SAP Ariba 2023 Q3 Release: Our Top Feature Update Picks

There's big news in the SAP Ariba 2023 Q3 Release, but it's not a feature update, it's a net new module. We don't know much about it, but we do know which of the actual feature updates are the most useful and we break them down in this article.

The Big News is a Net New Module

The SAP Ariba 2023 Q3 Release includes about 85 new features. But the big news isn’t a feature update at all; rather, it’s the introduction of a new module, SAP Category Management Software. We will go into more detail on that rollout later on in this article, but for now let’s get to the features updates.

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. In this release, there are no features that require you to contact SAP support to enable; they are all either customer configured or automatically on. 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 Q3 release.

The SAP Ariba 2023 Q3 Release Top Upstream Feature Updates

1. Support for More Than 100 Suppliers in Guided Sourcing Reports

Product: SAP Ariba Sourcing; SP Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: OPT-5108
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: Previously in Guided Sourcing, there was no way to view more than 100 suppliers in any of the reports. However with this feature update, you can view more than 100 suppliers in certain reports within guided sourcing. This is valuable, especially for users who are working in Ariba but may only have access to the Guided Sourcing UI and need to be able to pull larger datasets.

One caveat: you have to download them in Excel format, it’s not in the UI.

Product: SAP Ariba Sourcing; Supplier Information and Performance Management; Supplier Risk; SAP Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SS-19984
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: in supplier risk there is the capability of doing supplier risk engagements, which are typically a series of surveys and scorecards that you assign to a supplier for ongoing risk monitoring. This update allows you to link this engagement project to guided sourcing events regardless of the state the event is in. That enables a more holistic view of the overall supplier activities with risk related to whatever sourcing events that are running without having to pop out of guided sourcing and into risk. This is part of Ariba’s attempts to improve integrations with their risk platforms with other modules and provide more value from the overall risk solution.

3. Expedited Support Requests on Sourcing Auctions

Product: SAP Ariba Sourcing; SAP Business Network; SAP Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SS-40648
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: This is one of the most useful features of this update and is long overdue. It adds an expedited support button in cases where a competitive RFP or an auction is ending within an hour. If a supplier is having issues with submitting a bid in that time frame, they can hit this expedited support button and get immediate assistance.

This is a big improvement because in the past if a supplier was having issues with an event, they had to go through the standard support process for supplier support in sourcing, which can cause a delay that results in the supplier missing the submission deadline.

4. External Integrations for SAP Ariba Contracts

Product: SAP Ariba APIs; Contracts; Developer Portal; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SC-11408; SC-16976; SC-19434
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: As has been the case with the last three releases the only updates to SAP Ariba Contracts are related to external integration.

They are as follows:

SC-11408 – Enhancements to the Contract Workspace Modification API

SC-16976 – Integrating SAP Ariba Contracts with SAP Fieldglass Using Open APIs

SC-19434 – Enhancements to SAP Ariba Contracts Integration with Icertis Contract Intelligence for SAP Ariba Solutions

While we don’t have any statement on this from SAP directly, it seems that the future direction on Ariba Contracts is to make it a very compatible solution with third-party contracting solutions. This allows for greater flexibility of the tool, possibly making it more appealing to customers with other legacy solutions who are entering the SAP landscape.

5. Improved Visibility of Supplier Synchronization Status in SM Administration

Product: SAP Ariba Supplier Information and Performance Management; Supplier Lifecycle and Performance; Supplier Risk; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SM-17820
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: This adds additional information to the ERP integration status page to allow better visibility into supplier integration status.

This feature change allows your company’s admins to identify and correct any synchronization issues that may exist with your suppliers and ensures the supplier synchronization status is the same across all applications. We have often heard from clients about integration visibility issues and having to go to multiple places to view status details, so we hope this feature will be helpful in that regard.

6. Streamline On-Behalf-Of Registration Process with New “Set Registered” Option

Product: SAP Ariba Supplier Information and Performance Management; Supplier Lifecycle and Performance; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SM-23173
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: Prior to this upgrade, if you were doing an on behalf of registration there was a back and forth process you had to go through to act as a supplier to fill out their registration. Now you’ll be able to just utilize a button to set the supplier directly as registered without the process of acting as a supplier.

There is some configuration associated with this. You must enable the self-service configuration parameter in SM Administration and you must be member of the SM Ops Administrator group to enable or disable the configuration parameter.

