Guided Buying: Simplifying the Procurement Process

If your company already uses SAP Ariba Buying or Buying and Invoicing, and you’re not taking advantage of the included Guided Buying feature, you might want to reconsider. Guided Buying offers simplicity, greater visibility into spend and better user adoption. Which is what Ariba is all about, right?

If your company already uses SAP Ariba Buying or Buying and Invoicing, and you’re not taking advantage of the included Guided Buying feature, you might want to reconsider.

Guided Buying offers simplicity, greater visibility into spend and better user adoption.

Which is what Ariba is all about, right?

What is Guided Buying?

There are many people in the procurement chain that spend their days making complex purchases and that’s all they do. They’re also trained to use complex systems.

Guided buying is targeted to the casual user. They buy much less frequently, maybe even just a couple of times per year, making simpler purchases in smaller quantities.

That casual user doesn’t need to know the ins and outs of a complex procurement system. They just need to be able to make a purchase quickly and easily so they can return to their real jobs.

How Does Guided Buying Work?

As it implies, Guided Buying literally “guides” the user through the procurement process. It’s a simple persona-based application that can be customized for a person or even a group of people.

When a user logs into the system, they are presented with a set of tiles that are clearly identified by persona. For example, Facilities may have their own tile. Any facilities person clicking on that tile will have the same user experience so they can just click and go. That means they search for the product, add it to the cart, and check out.

This brings it much closer to a web-based ordering experience than regular Ariba Buying does.

And it can be just that simple, or it can be more complex, with built-in business rules, such as purchasing cost limits, or preferred supplier recommendations.

Building in these rules makes it a little more complex to configure, but it’s so much easier for the user and more cost-effective for the company in the long term.

How Do Companies Benefit from Guided Buying?

As we noted in the introduction to this article, Guided Buying offers simplicity, which leads to better user adoption, which leads to greater spend visibility.

Regular Ariba Buying has something like 100 different fields that may need to be populated when the ordering process is initiated. Only 20 of these may be critical in the buying process , but only the dedicated buyer, who does that all day, will probably know which 20.

The user who goes into the system a few times a year, or even once a month, will likely be bewildered by all the choices. And giving that occasional user the necessary training to use this complex system is a waste of resources.

With Guided Buying, the user can, for example, click on a tile that says office supplies, then click on the Staples catalog, then click on binders, then click on add to cart. It’s a procedure they’re comfortable with. Which leads to great user adoption.

As an SAP Ariba Service Partner with more than 20 years of experience, our consultants all agree that user adoption is the greatest challenge in getting the maximum ROI from any Ariba solution.

With the smaller purchases – a case of binders from Staples, for example – a complex system makes it more likely that the casual user will just walk to Staples and use their P-Card.

Tracking ALL Spend Matters

The problem is that those “small” purchases can add up significantly. Making the user comfortable with the system; making it straightforward and easy to use, will encourage them to use the system, which leads to better spend tracking which leads to increased visibility into spend.

In addition, with the rules built in, you’re getting better compliance. For example, if you’ve negotiated with Staples to buy $2 mil of office supplies, but people are going out using their p-card or by-passing that business rule, you might not get that discount next year with Staples because you missed your $2 mil mark.

Guided buying makes using the system comfortable, with built-in rules to ensure compliance, which ultimately offers better spend analytics so your company can negotiate better prices based upon volume based upon ALL purchases.

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