Ariba 2023 Q1 Release: Top 10 New Features

The SAP Ariba 2023 Q1 Release includes 67 new features. There were a couple that our consultants absolutely considered to be game changers, but most of the updates were smaller changes, more focused on improving the user experience. These are our consultants top 10 choices, both upstream and downstream.

Configuring Ariba Updates

Many of the Ariba 2023 Q1 release updates require customer configuration. That means your Ariba administrator, whether in-house or as outside support, will need to configure and activate that update. It will not turn on automatically. You can learn more about the three configuration types here.

CCP Global proactively monitors and updates our clients’ Ariba system as part of our robust SAP Ariba Application Managed Support program.

The release, which normally drops in February was delayed until March this quarter.

The 10 Best Feature Updates of the Ariba 2023 Q1 Release

1. Ability to View SAP-Controlled Parameters – an all consultant favorite!

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
Integration: Automatically On

What we like about this feature: What don’t we like about this feature? This is an incredible asset for our consultants because it makes it so much easier to advise and assist our clients. Before this change, the only account parameters you could only see were those that you could manage.

That was a problem because there were many more that you couldn’t see.  Oftentimes, when troubleshooting configuration issues, we would make an assumption as to what a parameter was set to based upon the challenge experienced. However, to determine if our assumption was correct, we had to submit a ticket to SAP to request the current parameter values. This caused a delay in figuring out root cause and determining the path to fix.

Now your admin, whether in-house or an outside consultant, can see all of the parameters in the Intelligent Configuration Manager.  That doesn’t change permissions to manage them – a ticket  still needs to be submitted. However, the ability to view them and determine what their value is set to helps us better guide our clients and answer their questions without waiting weeks (or longer) for a simple answer from SAP. It’s a huge time saver.

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 we like about this feature: This was another one both our upstream and downstream consultants had at the top of their lists, but there are still lingering questions about how it will ultimately work.

Before this update, someone could enter a ticket with Ariba, and Ariba could make the requested change with just that verbal consent.

That seems efficient but, in fact, if an inexperienced representative makes a change to a parameter that affects other settings or processes, that can be a problem. Or sometimes the person requesting the change would do so without understanding the downstream impacts. And there’s no way to track the process chain – it’s merely the word of the person who contacted Ariba. With this update, there will be a workflow that requires Ariba personnel to get written approval to make changes to a customer’s site.

In our view, this is probably a move in the right direction. However, it’s not certain what sort of a delay this new workflow might cause and, if it’s a truly urgent matter, how that will affect the system and for how long.

There are also still questions around how “written consent” will look: Is it some sort of a workflow directly in the system? Is it something which will be tracked within Service Manager, or maybe an external approval task? These questions have yet to be answered and may not be until a ticket is submitted after this change is fully implemented.

However, in general, this forced compliance is a net positive because it prevents anyone making changes without having an overview of the ongoing impact of that change.

3. IR details are now available in Guided Buying

Product: Buying and Invoicing
ID: AINV-986
Integration: Automatically On

What we like about this feature: This is a real time and task saver. Previously, you couldn’t see invoice reconciliation (IR) details in Guided Buying, only in Buying and Invoicing. An IR document details when anything needs approval or there’s an exception – it’s a recorded history of what happens to the invoice once it hits Ariba until it gets approved, but it wasn’t available in Guided Buying.

To see the relevant IR, you had to exit Guided Buying, open Buying and Invoicing, look up the order, find the IR, and then go back to Guided Buying, there was no toggling back and forth. This feature is now saying that IR details are now available in Guided Buying, so you can see all the relevant information in one place.

4. Enables History Records for Enriching Requisition Data in External Systems

Product: Buying; Buying and Invoicing
ID: CP-21901
Integration: Customer Configured

What we like about this feature: In the past, when a user validated or enriched approvable data, no record was kept. This feature preserves those changes in the history records.

One example of why this can be useful: If a company uses real time budget check, when a user is placing an order they might put in a work order or job number or some other accounting feature that has a budget. When the user puts that budget number in their order it will go to their ERP, which will check to see if there is money in the budget for that item. However, that budget check has never been recorded, it’s just assumed that it works.

Now, if a user places an over-budget order, the admin can see that the user did reach out to the ERP and it approved the order based upon its existing data.

5. New SAP Business Network Widgets for Suppliers

Product: SAP Ariba Discount Management, SAP Business Network
ID: BNA-12, BNA-188, BNA-288, BNA-5
Integration: Automatically On

What we like about this feature: These are widgets aimed at suppliers on the SAP Business Network (formerly the Ariba Network). These new widgets give suppliers greater visibility into the invoicing process and where there might be opportunities for improvement.

