Ariba 2023 Q4 Release: Our Top Feature Picks

The SAP Ariba 2023 Q4 Release includes about 90 new features. The theme of this release centers around user convenience, many features are focused on improved user experience and SAP continues to make it easier for users to manage their own systems without having to reach out to SAP support. SAP is also continuing its improvements to Guided Sourcing, with a view toward encouraging its customers to migrate to that product.

Guided Sourcing Improvements Continue

Of the approximately 90 new features in the SAP Ariba 2023 Q4 release, fewer than 25 are improvements to the upstream modules. Most of the features in this release focus on the downstream modules of Ariba.

However, what stands out to us is the focus on Guided Sourcing. SAP has communicated to partners that their focus for 2024 is migrating the majority of customers to Guided Sourcing.

To that end, SAP has put a lot of effort over the past year into improving Guided Sourcing. It now supports most of the features that regular strategic sourcing does.

Some configurations will be necessary to move to Guided Sourcing. Quick project templates can move over directly to Guided Sourcing. Full project templates must be rebuilt into the Guided Sourcing framework. That involves configuration and testing.

Additionally, new groups or configurations might be deployed as part of this effort to make Guided Sourcing work for your organization. If you don’t have the capability to do that in-house, a consulting partner that specializes in Ariba, like CCP Global, can help support you through this transition.

How to Configure These Updates

As always, there are three configuration categories for SAP’s updates: Automatically On, Customer Configured and Contact SAP Support to Enable. There are no features in this release that require SAP support to enable. You can learn more about these three categories in our article Ariba Quarterly Releases: FAQ.

Now, on to the updates that our consultants rank as the most useful in the SAP Ariba 2023 Q4 release.

Ariba 2023 Q4 Release: Upstream Feature Updates

1. Guided Sourcing Improvements

Product: SAP Ariba Strategic Sourcing Suite (Guided Sourcing)
IDs: SS-39582; SS-42887; SS-44418; SS-45010; SS-47061; SSR-5880
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about these features: These are 6 features that are specific improvements to Guided Sourcing’s functionality. As we communicated above, this is part of the continued effort by SAP to offer full strategic sourcing functionality through their guided sourcing interface.

SS-39582: Enhancements to Supplier Anonymization in Guided Sourcing Events. Extends the supplier anonymization functionality in guided sourcing to various pages and enables anonymization of various details.

SS-42887: Enhancement to Grade Weight Tables. There are two enhancements in this feature. 1. Items needing quotes and questions, requirements, and attachments tables on the set grading weight page are now visually separated. 2. During offline grading, you can use the scoring weight column.

SS-44418: Enhancements to Supplier Search in Guided Sourcing. This introduces additional supplier search and filtering options in guided sourcing instances that integrate with SAP Ariba Supplier Lifecycle and Performance. The additional filtering options are integrated from SAP Ariba Supplier Lifecycle and Performance and appear in the Invite Suppliers page of guided sourcing events.

SS-45010: Support for Email Bidding in Multi-Round Guided Sourcing Events. If guided sourcing events have email bidding and multi-round bidding features enabled, suppliers can submit their bids for multi-round events through email, without logging into the application.

SS-47061: Prevent Project Owners from Discarding Supplier Bids in Guided Sourcing Events. This helps avoid potential loss of data by preventing buyers from inadvertently or otherwise discarding existing supplier bids while updating guided sourcing events.

SSR-5880: Dynamic Line Item Definition Enhancements. introduces changes to how category attribute hierarchy item definitions are automatically added to items in guided sourcing.

2. Public Sector Sourcing Improvements

Product: SAP Ariba Strategic Sourcing Suite
IDS: ET-1698; ET-2221; ET-2641
Integration: Automatically On; Customer Configured

What to know about these features: These are three public sector improvements In Strategic Sourcing which will help with both access and compliance in Public Sector sourcing events in Ariba.

ET-1698: Enhancements to the Public Access Page. This feature is automatically on. It allows the creation of public sector procurementat the sourcing project level instead of at the event level. In addition to Status for Submissions, Procurement Status is added to the public access page, which corresponds to the status of the sourcing project. The key customer benefit for this feature is that suppliers will be able to see the public version of the event on the Public Access Page at the sourcing project level.

