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Coupa Survey: Employee Spending Gone Wild

“Maverick spending” estimated to cost companies hundreds of thousands annually; 33% even admit to stealing from the company in devious ways

SAN MATEO, Calif. – July 23, 2013 – Coupa Software, a leading provider of cloud-based spend optimization solutions for finance, today announced the findings of its 2013 Employee Spending Survey, fielded among 500 American office workers, aged 18 and older, conducted online by uSamp in June.

The survey, which was drafted based on Coupa’s knowledge of workplace spending habits and norms, found that employees believe so-called “maverick spending” is costing their companies a lot of money.  58% have estimated that it is as much as $25,000 a year in waste, fraud and abuse, with many who say it is much more, including 9% who believe it is in excess of $100,000 and 6% who say it is more than $200,000 per year.

In addition, more than half (54%) of employees are now saying they have “gone rogue,” making purchases without the advance approval of their manager and an additional two-thirds (66%) say they have made “risky purchases,” including:

  • Overly expensive dinner – 38%
  • Office supplies for home use – 23%
  • Upgrade to a higher level of airline service – 22%
  • Smartphone – 18%
  • Exercise equipment – 9%
  • Personal clothing items – 7%

A surprising one-third (33%) of employees even admit they have stolen from the company in devious ways, including: 

  • Inflated the cost of a taxi ride on a blank taxi receipt – 16%
  • Expensed personal items, pretending they are for business – 14%
  • Accepted a refund for an already expensed item without reporting it – 13%
  • Increased the amount of tip you claimed to have given a waiter/server – 11%
  • Expensed the same item more than once – 10%
  • Created a fake expense that never happened – 7%

Many say this is driven in part by the frustrations office workers are encountering when they need to make a work-related purchase.  In fact, 84% of office workers say they experience such difficulties, including:

  • Feeling pressure to negotiate a “good deal” – 46%
  • Too many levels of approval – 46%
  • Fear of being denied reimbursement – 43%
  • Not sure how to purchase without buying, then expensing – 27%
  • Unclear on process – 25%

So what can companies do about it? Nearly all (98%) of the survey respondents say that companies should take action now, and most point the finger at expense reports.  Among the actions employees say companies should take are:

  • Better oversight of expense reporting – 62%
  • Maintain guidelines for travel reimbursement – 54%
  • Audit expense reports randomly – 50%
  • Implement a fully functional procurement system for all purchases – 38%
  • Curb use of company charge cards – 36%
  • Prosecute employees who steal from the company – 33%
  • Question expenditures often – 32%
  • More levels of approval for employee expenses – 21%
  • Initiate formal review processes – 21%

“The results of the survey indicate a spending culture in America’s corporations that has, in many ways, gotten out of control,” said Rob Bernshteyn, CEO, Coupa Software. “As the leader in cloud spend optimization, Coupa is educating the enterprise about the value of a spend management platform that can both control the maverick spending employees see every day, as well as ensure compliance to cross-company pre-negotiated discounts, thus saving an average 9% across the board for any company.”

This comes as Coupa announces the release of Coupa 10, the answer to out-of-control spending in the enterprise. The new set of features boasts a whole new sourcing application that is designed with the vision of bringing sourcing to the masses, similar to how Coupa has brought procurement to the masses with familiar online shopping. In addition, Coupa 10 features a host of new enhancements across Coupa's Procurement, Expenses and Invoicing product offerings, helping increase end user adoption, boost productivity, and ensure compliance.

About Coupa Software
Founded in 2006, Coupa Software is the leading provider of cloud-based spend optimization software. More than 300 customers in 40 countries use the Coupa suite of cloud applications to amplify their spend power and reduce spending costs up to 11 percent. Only Coupa provides a true suite of cloud applications for finance, including procurement, expense management and invoicing software that enables customers to launch the solution immediately and quickly realize significant savings. Learn more at: or call 650.931.3200. Read more on the Coupa Blog, or follow @Coupa on Twitter.

Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted by, the Answer Network, a premier provider of technology and survey respondents used to obtain consumer and business insights.  The survey was conducted online from June 26-27, 2013 on behalf of Coupa and asked 500 U.S. respondents who work in an office environment and who have filed expense reports for themselves about their preferences and feedback on the spending at enterprise-level companies.


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