Our CCP Global team recently worked with a client that contracted with a large service partner to deploy SAP Ariba. Now they needed someone to help integrate Ariba with 3rd party systems.
The reality is that many deployment partners can’t – or won’t – tackle that sort of complex customization. That’s because most of the large consulting firms employ a rigid, out-of-the-box approach to deployments without the ability to provide customizations beyond that format.
Many companies don’t have the in-house expertise to intelligently link existing systems with the SAP Ariba landscape – especially if they’re still learning it. That requires them to find and engage a separate organization to address their unique post-deployment requirements.
Our team solved the problem for this particular client by creating a custom robotic process automation (RPA) solution to integrate invoices from a 3rd party legal invoicing solution and transforming them in to Ariba Buying & Invoicing.
Ariba Integration with 3rd Party Systems is Evolving
Ariba is one of the top e-procurement and supply chain solutions for a reason. But it’s also not the only solution application that manages the complex world of source to pay. Many companies, even if they have Ariba, want to continue to use other systems as well to complement their Ariba systems. The trick is to get them to integrate with Ariba so all of the solutions can communicate and work together as seamlessly as possible.
The most common option for standard integration between SAP and Ariba is SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway (CIG).
CIG is a robust integration tool that provides a single integration gateway for buyer and supplier systems, to the Ariba Network and Ariba solutions to offer a centralized transactional space using just the one gateway.
That means you can integrate buyers and suppliers to the Ariba Network and to Ariba’s cloud solutions. Buyers can use existing integration tools, such as SAP Process Integration (PI), Process Orchestration (PO) and Cloud Platform Integration. Suppliers can integrate with multiple customers without a lot of tedious mapping or customizations.
SAP Ariba also has a plethora of standard APIs that can be leveraged through the developer portal. The ever-expanding array of available Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs combined with easy-to-use tools and developer resources for rapid prototyping allows you to create specially configured solutions for your organization in scenarios where fairly simple development is required. Additionally, many third-party solutions offer their own APIs, which can easily connect to Ariba applications when configured by an Ariba integration expert.
Customizations for Integrating Ariba with 3rd Party Systems
However, even using one of SAP’s ever-improving solutions, not every company is able to do those integrations in-house. And customizations for systems that don’t have tools to integrate with one of SAP’s existing solutions is an even bigger challenge.
This is when a custom integration solution may be the best option to explore, but it can rarely be accomplished without an experienced integration architect and developers. Often, RPA may be the best solution for these scenarios as this process is stable, repeatable and generally cost-effective. It leverages a minimal annual subscription and an hourly cost model which can be optimized to run in the most efficient way possible to limit total cost of ownership of the tool.
Another fairly common custom integration option includes leveraging middleware to integrate Ariba to either third party applications, non-SAP ERP systems, or that can be used for integration in the case of a scenario where a client has multiple SAP or non-SAP ERP systems. The most common middleware that we have seen used is SAP Master Data Governance (MDG), but other middleware options may include Mulesoft, Azure, Boomi or others that are capable of supporting integration with multiple systems.
CCP Global has experience with all of these middleware options and can even assist with the analysis of custom integration needs and software selection process.
SAP Ariba and Integration: Perception vs. Reality
While in this case, our project was a success and we were able to resolve the unique integration challenge in a fairly simple manner, CCP Global is also working with another client that is reeling from the realization of how complex this type of integration can be.
This happens a lot, in our experience. Companies are sold on “out-of-the-box” deployments, not realizing how much customization will probably be needed – especially depending upon the number of integrations required and the customizations that already exist in the other systems.
It’s not always possible to anticipate every single issue that might arise from any Ariba action – whether it’s deployment or integration or other support issues; however, the RIGHT support team with a focus on readiness is usually a better predictor of time and resources than an “out-of-the-box” team. CCP Global can provide the perfectly scaled solution delivered through our RIGHT project methodology.
Rapid: We optimize tools, methods, expertise, and best practices to maximize our clients’ investments.
Innovative: We provide innovative solutions to support our client’s business growth and transformation.
Goal-Driven: We assign agile, right-sized teams to meet your short- and long-term business goals.
Hybrid-Focused: We partner with you to deliver a customized engagement that minimizes disruptions and maximizes ROI.
Tactical: We take a calculated approach to defining your deployment strategy, with highest priority requirements at the forefront.