ET-2221: Audit log entries for public procurement events. This feature is automatically on. Audit log entries are generated under various scenarios submitted to the public sector portal. This feature is a critical improvement to compliance capabilities. With this feature, legal confidence in increased, including transparency on details of running tenders published on public procurement portals and adherence to public procurement rules.

ET-2641: Support for TED Portal using the eForms standard in Public Sector Sourcing. This feature is customer configured. Enables users to publish public procurement notices to the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) portal using the new eForms standard. This is another convenience feature that will help to support public sector clients that utilize Ariba and TED.

3. Ability to Issue Mass Modular Questionnaire Invitations to Suppliers

Product: SAP Ariba Supplier Information and Performance Management; Supplier Lifecycle and Performance; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SM-36145
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: Now you can invite a large number of suppliers to respond to modular questionnaires by defining separate waves or groups of suppliers and uploading a list of suppliers to include in each wave. Creating and uploading a CSV file is required, but it’s an improvement because previously the invites could only be done for each individual supplier.

4. Supplier Integration Status Export and Synchronization Reprocessing

Product: SAP Ariba Supplier Information and Performance Management; Supplier Lifecycle and Performance; Supplier Risk; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SM-37336
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: This feature combines several enhancements for managing supplier data integration. The improvement makes integration status easier to read and also adds some additional options for reprocessing and other tasks. Administrators will now have the ability to export supplier integration statuses and to reprocess unsuccessful supplier synchronizations to SAP Ariba sourcing and procurement applications. Tracking for supplier integration has always been a little bit challenging and, prior to this update, it could be hard for people to monitor status integrated suppliers, so this is a welcome improvement.

5. Header and Line Item Data Synchronization between Contract Workspace and Linked Compliance Contract Using Open APIs

Product: SAP Ariba APIs; Contracts; Developer portal; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SC-17776
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: As we noted in our blog post on the SAP Ariba 2023 Q3 release, SAP’s Contract Management focus seems to be on improving integration with third party contracting solutions.

This is another example of that. It enhances the Contract Workspace Modification API and Contract Workspace State Change API by enabling them to synchronize the header-level data of a contract workspace with the linked compliance contract when the contract workspace is updated or published. It also adds an endpoint to the Contracts Terms Management API that can be implemented in a client application to synchronize line items information in a contract workspace with the linked compliance contract.

Ariba 2023 Q4 Release: Downstream Feature Updates

1. Intelligent Invoice Conversion for SAP Business Network

Product: SAP Business Network
ID: NP-32948
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: Very simply, this takes invoice creation from a manual to an automated process. For suppliers, that results in time savings and, potentially, cuts down on the human error element because they can do a PDF conversion and no longer have to type in their invoice, otherwise known as PO Flip.

Using OCR (optical character recognition) technology, this extracts invoice data and automatically converts it from PDF  into an electronic format. The data is mapped into relevant fields in an electronic invoice. This feature also provides a self-service setup process for suppliers.

There are a couple of interesting things to take note of with this feature update. First, the supplier does most of the configuration themselves. They are literally scanning their invoice and designating what each field equals, making it something of a self-mapping exercise.

The second thing of note is that, while this was previously  available for Standard accounts, at this time they’ve only allowed this new version to to move forward with Enterprise accounts at this time. We will monitor this as it moves forward and update with a separate blog when this technology is fully rolled out.

2. Allow Orders to Suspended Suppliers

Product: SAP Business Network
ID: PAY-16230
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: Before this update, if a supplier lapsed on payments for their SAP Business Network Enterprise accounts their account was suspended. That meant they could no longer receive orders via the Network from their buyer.

Then, the order showed as failed on the buyer’s side and had to be resubmitted when the account was restored, which created a lot of extra work on the buyer’s side.

This new feature allows buyers to send purchase orders suspended suppliers and for the supplier to receive the order and then respond with order confirmations and advance ship notices. However, they are still not allowed to invoice.

3. Buyer Announcements for Trading Partner Communication

Product: SAP Business Network
ID: SA-33620
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: There is always a lot going on with business process changes, updates, tweaks, etc. This allows buyers to communicate news and changes or other important information to their suppliers. For example, a buyer can let suppliers know about rollouts or go lives or if they’re going to enable a simpler interface, such as the PDF conversion we mentioned above. They can also track how many suppliers read the announcements.

