One of the most useful aspects of Ariba procurement solutions is the insight it gives companies in the procurement process and their spending. However, full transparency relies on getting your suppliers enabled on the Ariba Network and that is one of the biggest challenges we find that companies face when trying to fully implement their Ariba solutions.
What is the Ariba Network?
The Ariba Network is a digital marketplace where buyers and suppliers connect, collaborate, and transact business. There are two types of accounts:
A standard account is free to all parties, and according to SAP Ariba, it “allows suppliers to transact an unlimited number of documents such as orders; full and partial order confirmation; ship notices; and service entry sheets.” However, there are limits on how much collaboration is allowed and it doesn’t allow companies to use their SAP Ariba solution to its full capabilities, so some processes are still not automated.
An enterprise account offers all the benefits of a standard account, along with additional functionality such as catalogs, a centralized supplier dashboard, unlimited documents, and priority support from Ariba, among other things. Companies also can set rules for suppliers and upload training materials to help suppliers onboard. The benefits of this type of account are that most transactions are fully automated, and there’s full transparency in the supply chain, which helps companies track spending, save money and find new procurement sources. You can read more about the two types of accounts here.
There is a cost to the supplier for registering as an enterprise account, and that’s where companies sometimes run into pushback from the supplier. It’s inevitable that some suppliers don’t want to start paying to send an invoice if they can do so for free via email – especially if they’ve always done it that way. Working with your supplier to strategize your partnership with a focus on reporting and transparency, can go a long way to enabling them. That’s particularly true if they know more spend will come their way if they’re one of your preferred suppliers on the Network.
Best Practices for Suppler Adoption
As we’ve discussed extensively in our series on Post-Deployment Success, it’s important to have the right team on board to successfully convince suppliers of the benefits of becoming an enterprise partner on the Ariba Network.
That’s where Ariba Managed Support (AMS) can help because a professional consulting partner has the experience and tools to convince suppliers of the benefits of joining. Here are some of the steps the expert consultants at CCP Global use for successful supplier enablement:
1. Strategize with the client. Our first step is to sit down with the company and determine exactly which suppliers they want or need to enable. If you have 600 suppliers, do you want all of them enabled? That may not be feasible, but there are ways to narrow that down.
2. Create a wave plan. This is a technique used to group vendors to prioritize adoption based upon specific criteria. For example, some of your suppliers may already be on the Ariba Network, so all you would need to do is create a relationship with them on the Network. That’s an easy first wave of enablement. Included in that important first wave could be those suppliers that you do the most business with and have the greatest potential for coming on board to keep that lucrative relationship going. Subsequent waves could include suppliers that aren’t as crucial or that you do business with less frequently.
3. Put together a communications campaign. It’s important to prepare suppliers for the changes that are coming to your relationship. This is change management at its most basic, and is such an important part of the process, as we’ve talked about extensively throughout our blog. Presenting this change in a positive light can help overcome supplier resistance to joining the network. And this isn’t just a one-time thing, supplier enablement is an ongoing process. Our clients call us back, undoubtedly, to help them with continued outreach to both established and new suppliers because it’s a lot of work.
4. Help to overcome objections. Again, change is hard, and, from the supplier’s perspective, there may be a lot of fear of how much this technological change will affect their business. They may not have the right people in place themselves to ensure that the technical aspects of being on the network are doable for them. They may have other customers on other procurement platforms that also want them to change (and to pay for) how they are doing business. A professional consulting partner is experienced in helping the supplier figure out how to make it work for them and overcome those doubts.
5. Configure the supplier in the network. Once the supplier has agreed to join the Ariba Network, they need to be enabled and we would do that configuration to make sure everything is working as it should. We have some clients that add up to 25 suppliers a week, so the work and oversight is a real ongoing requirement which is often overlooked.
Supplier enablement and adoption is a complex, ongoing process that requires a lot of work. However, for the full functionality of your Ariba solution, it’s worth investing the time and money to get all your suppliers on board, to strengthen your relationship, potentially increase spend to yield better cost savings opportunities, and transparency to transactions.
Why CCP Global? Whether you are a small to mid-sized company or a large enterprise, leveraging CCP Global’s SAP Ariba Managed Support services will allow you to improve internal efficiencies, increase user and supplier adoption, and free your internal teams to focus on more strategic objectives. Our highly experienced consultants understand how SAP Ariba works for you, and they will create an effective, detailed plan to properly maintain each module to support your business objectives.