SAP Ariba vs. Coupa for Supply Chain

Effectively managing your supply chain, vendor relationships, contracting, and compliance are all critical components of maintaining business operations.  In the current economic climate where the pandemic has created global supply chain disruption, this has become even more critical.  Business leaders often turn to dedicated solution platforms that encompass these functions but selecting the right provider can be a challenge with so many options available.

Here, we will compare two of the leading supply chain solutions on the market today: SAP Ariba and Coupa.  While every situation is different, understanding what other companies have experienced with different software providers can help you select the best solution for your company’s unique needs.

It should be noted that UpperEdge is not a market research firm, so we do not conduct research and publish reports assessing and comparing vendor solution offerings.  However, we can share our insights into how these providers do business which should be considered in your evaluation (in addition to technology capabilities).  After reflecting on many of our Coupa vs. Ariba sourcing engagements, we arrived at the following summary of differentiators.

Overall Approach to the Relationship

SAP Ariba’s Approach to Relationships

If you are a current SAP customer, your SAP account executive has most likely asked to discuss your SAP relationship and the benefits of integrating Ariba.  When it comes to securing demo meetings, the ERP software giant may have an advantage over Coupa.  Its wider range of product suites and well-established install base gives SAP a bit of a head start in promoting its cloud-based solution. Existing SAP customers have more scale and leverage to drive cost predictability.

SAP aims to maintain successful long-term partnerships with its customers, offering their standard subscription model which includes value-added resources and services that deliver business outcomes at the highest value.  SAP has over two decades of experience which gives it an advantage over Coupa.

The ERP giant continues to invest in leading solutions within the market in hopes to ensure secure and uninterrupted solutions.  SAP strives to reduce all forms of risk for its customers, which include solution risk, integration risk, technology risk and supplier enablement risk which may appear as the program integration progresses.  It is forward looking for the future of procurement and how it will continue to deliver cost savings and process efficiencies.

Further, SAP will emphasize that Ariba has been part of the SAP solution set for over 8 years, and is a proven, dependable, and enterprise-class suite of products which has a long track record of success in the market.

In addition, the Ariba Network is the world’s largest B2B network.  It facilitates trillions of dollars in annual business commerce between more than 3 million companies.  Suppliers in the Ariba Network have the ability to access this directory of millions of companies giving it an advantage over Coupa as it relates to market connectivity and overall configuration options.

It’s also important to note that SAP is equally aggressive in positioning the potential cost (liability) of selecting a competing product.  SAP has made it clear via their announcements regarding Digital Access, that use of non-SAP products which are integrated with the Digital Core comes with a cost.  In many cases, SAP will attempt to establish a pricing model for Digital Access which effectively prices out any competing product such as Coupa if customers might be leaning in that direction.

Coupa’s Approach to Relationships

Coupa has positioned itself as a leading on-demand provider of solutions that control and streamline purchasing and expense management for organizations of all sizes, both small and large. They offer a Business Spend Management solution which they describe as easy-to-use and fast-to-deploy while also being affordable.  The cloud-based platform which helps businesses control expenditure has an ever-increasing base of over 1,400 customers.  Coupa aims to stand out in the market by offering a different approach to software and how it is delivered, used, and adopted.

Coupa looks to build relationships with its customers based on a mutual respect and trust in order for customers to produce results.  Its stance on relationships has paid off, as it has been named by the Silicon Review as one of the most trustworthy companies of the year in 2017.

Coupa’s offerings include Procurement, Invoicing, Expense, Strategic Sourcing, Contract Management and Contingent Workforce.  Coupa hopes to stand up to its competitors by leveraging AI and Machine Learning to build big data capabilities.

Through its comprehensive and transparent offerings, Coupa’s user-friendly platform makes it simple for its customers to get things done fast and more efficiently. In addition, Coupa has a lot of flexibility for its users as it relates to product adoption and capabilities, which give it an edge over Ariba.

Overall Commercial Flexibility

It is critical to achieve highly competitive initial subscription pricing along with long term price protections and flexibility.  It is equally important to establish supplier accountability via a service-level structure given the business-critical nature of managing your supply chain.

Coupa has been known to exceed the SLAs in place with customers and offers solid stability.  In our experience, customers have considered Coupa’s UI to be more intuitive than Ariba’s offering and will require less training and cause less confusion for users.  On the other hand, SAP will show a willingness to negotiate and improve their standard service-level credit structure both in terms of credit percentage and ability to terminate for service-level non-conformance.

While both platforms are top software solutions in the market, Ariba has a slight edge over Coupa.  SAP Ariba has extensive market connections and is also committed to collaborating with SI partners, especially if there is already a relationship in place with SAP.  Coupa cannot be underestimated, though, as customers opine that Coupa has a superior interface with its ease of use and wide range of software offerings.  Coupa also offers the largest Business Spend Management community that competes with the Ariba Network.

If you’re seeking responses from both software providers, it all comes down to taste when choosing a platform that is best suited for your companies needs and fit.

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