Tuesday, October 9, 2007

ITMArT: Design: Part 1.2 "The competition revised"

During the last post, we took a look at two open-source procurement solutions out in the wild. Today I noticed that there is a third project that we should take a look at, Coupa. Coupa is a commercial venture that also provides an express edition of their product (e.g. a bit less features than the supported product).

Simply put, their mission statement is very similar to ITMArT's, namely that purchasing should be simple, intuitive and serve the needs of both the managers and users of the system, not just the managers. Taking a look at the demos, Coupa blows ITMArT out of the water feature and UI wise, while retaining some pretty advanced capabilities. There are very nice reporting modules, web forms, invoice ability, role and group based access to data and actions, very nice email integration, etc. If I where a finance guy at the University level, I would stop all in-house development right now and switch to their platform. Its that nice.

Having said that, I am not at the University level, or even departmental level. ITMArT's audience is a much smaller group, namely the medium to large laboratory, and they rarely need such things are approval hierarchies, approved vendor catalogs, etc. Those needs are usually at a higher organizational level and hence ITMArT development does not stop here.

A bit of good news is that I have lots of good ideas from the Coupa demos that I will ut on the feature request list of ITMArT. Another good bit is that Coupa express edition is a Ruby on Rails application, the same as ITMArT! So I can take advantage of some of their codebase for a few nagging concerns of mine, like authentication, group assignments/permission, and role based authorities.