Supplier Enablement

When a company adopts a digital procurement solution, it’s essential that their suppliers are able to keep up with the requirements of their new supply chain software. This applies to every size and type of supplier, and in the case of larger and more established firms the supplier list can run into the thousands.   

So, how to go about orchestrating your list of suppliers to work well within your new procure-to-pay or source-to-pay framework? It’s to everyone’s benefit that your procurement partners are capable of working within the new paradigm, but actually organising this, onboarding each supplier in the appropriate manner, and making sure everything is running smoothly? That’s another matter.  

Luckily, SAP runs a Supplier Enablement Program for just this purpose. Run by a team of world-class enablement specialists, the program works with suppliers of every type to develop and follow working methods that integrate seamlessly with SAP’s procurement solutions.

What does supplier enablement entail? 

Supplier enablement isn’t just about technology. The system makes sure every aspect of your suppliers’ business works effectively with your SAP solution. While digital integration is important, many suppliers need more support than a few software tools. This is where SAP really stands out.  

The SAP supplier enablement team has over 700 experts, fluent in over 20 languages and located in 9 locations across the globe. These experts have worked in all types of business across the world, giving them the insight needed to help your suppliers get the most out of your transition to SAP.  

While sometimes supplier enablement can be quite intricate, you can also use the Quick Enablement setting in the Ariba Network to set up simple and quick Ariba Network accounts that let suppliers interact with you via Ariba. You can also let suppliers contact you via phone, email and fax by generating a customer code for them to use.  

Both of these methods let you access suppliers who aren’t yet fully digitised, including many smaller suppliers that some companies fear losing if they go digital.  

The full vendor enablement process is worthwhile to those suppliers that are willing to go through it, because they will end up fully embedded in the Ariba Network – something that has the potential to bring them more custom from other buyers on the network.  

However, the full set of activities necessary to fully enable a supplier is quite involved, so many smaller vendors may not want to bother with it if they don’t sell to you often. You should encourage every size of vendor to go through the whole in-depth Supplier Enablement program if possible, since it has the potential to benefit them outside of your own buyer-seller relationship.  

Supplier Enablement isn’t just about what your vendors do to integrate with Ariba Network 

Ultimately, it’s you that assigns your suppliers to an active supplier group in your Ariba Network profile. To appear on the list of suppliers you can enable, the vendor needs to have done certain tasks such as read and approve the terms and conditions, complete their profile, and other tasks. However, the Supplier Enablement tab in your administration panel is all about you assigning these suppliers to an active, enabled group.  

Only then will they appear when you search for their products. The effects of this will vary depending on the rest of your configuration. If you have strict Guided Buying preferences, then your procurement users may have trouble sourcing products that are only allowed to be provided by one of the approved vendors you brought with you to the Network.  

If your system is more lenient, you may simply find that your procurement staff only see products from other similar suppliers, with your preferred original supplier omitted because you haven’t finished the enablement process at your end.  

Who is responsible for getting your vendors though the enablement process? 

You are. While the SAP Supplier Enablement Program offers suppliers lots of guided pathways to become ‘enabled’ suppliers, you’re the entity that’s responsible for monitoring and updating the enablement status of the managed suppliers you’ve brought to the Ariba Network.  

Luckily there’s the Supplier Enablement Dashboard, making it easy to see what’s happening and what needs doing for each managed supplier. Ultimately, if you start the enablement process for one of your vendors, they will appear in the dashboard so you can monitor their enablement status progress.  

There are several key points in the enablement process that call for you to approve the vendor’s actions. Again, all of this is clearly documented, and clearly laid out in the  

