How IT Can Drive Transformational Change (and Save Money)
IT teams have been sorely tested over the past 12 months, and recognition of their importance is, quite rightly, higher than ever. Peter Truman, Director of Global Technical Architecture at Coupa looks at this positive takeaway from a difficult year and explores how, with the right tools in place, IT teams can play a major role in helping the business deliver against strategic cost reduction objectives.
The importance of delivering the right applications and services to the right audiences is something IT has been focusing on for decades. It’s your raison d'être. With budget and resource pressures across IT and the wider organisation ever increasing, IT leaders regularly face the dilemma of accepting ‘good enough’ versus great.
It feels like that’s beginning to change. In recent conversations with customers, the intense pressure to ‘build back better’ to speed pandemic recovery in the face of an uncertain future has led many to explore new tools and approaches, not just in IT. Across the business, there’s now a clear recognition of the value of having the ‘right’ tools in place. Because businesses need people to be as productive as possible.
Managing Spend, Saving Money
Nowhere is this push for performance more starkly illustrated than in procurement. Efforts to significantly reduce cost while maintaining operations (in the face of disrupted supply chains) have characterised the past 12 months, and will continue to do so moving forward.
When it comes to having the right tools to do it, we know from experience that some departments are struggling — particularly those using add-on ERP procurement modules.
This isn’t to say that ERPs aren’t mission critical or that some procurement people aren’t perfectly happy using these tools — many are. From an IT perspective, these modules often come free, and there’s an assumption that supporting what appears to be a single platform (they rarely are, as it happens) is simpler than supporting multiple solutions.
Is ERP Up to the Task?
The challenge comes when these modules don’t have the functionality procurement needs. Or when they lack a reasonable upgrade roadmap to add new features. There’s no doubt that solutions need to be agile enough to keep up with new suppliers, new rules, regulations, employees, security risks, developments in technology and so on.
Perhaps more importantly, most legacy ERPs were built for back office functions — with complex and clumsy UIs that even the most patient procurement professionals find hard to use. They’re certainly not designed for people across the business who need a quick, easy and secure way to buy things and manage spend! Hardly surprising then that adoption (and platform ROI) is low. With everyone looking to save money, being unable to effectively identify and manage spend across the business is a big problem.
So, you’re left with a couple of options: stick with what you have and live with a ‘good enough’ solution or go down the dedicated route as so many have done.
Adding Risk or Making Things Easier?
But there’s another consideration, of course. IT budgets and resources are stretched thin too. Why risk introducing a new solution into your stack?
It’s definitely a valid question. The answer is ‘it could make things easier for everyone.' Quite apart from the potential added value a dedicated spend management solution can offer procurement and your wider business, the benefits for your IT department can be significant.
We look at the IT benefits in more detail in our latest guide — "Is your ERP good enough for procurement?" — but here are a few points to consider:
- A single vendor doesn’t always mean a single unified solution. IT is often tasked with managing integration between multiple modules and applications from the same vendor, while interfaces are brittle and regularly break. All of which swallows resource.
- Typically, managing and upgrading a custom-coded ERP module requires support from high cost consultancies (for even minor changes). The more changes that are needed, the higher the chance of something breaking while doing them.
- Poor user experience results in low user engagement, poor licence utilisation and ultimately low return on investment. Typical user adoption rates for big brand ERP modules sits at the 30–40% mark.
Coupa is the Business Spend Management (BSM) equivalent of Salesforce for CRM or Workday for HCM. It’s a modern, simple-to-deploy and easy-to-use unified platform that harnesses the collective insights and cost saving opportunities of a community of over 1,400+ customers. Plus, Coupa has been named a leader in its space by major analyst firms including Gartner, Forrester and IDC.
It offers a range of IT benefits including straightforward integration, faster deployment and painless management. It also has the highest rates of adoption on the market — so you can achieve a higher ROI and further enable your digital transformation.
This isn’t about getting rid of mission critical systems, rather a question of using the best tools for the job and augmenting your existing ERP in areas where it lacks strength.
With IT’s reputation going from strength to strength, dedicated tools like Coupa may offer yet more opportunity to champion the needs of users, reduce tech support requirements and help the business achieve radical cost reduction. Which has to be a win for everyone.