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Superheroes in Action: How Coupa Drives Optimization, Governance and Effectiveness with SaaS Management


Coupa CIO Eric Tan and Director, IT, Business Applications Ashley Vasilovski joined Zylo Chief Customer Officer Cory Wheeler on a recent webinar to talk about how SaaS Management is helping optimize spend, ensure governance and empower employees with best-in-class SaaS.

Digital transformation drives increased tech spending

Coupa is an industry leader in business spend management, specializing in optimizing business value. They also publish The Coupa Business Spend Index — a predictive measure of business confidence informed by AI-powered analysis of billions of dollars of spend.  According to this Business Spend Index, spending is up across industries and that technology spending is up 9.8%. Eric Tan also shared that as a primary driver of digital transformation, IT is the second or third highest spend category in most organizations, and is 15-20% of the total general and administrative budget.

SaaS is a major and growing part of IT spend. In fact, Gartner predicts that global SaaS spending will reach $140 billion by 2022, a 16% increase from 2020.

Reflecting this industry trend, Coupa’s own SaaS portfolio was growing rapidly, both organically and through acquisitions, as each company brought its own SaaS portfolio when it joined Coupa.

Coupa prioritizes SaaS Management

With a growing SaaS portfolio, Coupa needed to better manage their SaaS. They needed to:

  • Get complete visibility of their SaaS portfolio
  • Ensure governance to minimize risk
  • Optimize SaaS subscriptions, usage, renewals, and spend
  • Empower employee effectiveness with best-in-class SaaS

IT and Procurement partner to reduce SaaS spend

As Coupa acquired companies and applications, IT and Procurement partnered on a holistic approach of SaaS Management between Coupa and each acquired company. They used Zylo to understand what applications they had across the shared portfolios and how much each application was being used. This knowledge unleashed collaboration among IT, procurement, finance, and the M&A teams.

At its peak, Coupa had more than 600 SaaS applications, including those from LlamaSoft, one of the companies they acquired. Working together, IT and Procurement were able to leverage Coupa’s combined buying power to lower the cost per user for SaaS applications 9-30%!

Coupa lowered the cost per user of SaaS 9-30% with the power of data from Zylo.

One example Ashley Vasilovski highlighted was a development and collaboration tool. Leveraging usage data from Zylo in their negotiations, IT and procurement were able to save 20% at renewal two years ago. When it was time to renew again, the teams didn’t think additional savings were possible. But IT and Procurement continued to partner and, using insights from Zylo, were able to shave an additional 17% at their most recent renewal. Coupa knows that SaaS Management is not once and done.

Discovery shines a light on IT, fuels governance

Eric also shared that Zylo’s Discovery engine helps identify SaaS applications that IT is unaware of, shining a light on what lurks in Shadow IT. They found that there were several instances of redundant applications, tools that served the same function. Coupa found that they had multiple project management tools. Asana was a project management tool brought in by marketing and living in Shadow IT.

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Armed with this data, IT was able to vet the project management applications and name Asana as a preferred project management tool. Collaborating across teams, Marketing got the tool they needed to do their jobs more effectively, IT ensured security protocols and Procurement negotiated enterprise pricing, lowering the per user cost. A win-win-win.

Governance means different things to different organizations. At Coupa, governance is not about IT “controlling” all applications. In fact, it’s about empowering employees to have the tools they need to be more effective –  like Marketing using Asana – and ensuring those tools meet Coupa’s security requirements.

Eric’s firm belief is that it’s not just technology that fuels successful SaaS Management. It’s:

  • People – especially the collaboration among IT, Procurement, the Lines of Business that require SaaS applications, and the employees who rely on SaaS to do their jobs.
  • Processes – the processes that enable Coupa to provide employees with best-in-class SaaS, while ensuring security and not slowing things down.
  • Technology – all of this is powered by a SaaS Management Platform, Zylo

Collaborating to manage the SaaS lifecycle

For Coupa, SaaS Management is not just about spend management, nor is it a “once and done” thing, especially with acquisitions and ongoing SaaS renewals. SaaS Management is a Lifecycle. “SaaS Management is not just about reducing spend,” Eric Tan shared. “It’s about ensuring governance and creating efficiency.”

“SaaS Management is not just about reducing spend,” Eric Tan shared. “It’s about ensuring governance and creating efficiency.”

When Coupa started SaaS Management with Zylo in 2018, they had 700 employees, 150-200 SaaS applications and wanted a system of record for SaaS, with continual discovery to keep up with their fast growth. In 2021, Coupa’s SaaS portfolio has grown to 300-400 applications – down from a peak of 600 – even as they acquire companies and the number of employees quadrupled, to 3,000+.

With Zylo, Coupa now has complete visibility of their SaaS portfolio, an always-updated SaaS system of record. This system of record powers a partnership between IT and procurement that ensures governance to minimize risk; optimize SaaS subscriptions, usage, renewals, and spend; and empowers employee effectiveness with best-in-class SaaS.

Coupa’s SaaS Management outcomes:

  • Lowered cost per user 9-30% across SaaS applications
  • Reduced the number of SaaS applications from 600 to 400, even as the number of employees quadrupled
  • Ensured governance with complete, updated visibility of all SaaS applications
  • Empowered collaboration among IT, Procurement, Lines of Business, and employees
  • Delivered best-in-class SaaS to employees by shining a light on Shadow IT to leverage insights on which tools employees were actually using


To learn more about Coupa’s story, watch the on-demand webinar.
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