Important points to remember about Supplier Enablement 

  • “Supplier Enablement” consists of two main stages – onboarding, when your suppliers are guided through the process of becoming the right type of Ariba Network vendor so they can continue to supply you with the products they would be offering you outside the network, and approval, where SAP and your own administrator need to approve the supplier’s status and assign them to an active list of vendors for your Ariba Network account.  If you don’t do both of these stages, the vendor won’t turn up in searches, and won’t get any orders from you. Ultimately, it is up to you to usher your vendors through the guided Supplier Enablement process, though you have access to SAP specialists if you get stuck.  
  • For one-off, smaller suppliers, Quick Vendor Enablement can sidestep a lot of the drudge work involved in the full process, but it also sidesteps many of the benefits your existing vendors can gain from becoming full members of the Ariba Network.  
  • Almost all sizes and types of vendor can benefit from going through the full Supplier Enablement process and joining the Ariba Network. Not only will it make dealing with your company easier in the future now that you have adopted digital procurement, your fully enabled suppliers will be able to easily access new buyers around the world via the Ariba system. 
  • The self-service framework for onboarding vendors is backed up by a wealth of support, information and training materials from SAP. We’re also here to help you through the process, from preparing to approach vendors about the onboarding process through to assigning them to the relevant group once they are fully enabled, this is just a small part of what we can help you with post-deployment. 
  • It’s ok to use “Quick Enablement” in the short term with any supplier until you have the chance to get them through the onboarding process. You don’t have to wait to use your new digital procurement system because some of your regular vendors haven’t been fully enabled yet (though ideally this won’t be an issue).  

What happens during Supplier Enablement, and how can you prepare for it?  

So, just what are the basic steps of the Supplier Enablement process, and how can you prepare your company to get through them? 

  1. Identify and list your existing suppliers by type, frequency and spend volume. This should be fairly easy to do. Include information on how often you use that vendor, amounts of money and quantities of items sourced from them each month and year. This will give an idea of which suppliers need to be approached first, and which are less important. It will also make it easier to work out which of them can stay on Quick Enablement for the time being. This listing and segmentation process is a vital first step, especially if you need to manage a list of suppliers that’s several thousand strong or more.  It’s important to make sure you are starting with a clear, accurate list at this stage. One that includes contact details, names, average spend, order quantities and types, and anything else that may have a bearing on who or how you contact them regarding Ariba. Remember, this list forms the basis of how you will be reaching out to your suppliers, and also of the data you will be sharing with the SAP Ariba Supplier Enablement team if you need their input later on.  
  2. Start contacting your suppliers, offering as much information as possible. The more your vendors know about the Ariba Network and its advantages, the more effort they will make to get through the onboarding process quickly. This will save you a lot of time and effort later on, since much of the self-service model consists of providing suppliers with information and guidance and then making sure It’s been followed. 
  3. Buy process assignment will identify the best way for you to deal with each supplier. The next step uses the knowledge the Ariba Network has on your vendors to determine the best way for your business to interact with them on the Network. The SAP Supplier Enablement team will help you with this if necessary. In some cases your supplier will already be a part of the Ariba Network, but in other cases they’ll be new to the system. 
  4. More complex instances, dealing with suppliers that have catalogs or other complex components in their order stream will need more help from either SapienceS2P or SAP to help get them fully tested and integrated. Each of these cases will be slightly different, so the key is to identify them early on so the enablement process can get started as soon as possible. 

Summary 

Preparation is key when it comes to dealing with the Supplier Enablement process. As long as you have the right data to hand, there’s plenty of specialist help out there, both from us at SapienceS2P and from the SAP Ariba Supplier Enablement Team. 

If you want to know more about this or any other aspect of the Ariba deployment process, please contact us or follow us on LinkedIn 

 

What is the SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway and Why Does Your Company Need it?

If your company uses SAP Ariba or you’re thinking about adopting it, there’s no way to avoid the Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway.

SAP has been hard at work making sure that it’s easier than ever to integrate their software solutions both with each other, and with 3rd party solutions – modern and legacy. When looking at the integration of supply chain and procurement processes, the application that comes up time and again is the SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway (CIG).

Potential and existing SAP clients should know a few key facts about the Ariba CIG if they are to get the most out of it. Any preparation you can do in advance of your first planning meetings with your software vendor will help shorten deployment time and make sure your systems are integrated in the best possible way.

Getting the most out of this highly configurable piece of software involves knowing something about its architecture and requirements, in-depth knowledge of your company’s systems and procedures, and choosing the right software vendor and team of experts to install your SAP solution.

Who needs to use the SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway?

Essentially, if you are using SAP Ariba, Ariba Snap, or need to integrate any supply chain or procurement processes with or within a cloud SAP application or service, you will probably need to use the Ariba CIG to do so. While the Cloud Integration Gateway makes it easy to connect back-end procurement processes within and around the Ariba framework, its also designed to help connect SAP software with third-party software and services of almost any sort.

It’s not so much a question of “who needs the CIG”; if you’re using any part of Ariba you’d be foolish not to use this powerful bit of software. Its capabilities are only really limited by the expertise of the team that configures and deploys it.

