Coupa acquisition adds contract authoring to source-to-pay

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright January 14, 2016
Source-to-pay cloud vendor Coupa makes its fourth start-up acquisition in a year, adding Contractually's collaborative contract authoring tool

Two figures with pen discuss contract © goldencow_images -
Enterprise spend management vendor Coupa revealed today it has acquired Canadian startup Contractually, its fourth acquisition in the past year. The deal adds contract authoring to Coupa's cloud-based source-to-pay suite.

Hailing from Vancouver, the angel-funded startup provides an online collaboration tool for authoring and editing procurement contracts. While Coupa's platform already manages all aspects of storing and managing contracts once they have been signed, the new acquisition will manage all the back-and-forth before the contract is finalized, says Donna Wilczek, VP strategy and product marketing at Coupa.

This now is extending the suite so that it's everything around authoring the contract. This is about extending that business process even further to the start.

Most companies create contracts in one application, then email the draft back and forth for review and editing, before signing it in yet another application, and returning the signed copy via email. These outdated processes don't measure up to the needs of today's digitally connected businesses, says Coupa. The acquisition will move all of these interactions to a shared digital platform, as Wilczek explains:

You now shift from a document that is emailed around to a collaboration document that you invite people into and people collaborate around that.

Our hypothesis is, this is going to be an easier way to build contracts.

This will appeal to all parties that need to be involved in agreeing contracts, says Wilczek, including a new generation of lawyers.

Online collaboration tools are second nature to this generation of lawyers. We really want to make sure it's easy for the lawyer as well, who are a critical part of the process.

Wilczek expects the new offering will be popular in the mid-enterprise market — companies with revenues ranging from $50 million up to $1 billion — many of whom she says are stuck with legacy products where the authoring capabilities aren't used because people find them too complex.

Acquisition trail

Coupa, which raised an $80 million funding round last June and is widely expected to launch an IPO this year, has a habit of picking up young startups. It folds their innovations into its source-to-pay suite, which encompasses procurement, sourcing, invoicing, open business network, expense management and inventory.

In the past year it has acquired San Francisco-based procurement collaboration provider ZenPurchase, Australian invoice data extraction tool InvoiceSmash, and New York based travel booking provider TripScanner.

Wilczek says Coupa looks for startups with new ideas that it can incorporate directly into its platform.

There's a lot of disparate solutions out there — we are a unified platform, truly source-to-pay, and expenses, processing all of that going through the system.

We're much more interested in one-stream procurement, a seamless business process.

Acquiring those types of companies are perfect for our model. We're constantly looking at companies that are disrupting their industry and then taking that technology and knowledge and embedding that into our unified platform.

The four acquisitions over the past year include two that took a collaborative approach. That's no coincidence, as Wilczek explains:

You cannot do spend management in a vacuum. Third party suppliers are critical to the spend management process. Collaborating easily without added cost is critical to your success as a business.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

My take

Yet another proof point that collaboration plays a crucial role in digital transformation, as enterprises take the friction out of previously disjointed processes.

While Coupa's own R&D provides the bulk of its product development, the vendor is finding innovative ideas and people with its string of startup acquisitions. This is all part and parcel of its quest to bring together a range of source-to-pay processes that in the past would have been handled in separate applications from discrete vendors.

Interestingly, a similar trend can be seen in the quote-to-cash field as it becomes more closely bound into CRM applications. But if you think further about it, you realize that the contract management that salespeople co-ordinate in their quote-to-cash suites is the self-same function being carried out on the procurement side in source-to-pay.

Perhaps the collaboration needs to be taken a bit further, then, so that both sides can meet on neutral ground rather than one party having to decamp to the other's platform. But that's a thought for the future rather than anything that's likely to take off just yet.

Image credit - Two figures with pen discuss contract © goldencow_images -

Disclosure - At the time of writing, Coupa is a diginomica partner.

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