7. Support for Supplier Names Up to 160 Characters in Supplier Name Fields

Product: SAP Ariba Supplier Information and Performance Management; Supplier Lifecycle and Performance; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SM-36076
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: This expansion of the number of characters in the supplier name fields is something that we know companies have been requesting for many years and it’s finally here.

It’s not much of an expansion, but it does add 20 characters for a total limit of 160 now – 40 characters per each of four lines instead of 35. This better aligns with the configuration available in SAP.

The caveats are:

  1. This only seems to be applicable if you have SLP integrated to S/4HANA or SAP Master Data Integration.
  2. It’s not available in Chinese, Japanese or Korean, areas that typically have long names, or names in local characters which often is a limitation for clients to roll out SLP in their APAC regions.

8. Category Management Updates

Product: SAP Ariba Category Management; Sourcing; Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: SS-38425; SS-33957
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: In this release, SAP is introducing this completely new module AND offering two feature updates at the same time. These two feature updates apply to SAP’s newest module, Category Management. This is a net new module that SAP has just rolled out in general availability in conjunction with this release. One thing to note: there is no direct access to this from Ariba – the entry point is through Fiori and the BTP – but it will have some native integration to sourcing.

Category management is one of the biggest challenges most companies face and, in spite of how far source-to-pay technology has come, it’s still largely manual. We’re very interested to see how this new module will work in real world applications and if it can help our clients.

Because of that, we will be following up with a blog series on Category Management that will cover the basics and the challenges of category management in general, as well as an overview of SAP Category Management Software when we have more details.

The SAP Ariba 2023 Q3 Release Top Downstream Feature Updates

1. Guided Integration for Trading Partners

Product: SAP Business Network
ID: SA-37580
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: Integrations with SAP Ariba are becoming increasingly complex which is why our Integration Services are such a popular offering.

This update might make you need us a little bit less (although we hope not!) because it walks you through integrations. You have a guide, you have a questionnaire, you have your capability dashboard – basically different tasks that they walk you through.

What used to take weeks or months and required the SAP Integration team is now, theoretically, able to be done in-house.

The capabilities are not unlimited, though. There are still things to work out with the suppliers, but these templates and the guided questions should help the user figure out whether or not they can be invited. So, while this doesn’t solve every supplier integration issue, it’s a step in the right direction. And if you still need help, we’re here.

2. Enforced Anti-Virus Scanning in SAP Ariba Solutions

Product: Buying; SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing; SAP Ariba Catalog; SAP Ariba Contracts; SAP Ariba Invoice Management; SAP Ariba Sourcing; SAP Ariba Spend Analysis; SAP Ariba Supplier Information and Performance Management; SAP Ariba Supplier Lifecycle and Performance; SAP Ariba Supplier Risk; SAP Business Network; SAP Business Network for Supply Chain; SAP Strategic Sourcing Suite
ID: PS-15406
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: Increased security and protection against viruses is always a good thing, but there are a lot of unknowns with this feature update. This touches every user and every solution, including the Ariba Network and Integrations.

That means a lot of scanning of attachments because everyone uses attachments. So. Many. Attachments.

At this point we don’t know what issues our clients may run into when this is implemented. Is everything going to load slower? Do they have to change their batch fees? We just don’t know what the impact will be.

Fortunately, it’s still just the opt-In period – it won’t become mandatory until the 2023 Q4 release.

We recommend that you opt in now so your team can test it before it is mandatory. While you can’t opt out if things start going wrong, you can at least start doing testing in the testing environment and if there is an issue you can configure a resolution by the time it’s mandatory.

3. Ariba Network Account Blocked due to Incomplete or Inconsistent Data

Product: SAP Business Network; Business Network Discovery
ID: NS-11259
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: This will impact both buyers and suppliers, but we suspect more buyers than suppliers. That’s because buyers tend to be laxer about updating their company profiles. Suppliers, on the other hand, want as much information on theirs as possible because they want to advertise their goods and services. Their goal is to be found and to answer potential buyers’ questions.

The gist of this update is that your account can be temporarily blocked if your company’s profile is incomplete or has inconsistent information.

Here is what SAP says about this feature update:

As a global company, SAP is committed to complying with all applicable export control and trade sanctions laws and regulations, which is reflected in our Compliance Policy. It has come to our attention that your Company Profile information is shown as having incomplete or inconsistent data. Your account administrator will receive an email notification as this will cause your account to be partially blocked.

Common examples of Incomplete or inconsistent data include, but are not limited to:

  • Company name appears to be an abbreviation or acronym. Please provide the full legal name of your company.
  • The city and/or postal code that you have provided does not match to the country.
  • The city and/or address cannot be identified in commonly used location and mapping solutions.