This is very similar to what we do here at CCP Global, not only with our Ariba Quarterly Updates blog series, but with our Insights page in general. Our goal as an organization is to keep all Ariba users updated on the latest news and technologies and to help them better understand this often complex solution.

Product: Buying; Buying and Invoicing; Catalog; Contract Invoicing; Contracts; Invoice Management; Sourcing; Spend Analysis; Supplier Information and Performance Management; Supplier Lifecycle and Performance; Supplier Risk; SAP Business Network; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: PLAF-4717
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: This feature update was first announced in the 2023 Q1 Release and we wrote about it in depth at that time. However, that update was delayed, and is now part of this release. You can read our full analysis here.

5. Support for UNSPSC Version 25 in SAP Ariba solutions

Product: SAP Ariba Buying; Buying and Invoicing; Contracts; Sourcing; Spend Analysis; Supplier Lifecycle and Performance; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: PLBF-6853
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: This update offers an optional 5th level – which adds two more digits  to the standard 4-level hierarchy code – an 8-digit number.  . It is not an update to the most recent version of UNSPC; rather, it’s an optional, additional code set so companies that currently utilize that 10-digit coding were not able to do that before and now there is support for that optional, additional coding if they use it in their organization.

For users that don’t utilize those 10-digit codes, since this feature is “automatically on” we assume that nothing is going to change. However, we do wonder if Ariba users now need to review and remap? Is there finally a code they’ve been waiting for that’s finally available that will require them to change their commodity code mapping? If so, this might be a case where a company needs help with their commodity code files and that’s an area where we can help and support this undertaking.

6. Enhanced warnings for force actions on invoices and payments

Product: SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing; Contract Invoicing; Invoice Management
ID: AINV-1098
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: In the SAP Ariba 2022 Q2 release one of the features we highlighted was enhanced warnings for force order and force cancel in Buying and Buying & Invoicing. This expands those warnings to Contract Invoicing and Invoice Management and it includes all of the force actions: reconcile on invoices; force pay and force reject on invoice reconciliations; force send on payment requests; and force pay and force cancel on payment transactions and advance payments.

7. Adding Comments for Suppliers When Denying Invoices

Product: SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing; Contract Invoicing; Invoice Management
ID: AINV-1189
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: When users deny an invoice created on SAP Business Network, they can now add a comment that’s visible to the supplier to explain the reason for the denial. Comments to suppliers can be made mandatory by an administrator.

This is a small change that can save a lot of time in emails and phone calls as suppliers try to find out why an invoice was rejected.

8. Support for Resending Multiple Purchase Orders and Receipts

Product: SAP Ariba Buying; Buying & Invoicing
ID: CP-19875
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: Buyers can now resend multiple purchase orders and receipts that appear stuck in the SAP Ariba solution. The key word here being “multiple”. Previously, this had to be done by an admin one invoice at a time, or, for multiple invoices, SAP customer support had to be engaged. This offers a faster way for customers to resolve issues on stuck.

9. Support for Adding Groups to Requisition Approval Flows in Guided Buying

Product: SAP Ariba Buying; Buying & Invoicing
ID: GB-24299
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: Sometimes when a user wants to make a purchase, they may need additional approvals, such as from a supervisor or from a department, such as tax or legal. Before this update, you could only add a single person to the approval process. Now you have the ability to add a group for approval. It could always be done in Buying & Invoicing, and it’s now available in Guided Buying. The bottom line is that this now shows that you have received the required approvals from specific departments, again, such as the tax department or legal department.

10. SAP Companion Enabled for All Guided Buying Users

Product: SAP Ariba Buying; Buying & Invoicing
ID: GB-24309
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: GB always had an option for the user to search for help if they needed it. It was basic help in GB but each buyer had the option to add their own help documentation, like training materials, PowerPoint decks, policy links, etc. In other words, they were able to build their own help window to get people and their users familiar with the rules.

SAP Companion changes this up somewhat. It’ s powered by SAP Web Assistant and user can open a help panel that offers them context-sensitive information to offer them specific guidance in whatever Guided Buying task they are trying to accomplish. An optional Web Assistant License is required to modify the content specific to their organization. And by purchasing an SAP Enable Now license, they can modify help topics and add new content.

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