 

What is the Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway, and how does it work?

The SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway is built on top of SAP’s Cloud Platform Integration Suite(CPI). It comes ready to stitch together systems like the back end of S/4 HANA and Ariba’s sourcing and procurement functions. SAP’s cloud integration solutions are very powerful, to the extent that the CPI can be used to integrate non-SAP software with other 3rd-party applications without any other SAP solutions being deployed.

The Ariba CIG uses a combination of wizards and pre-configured tools with the addition of a wide variety of developer tools, customisation options, and easy-to-use extensions that make it possible to integrate SAP Ariba and its functions with almost any buyer or seller system. This is regardless of whether you as the Ariba customer are buying, selling, or both. The other vital function that the Ariba CIG serves is the excellent testing platform it offers, so your integrations can be thoroughly tested in the environment where they will be deployed.

The key to getting the most out of both the Ariba CIG, and your SAP ERP and procurement solution as a whole is knowing more than just the ‘physical’ architecture of the Cloud Integration Gateway (which you can see simplified in the diagram above). It’s a question of knowing the core purpose it has within your business.

SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway Architecture

SAP Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway (CIG) Architecture – Image courtesy of SAP

On the face of things, the purpose of the Ariba CIG is obvious – to integrate all of the backend services and applications that interact with SAP Ariba and the rest of SAP’s procurement and supply chain services. However, the things that the Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway can do with the right experts in charge of its configuration reach beyond just linking applications together.

In the right hands, the Cloud Integration Gateway offers a framework for your SAP software specialists to use to choose how to reconfigure your back-end applications and services as a whole, including operations and procedures that interact with supply chain and procurement in any way. Because of this, it’s vital to use software experts who are experienced in change management, not just software deployment.

In fact, choosing the right experts to help you with an upgrade or new deployment of SAP procurement software these days means you need experts who are adept at change management on both the technical and operational side of things.

Getting the most out of your expert Ariba deployment

The Cloud Integration Gateway is simple, but with the potential to become highly complex once deployed. The simplest buyer-side core functions such as connecting Ariba services to the back ends of various SAP software packages like S/4 HANA and others are easily set up with the built-in wizards. There are plenty of testing options to help make sure everything is working correctly, and so long as nothing else needs adding to the system it’s all relatively easy to set up.

At the other end of things, connecting the Ariba CIG to suppliers is also fairly straightforward using a range of pre-built extensions. Of course, when in the real world are systems ever 100% simple and straightforward? This is where an expert deployment team becomes essential.

Whether they’re configuring the system to work with or replicate real-world operations procedures within a client organisation, or they’re making sure everything works with legacy software at either end of the supply chain, it’s vital the system is configured by experts with extensive procurement industry knowledge.

Ideally these experts will also have a change management background, and will have industry-specific knowledge that helps them create a solution that gives the most possible benefit to their clients.

Customised integration and testing with the Ariba CIG

The level of customisation possible with the Ariba Cloud Integration Gateway makes it an extremely powerful tool in the hands of the right expert team. The depth and breadth of knowledge held by those team members makes innovation using the CIG open up a whole range of possibilities.

Previous methods of integrating the various SAP procurement solutions left teams spending a lot of time on setting up and testing their solutions at various levels, often to find small but potentially disastrous glitches to have crept in. The bult-in testing platform in today’s modern CIG makes much of this a thing of the past, letting your deployment team get on with building the customised procurement system your company deserves.

Getting the most out of the Ariba CIG

There are a few things your company can do early in the assessment and deployment process to make sure you get the most out of what the CIG can do. Your deployment consultancy will thank you when you come to them having prepared for their input so well.

First of all, you need to assess your existing systems, if any and how they are integrated with internal and external systems. The most important first steps include:

  • Have a think about what business goals and objectives you hope the new deployment will achieve.
  • Make a list of all stakeholders, internal and external, that will be affected by the new deployment
  • Assess existing systems, whether software or paper-based, and decide which of them are indispensable and which will be replaced by the new or updated source-to-pay (S2P) or procure-to-pay (P2P) solution
  • Make a list of where your systems will need to interact with your existing supplier’s systems
  • List any existing pain points affecting your procurement systems and supply chain, including any worries about potential issues

There are a also a number of specific user roles designated by the Ariba software that your deployment team will need to assign people to, but they should help you decide who needs assigning to which role. However, the minimum that you as a client will need to provide is the Project Manager, Project Sponsor, Functional Lead, and Subject Matter Experts.