Here is what each does:

  • BNA-12. Invoice Cycle Time Benchmarking. This calculates the invoice cycle time KPI across the SAP Business Network by industry, region and quartile. Because this information populates across the Network, suppliers can compare their performance to other suppliers on the Network.
  • BNA-188. Invoice Exception Rate. This KPI widget measures the percentages of invoices sent by suppliers to customers that are rejected due to an error. That means when a supplier logs into the Network, they are able to see the percentage of invoices that get rejected and why. This can help the supplier diagnose why they’re not getting paid on time and find a solution. The supplier might need to work with their customer to solve the issue, but this is valuable insight into invoice rejections.
  • BNA -288. Invoice Exception Widget. Calculates the quantity of total invoice exceptions over time. It goes hand-in-hand with BNA-188 to offer another indicator for the supplier to help them improve their performance.
  • BNA-5. Days to Pay. Displays the average number of days it takes your customers to pay an invoice. Used in conjunction with the paid invoice widget, it can identify customer payment patterns and behaviors. The advantage of this is that it allows the supplier to adjust their invoice policies, procedures and terms to optimize payment. For example, if it tends to be a long cycle time for approval, this insight can allow you to adjust your submission cycle to shorten that payment time.

6. Cloud Integration Gateway (CIG) Renamed

Product: SAP Integration Suite, managed gateway for spend management and SAP Business Network
ID: IG-41598
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this change: SAP is changing the name of the Cloud Integration Gateway (CIG) to SAP Integration Suite, managed gateway for spend management and SAP Business Network. Will there be an acronym for that? Who knows.

This is part of a winder rebranding by SAP that will eventually eliminate the Ariba name. Ariba will not change, it’s just folded into the SAP name and those features that incorporate the Ariba name, such as the Ariba Network (which is now the SAP Business Network) are being rebranded.

There is no change in functionality or features of CIG; it’s only a name change. However, it’s worth noting that, If you have Ariba, you must move to Ariba’s Cloud Integration Gateway (or whatever they’re calling it now) before Dec. 31, 2023. There will be no additional maintenance provided by Ariba for CI9 after that date.

7. Upgrades to Contract Workspace API’s

Product: SAP Ariba APIs; Contracts; developer portal; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SC-16984; SC-16324; SC-16547
Integration: Automatically On

What we like about this feature: These new features are all related to new contract workspace API’s, which is great for ease of use of the feature and its capability to interface with external contract applications.

It’s notable that SAP is adding and improving on APIs for contracts after not having many improvements in those areas for some time. We suspect that this has something to do with the partnership with Icertis that was announced last year, since SAP is now beginning to focus more on integration with external contracts solutions.

But that doesn’t take away from the usefulness of these new features, specifically:

  • SC-16984. Asynchronous Requests Management API enables you to monitor the status of ongoing jobs and anything else that was initiated by an API.
  • SC-16324. Ability to Change the Contract Workspace Status by using the Contract Workspace Management API. This is an entirely new API that allows you to change the workspace status from an external system and it will change the workspace status in Ariba.
  • SC-16547. Enhancements to the Contract Workspace Management APIs. Again, these are two new API’s associated with Contract Line Items Documents (CLID). These offer the capability to create, modify and import CLID via the API.

8. Ability to Add Items and Content from Sourcing Request to Event Sections

Product: Sourcing; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SS-38790
Integration: Automatically On

What we like about this feature: This is another improvement to guided sourcing, something that we expected given SAP’s (and the industry’s) focus on simplifying the user experience. This allows you to add items and information from a sourcing request directly into guided sourcing. This saves time going into the legacy interface to make that connection.

9. View Supplier Risk Information in Guided Sourcing Events

Product: Sourcing; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SS-38428
Integration: Automatically On

What we like about this feature: When you’re still in the evaluation phase of a Guided Sourcing event, you can view the supplier risk levels and scores and add suppliers to events based upon their risk levels. Again, this creates more of a native linkage between the upstream strategic sourcing functionalities. However, it’s notable because of the increased focus we’ve been seeing on the importance of Suppler Risk Management.

10. Block Classic Sourcing Creation in favor of New Guided Sourcing Interface

Product: Sourcing; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SS-37006
Integration: Contact Product Support

What we like about this feature: SAP has added the ability to force users into the new guided sourcing interface. This can be useful for a subset of users that you want to restrict to using Guided Sourcing exclusively. It’s also helpful for training to ensure that users are only seeing the friendlier interface of Guided Sourcing and aren’t accidentally entering into the traditional sourcing interface and becoming confused.

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