How ‘quality-driven’ partners helped Coupa scale A/NZ

How ‘quality-driven’ partners helped Coupa scale A/NZ

With 19 partners under its belt, the business is largely focused on how the channel can support its growth strategy for the region

Credit: Dreamstime

When Milos Lekovic first joined Coupa in 2015, the vendor’s Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) partner network spanned a grand total of four businesses. 

However, upon starting to build up the cloud-based spend management vendor’s local channel, Lekovic had two key words in mind: strategic and sustainable. 

Now, with 19 partners under his belt, the senior director of channel and alliances for A/NZ is largely focused on how the channel can support Coupa’s growth strategy for the region. 

Milos Lekovic (Coupa)Credit: Milos Lekovic
Milos Lekovic (Coupa)

“Our partners are an incredibly important part of our strategy in [A/NZ] and the broader region,” he said. “Our approach has always been to look for quality-driven partners that want to add more value to their existing customer base, whilst also ensuring they don’t compete with existing partners.” 

Back in 2015, Coupa only had four partners: Deloitte, KPMG, Brisbane-based FourPL and Auckland-based Cogni. Today, its 19-strong partner base covers multiple disciplines, implementation, advisory, integration, content management, payment, value-added technology and data. 

For Lekovic, a former UXC lead and BloomIT director, partners are critical for driving growth in markets where Coupla’s customer network is small. However, now established in A/NZ for eight years, he claimed channel partners are “just as important as ever”. 

“We’re always looking for ways to collaborate with partners that can build upon our services, optimising customer value and enhancing customer experiences. 

“We recognise that we are smarter, stronger and more impactful together. Keeping this at the forefront of everything we do enables us to drive mutually beneficial growth for Coupa, our partners and our customers.” 

Founded in 2006, Coupa primarily offers a business spend management (BSM) platform that helps customers manage procurement, payment and supply chain. 

According to Lekovic, 85 per cent of Coupa’s deals have partner involvement, with partners owning the customer relationship. 

Partners are integral in implementing and managing the BSM platform. Other partners are also needed to build solutions designed to extend the Coupa platform functionality, offer consultancy and even design an entire supply chain management operation. 

On a global scale, Coupa’s partner strategy is focused on three key pillars: driving revenue growth, scaling delivery capacity and creating market disruption.  

“Our strategy in Australia is underpinned by these pillars, with the focus on mid-market partners stemming from our goal to build broader relationships within the ecosystem and create a community that offers a wide range of services to customers,” Lekovic said.  

Coupa’s channel program, Partner Connect, meanwhile plays a critical role in driving regional partner success, and therefore Coupa’s revenue. 

Consisting of the tiers Global Elite, Premier, Certified and Authorised Partners, the program was built to “create an experienced and highly leveraged partner ecosystem capable of supporting mutual customers looking to optimise business spending from end to end”. 

“That program is a really important part of establishing best practices, building excellent foundations and creating long-term relationships, built on shared visions and goals, with our partners,” Lekovic said. 

“Coupa’s partner ecosystem enables Coupa to grow both sales and delivery capabilities at a faster pace, and a more efficient level than could otherwise be achieved.” 

“Ultimately, [regardless of tier], the Partner Connect program exists to form the foundations and framework that enable us and our partners to grow and drive greater value for our customers.” 

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