A good software vendor will take the time to get to know your organisation and how it operates to help you decide how and where your existing systems will end and the new SAP systems begin. This is where it’s hugely beneficial to use a vendor with the right technical knowledge and experience.

While it’s all very well to base your CIG configuration on the powerful built-in set-up wizards, with the right deployment team and preparation you’ll end up with reduced employee training times, better process automation and tracking, and shorter initial deployment times.

Conclusion

If you’re going to invest in SAP Ariba, you’ll need to integrate it with your existing systems so don’t be surprised when your vendor starts talking about the Cloud Integration Gateway. In fact, much of the work that goes into deploying or upgrading your procurement software to the latest SAP Ariba Cloud involves how the software integrates with your other systems.

As soon as you start planning a new Ariba deployment or upgrade, you should start thinking about how it will integrate with your current and planned systems. Luckily, with the power of the Cloud Integration Gateway you and your deployment team will be able to create and test the best way to integrate any number of SAP and 3rd-party systems quickly and easily.

If you’re looking for an experienced SAP procurement software consultant with years of change management and software integration experience, look no further. SapeinceS2P’s technical consultants are ready to talk to you about upgrading your existing digital supply chain solution or installing a whole new system.

Get in touch today, or follow us on LinkedIn for more news on the industry.

Building Resilience Into the New Post-Lockdown Economy

Change is inevitable regardless of what’s happening in the world.

Current times make change, especially unpredictable change more likely than ever. Making sure your loved ones and your business make it through the Covid-19 pandemic is still a work in progress, making the changes we’re likely to face at home and at work highly unpredictable.

All of this serves to drive home how important it is for us to make sure we’re more change-resilient than ever. One thing that can make an enormous difference to our change resilience is adopting digital supply chain and procurement solutions like source-to-pay (S2P) and purchase-to-pay (P2P).

There are actually lots of ways technology companies are trying to help businesses and individuals through this difficult time, and SAP is no exception. There’s free access to Ariba Discovery and Ariba Start Sourcing until the end of July 2020, and services like the SAP Logistics Business Network with the ability to trace the source and provenance of the supplies being ordered are getting the change to show off everything they are capable of. 

How Covid-19 is affecting the global supply chain

A recent survey shows that 75% of companies have experienced supply chain problems due to the pandemic, it’s plain to see the importance of building resilience into the supply networks that will arise from the ashes. However, all is not doom and gloom.

If anything, this crisis has shown scores of decision makers that were dragging their feet when it comes to digital transformation the vital importance of adopting new technology at every level. With the advent of cloud ERP and S2P solutions, you actually get more value and control over your supply chain by redesigning and automating resource-heavy processes.

Additionally, we’ve all seen how much better some companies have coped with the move to remote working when compared to others. The new post-pandemic world will see businesses that are capable of operating from anywhere (including home) take top place in the new global paradigm.

First, we have to get out of lockdown

These two topics are actually very closely related. If we don’t exit lockdown ‘correctly’, we could end up facing additional economic shocks. The range of lockdown regulations, infection levels, and attitudes to the pandemic in effect in different regions and countries will make this a difficult task for businesses and governments.

In many ways, we’re re-booting the global economy – not something to be taken lightly. Managing this change is largely about preparing for the future by making sure we as a species won’t be caught out again when future crises appear.

There’s plenty of support from SAP no matter what industry you’re in

Luckily, SAP has come up with a well thought out framework listing every offer and solution that could help businesses during the Covid-19 crisis by industry and software solution, along with case studies and other resources.

Everything from supply chain optimisation through to financial transaction tracking, with everything in between. If you’re already using SAP Ariba or Ariba Snap for procurement, you should take a look at what’s on offer. Everything has been broken down into recovery stage, industry and aims to make things simple for you, though of course we’re more than happy to advise.   

In future articles we’ll go into more detail on what benefits there are for your industry based on the most current global data available at the time of writing.

The most important takeaway?

It’s already clear from recent research that the actions decision makers are likely to instinctively take as lockdown restrictions ease may not be the most beneficial in the long run. If businesses rush to restart activities without taking care to rebuild a more resilient operating policy both internally and externally, we could see an even bigger collapse – one that would be even harder to dig our way out of.