Obviously, we recommend that your admin update your company profile now to avoid being blocked.

4. Improvements to Guided Buying

Product: SAP Ariba Buying; Buying and Invoicing
ID: GB-23278; GB23280
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: These are two improvements to Guided Buying that we think will be useful. Specifically:

GB-23278 – Improved Search in Request for Quotes and Forms. SAP is continuing to improve the user experience in the Your Requests section in Guided Buying. It used to be that it would only show requisitions. Now you can see requisitions, purchase orders, invoices, receipts, and custom forms. These additional search and sort options are very convenient for the buyer.

GB-23280 – Recommended Alternatives for Non-Catalog Items. This is a great tool to increase user compliance. In GB you have carousel’s of buying opportunities, and with this update if someone goes into Guided Buying and clicks on the icon for non-catalog requests, it can point them to an alternative carousel, encouraging users to buy from a catalog instead of making a non-catalog purchase.

That second tweak is important because it enables you to better manage spend. If buyers are spending with preferred suppliers, you can negotiate better discounts next time around because of increased usage.

After all, the entire point of SAP Ariba is Spend Management.

5. Improvements to Sending Stuck Documents from Buying and Buying and Invoicing to the SAP Business Network

Product: SAP Ariba Buying; Buying and Invoicing
ID: CP-19278; CP-22890
Integration: Customer Configured

What to know about this feature: These are two updates in the SAP Business Network that will make Buying and Buying and Invoicing more convenient. Specifically:

CP-19278 – Enhanced Resending of Purchase Orders Stuck in Ordering or Canceling State

CP-22890 – Support for Resending Stuck Receipts to SAP Business Network

As often happens, these two updates solve a problem that we have a lot of experience with as consultants. We often help our clients deal with issues of documents getting stuck in ordering or in canceling that show that they’ve “permanently failed” in Ariba Buying and Buying and Invoicing.

Now there’s an opportunity to resend those documents to the business network. While there are occasionally true issues that cause this to happen and that you need to solve for, more often it’s something as simple as a timing issue or you clicked one too many times, or there was some minor procedural issue that you violated – whatever it could have been. This allows you to push the document back into the business network rather than having to try to figure out how to cancel and reprocess them.

6. Improvements to the Shopping Experience on the Mobile App

Product: SAP Ariba Buying; Buying and Invoicing; Contracts; Sourcing; Supplier Information and Performance Management; Supplier Lifecycle and Performance
ID: BMA-4890; SAS-38; SAS-54; SAS-56
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: Everyone is using their mobile devices more and more for shopping, and SAP wants to make it as convenient as possible for users to perform tasks on the mobile app.

Here are four updates to the mobile app in this release:

BMA-4890 – Enhanced Shopping Section, Approval Workflows in SAP Ariba Procurement Mobile App. This is an improvement to the shopping section on the home screen. Users can look at different things like their shopping cart, requisitions, creating non-catalog request and searching for catalog items. It’s just a simpler UI with less scrolling.

SAS-38 – View and Browse in Categories in SAP Ariba Shopping mobile app. Items in the catalog are going to be divided into categories and subcategories, making it easier to browse for and view items.

SAS-54 – Approval Flow Preview in SAP Ariba Shopping mobile app. Users can now see the approval flow to see where their order  is and push things along from anywhere by messaging whoever is responsible for the holdup. That allows you to push things that need to be expedited for whatever reason from wherever you are.

SAS 56 – Withdraw Requisitions in SAP Ariba Shopping Mobile App. This enables users to withdraw their requisitions that are in submitted or denied status so they can make changes and resubmit. They used to have to log in to perform this task.

7. Change Order Rate and Invoice Exception Rate Benchmarking Widget

Product: SAP Ariba Discount Management; SAP Business Network
ID: BNA-1037 & BNA-199
Integration: Automatically On

What to know about this feature: These will help the supplier benchmark how many times a change order has happened and how many times an invoice exception rate has happened, which allows them to manage their customers more effectively.

For example, are there a lot of price changes ? This can be highlighted to the supplier so they can reach out to their customer and discuss current pricing, and renegotiate if necessary, to reduce the number of changes, therefore the manual work. These two updates go together and allow better customer management.

One caveat: The suppler has to have Enterprise version and be a bronze customer at a minimum.

Want to Know More About these Updates?

We love to talk about improving your SAP Ariba experience.

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