Amazon helps vendor launch software-as-a-service e-procurement

Coupa On Demand available this week

An open source e-procurement vendor has launched a software-as-a-service offering that takes advantage of technology.

Coupa on Monday said it is targeting small and midsize businesses with Coupa On Demand, a Web-based purchasing platform that automates requisition, approval, purchase order creation, RFQs (request for quotation), receiving, inventory and invoices.

Enterprise users can purchase items using an interface that’s similar to Amazon’s, largely because Coupa built the system with the help of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). EC2 is a Web service that offers computing capacity in the Internet “cloud,” and is designed to make Web-scale computing easier for developers. Coupa essentially outsources its servers to Amazon, and gets a bunch of services like security, monitoring and patching, says Dave Stephens, a former Oracle executive who is Coupa’s co-founder and CEO.

“It’s a highly secure, highly reliable environment that Amazon has perfected in running its own business, and is now available [to outside companies],” Stephens says.

This has allowed Coupa to develop a Web-based alternative to its open source software known as e-Procurement Express

“If you know how to use, you’ll probably have no problem using Coupa On Demand,” Stephens says.

Cequent Pharmaceuticals, a a start-up in Cambridge, Mass., has used Coupa On Demand for two months to purchase supplies needed in research and development.

The system makes it easier to keep track of purchases and generate reports about the products Cequent buys, which range from lab gloves to chemicals, says Susie Troung, director of administration and finance for Cequent. Coupa On Demand also helps Cequent save money through bulk purchasing, by identifying cases where employees need the same product.

“IT was trying to control spending, at the same time not trying to stifle research,” Troung says. “It’s very easy to use. One of the biggest things we were looking at was ease of use and price point.”

Cequent began by uploading its list of vendors and recently ordered items to the Coupa system. Each employee can search the catalog, request a product, or suggest new products or items that should be in the catalog.

Pricing starts at $2,495 per year for 10 users, which includes requisitioning and purchase order management. The price goes up for customers with more users, and for customers that get extra features such as RFQs and quotes, inventory management, invoices, and an integration platform. The most expensive package is $35,495 per year for 1,000 users.

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