Making Cents

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With business travel surging, it’s time to revisit expense technology solutions

Tony DarugarTony DarugarThe economy is back, and so is business travel, with more options and convenience for travelers than ever before. There is a dizzying array of travel booking sites, but now you can also just type in any two airport codes and buy a plane ticket straight from the Google search results page. Taxi alternatives Uber and Lyft are gaining ground, and Airbnb is becoming a viable alternative to hotels.

 

Fortunately, the same forces of innovation are moving travel and expense management forward as well. The trick for managers is not to get distracted by all the shiny new toys, and stay focused on moving from processing expense submissions to optimizing and driving how the company spends money.

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The 7 traits of top procurement professionals

The best procurement professionals share seven common traits.The best procurement professionals share seven common traits.What makes a great procurement professional? We all know procurement is growing in stature and importance, and being asked to take on more within the organization. One of the biggest challenges to executing on that is finding top talent. With that in mind, we thought it would be interesting to share one professional’s perspective.

 

Bruno Alvarez is a twenty-year procurement professional, blogger and author of the e-book “Procurement Stories.” He’s often called on to recommend candidates, and based on his experience, has come up with a short list of common traits he sees in the best, excerpted from a recent blog post:

 

1. People person

Being at the top of the collaborative work, procurement is very much about relationships and networking. Most contracting and procurement professionals score high in people relations, as high as sales people. This stands to reason, as deals are made every day internally with stakeholders and externally with vendors, contractors and suppliers.

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9 Steps to a killer reverse auction

 

andy chiangAndy ChiangIn my last couple of posts, I’ve shared the stories of two companies who achieved eye-opening results running reverse auctions through Coupa’s Sourcing Quick Start program. A reverse auction is like a standard auction (also called a forward auction) except instead of several buyers submitting increasingly higher bids to one seller, several sellers submit increasingly low bids to one buyer. Running a reverse auction saves buyers time and money by engaging all potential suppliers simultaneously in a fast-paced highly structured contest for your business. Reverse auctions should be a key piece of any sourcing program. Here are some best practices to help you get really good at running reverse auctions.

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Why custom code is the road to hell for cloud developers

 

In my last article, I wrote about why worries about integrating cloud-based Software as a Service j adgerJake Adger(SaaS) should be a thing of the past if you’re dealing with a true cloud vendor.

 

In a true cloud SaaS offering, the vendor does not customize their code to customer requirements. So, with every integration, they are integrating something familiar and unchanging on their side to whatever the customer has.

 

If the vendor has custom code, then all bets are off; then they’re integrating two custom systems and it is a custom integration, subject to all the risks and problems thereof, and not a true cloud offering.

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The Coupa Top 5: Constants and change in cloud and procurement

Some times it seems the more things change the more they stay the same. This week we shared articles about things that have changed – and not changed – in procurement in the past decade; Deloitte’s annual CPO survey, KPMG’s cloud survey, Procurement Leaders’ 2015 prediction series, and a report on delays in government procurement that  haven’t changed, but the depth and breadth may surprise you.

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How to stay the course on the road to user-centricity

Daryush MistryDarayush Mistry

Last year, Coupa joined up with the User-centric IT movement, a group of companies dedicated to creating technology that puts the needs of end users first, allowing them to work the way they want, without getting in their way. User-centric is bit of a mouthful to say, but it’s actually a very simple concept.

 

We’ve all had experiences with technology that works “technically” but as a practical matter makes your life harder. Remember the clocks on VCRs? Setting the time should have been easy for anyone, but did you ever see one that did anything but flash 12:00, 12:00, 12:00? Not user centric. Or the original Xbox, which launched with a controller so big and clunky it made playing a video game frustrating. It seemed to have been designed by a committee that had heard of human hands, but never used them. Also not user-centric.

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Toner low: E-sourcing a new copier contract

Andy ChiangAndy ChiangE-sourcing is a must for the modern sourcing professional, but sometimes it falls by the wayside due to the press of business. Running an e-sourcing event is a great reminder that the time and money you save with e-sourcing makes it well worth investing in mastering the process.

 

Such was the case with an e-sourcing event I recently helped run for a large U.S. services company. They needed to replace the copiers in 2,000 locations across the country over the next few years, at a cost of a few million dollars.

 

The team there had dabbled in e-sourcing in the past with positive results, but still mostly relied on Excel and email for sourcing management. With copiers being one of their largest areas of indirect spend and the current contract about to expire, they decided to take part in Coupa’s QuickStart sourcing program. Through the program, Coupa Procurement customers get a free 30-day trial of our sourcing module, along with free expert assistance to launch their first e-sourcing event using the tool.

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Cloud integration fears? That’s so 1999

 

jake-adgerJake AdgerWe’re about 15 years into cloud computing now, and one thing that’s become clear is that even with the proliferation of cloud solutions, on-premise software is not going away anytime soon. That means cloud solutions have to integrate with on-premise systems, especially with ERP. This has been the case since Salesforce burst on the scene in 1999, and over the years, cloud providers have become integration ninjas. Today’s cloud solutions can easily integrate with just about any on-premise or cloud solution.

 

However, many people continue to believe that integrating with cloud solutions is risky, expensive and unreliable. This is simply not the case. These fears are largely founded on past non-cloud integration traumas, either experienced first hand or heard about second hand. A quick search for integration failures in enterprise software turns up a litany of past failures and lessons learned, such as PC World’s 10 Biggest ERP Software Failures.  Past experiences integrating non-cloud solutions have little or no relevance to today’s leading cloud providers.

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Is sequential invoice processing costing you millions?

donna-wilczek-headshot-450Donna Wilczek Sequential invoice processing—paying invoices in the order they come in--is the default practice for many Accounts Payable organizations. But is it a best practice? No, because it eliminates the ability for AP to be strategic, and potentially save millions of dollars.

 

Here’s why: If your AP department is processing invoices sequentially, you're operating under the assumption that every invoice is equally important to your company. That's simply not the case. Invoices with pre-negotiated early pay discount terms or dynamic discount payment offers associated with them are exponentially more important to your company. It makes sense to do everything you can to process those invoices faster so you can get those discounts.

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The Coupa Fast 5: Looking ahead to 2015

predicting 2015Hello 2015! It’s a new year, and you know what that means: overcrowded gyms, discarded Christmas trees lining the sidewalks, and of course, folks looking into their crystal balls to try to divine what the year ahead will bring. Last week, Coupa vice president of product development Darayush Mistry shared his thoughts on where procurement technology will head in the coming year.

 

Today we look beyond our four walls at what analysts and industry leaders have to say. One thing looks certain: With the economy looking up, 2015 promises good things for those tasked with powering business processes.

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