Subway picks cloud software for usability

Subway, a fast-food franchise operation with 35,000 restaurants worldwide, expected to host a new, mission-critical financial system at its own data centers but ended up doing the opposite.

To help franchises better manage their spending, Subway turned to a system from Coupa Software, a software-as-a-service vendor that is only five years old, is funded by venture capital and hosts its software on Amazon.com's cloud service .

"Because it was SaaS-based, we almost passed on it because we were looking for more of an internal solution," said Carman Wenkoff, deputy CIO of Subway's Independent Purchasing Cooperative (IPC), which negotiates purchasing for Subway franchisees and handles IT.

What changed the IPC's mind was the graphical user interface on Coupa's software, which is expected to be relatively easy to use by franchisees who aren't tech-savvy, said Wenkoff. If the company deployed a system that was difficult to use, he said, franchisee resistance could slow adoption rates.

Subway franchises currently use mostly manual processes to order food, paper goods, uniforms and services from suppliers. The IPC plans to begin rolling out the SaaS offering to restaurants in late October, with full deployment in the U.S. and Canada set for mid-2012.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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