SAP for buyers: How Ariba supports you in purchasing and procurement processes

It’s 1996, “Macarena” is blaring from the speakers, the Nintendo 64 is released and Bill Clinton is re-elected President of the United States. Meanwhile, Mike Tyson wins the world heavyweight title and Turkey joins the EU customs region. Ariba is also founded at the same time. And just a few years later, the associated Ariba Network saw the light of day – an extremely forward-looking concept. It still plays an important role in a company’s purchasing and procurement processes today. So let’s take a closer look at all this.

Come to revolutionize

First of all, why was the Ariba Network so revolutionary 25 years ago? Quite simply, it took the purchasing and procurement process to a new level. This means that companies now had the opportunity to store documents that previously only existed in paper form, such as orders and invoices, electronically and send them from one system to another at the same time. At the same time, this opened up new opportunities for digital communication. This also boosted data exchange and companies benefited from many other advantages: For example, the digital versions of documents made it possible to save time and costs and keep a better eye on expenditure.

The Ariba Network today

Over the years, the Ariba Network has continued to evolve, functions have been added and current developments have been taken into account. We have summarized the most important features:

  • Cloud application: Ariba Network is now a cloud application, i.e. a rental model, and has been renamed SAP Business Network.
  • Solution for purchasing: Companies can use it to carry out all their purchasing activities and bundle them in one place.
  • Smart tool: The solution helps to comply with regulations, make processes more transparent and operations more efficient.
  • Linked to SAP: Although Ariba also works on its own, it only really comes into its own when it is linked to an ERP system such as SAP. This takes the purchasing and procurement process to a new level.

One tool for all cases

All in all, Ariba and SAP Business Network want to help companies achieve greater transparency, resilience and sustainability and support them in ensuring that their products reach the right customers at the right time - with the right trading partners in between. And the tool covers both the strategic and operational areas.

While strategic purchasing deals with long-term issues and preparatory activities, such as contracts or tenders, operational purchasing refers to activities that occur on a daily basis. In other words: strategic purchasing prepares, operational purchasing uses what has been prepared and goes into implementation. "Maverick buying" is also curbed in this way. This refers to the unauthorized purchasing of materials and services by departments that do so without involving the purchasing department. This is still a common practice in Austria. Ariba or SAP Business Network, in combination with special solutions, motivates employees to order less outside the system and to use a platform instead.

The virtual marketplace

At the heart of Ariba and SAP Business Network is a virtual marketplace where all protagonists involved in the purchasing and procurement process come together. This means that companies only have to focus on one channel that represents the big picture. This means that orders are sent or order confirmations are received here, but negotiations can also be conducted or discounts granted at the same time.

After all, procurement is no longer just about purchasing materials and services; nowadays it is about much more, such as freight forwarding services or the use of temporary workers. The selection of the right partners also plays a decisive role - for example with regard to risk management. The tool maps all of this so that it now goes far beyond simply transferring data. The aim is to enable a purchasing process that is largely touchless, i.e. requires as few touch points or mouse clicks as possible, thus relieving the burden on purchasing staff and relying on a high level of automation.

Further advantages & functions

However, the virtual marketplace is not the only advantage that this solution has to offer. A few other plus points are as follows:
The system can also be connected to other networks, for example if a customer uses a different solution for their orders. The possibilities in this regard are constantly being expanded.
In contrast to other systems, not every supplier has to be connected individually, but you connect once as a buyer and off you go. The cooperation options are then diverse: there are partners who also connect or those who only use the network in the portal, i.e. by logging in. As before, it is also possible to export receipts from the platform and still send them as e-mails.
Ariba and SAP Business Network take account of current developments such as the German Supply Chain Management Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltsplichtengesetz). The exact extent to which this will become effective is still uncertain, but the prerequisites for taking all of this into account have already been created.
Artificial intelligence:
This hot topic does not stop at Ariba or SAP Business Network. There are already solutions that standardize certain processes or suggest required components for a specific project. All of this is also beneficial for risk management.
Expansion options:
Anyone who decides over time that they want to use additional modules can do so quickly, as the cloud version ensures easy expansion.
Training costs:
The intuitive user interface and the many standardized processes, especially in combination with ready-made templates, reduce the amount of training required when a company hires new purchasing staff.

We initially help the customer to build the foundations, but it is also immensely important for us to continue to be involved up close. We want to support customers as they grow and are happy when we can look back on our joint development later on.

Ariba & scc: an unbeatable duo

One question that now arises is: For which companies is Ariba or SAP Business Network particularly suitable? In principle, licenses are only sold above a certain purchasing volume. However, this cannot be generalized. Ultimately, it all depends on several factors: the sector and the products a company deals with, weighing up the costs and benefits and strategic considerations, i.e. whether and in what form purchasing should be brought into the IT world. And then there are the many license models that are possible, which often cause further headaches. But if you want, we can support you with this, as well as with the entire implementation process. Because we not only know our way around structures, we are also familiar with licenses.

Our approach is based on:

We take enough time for every project. At the beginning, we define all the framework conditions on site, answer any open questions about the cloud and the process and explain everything technical and functional.
In all our implementations, we - and therefore you - benefit from the wealth of experience we have gained from numerous projects, including their stumbling blocks.
Special solutions:
Although only minor adjustments can be made in the cloud itself, we are experts when it comes to interfaces and can implement any number of additional solutions for different challenges.
We not only speak the language of purchasing, but the human element is also immensely important to us. Our actions are therefore characterized not only by competence, but also by empathy and humour.
Depending on how extensive the project is and what the IT department looks like on site, implementation can take anywhere from three to four months to a year on average. And we also dispel prejudices and allay fears - for example with regard to data protection. However, it is also a fact that this development has not yet reached the majority of Austrian SMEs, although many buyers are looking for modern solutions. In any case, we are happy to accompany you on this exciting path towards procurement management at the cutting edge.

What makes us, the scc, special? We are not the ones who sit outside in the audience at a rodeo and just watch everything quietly, but we are the ones who sit on top of the cow. The ones who play along.
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