Just like in the first days of the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, we as a species need to work together to make sure the post-pandemic economy that we build is smarter, more resilient, and better co-ordinated than what went before. High adoption rates of cloud-based software solutions like SAP Ariba, Ariba Snap and S/4HANA will bolster the Ariba Network and make it easier for companies to collaborate on a global and local scale to reboot the economy the right way.

To find out how you can be a more effective actor in the mission to rebuild the global economy the right way, get in touch with our team today, or follow us on LinkedIn.

 

Lockdown and Beyond – The Next Steps in Digital Procurement

As lockdown measures start to be reduced around the world, we are left facing a landscape where many businesses have been forced to tackle remote working and digital transformation just to keep themselves ticking over. Huge increases can be seen in software packages like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams speak for themselves, with Teams seeing 44 million daily users – a 40% rise in just one week recently. 

At the same time, we’ve seen big, measurable drops in air pollution worldwide since the start of the pandemic, and some big companies like Twitter are already planning to extend homeworking indefinitely. At the same time, businesses are starting to realise the cost of converting open-plan offices to meet new social distancing recommendations.

Whether or not your business  can or will be sticking with homeworking as the default option for staff that are able to do their jobs remotely, almost every company has noticed how much easier their lives would have been at the start of the pandemic if they had already digitised all of their operations. Now is no longer the time to be dragging our feet when it comes to digital transformation.

Tackling transformation should be easier than before

For all of the reasons listed above, and even the fact that your organisation has just lived through a period of forced digital working should make it easier than before to convince people it’s time for digital transformation to take a big step forward.

In fact, when compared with the added cost of things like making your open-plan office spaces COVID-19 secure, it might even prove cheaper to carry on doing many things remotely. But surely the actual change itself will involve people working in your physical locations?

The physical aspects of changing to a digital workplace

Obviously, someone will have to turn up and pack away all of the office equipment if you aren’t all going back to the office. One thing you should know is that much of the actual change to computerised systems can be done remotely.

For instance, in many circumstances the switch to a cloud-based source-to-pay system like SAP Ariba can be done entirely at a distance. Minimising how much physical contact your new deployments need will help reduce costs, as well as reducing the potential risks from COVID-19 that are still out there.

Procurement is a particularly good area for digital transformation

Whether or not your workplace is still in lockdown, there’s a lot that can be done to digitise and automate your supply chain and procurement pipelines. Given the current state of global manufacturing and logistics, the ability to get some of the harder parts of sourcing and procurement dealt with by a cloud solution like SAP Ariba are clear:

  • Logistics capacity is maximised: Limited logistics capacity is causing problems worldwide while we deal with the current pandemic. Our software solutions can help you get the most out of your logistics capacity, as well as helping you sidestep parts of the supply chain that are struggling due to the current outbreak or various lockdown measures.
  • Face-to-face contact is minimised: Even the face-to-face contact usual when setting up new suppliers. Thanks to the Ariba Network, vendors are thoroughly vetted without you or your management team needing to leave home.
  • Quick deployment times mean it’s easy to get ready for the next crisis well in advance: If you’re one of the many businesses left reeling when the current pandemic reared its ugly head, you won’t want to risk being faced with another crisis in the future. Now is the time to make sure your business is ready for any eventuality that could be lurking around the corner.
  • Many businesses are heavily reliant on their position in the supply chain: Therefore, anything you can do to maintain your position in the global supply chain is an important step towards maintaining business viability in the short and long term.

What can SapeicenceS2P offer to help you get the most out of your digital procurement systems?

We can install SAP Ariba, Ariba Snap, Ariba CIG (cloud integration gateway), and SAP S/4 HANA. Most of the time we can configure and deploy these systems remotely, helping to reduce both travel costs and the risks inherent in today’s face-to-face contact. Additionally, we can do a lot to help companies that already have these technologies installed.

We can help you with in-place upgrades, whether you’re moving to these solutions or just upgrading them to the latest versions. We’re also offering businesses 60 days free advisory support that could be key in helping you get the most out of your current SAP procurement solutions.

It doesn’t matter whether you got your SAP procurement or ERP software from SapienceS2P – get in touch and we’ll help you get the most out of it. Our skilled team is waiting to talk to you.

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