the people they have working in this area, the cycle times involved with their manual invoice management, the hard costs, and the cultural challenges that are specific to them. Is doing this sort of transformation going to be a new experience, or have they done something like this before? If you aren't experienced in this, the strategy is going to be very different.


I look at what their homegrown capabilities are. What can they do themselves, and what do they need support on? And, somebody has to operate this after it’s implemented. Who will do that and how? The strategy is based first on evaluating these facts.


Coupa: So, you shouldn’t just run out and get a tool.


Terry: Yes. It's all about operating the business, and that combined with the challenges of doing a transformation are pretty daunting when you get down to a realistic view of this. Transforming your invoicing methods and tools is